Jim Culbert was born and raised on a farm in Bradford Ontario. At the age of 15 his parents sold their farm and moved into Bradford proper. Jim started his school studies in a one room school house and by grade 5 was into a consolidated school (this was an amalgamation of many small schools). Graduating out of grade 8 he moved into the Bradford District High School. where he graduated from grade 12.
During the time at home he met an old lady, Mrs. George
Green, who lived across the road from him. He visited many nights there and through his visits in an
antique filled home he listened while Mrs. Green talked of the Bradford of old. Gas lamps lit every
night and balls in the larger homes. When Mrs. Green sold her home to move to her daughters she
asked Jim to take some drapes off the wall and cover a small occasional chair for her daughter. This
was the beginning of a life long and love long career in re-upholstery.
After high school Jim went on to receive his Journeyman Apprentice Papers for re-upholstery. It
was a 3 year coarse that he took in Barrie under the direction of the late Lorne Carter, owner of
After the coarse was finished , Jim stayed on another year and then when he bought his first
home on the outskirts of Bradford he left the firm and opened up his own re-upholstery shop
"Bradford's Furniture Doctor" . Jim's first home was build by Tom, Frank and Bill Whiteside for their
Mother in 1921. Polly Whiteside soon made it the show place of the community and enjoyed it for
many years. He had lots of energy and hand stripped the woodwork and floors and redecorated it
to house his antiques. Many people looked forward to the once a year Wine & Cheese Party the
first weekend in June. His first partner, Kerry Wade, formally of Ottawa moved in with him and many
people were welcomed by them over the 3 years together. Besides a 3 storey brick house the
property had a large shop out in a separate building. He had a successful business bringing in work
from far and wide Through out the year he had numerous friends come to visit and stay for
weekends. Thus came to the back of his mind the idea of a B&B.
In 1977 Jim had surgery and had a kidney removed and like Adam, in the Bible, gained a
wife .After a short marriage of 3 years Jim sold the house and moved to an abandoned cottage in
the woods a little further south of his former home. Taking that place and turning it into a great
county home he lived there for 4 years. A fitting setting for summer garden parties it was situated
looking over the Holland Marsh and south to Toronto. During this time of his life he met Allen
Hutchinson and he moved in with Jim. After 4 yrs. Jim & Allan moved into Bradford Proper to a
modern 2 storey house. Again after many renovations he had it to his liking.
Because of chemicals used in refinishing and the loss of a kidney Jim decided to sell the
refinishing end of his business and just concentrate on re-upholstery. A former client, ,Ms. Katherine
Curry and her friend Alice, had just come home from a trip to the east Coast of Canada where they
bought a Victorian Farm House and were moving there to open a B&B. They asked Jim if he would
like to accompany them down when they went to set up the house. Jim jumped at the chance and
off they went via car to the Island. From the moment Jim saw the red cliffs of PEI and the ferry ride
across to this mystical Island he knew he was "home". After helping "Lady Catherine" set up and
renovate her house to accommodate 3 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms he left for Ontario. But, not for
long. In another month he was back looking for a home to open his own B&B.
Looking all over the province he finally found the place, an old 3 storey on the Orwell Bay in the little
village of Vernon Bridge and "Blair Hall" was formed. Again taking an old tenement house and
bringing it back to its former beauty was the task of the day. Carpenters electricians and plumbers
were at Jim's beck and call for almost 2 months. On June 16th 1988 "Blair Hall" was open to the
public and 65 curious friends and former tenants of the house came to view the "new" look. Jim's
Mother and Father arrived for the opening and during the time they were visiting his Mom noticed
that there were a great number of cars travelling by and she remarked that it would be a great
place to sell ice-cream! They were hardly back in Bradford when Jim purchased an old Orange Julius
Building and had it moved to the property. He put out his sign and very soon many Islanders and
tourists were stopping to have ice cream. Jim decided to sell burgers and hotdogs and again out
went the sign. The local health inspector came and said he couldn't sell prepared foods unless he
had 3 sinks and hot and cold running water. He told Jim to stick to ice cream. Jim's remarks were
"Come back on Monday and I will be prepared for you". With sinks in and water running the little
canteen was becoming a visiting place in the evening ,for the surrounding neighbours. Looking at
the lost land down to the water Jim again had the ideas rolling in his head and called the powers to
be and started landscaping the grounds to the Bay. At last he had his own park. .People came ate
and enjoyed the goings on of the fisherman and boaters in the bay. All the time his business was
growing and he was receiving people from all over the world. The old garage was the next on the
list and was raised straightened and added to and became a 2 bedroom cottage used for guests
with families. It was rented in the winter as a house-keeper’s suite.
