Standing on a terrace overlooking the manicured Fox Harb’r golf course, framed by waving fescue and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean’s Northumberland Strait, it is heartwarming to hear Steven Joyce describe how his father, Ronald Joyce, was inspired to “give back to the rural Nova Scotia of his birthplace” by transforming this once-swampy swath of north shore landscape into a destination resort and living community that would spur the local economy.
Born in rural Tatamagouche, on October 19, 1930, Ron Joyce, now approaching 87, rose from poor circumstances to co-found and franchise Tim Horton’s doughnut shops across Canada and create Jetport Inc., a company with aviation, real estate, and commercial interests. When he returned to Nova Scotia in 1986 to open a camp for underprivileged children, Ron was smitten by an idyllic stretch of waterfront, cluttered only with the derelict remains of a lobster processing plant. Envisioning a resort community with an airplane runway—key to luring tourists to the remote location, a 90-minute drive from Halifax—he hired locals to develop the infrastructure, cultivate the swamp to agreeable land by planting thousands of Black Spruce trees, and build a rock wall to protect the ocean front from erosion.
With CEO Steven Joyce and president Kevin Toth, Fox Harb’r Resort—originally built in 2000—has grown into a vibrant lifestyle community offering a variety of elegant house and fractional townhouse ownership options, a five-star resort featuring sumptuous guest studio and executive suite accommodations, as well as an exciting scope of activities.
The golf course, designed by Golf Hall of Fame architect Graham Cooke, is a stunning, championship 7,205-yard, par-72 rambling over 100 hectares, its front nine parkland fairways weaving between trees, wetlands, and lakes, and the fescue-fringed, Scottish-links-style back nine overlooking the ocean. Named “Best New Canadian Course” in 2001 by Golf Digest, it consistently ranks among Canada’s top courses, while its famed Golf Academy attracts an international clientele eager to hone their skills.
Fox Harb’r Resort has grown into a vibrant lifestyle community offering a variety of elegant house and fractional townhouse ownership options, a five-star resort, and an exciting scope of activities.
Along with exhilarating opportunities for boating, tennis, fly-fishing, skeet-shooting, and horseback riding, plus options for luxurious and therapeutic treatments at the resort’s Dol-as Spa, Fox Harb’r has specialty programs framed to inspire social networking and team-building. These are particularly appealing to corporate meeting-incentive planners who typically charter flights to its jetport.
Both Ron and Steven Joyce share a mantra for excellence. Notably, several of the property’s environmental and self-sustaining initiatives generate local jobs and add culinary distinction. For example, executive chef Shane Robilliard points out that, having two ponds thriving with rainbow trout, Fox Harb’r has the only 100 per cent Ocean Wise certified restaurant in Atlantic Canada. Other initiatives include raising pheasants on the ground; producing berries and vegetables in its gardens; and growing greens, micro-greens, and flowers in greenhouses. Partnerships with local producers ensure exquisitely fresh seafood, including oysters and lobsters, and an abundance of artisanal products, such as eggs, turkeys, suckling pigs, and fresh fruits (the resort also recently added 25 beehives). Diners are destined for culinary treats.
The budding Fox Harb’r Winery grew from serendipity. After repeatedly passing the south-facing land that slopes to the Northumberland Strait en route to the Fox Harb’r entrance, Fox Harb’r resident Carl Sparkes—owner of Devonian Coast Wineries, the parent of famed Jost Winery—realized it had all the aspects of a superior terroir, and approached Ron to partner in a vineyard. “The vision of Ron Joyce to undertake it is mind boggling. It’s one thing to have a golf course, quite another to have viticulture,” says Sparkes. In 2015, they planted 19 acres, with plans to grow to 25 acres. The grapes—including riesling and l’Acadie—are expected to produce wine for Nova Scotia’s Tidal Bay appellation by 2018. Ultimately, each resident on the resort may own their own little plot of the vineyard and customize wine labels.
I leave Fox Harb’r on Ron’s gleaming, new $50-million U.S. Bombardier Global 6000 jet, invited by the father and son duo for the chance to discuss my impressions of the resort on the flight back. As the jet noses to the sky, Ron admits that he flew here just to see the winery budding in spring. Peering out the window as the resort community, the golf course, and winery fade from view, he sighs with pleasure. “This place tells me I’ve done something right.” Steven reminisces. “Back in the nineties, we came off as lunatics for this part of Nova Scotia.” Now that Fox Harb’r resort community is a destination renown for luxurious style, world-class sports and culinary finesse—as well as for being the biggest employer on Nova Scotia’s north shore—it goes without saying that Ron Joyce’s vision was anything but crazy.
Fox Harb’r Resort , 1337 Fox Harbour Rd, Wallace, NS B0K 1Y0.
Photos courtesy of Fox Harb’r Resort.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter.