For Pam Vorkapic, it was love at first sight. It didn’t matter that her realtor labelled her 17-acre property choice a “monster”, or that the home had a broken furnace and a basement full of water. “We fell in love with the river and the space,” she says. Love at first sight is a recurring theme in this woman’s life. She met her husband, Tom, when she was 10 years old, and they started dating when she was 15. “We are childhood sweethearts that have lived, laughed, and loved our way through life,” she says.
The couple bought their first home in Bewdley a few years after they started dating, and subsequently moved to their Warkworth property in 1999. They embarked on extensive renovations and family life with their two young daughters, aged five and one at the time. Pam found the village welcoming from the very beginning. “It’s a fantastic place to raise kids,” she says, “I love the community here.”
At that time, the property next door was nothing more than an appealing view with its river frontage and in-ground pool. The cottage was owned by a couple in their 80’s who, along with their three grown children, had many fond memories of family times there. They were reluctant to put it on the market even though it was rarely used in later years.
Pam's husband Tom did some maintenance work for the owners in his spare time and they both “developed a fondness” for the place. Although it took several years for the stars to align, the couple were eventually able to purchase the property adjacent to their home in early 2017. “We really didn’t know what we were doing,” Pam laughs.
Both husband and wife work full time. Tom is an ironworker, what Pam calls a “boom and bust life”, and she is a law clerk, employed by the same Cobourg firm since 1991. They had no fall-back plan when they decided to renovate their new purchase into a retreat, nor were they sure that there would be a market for such a thing. “We purchased Evergreen Valley Retreat in February 2017 and immediately did a complete renovation to make it a cozy and welcome place for our guests to kick back, relax and get back to nature. We hope you love it as much as we do!” reads their website.
The Retreat opened its doors in June 2017 after a complete make-over. Pam says she developed a social media presence prior to their opening by posting construction updates, establishing rapport and credibility with potential clients. The facility offers an airy open concept cottage with three double bedrooms, bath and a Bunkie which accommodates two more guests. As well as a wonderful view of the river and its wildlife, the 20-acre property offers guests a 40-foot salt water pool, a hot tub, kayaks and bicycles as well as innumerable homey touches and absolute privacy.
“The people have been amazing,” Pam says. “We had bookings right away and we’re seeing lots of repeat guests.” The retreat has hosted family vacations, women's weekends and couple's romantic getaways as well as writers and artists seeking solitude.
Living next door is convenient for the host and hostess, although they remain as unobtrusive as possible unless their attention is needed to address a client need. They leave a welcome package along with maps and brochures detailing local attractions and events. The entry offers a signature Welcome Wall on which guests can write their names and impressions, a feature that has proven to be very popular with clients of all ages.
Evergreen Valley Retreat website, www.evergreenvalleyretreat.com
Evergreen Valley Retreat on Facebook