31 AUG 2016: We are sitting in the Cliff Dining Room overlooking the fabulous final fairways at Fox Harb’r Resort as the setting sun sinks into Northumberland Strait. We’ve had a grand day on the 7253-yard links, designed by Canadian architect Graham Cooke. Now we are tucking into chanterelle risotto, succulent scallops, lobster ravioli and panna cotta with fresh berries. Not a Timbit in sight.

Our host tonight is Steven Joyce, the resort’s CEO and son of Fox Harb’r’s visionary, Ron Joyce, who built the fabulously successful Tim Hortons franchise and eventually sold it to Wendy’s.  Fox Harb’r is a luxury resort and real estate community where the likes of Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Bobby Orr and Mr. Joyce himself zoom in on their private jets. In fact, Ron Joyce, now approaching his 86th year, flew in today on his newest Bombardier Global 6000.

Located in Wallace on Nova Scotia’s North Shore, Fox Harb’r is well off the beaten track. But it’s close to Tatamagouche where Ron Joyce grew up and it’s where he returned to “give back” to the community. As his donut empire grew, Joyce started the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation for underprivileged children in Wallace in 1988. Nearby, he bought a parcel of land that would become Fox Harb’r.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve created here. Luxury without pretension, in one of the most beautiful places on earth,” says Joyce.

A Tale of Two Nines

Joyce’s vision began with the championship golf course. Golf Digest named Fox Harb’r  “Best New Canadian Course, 2001.” Known for his masterful use of the lay of the land, Cooke has created two unique experiences. The front nine plays around meticulously manicured parkland with sheltered forests, extensive wetlands and lakes. Tee time intervals fifteen minutes apart mean that there won’t be anyone holding you up or pushing you from behind.

The first fairway, apart from a few bunkers is a gentle handshake to the course. Numbers seven and eight play around water and will probably swallow a few of your Titleists.

Head onto the back nine and you are transported to a Scottish links-like landscape with waving fescue and fairways hugging the rugged coast of the Northumberland Strait.

Tiger Woods, who holds the course record of 63, stayed in Edgewood in 2009, one of many homes and townhouses for sale at Fox Harb’r.

The grand finale begins on 14, a downhill dogleg right past the marina and Joyce’s private home. Number 15 is a sweet little par three on the ocean requiring you to cross a covered bridge and a shoreline trail appropriately called “The Foxtrot.” The signature 16th is a drivable par-four and the 18th green offers grand vistas of the coast and perhaps a few frolicking seals.

Should you need to hone your swing, head to the Academy where the pros can provide expert club fitting. The state-of-the-art FlightScope, using Doppler radar, has been dubbed the MRI of the golf swing. It will measure club head speed, angle of impact and much more. Matt Kuchar recently hit balls here for a couple of hours on a rainy day. The second nine-hole par-three course is a great place to practice your new techniques and perfect your short game.

“Napa North” Nova Scotia

Fox Harb’r began with golf as the main attraction but there’s plenty more to keep you occupied. Now guests and owners can go horseback riding, play tennis, take a hike or bike ride. Another very popular pursuit is clay shooting at the Sporting Lodge.

The recently renovated Dol-ás spa offers a full range of treatments, including a signature rejuvenating facial and Executive Men’s Menu.

All of this activity and fresh sea air builds whets the appetite so it’s no surprise that fine cuisine is an important element of the Fox Harb’r experience.

The Cape Cliff Dining Room is Atlantic Canada’s first sustainable seafood restaurant certified by Ocean Wise. Chef Shane Robilliard sources the freshest catch of the day. You might even find trout on the menu that Robilliard has caught himself from one of two stocked trout ponds on the property. Fox Harb’r also uses fresh herbs and produce from its own greenhouses under the direction of horticulturist Michael Steward.

The resort’s extensive wine list has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Recently, Fox Harb’r partnered with nearby Jost Winery to grow its own vines. Fox Harb’r’s first Riesling, Muscadet and Tidal Bay should be ready for pouring in 2018. Who knew that Wallace, Nova Scotia would become Canada’s own Napa North?

The Fox Harb’r story has all the makings of a great Canadian novel or movie. Blue-collar cop, Ron Joyce, from remote Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, buys a donut/coffee shop in Hamilton with a Maple Leaf hockey player. Tim Hortons becomes a roaring success with franchises all over Canada and a loyal following eager to “roll up the rim” on their double/doubles. Mr. Joyce wants to give back to the Nova Scotia community of his childhood so he starts his first camp for underprivileged kids near his birthplace. In the process, he buys a parcel of land with a dream to make it a five-star golf resort. He succeeds and his legacy lives on.


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Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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