It may be called Ray’s Place, but Ray has left the building and new owners Scott and Kate Boesveld are looking forward to their first summer season at the popular jeep and ATV playground.
The Boesvelds took ownership on Oct. 29, 2020.
Kate Boesveld said former owner Ray Gervais decided to sell and move on, buying a home in Haliburton and working at a local grocery store.
She said she and Scott always talked about owning a campground. They bought a Jeep about six years ago and camped and off-roaded with friends, and eventually with kids, each year at different locations.
They decided to rent the Ray’s Place bunkies in May 2019 with their friends and kids and “joked about owning the place when we heard it was for sale.”
Then, COVID hit.
At the time, Scott was an industrial electrician and project manager and Kate a fitness instructor and personal trainer who also worked for her parents.
She said she and Scott talked about how much they wanted to work together.
“Both of us come from hard working family businesses, his mom and dad owned a boarding kennel and my parents own greenhouses and sell custom potted flowers for wholesale clients.
“We both prayed and had many people praying for us on our next steps to buying Ray’s place. We had to apply for loans, sell our rental house and home in Cambridge, and make the hard decision to move away from our family and friends.
“We felt God leading us here and encouraging us towards this new adventure and to bless others with our gifts and passion of Jeeping, ATVing and our enjoyment of the great outdoors.”
Kate said they have plans for the place just south of Minden but it all depends on finances during the prolonged pandemic. They are also new parents to a second child, who arrived in January 2021.
That said, Kate added, “We would like to expand our seasonal sites, update rooms and the public washroom, create a full-time kitchen for room service amenities, add more trees to the property, get the pool going, and add walking trails.
“Because we are family-owned, we would love to bring families here and provide the surrounding cities somewhere to get away and have some fun.”
For now, they’re concentrating on cleaning up the property.
“COVID has been a blessing in some sense as we were able to take on several renters for the winter to help us pay the bills and we have had some more time to, again, clean up, organize and prepare the place for this year. We have also been fortunate to be able to spend some time as a family as we know the summer months are going to be absolutely nuts.”
The family is from southwestern Ontario, with two children, Taylr and Hunter, and two border collies.
“We honestly wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done here without the love and support of our family, friends and off-road community. We are so thankful to be here and love the feel of being up north, life is just different here. The location is so beautiful and we fell in love with it all. We own 131 acres now which is unbelievable and we look forward to exploring every inch of it when we have the time and energy.”
Val’s Soul Food
The mother and daughter team of Val Braithwaite and Layla Johnson are bringing soul food to Ray’s Place.
The family goes back several generations in Canada and are descendants of slaves who came up through the Underground Railroad and settled near London.
They specialize in Southern, Caribbean, and Canadian dishes.
Braithwaite has been cooking soul food for more than 30 years and has run previous restaurants in the Kawartha Lakes area.
It’s been quite a journey for the two of them. In 2016, just a few months after Layla was severely injured in a car accident, the family lost Layla’s dad and Val’s husband to cancer. Then, Val suffered a stroke in 2019. She was in intensive care for several weeks and in the hospital for several months. However, she recovered and moved in with Layla.
“I remember the Sunday my mom started to cook again,” Layla said. “I’d come home to a huge plate of food. She was so used to cooking large portions for the restaurant, there was way too much food for just the two of us. I decided to get some food containers and drop it off to some family close by.”
That became a weekly thing, that expanded to the local community.
“After a few months of delivering free Sunday soul food dinners, we were gifted a great opportunity to run a food truck for the summer and fall season,” Layla said. “We’re now at Ray’s Place in Minden. We’re enjoying our time here, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. Minden is a wonderful town.” They are planning to be open Tuesday-Sunday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Seevalssoulfood.com for more.