PERRAULT FALLS, Ont. – The Whiskey Jack Restaurant and Tavern is a quiet escape into the pristine Ontario wilderness nestled in Perrault Falls. about 50 kilometres north of Vermilion Bay on Highway 105.
It's a long-time favourite among locals, as well as proving immensely popular to tourists who visit hunting and fishing camps in the area every summer.
Graham and Laura McDonald bought the Whiskey Jack in 2011, opening for their first year in 2012.
Graham grew up in Ear Falls before spending several years in Winnipeg, where he met Laura. After a coupe of years together, they decided to move to Ear Falls.
“I always wanted to live back home, I had told Laura that I always liked it here,” said Graham.
They had originally planned to turn the old property into a house, but eventually decided to capitalize on the culinary equipment left behind by the previous owners and try their own hands in the restaurant industry.
Laura had previously worked as a waitress in Winnipeg, while Graham had no previous restaurant experience, but together they took on the new venture and learned as they went.
“All I knew how to do when we bought the place was order a burger, but it was just trial and error and we didn’t seem to scare anyone away,” said Graham. “Cooking is kind of one of those things, either you got it or you don’t.”
The menu at the Whiskey Jack features familiar favourites like burgers, pizzas, perogies, and hot turkey sandwiches, sometimes with a twist (think the Fat Boy Burger featuring chili).
All the food served is homemade, most notably the homemade fries, the pulled pork, and the made from scratch pizzas.
“Less is more for me when it comes to menus,” said Graham, “We do everything on there well.”
In the early years, the restaurant received crucial support and visits from locals in Perrault Falls and from nearby Ear Falls.
Through word of mouth, it's gained in popularity, welcoming patrons from across Northern Ontario.
The restaurant is open all year, but the place is at its busiest during the summer months in the tourist season.
“It’s like a big melting pot of people who come here,” Graham. reports
During the summer, the Whiskey Jack also hosts about 8 to 10 shows featuring musicians from all over Canada. Artists including Big Dave McLean, Fred Eaglesmith, Washboard Hank, and Richard Inman have played at the Whiskey Jack.
Music has always been a big part of Graham and Laura’s lives. When they moved to Ear Falls, they started a band with friend JD Blazek, called The Electric Beavers. The Electric Beavers have produced two albums, and have plans to do another one in the near future. They sell their albums and merchandise at the restaurant along with Whiskey Jack apparel.
In 2020, they built a patio off the front of the deck to accommodate outdoor dinning. They had briefly entertained the idea of building an addition to the restaurant, but had decided against it, opting not to change the building's original distinctive look.
“The whole world is always changing, but we stay the same,” Graham said.
The Whiskey Jack has been in business for 11 years now. It has been well loved by its regulars and greatly enjoyed by its visitors. Graham and Laura say that they 'er in it for the long haul, and that they will continue serving their patrons for the foreseeable future.