Originally published in the March 7,1995 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
Singer Shania Twain, on the brink of stardom, decided it could wait a day. Family ‑‑ and a triumphant return to the resort that rescued her career ‑‑ came first.
Shortly before the release of her new album, *The Woman in Me*, Shania made a joyful detour to Deerhurst, the northern Ontario, Canada, resort that helped her overcome a family tragedy and launch her blossoming music career.
“It’s a perfect, perfect day,” she says with a sigh as COUNTRY WEEKLY tagged along for a day that brought out her playful side during a family outing of snowmobiling and sleigh riding.
“Deerhurst is a special place for me,” she says while scouting the snow‑covered grounds of the huge resort in the rugged woodlands of Muskoka, near Huntsville. “This is where I got married and where my sister Carrie‑Ann got married. This is also where I auditioned for my record contract.”
Deerhurst also gave her the job that kept her in music when she was about to sacrifice her fledgling roadhouse singing career for the family obligations suddenly thrust upon her by the tragic deaths of her parents.
After Sharon and Gerry Twain died in an auto accident when she was 21, “I was just going to give up music,” Shania said. “I thought, my family comes first. I have to take care of them. I didn’t even think of my future…. I’m lucky I got the job at Deerhurst, because it was music. I didn’t know where I was going to go from there.”
The singing job she landed at Deerhurst kept her dream alive while providing a steady income to support her younger sister, Carrie‑Ann, and brothers Darryl and Mark.
The family ‑‑ and her career ‑‑ survived the rough times. Now, seven years later, she returns as a Mercury singing star. Shania embraces Carrie‑Ann and her older sister, Jill, Carrie‑Ann’s husband, Jeff, and coos over nephews Jarett and 6‑month‑old Dylan. Shania turned her attention to the waiting snowmobile where her niece Amanda patiently waits.
After clowning around a few minutes, Shania revs up the snowmobile’s engine and takes family members for rides.
“We try to get together as often as we can,” said Jill, a smile crossing her face as she observes “Auntie” Shania buzz past the crowd with 5‑year‑old Jarett hanging on for dear life.
“Our gatherings are always impromptu, because we never know when she’s going to be in town. But what you are seeing is us. We’re basically an outdoors family. Any chance we get to be outside together, we take it.”
After a quick, frosty frolic in the snow, Shania tours her old stomping and singing grounds. She pauses at the auditorium where she honed her talent singing in the nightly entertainment revue.
“We have to go look at the old dressing room!” Shania says excitedly. She scampers up the steps of the stage and down a small walkway she nicknamed “The Ramp.” The backstage passageway led through the kitchen, where Shania and her hungry cohorts snitched food.
On the walk to the Cypress Lounge, where Shania first auditioned, her and Shania’s 15‑year‑old niece Amanda fondly recall her aunt’s early days at Deerhurst.
“I remember being 9 or 10 years old and thinking it was the most fantastic thing in the world to have my aunt onstage, singing,” Amanda says. “She was so beautiful and so talented, I always knew she was going to be a star.”
Amanda also recalled the irony of hearing Shania rehearse a Def Leppard song, “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Shania eventually wed the song’s co‑writer, Robert John “Mutt” Lange ‑‑ the producer of *The Woman in Me* ‑‑ at Deerhurst in December 1993.
Suddenly an old acquaintance appears: Sam Kelso, Shania’s former bandleader during her Deerhurst days. He joins her for a coffee and entertains the table with stories of past escapades, like the wild end‑of‑season night that he put on a dress and pantomimed her routine onstage while she sang from behind the curtain.
A sinking sun leaves time for one more joyride, a quick excursion to Alvin Alldred’s farm for an old‑fashioned horse‑drawn family sleigh pull. Next, the family scurries back to Deerhurst for a mug of hot chocolate at The Pub before Shania treks back to Toronto to resume her promotional duties.
“I’m going to have a good sleep tonight,” she says on the way to her hotel. “After a Northern day outside in the snow, you’re ready for a good long sleep when you get back.”