Our History

Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge in Manitoba is one of the premier Canadian fishing lodges. It first opened in 1949 and has expanded over the years to meet the changing needs and expectations of its clientele.

In present times, from the totally ecological Great Gray Owl, to the incredible moderness of the Boardwalk Chalets, to the beach front luxury of Park Place, and to the remodeled elegance and comfort of Master Angler’s Row, we provide a choice of accommodations to meet your needs as well as your budget. As a result, Aikens Lake has become one of the best luxury Canadian fishing lodges.

The Beginning of the Construction

Our History - Canada Fishing Resorts - Manitoba Fishing Resorts - Canadian Fishing Lodges

Eric Carlson, the first proprietor of the 9 acres on Aikens Lake, had had a trap line in the area since the early 1940s. His cabin stood close to today’s lodge. One day, he decided to approach the federal government seeking permission to fish commercially on Aikens. This had been tried unsuccessfully back in 1938. The government suggested to him that tourism and sport fishing might be a better idea.

Eric and his son Eddie began preparations in the fall of 1947 for construction the following spring. Trees were downed and brought into camp in the winter with the aid of a three-dog team. It was, of course, much easier to let the dogs drag the trees through the snow than to carry the logs in the summer!History - Luxury Fishing Lodges - Canadian Fishing Lodges History - Canadian Fishing Lodges

The Grand Opening

On May 19th, 1949 Aikens Lake Lodge made its grand debut. Among the structures that Eric and Eddie had built was the lodge, which is now used for storage (called "Le Portage"). The first two cabins, cabins 1 & 2, were also up, although they have since been torn down to construct our Boardwalk Chalets. In 1950, Eric’s son Alfred came to help build 5 more cabins, which were called Wilderness Trail (they have since been torn down to construct our Sunset Chalets). Eric and his wife Elsie Abestine spent the winters at Aikens Lake, where Eric trapped and built boats in the lodge dining room.

History - Canadian Fishing Lodges History - Canada Fishing Resorts - Manitoba Fishing Resorts

In the Portage, there is a trap door which leads to an underground storeroom connecting to numerous tunnels and pens where the Carlsons kept their animals in the winter time. Eric was a trapper and would spend weeks away from Elsie in the wintertime.

History - Canada Fishing Resorts - Manitoba Fishing Resorts History - Luxury Fishing Lodges - Canada Fishing Resorts

Guests arrived at Aikens Lake by air. Ontario Central flew out of Kenora and Central Northern Airways flew out of Lac du Bonnet. Some guests came from Winnipeg to Lac du Bonnet by train.

The dock wasn't always in the calmness of the back bay. With engines only being a few hp, it would have taken too long to bring the boats all the way around the peninsula every morning and night. Most of the fishing was done in the little section of Gammon River flowing into the lake. There was also some lake trout fishing done in front of the lodge. There are still old dock cribs on the main beach in front of "Le Portage".

The Legend of Elsie

Some of our guests have had the opportunity to sit around the campfire and hear about Elsie, our friendly neighborhood ghost. In fact, this is more than just a clever spinster's imagination. Although Elsie passed away in Winnipeg, and not at the lodge, numerous staff members have seen Elsie in the past. Everytime she has been spotted, it has been either in, or around, "Le Portage"... her old cabin. The oddest episode happened back around 1994. Gil Lavack, head guide at the time, was sleeping heavily at 6:00 AM. He felt a hand shaking him and a female voice urging him to wake up. Assuming it was only one of the girls from the camp, he ignored it for awhile. After much persistence, a groggy Gil turned around and was staring directly into the image of Elsie, 1950's attire and all. He could not sleep another wink, and at breakfast was completely shaken up. This is one of many encounters, but is probably the closest contact anyone has had with the apparition.

History - Canadian Fishing Lodges - Canada Fishing Resorts History - Luxury Fishing Lodges

The Gaffray Years

After 18 years of operation, Aikens Lake Lodge was sold in 1967 to Arthur Gaffray, a pilot, who had first flown in to Aikens Lake in 1953 while hauling freight. In 1956, he began to fly guests into the lodge.

History - Canada Fishing Resorts

During the Gaffray tenure, the kitchen and dining room were built along with the motel unit known now as Master Angler’s Row. The North Star and the Lone Coyote cabins (staff quarters) were also erected.

History - Luxury Fishing Lodges

The Lavergne/Frechette Partnership

In 1974, Gerry Lavergne and his partner Antoine Frechette bought Aikens Lake Lodge. The partnership dissolved in 1980 and Gerry continued alone. The Master Angler’s Club Room was added to the dining room. Orion, (the current Managers Residence) was built along with a modern shower and laundry facility.

