/Reviving the Rockcliffe
The new owers of the Rockcliffe Dan Gosselin, left, Kirsty Goodearle, and Mark and Lise Dracup are looking to give the legendary property a new start. /DARREN LUM Staff

Reviving the Rockcliffe

By Chad Ingram

The world-famous Rockcliffe is set to make a return, in a new incarnation.

“The idea is to build a new building that will be in the spirit of the old building,” says Mark Dracup, part of the ownership group of the legendary and dilapidated property near the intersection of Bobcaygeon Road and Newcastle Street in Minden’s downtown. Dracup and wife Lise, along with couple Dan Gosselin and Kirsty Goodearle are the new owners, the couples meeting on East Moore Lake, where Dracup has been a lifelong cottager.

First things first – the existing building, shuttered and vacant for years and long past the point being salvageable, will be torn down. In its place, a new bar, restaurant and hotel will be constructed, to be called The Rockcliffe.
“We’ll be delivering good food, higher quality food, for sure, but also bringing back more entertainment to the community, as well as making hotel rooms available for those who want to stay,” Dracup says.
Initial drawings are for a multi-storey building with ground level and second-storey patios offering views of Minden’s main drag. There are plans for an outdoor cooking area as well as a large, indoor commercial kitchen. Seating capacity, inside and out, is to exceed 500 people.

“We want it to be a central meeting place for not only Minden, but the entire county,” Dracup says.
Pending all necessary municipal approvals, the group hopes to have The Rockcliffe resurrected in 2023.

Owner Kirsty Goodearle takes a break from rummaging through remnants at the Rockcliffe. Someone had left full glasses and a framed photo on one of the tables in the shuttered building./DARREN LUM Staff

They have also purchased the former grocery story property down Bobcaygeon Road – where the old 63 Main Street sign stands – which is to be used as a parking lot. With the owners hoping to attract snowmobilers in the winter, it will provide a storage area for machines and trailers. The group is also open to working with the Township of Minden Hills on a community project on the part of that property, including the possibility of affordable housing.

While it will still be a while before The Rockcliffe opens its doors, the owners are starting an online merchandise store that will sell vintage-style Rockcliffe shirts, hats and other apparel. The group reached out the manufacturer of the original Rockcliffe swag.

“We are trying to, wherever we can, buy Canadian,” Dracup says. The group is also hoping to work with local businesses, including co-branding opportunities with Boshkung Brewing Co., and sourcing meat through Coneybeare’s Butcher Shop.

A website is currently under construction and will soon be active at www.therockcliffe.ca.
You can also follow The Rockcliffe on Instagram, at therockcliffeminden. There are also plans for a Facebook page. 

A view of the bar inside the Rockcliffe Tavern during a clean-up by the owners, who went through the interior to see what could be salvaged or donated before the demolition of the derelict building./DARREN LUM Staff

The Rockcliffe interior is in poor shape. /DARREN LUM