The co-founder of Canada’s largest restaurant chain was an avid golf and airplane fan. Ron Joyce, who became a billionaire with profits from the Tim Hortons coffee and donut empire, combined his passions in 1987 by acquiring 1100 acres of pristine waterfront property along Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Strait, near his birthplace and directly across from Prince Edward Island. On it he built a 5,000 foot airstrip and a 250 acre championship golf course.
Ron Joyce’s original idea was to attract the rich and famous to the gated community of Fox Harb’r by adding a few private townhouses. That vision has now evolved into a five star, four diamond resort handling up to 220 guests in 88 large suites facing the ocean, a high end restaurant with fresh produce from the resort’s own greenhouse, a vineyard and a Two Goblet designation from Wine Spectator Magazine. The resort eventually added a spa with a junior Olympic swimming pool, a sheltered marina that can handle two dozen yachts up to 80 feet in length, kayaking & paddle boarding, tennis/pickleball courts, a fully stocked trout pond and a rustic Sporting Lodge built with post and beam construction. The lodge includes a floor to ceiling fireplace and leather furniture from the former home of Johnny Cash. Activities include archery, axe throwing and skeet shooting.
In 2001 the Par 72 Fox Harb’r Golf Course, planned by renowned designer Graham Cooke, was named the best new course in Canada by Golf Digest Magazine and remains one of Canada’s finest. In 2009 the course record – a 63 – was shot by Tiger Woods.
The resort is still secluded and its low key entrance can be easily missed by drivers along Nova Scotia’s Sunrise Trail and the cutoff to the small community of Fox Harbour. Once through the gates and along Amazing Grace Boulevard the excellent landscaping is immediately evident.
For check-in, visitors stop at the new Joyce Centre, a 37,000 square foot building overlooking the 9th hole and Northumberland Strait that includes a modern convention center, with a reception area, a ballroom/banquet hall and several boardrooms.
Our comfortable suite was in one of fourteen, two story buildings running parallel to the golf course and the saltwater shoreline. Extremely generous in size by hotel standards, our unit included a living room with floor to ceiling windows, a gas fireplace and a door leading to a balcony overlooking action on the back nine combined with the bracing aroma of fresh sea air. The room had a large, flat screen TV, coffee maker, microwave oven and well stocked fridge. The separate bedroom had a very comfortable king size bed with its own TV while the well-lit bathroom featured a granite, heated floor, a two person therapeutic tub with fluffy towels and high end toiletries by Molton Brown. The welcome sparkling wine in the room came from the Fox Harb’r Vineyard. Nova Scotia white wines, in particular, are outstanding.
Fox Harb’r takes its cuisine seriously in both the main Cape Cliff Dining Room and Willard Gastropub with a menu featuring produce from its on-site greenhouse, meat from local farmers and fresh seafood obtained just minutes away. Through the spring, summer and fall season special dinners are often planned. The Fox Harb’r President Kevin Toth, told us his culinary goal is to celebrate and elevate the local cuisine.
Dinner in the evening, one of several special events throughout the season, featured a winemaker from British Columbia who talked talk about his award winning vineyard and offered pairings with each of the seven courses prepared by Executive Sous Chef Jeff McInnis and his team. Chef McInnis has now been promoted to Executive Chef for the 2023 season. Among our favourite dishes were halibut crudo with caviar and fresh herbs, scallops with coconut and green apple and braised pork shoulder with celeriac, apple and onions. The BC wines were a perfect compliment.
Next morning we had breakfast in the main dining room before we left for home. The Lobster Benedict was a culinary delight. Lots of fresh lobster with a perfectly toasted English muffin and a sublime hollandaise sauce. A wonderful ending to an all-too-short stay at a resort that clearly puts Nova Scotia on the map for high quality, high end accommodation and cuisine. It’s not just for golf anymore.
A few more photos from our trip. Click to enlarge.
The Resort Website: www.foxharbr.com
Photos by John and Sandra Nowlan – All Rights Reserved