The Turenne/Lavack Partnership

History - Canadian Fishing Lodges

In the fall of 1988, Aikens Lake Lodge was sold to Gerry & Lorraine Turenne and Philippe & Jackie Lavack. It became known as Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge. The first major purchase after acquiring the lodge was the sawmill. It has enabled us to produce our own wood. Not only does this save us the great expense of buying the wood and flying it in, but gives us the unique opportunity to build hand-crafted log structures. These cabins, especially the Great Gray Owl and Boardwalk Chalets, have become some of the most beautiful and unique accommodations that are unmatched among Canada fishing resortsHistory - Canada Fishing Resorts

PVCAP & The Turennes


In 2005, Phil & Jackie retired from the lodge business.  Chris Jensen and the PVCAP team entered the fold to work with the Turenne family in bringing Aikens into a new era.  The new partners put their immediate stamp on the lodge by investing heavily in the infrastructure of the lodge, which was essential in getting us to where we are today.  Their philosophy was that they had loved Aikens so much as guests over the past 13 years, their main focus wasn't to change the philosophies at Aikens, but rather their goal was to bring the cabins and boats up to the same level of quality as the customer service and the rest of the experience had always been for them... and boy did they accomplish that!  In those first three years, new structures went up in quick succession starting with "Le Canot" (2-storey men's residence which today houses 16 male staff/year), two new Sunset Chalet cabins, a new laundry facility, guide lockers, and the Ursa Major (office, store, manager's residence).  This made everyone's experience off the water that much better.  They also brought in our new fleet of incredible Lund Alaskan boats, a revamped fleet of 4-stroke engines to provide reliability and safety on the water, and a luxury van to help shuttle our guests from Winnipeg to Silver Falls in comfort.  The modernization of a 55 year old lodge was well under way!

Since those first frantic years, annual reinvestment in the lodge has led to continued improvements including a remodeling of Master Angler's Row Suites, renovations at Park Place, Great Gray Owl, the main lodge, North Star (girls residence), Orion (managers residence), the Lone Coyote, new permanent docks at the lodge and GGO, more boats, new walk-in freezer & storage, and most recently the new construction of the Lost Lake Outpost Camp.  It's this commitment to excellence that shines through to all our guests when they step off the plane and see the excellence and craft in every structure at Aikens Lake.  It shows that we are not here for the short term - we live and breathe Aikens Lake every day of the year, and we want your experience with us to be as good as can be.  Like Doug Stange from In-Fisherman Magazine said all those years ago... "As good as it gets, is that good at Aikens".  It continues to be true to this day.

The place is absolutely Top Drawer in every aspect of the experience. Having dreamed about taking my 2 teenage grandsons on a fly in fishing trip for years I could not have written a better script. The accommodations, Food, equipment level of excellence was only surpassed by the people.

—Chip Michel,
St. Paul, Minnesota

You have paid attention to every detail and it shows. The cabin and food is the best I have seen. Lots of neat spots to explore, wish we had more time!

—Jason Mitchell,
Jason Mitchell Outdoors

It exceeded any expectation I had to the point that I’ve told my kids that if I get a bonus that’s exactly where we’re going. When you compare it against other luxury vacations, where you typically pay extra for a guide or various excursions, what you get at Aikens is a really good value. I’ve fished all over the world, from Alaska to Colorado to Costa Rica. I’d put Aikens over those in terms of the size fish you can catch and the quantity.

—Maria Bailey,

This week at Aikens for our anniversary has been absolutely the greatest gift! The only thing that would have made it better was if my dad and mom could have been with us.

—Amanda Paschal,
Parker, Colorado

They say “you get what you pay for” ... at Aikens you get more. They know what they’re doing, and it shows. Its called “The Aikens Experience.” The lodging is top notch. The food is outrageous! Aikens Lake is a dream to fish. The staff - how they find and keep so many polite, friendly, courteous, intelligent, and attentive people year after year I have no idea. They learn your likes and dislikes; they make you feel welcome and relaxed.

—Steven J Kuzmich,
Loveland, Colorado

People sometimes want to try new locations or lakes in Canada but I really do not know why our group would ever look elsewhere or even think about it. The fishing is world class and the accommodations and hospitality are five-star.

—Gene Reibel,
Omaha, Nebraska

We wanted to get a true fly-in Canadian fishing/wilderness experience, but be able to do that without having to spend two days traveling to get there. Overall, the experience was exactly what we wanted. Great fishing, great setting, great service and accommodations that allow you to really relax and enjoy quality time with your family.

—Tony Abena,
Edina, Minnesota

One of the coolest things about Aikens is you could have terrible fishing and have an awesome time there. Well-fed and well-served, plenty of beer to keep you warm. Tremendous service. Of course, the fishing’s great, too, but you have fun either way.

—Nate Siegal,
Salt Lake City, Utah

Incredible staff and amazing fishing. The accommodations are top notch and the food is first class. You won't find a better lodge in North America for pike and walleye fishing. The owners really know how to run this place. The memories made here are like no other.

