Fun and funky Airbnb within old Victoria Fruit Market in Lindsay

By Denise Waldron

The biggest surprise is the 1969 restored Airstream (a camper trailer) awaiting guests for summer camping without mosquitoes. All photos: Sienna Frost.

You’ve likely heard of Airbnb and perhaps stayed in one on holiday or when visiting family or friends.

However, Airbnb offers much more than just ordinary apartments, cottages or conventional homes. There are a multitude of eccentric and distinctive Airbnb options awaiting your stay. From boathouses and earth homes to castles and tree houses, you can find a wide range of extraordinary accommodations that can be booked — including one in downtown Lindsay that puts the ‘fun’ in funky.

You’d be forgiven if you went to the Lindsay accommodation at 23 Kent Street West and were confused at finding a security/central vacuum store instead of a place to sleep. It’s only when you arrive at the back entrance of the address do you realize you are in for something novel after being greeted by an original, old-time sign on the outside that reads Victoria Fruit Market.

Stepping inside the century warehouse, you almost expect to be hit with the verdant green smell found in vegetable and fruit markets. You almost can — it operated wholesale for nearly 100 years and closed during the pandemic.

The uniqueness does not end there. After acclimatizing to the idea of an AirBnB in a warehouse, there are more features that are remarkable and unexpected. The ancient, wooden fruit fridge is now a modern bathroom. The space has industrial rolling doors, authentic hardware and retro finishes. The original walk-in freezer, replete with a wooden door, has a cool, old metal handle on it. The biggest surprise though, is the 1969 restored Airstream (a camper trailer) awaiting guests for summer camping without mosquitoes or a winter camp-in, sans Jack Frost. It is really a cool sort of outdoor experience, but indoors.

Lindsay owners Drew and Victoria Jessup are hospitality and rental pros with seven properties, including another Airstream at Mackenzie Beach Resort in Tofino, BC. The couple run Junebaby — a hospitality and design firm for short-term rentals. Victoria manages the portfolio of rental properties, and Drew is the designer-builder. The couple also have two children and a dog in their busy mix. As well, Victoria and a business partner opened Kindred Coffee Bar, in Lindsay in 2022 while Drew owns House Fitness, a gym in Peterborough since 2017.

The rehab of the space and Airstream was a labour of love for Drew with the inspiration coming from a few places including Tinker Hatfield, the acclaimed Nike shoe designer who lived in a warehouse in Portland, Oregon, in the U.S. and had an Airstream inside. He notes the Lindsay Airstream was in “really rough shape,” prior to his work to make it a modern, creative and comfortable sleeping spot.

The Victoria Fruit Market Airstream sleeps 4 with a loft bedroom upstairs in the space to accommodate two more. There is a kitchen tucked into the warehouse, too. The rolling door can be opened for fresh air in the back.

The space also features an on-trend leather couch, a dining table, darts and other games and a large TV.

Drew says since opening in March 2023, guests have checked in for a sleepover from Canada and the U.S., but he sees the space as more than just a place for people to lie their heads. They hosted a luxury picnic for brunch in collaboration with a company in Orillia and others have used the space for cocktail and birthday parties, movie nights, and a babymoon (a vacation taken by parents before a baby is expected.) An upcoming baby shower is happening, too.

A couple has booked the warehouse for a small wedding and Jessup says they have reached out to wedding venues to position it as a spot for wedding parties to get ready and also as a place to stay after the nuptials.

Live music events are also on Drew’s radar for the Fruit Market.

Located downtown, it offers guests an endless variety of places to eat, be entertained or stroll to the Scugog River. The parking lot at the Fruit Market backs onto another vintage building with as much history. The Coach and Horses Pub was built in the 1870s and was originally a livery stable. Guests only need to travel about 30 seconds to enter the tavern with original carriage doors and windows above where the horses used to look out. Visitors can see some of Lindsay’s most colourful residents there, grab cold beer and listen to live music during their stay.

Peter Miller, like many teens, left Lindsay vowing to never come back, as the place “was boring,” he said. The pandemic hit and he brought his family and fresh eyes back to Lindsay after 12 years in Toronto.

Many of Miller’s Toronto friends scattered too. He has rented the AirBnB as a spot to host his friends and show them the gems around town. He and his friends are fans of independent, old movie theatres and he introduced them to Sheila at the Century Theatre, and he said it gave them a “vibe and energy” that his friends thought was awesome.

All of Miller’s friends are dads and the time with them to catch up is well spent. The first time he rented the space was when his best friend was about a week away from welcoming his third child. Miller and his friends said, “We probably won’t see you for a while, so let’s all get together.”

Other times, they played darts and ordered pizza or dined at Gusto Grande and then watched their favourite bad movies.

Miller says renting the space frees up more room so people aren’t sleeping on his couch, and there’s just more comfort. He also says it also has that wow factor.

“It’s a little secret spot, and if you’re not aware of it, it might be a little difficult to find.”

He says it was also a proud moment where he introduced his city friends to Lindsay and they said, “this place is really cool!”

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