Providence Bay motel undergoing extensive renovations

Inessa Taibert and Vera Kuminov Manoutov have been hard at work throughout this past fall and winter to get the Manitoulin Wonder Cubs Motel up and running for the busy tourist season ahead. photo by Betty Bardswich

PROVIDENCE BAY – There has been major work underway throughout this past tourist off-season in Manitoulin’s jewel on the Huron, Providence Bay. Two young women, originally from Ukraine, have undertaken the rebuild of the Huron Sands Motel, a structure that has stood for 51 years and has accommodated many tourists, visitors, hunters and fishermen over the years. 

Inessa Taibert and her business partner, Vera Kuminov Mamoutov, have been engaged in restoring the motel, restaurant and gift shop from top to bottom. Everything is being redone, including electrical, new bathtubs and bedding, new washrooms and woodwork and a designer has been hired to make the building fully accessible. The gift shop too will be revamped, with new items added.

It was a pleasure to sit down with these amazing women, albeit one at a time, as the friends trade off working solely a week at a time. This will continue until the season opener in May. The motel and restaurant are open, though, year round.

Ms. Taibert is from Ukraine and spent several years in Israel. She now lives in Richmond Hill with her husband and children. She is a nurse but opened a daycare when one of her daughters, now seven, was three and now has four childcare spaces, dubbed Wonder Cubs Daycare. She also has another daughter aged 20 and a 26-year-old son. Her husband is a lawyer but now works in information technology (IT).

Ms. Taibert talked about her love of Manitoulin and the fact that she actually bought a home in Providence Bay due, in large part, to the people on this Island. “I appreciate everything everybody here has done for us,” she said. “I have travelled a lot and have lived in different places but the emotional support I have received is overwhelming. This support gives us energy even in difficult times. The people in Providence Bay and the people on Manitoulin, I have never come across such people. They have such kind hearts, even the teenagers. There is a different attitude here.” She went on to say that she was thinking about where she would be when it was time to retire, and it was the people she met that made the decision to live in Providence Bay and raise her children here an easy one.

Ms. Mamoutov is from Crimea and has some family there. She has a sister in the United Kingdom and family in Siberia and Israel. She is fluent in Russian and Hebrew. She and her husband have an eight-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter. She is an IT manager and was working for a company in Israel when she was hired by Telus to oversee a large project. Her husband also works in IT. Ms. Mamoutov had always wanted to visit Canada, and when she came to work for Telus she fell in love with this country and decided to stay. Her daughter was the first child in Ms. Taibert’s daycare and the two women became fast friends.

Like her partner, Ms. Mamoutov was effusive in her praise of the people of Providence Bay and the contractors and other workers they have hired. “This first year has been the best in my life,” Ms. Mamoutov disclosed. “I had projects before, but they were in IT. Here it is a community project.” She went on to say that Ashley Leeanna Noble and Joanna Young Noble are amazing and that they have been with the new owners since they took possession of the building. She also said that they have been very lucky with all their contractors, including Paul Cooper and Sons Plumbing, Henderson Electric, and handypersons Ann Wilkinson and Adam Leblanc. The partners also spelled out their appreciation of the help and advice they got from Williamson and Sons Hardware and Home Hardware, both in Mindemoya.

Ms. Mamoutov also spoke of the community spirit in her new hometown and singled out a couple of the Dewars for their goodwill. “A neighbour’s tree fell down near here, and I saw Lyle Dewar cutting it up for them,” she said. “And Sharon has been here several times.”

The restaurant has also been revamped and makes good use of the west side windows. Ms. Taibert expressed her love of cooking and noted that the menu will change as time goes on and she learns the preferences of the customers. Her partner had said, “Inessa is an awesome cook. She just naturally knows how to cook, how to add flavour, so it will be perfect.”

The menu at present features three breakfast meals, priced at $6.99. These include scrambled eggs, sausages, and oladushki which is a Russian take on pancakes, parathas an East Indian bread toasted with melted cheese and served with scrambled eggs, and oladushki again, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a fruit compote or maple syrup.

Lunch and dinner items include lentil soup, coleslaw salad, both at $4.50; chilli with spaghetti, plov, which is a rice and pork dish, and spaghetti and meatballs, all at $7.99, and cabbage rolls for $8.99 

The partners will also have different menus for groups and will work to provide whatever is required. Recently, there was a spread for the Red Hats, snacks for the Manitoulin Nature Club and a Christmas meal for a group of 37. Earlier this week, the restaurant was hosting a lunch for a large group of church women.

The new owners have a number of other amazing condiments including fig jam, hazelnut and cocoa, apricot, black and red currant, and black cherry spreads as well as quince jam. Many of these jams are the Swiss Hero brand, established in 1886.

There are also shelves with supplies for campers and others including soups, flour, sugar, catsup, mustard, canned soups and crackers.

Ms. Mamoutov told The Expositor that she has many ideas for the business running through her mind and that maybe, at some point, there will be an international menu. She may also have flags in some area that denote the countries of visitors.

Visit the Huron Sands, chat with these fabulous women and have a bite to eat. You will be glad you did.

For more information or to arrange a booking or special meal, call Ms. Taibert at (416) 858-2855, Ms. Kuminov Mamoutov at (647)762-5666 or email wondercubsresort@gmail.com.