—Jesse Bleeman,
Toronto, Ontario

What I love about Aikens? The ever present welcoming attitude that starts when you exit the plane and ends, well, never actually ends from what I can tell. The entire staff which is well selected and well trained, guides who make fishing fun and easy, the size of the lake (not too small for serious fishing and not too big for novices), the breakfasts, the shore lunches, the dinners, the awards handed out at dinner, the evening fishing with dock staff making sure your boat is ready, and the bar that gives you a chance to meet fun and interesting people to share a fishing story, a joke, or life story.

—Dennis Munson,
Solon, Iowa

Our guide really listened to what we wanted to do and tailored our day specifically to us. To me, the shorelunch was the highlight of each day. The shorelunch sites are set-up so well in very scenic spots. You can watch the Aikens videos and read the website about the fancy cabins, and the food, and how great the fishing and the service is, but one thing you can't really appreciate until you're here is how beautiful it all is.

—Paul Capecchi,
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

I’m an amateur rank fisherman and I caught a ton of fish, including a Master Angler pike. That’s what makes Aikens Lake so great, you can get guys like me that really don’t know what they’re doing, and you start to believe that you might.

—John MacDonald,
Minneapolis, Minnesota

My husband and my dad had always talked about going to Canada or Alaska, so when I got the idea to give them a fishing trip as a surprise gift I did about six months of research. Once I talked with Pit, I was sold. It was really a surprise to them. They were so excited, and they just had a wonderful time at Aikens. They enjoyed their dream trip, and I don’t think it will be their last time to Aikens.

—Debbie Nutter,
Elizabeth, Colorado

Pit and his team have done a wonderful job of putting together the perfect gem of an outpost camp. We love going to the Lost Lake outpost because it provides you the seclusion and serenity without comprising the nice luxury-type components.

—Scot Woolley,
Minnetonka, Minnesota

The Four Seasons of fishing lodges. What's truly impressive is that ownership is constantly improving the experience. Every year you arrive and notice improvements. I'm just back from our trip to Aikens with my son. In the last 15 months he's been to Copenhagen, Berlin, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Venice, Croatia, Greece and Turkey – but said this was his favorite trip ever. He slept with his Aikens hat on last night!

—Greg Borca,
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

Those young staff members make me realize that our future is in good hands. Every one of them are class act young people, such a joy to associate with when you see what is going on across the land. Thanks again for the great hospitality from you and ALL of the staff.

—Jeff Hall,
North Little Rock, Arkansas

Truly an experience you'll want to relive over and over. This father-son-grandpa trip went from being a once in a lifetime experience, to an annual fishing trip! See you next summer!

—Mark L.,
Winnipeg, Canada

Aikens is the perfect place for a family trip. The cabins are the best we’ve ever been in, the lodge is beautiful, and of course Pit and Julie are wonderful hosts.

—Jim Deleeuw,
Wisconsin President Organization, Group Leader

My husband and I never go back to the same place twice, but we loved it so much at Aikens we knew by the end of our first week we’d be back. It’s just how well they take care of you there. They make you feel like you’re part of the family.

—Denise Kozlowski,
Lake Oswego, Oregon

I’ve taken many large groups to Aikens and I always tell people beforehand how incredible the service is at Aikens. Every person has said to me at the end of the trip, “We believed you before, but I just can’t believe how good they treat you here!” One time Pit and Julie didn’t have the type of alcohol on-hand one of our guests was drinking, so they sent a plane out and got it.

—Ron Ball,
Westman Dreams for Kids

I call it a 5-star hotel in the wilderness. It’s the neatest place we’ve ever been, it’s like fantasy island.

—Joe Harrington,
Monticello, Arkansas

Each year we go somewhere as a family. We’ve been to Hawaii, Disney and many other places, but Aikens was one of the best trips we’ve ever had. Our trip was terrific, and my grandson loved every minute of it.

—Sherry Martin,
Cordova, Illinois

You think you’re at a Ritz-Carlton, you seriously get that level of treatment and amenities. Nobody in Manitoba can compete with Aikens for the quality of the fishing, staff, and facilities.

—Steve Andersen,
Lincoln, Nebraska

Trip number five and once again Aikens Lake out did itself. I thought it impossible for this wonderful place to get any better.

—Kris King,
NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations, 14 year NHL player and captain, and Aikens Lake Honorary Pro Staff Guide

From the accommodations, to the staff and especially shore lunch, the entire experience at Aikens Lake is unmatched.

—Dan Quayle,
Former United States Vice-President

The photos are amazing and like the memories, they will last a lifetime.

—Boomer Esiason,
Former NFL MVP Quarterback, TV Commentator, and Founder of the Boomer Esiason Foundation (against cystic fibrosis)