This article was originally published in the Early Summer 2017 issue of Cottage Life magazine.
Boat on up to the Waubic. The beer is cold, and the fish and chips are made to order.
Severn Falls, Ont.
The Waubic’s name hasn’t changed since it was built on the Severn River in 1913. The restaurant was abandoned when current general manager Karen Smiley’s parents, George and Jenny Fleet, bought it in 2002. “Apparently, there was a Waubic steamship that used to come through back in the logging days,” says Karen, “but that was after the place was already built.”
The Fleet family owned a restaurant at the Brantford airport but leapt at the chance to buy in cottage country when a customer put them on to the Waubic. “We could see the potential, a rundown hidden gem,” says Karen. The restaurant is still a family affair. All four of her kids (aged 19 to 25) work in the kitchen, and her aunt and uncle lend a hand when they visit from England every summer.
Known for (part one)
Fish and chips, hand battered. “It’s the British in us,” says Karen. (The dish is served on authentic British plates, carried over from England.) “It’s not fine dining. It’s just good ol’ home cooking.”
Known for (part two)
Community. The restaurant is water-access, and hydro hookups are available for boaters who want to dock overnight. Twenty spots are available, with boats from 16 to 70 feet parking overnight. “Some people come and stay for three, four days at a time,” says Karen. “Our customers are faithful.” The Waubic hosts events all summer: live music, brewery sample days, movie nights. “It’s nice. We’ve created a community centre for all the local cottagers,” says Karen. This summer, she hopes to set up a screen in the bay and have people float in inner tubes while they watch Jaws. (They’re going to need a bigger restaurant.)