Bonnyville’s Canadian Bighorn Resort will creatively connect you to the land

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Doc Pow for #TakeItToTheLake Expedition

An adventure therapist. Could that be your new career goal?

Jeff Fendelet and Adam Chafe, founders of the Canadian Bighorn Resort are definitely onto something. At some point, it sounds like they might have said, “enough is enough” and quit their soul-robbing jobs, doing a 180 on their lives. That’s how they ended up in Bonnyville, Alta., doing what they love.

#TakeItToTheLake this summer. Plan your trip to the Bonnyville/Cold Lake Region...

Follow Doc Pow’s FB live as he connects with the owners of Bonnyville’s Canadian Bighorn Resort.

For Fendelet, his time in the energy sector had come to an end, but he pictured a future that would re-energize him. That came to fruition owning and operating an outdoor resort, where nature enthusiasts and eventually game hunters would gather coming to do what they love in one of the best counties anywhere.

“I worked in Northeastern Alberta for years and hated it; camp life wasn’t fun for me. But when I finally started exploring the region, it all made sense. It was my wife who said if we’re getting out then we’re moving to Bonnyville,” says Fendelet. 

The lake-filled landscape was a magnet for him.

Photographer: Doc Pow

A lake escape, like here at Manatokan, is only 10 minuets from the Bighorn Resort.

“The lakes around here are gorgeous,” he says, using crystal clear Marie Lake as an example because you can see 30 feet to the bottom.

Fendelet jumped ship from a lucrative train in the oil and gas industry to a roller-coaster of unknown, and into the creative class. Resort owners are a particular breed. They all have the single intention of creating an exceptional experience destination and here at Bighorn is no exception.

The Canadian Bighorn Resort is just north of Highway 28, about a three-hour drive from Edmonton. But it’s a drive that takes you to a place that feels like the top of the prairies. The Bighorn is set in the M.D. of Bonnyville’s impressive tally of 18 lakes, endless ATV trails and up along the border of the big sky province of Saskatchewan.

Photographer: Doc Pow

The Canadian Bighorn Resort is on the edge of one of the world's biggest boreal forests.

“Pick a direction you want to go, and it will take you to a dynamite lake,” says Bighorn Resort proprietor Fendelet. One of the biggest selling features of this land is the connection to the lakes and proximity to the world’s biggest boreal forests, he says. “We are on the barrier to the biggest boreal forest on the planet, more 250,000 acres full of ATV trails, backcountry lakes, the plumpest berry bushes and huge array of wildlife,” says Fendelet.

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For Adam Chafe, his investment into the now two-year operation was a nature-based decision. “Fishing and outdoors gives more opportunity for my kids. In a rural setting like this, it means better schools and an ultimate connection to the land.” Chafe’s two boys, aged four and 13, are moving here from Atlantic Canada. They are in for the time of their lives and so is anyone else who is adventurous enough to go Northeast this summer and #TakeItToTheLake in Bonnyville’s Canadian Bighorn Resort.

Photographer: Doc Pow

Get up close and personal with the wildlife at the Canadian Bighorn Resort

Adventure Therapy

“Everyone who comes out here leaves with a smile on their face,” says Chafe. For people who don’t experience the woods often enough, Chafe says they get a dose of “adventure therapy.”

Photographer: Doc Pow

The Canadian Bighorn Resort comes with a wilderness setting and all the amenities for a stellar stay.

Call it luck or call it destiny, coming out of a big career in oil and moving onto a friend’s property, Chafe is now working the land alongside Fendelet and making it happen for themselves. “It’s exciting to see our five-year development plan unfold,” he says.

As the resort moves into its third year in 2020, Canadian Bighorn Resort has some audacious plans, including a geodesic dome village for glamping and a full-on hobbit house, set into the side of the hill. Until then, be sure to book in for a great stay in their individual cabins, sleeping up to four with a magic forest out the front door.

When You Go

Be sure and spend some time with “Vedder” and his mates because The Canadian Bighorn wouldn’t be the Bighorn if they didn’t have bighorn sheep on site.

Just down the road is a collection of lakes so be sure to pack the paddle gear or the boat to make the most of them. Manatokan Lake, the closest at less then 10 minutes away, with a boat ramp and a small dock. Learn more about boating in the area here.

Score yourself a copy of the Bonnyville Adventure Guide, which will help you unlock all the #TakeItToTheLake activities across the region.

The Extreme MudFest hits the rodeo grounds in Bonnyville AB this summer. Get ready for three days of mud, music and more on August 15-18th.

For more on how to #TakeItToTheLake this summer, either search the tag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or read more here.

Be sure to let us know what you find and share your adventures with the hashtag #TakeItToTheLake as you might be featured on ZenSeekers and our partners' social media channels.

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