Pictou Lodge Beach Resort will not reopen after Fiona damage

Pictou Lodge suffered extensive damage, with roofs blown off and power lines downed during Hurricane Fiona. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Pictou Lodge suffered extensive damage, with roofs blown off and power lines downed during Hurricane Fiona. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, heavily damaged by post-tropical storm Fiona, will not reopen this summer as planned.

The Pictou Advocate broke the story on Tuesday. The resort's general manager, Kate Surrett, sent an email to people with bookings at the venue saying the owners — after a "lengthy but necessary" insurance process — "decided they cannot continue to run the business."

"This is extremely disappointing news for us as we did believe we would be returning to business this summer," her email continued.

Pictou Lodge declined an interview with the CBC on Tuesday.

Tourism Minister Pat Dunn spoke about the closure at Province House minutes after hearing the announcement and said he was "very, very surprised."

"I hope we're not going to lose them, I hope something develops … it's an iconic place, it's one of the nicest places in Pictou County," Dunn, who is also the MLA for Pictou Centre, told reporters.

He estimated the lodge employed between 80 and 90 people.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

"It certainly will hurt the area," Dunn said, adding it was a popular destination for weddings and business conferences.

"It's certainly disappointing to hear and I'm hoping something good can come out of this by the right people getting involved to see if we can move ahead and, perhaps, have it reopen."

The email from Surrett was sent to people who had made reservations so they could make alternative arrangements. Her email said the owners told staff all current customer deposits would be refunded and the process would start soon.

Wedding plans in limbo

The closure announcement has left some couples racing to find another wedding venue, including Ellen Crossman and her partner, Michael Veysey.

The pair have been planning their wedding since January 2022, and booked the Pictou Lodge for their ceremony on Sept. 30.

Crossman said they'd last been in touch with staff a couple of weeks ago, and had no idea the venue could be closing.

"We were never given even an inkling that this could be a possibility," she said.

Submitted by Ellen Crossman
Submitted by Ellen Crossman

While Crossman said she feel sorry for staff who will be affected by the closure, she wishes Pictou Lodge had been more transparent.

"Then we would have been able to weigh our options and perhaps had a little bit more time to seek alternate arrangements or take the gamble that they may not open."

Now, Crossman and Veysey are "back to square one," searching for a venue that can accommodate their 120 guests in six months.

The couple have already paid vendors for some services, and Crossman said it's unlikely they'll get all their deposits back, which could mean a financial hit of a couple thousand dollars.

Major damage after Fiona

Surrett told CBC News in September 2022 she had hoped the off-season would give the lodge a chance to repair and rebuild from the damage sustained during post-tropical storm Fiona.

"I would say intense is an understatement," Surrett told CBC Radio's Mainstreet at the time of the storm's impact. "The wind was so strong, the building was shaking, the bed was shaking ... there was no sleep to be had, it was pretty intense and pretty scary."

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

Century-old cottages lost porches and new units lost roofs and suffered water damage in the storm. The dining room at the lodge also suffered major damage, including to the range hood.

At the time, the lodge had hoped to reopen by spring.

"I am trying my hardest to make that happen," Surrett said at the time.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC