Passion resides inside a Rose Valley paradise

March 2021

Listening to Markus’s story, it seems a winding and unlikely journey is what ultimately led him to Deborah and to the Rose Valley Lodge & Restaurant.

He was born in Eastern Switzerland and lived there into adulthood. His area of expertise is hotel management, and he worked in this arena in both Switzerland and Jerusalem for over a decade.

It was his second marriage that introduced him to the Canadian countryside that would become his long-term home. Markus admits that he does not believe he would ever have chosen Northwestern Ontario had his ex-wife not had a connection to the area because of a former relationship she had. This second marriage is also how he came across what would become Rose Valley Lodge & Restaurant.

“Rose Valley used to be called the Unicorn Inn, and that ran for about fifteen years,” explains Deborah. “So it was already an established bed and breakfast and restaurant by the time Markus stayed here.”

Markus and his ex-wife spent their honeymoon at the Unicorn Inn, and he recognized that the Inn was the kind of place that he would like to open.

“I was planning to open something like what we have now, Rose Valley Lodge, back in Switzerland, but the cost was not feasible, and you can’t find the space to do it like you can here,” says Markus.

The timing of their stay aligned with fate, and the owners of the Inn were looking to sell. “It was the right time and the right spot,” says Markus.

Markus bought the Inn and started on some renovations and additions like a sauna and added two log cabins to the property.

“It took us about two months to figure out a new name for the B&B. We went through a few options and landed on ‘rose’ as there are wild roses here,” says Markus.

Markus’s children from his first marriage in Switzerland opted to come to live in Ontario as well.

“They’re first home was in Nolalu, so it was quite the culture shock,” says Deborah.

“They’re here still, they’re my neighbours now, and my grandkids are right next door,” Markus tells me.

After Markus’s second marriage ended, he met Deborah when she was working in graphic design and printing.

“I did a brochure layout for a Bed and Breakfast Association, and I walked into a meeting to drop off the brochure,” explains Deborah. “Later, a friend
called me to ask me if I was still single, and I said, ‘No thanks, I bought a dog.’”

Her friend insisted she would want to meet Markus.

Deborah put it off at first but, “he kept calling, and I would find any excuse not to go on a date.”

“Then, he eventually said, ‘I need some help with printing’ and I thought, ‘Well, how do I say no to that?!’”

The two started to work together, coordinating various theme evenings at Rose Valley.

“Then he asked me out for dinner, and I actually didn’t say ‘No’ and I didn’t cancel!”

They have been together for over twenty years, and have a big, blended family.

One of Deborah’s passions in life is caring for animals, and Rose Valley has become home to, as she puts it, a “collection of critters.”

“We have three horses, a miniature mule, one sheep, some goats, geese, ducks, chickens, quite a few rescue rabbits and pigeons, a pot-belly pig that loves to party at weddings at the Lodge, and dogs and cats of course,” says Deborah.

“I have always said my first choice of profession is what I’m doing now, my second choice would be carpentry, which I get to do here, and my third would be to do farm-work, so I have all of those combined here at Rose Valley,” says Markus. “It’s perfect, I love it.”

“We always tell everybody that this is our paradise, and we share it with our guests,” adds Deborah.

The pandemic has, of course, caused uncertainty, booking delays and cancellations, and other frustrations, but the couple says they are lucky that there are not as many financial challenges at Rose Valley as there are for some of the restaurants in town.

“Here, I found what I like to do. I am privileged to have found what I dreamed of doing,” says Markus.

Deborah and Markus seem to have created the perfect work and home life balance under the most perfect of Northern backdrops.

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

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