In 1990 the local area lost a prominent business man, Dan Cummings and his establishment
"D.R. Cummings General Store” was up for sale. Jim bought the store and attached warehouse and
detached house and ran the store for 5 yrs. renting out the home to different families. It was truly
an old country store with wood interior and gas pumps out front. Jim introduced video rental,
magazines and opened a bake shop as well. During this time the larger food chains were
bombarding the Island with food stores so Jim decided to close the store and turn it into an
upholstery shop and antique store. Here were many flea market items and people could watch him
work at the furniture. During this period of time Jim and Tom Blickslager gutted and renovated the
Cummings House. Or should I say Tom thought he was coming to do a few repairs discussed the
previous week and when he arrived on the first day of work he found that Jim had gutted the whole
house and a dumpster was in the yard. So began the job of rebuilding a home from outside walls.
New electric, plumbing, insulation, gyp- rock walls, refinished interior trim and sanded and finished
floors. New kitchen and bath were completed and the house was rented once again.
In 1998 Jim sold "Blair Hall" and closed the re-upholstery shop and under his direction had the
talented tradesman Michael Wilson come and turn the vacant store into a wonderful homey "Lodge"
When Jim arrived home from a visit to Ontario it was spring and the weather permitted painting.
Pink side walls ,burgundy and white trim and the front---The RAINBOW colours of coarse. Thus
'RAINBOW LODGE" was formed. Rainbow Lodge is a safe haven for gay women and men,
transgender folk & bisexuals to come and be at home. It has 2 large bedrooms with private baths
and gardens. Full breakfast is the order of the morning then off to explore the Island. In the
evening the great room is a cozy place to curl up and visit people from far and wide. Looking out on
the landscape Jim had another idea and with the help of friend, and webmaster Mike Motorbike ,and
a dear friend Jenny they began building gardens. A fish pond was next on the list and every year
the gardens become a magnificent display of colours from early spring to late fall. Jim lived in the
unfinished attic of the barn that year as the house was still rented to tenants. In 2000 Jim again
looked out over his land and decided it was time to renovate the old warehouse. He had it lifted
and then with the help off his trusty friend, Mike Wilson, they transformed it into another wonderful
looking building. The old building was cleaned out, and a new insulated floor put down. Next came
the stud walls and wiring and plumbing. Following this relatively clean part of the renovation came
the dirty job of blowing in the insulation to make it nice and warm, ceilings, all walls and attic. Gyp-
rock was next followed by the taping and seam-filling. Special little effects were added to give it
some character and then the paint was applied. The pine trim and base was installed and the
carpets and hard surface floors but down. To finish the job a kitchen was needed in the unit so
plans were made and cupboards installed. After many years of being called the barn “THE BARN”
has a new look. The upper floor “The Loft” is a 1 bedroom apt. with fireplace for a little ambiance.
The ground floor unit “The Stable” is a two bedroom apt. rented year round.
In the fall of 2001 Jim , Mike and Mike’s son tackled Jim’s own house and added an enclosed
sunroom and while putting a new roof on the house. Jim had the idea of taking the shed roof off the
dormer and making a peak roof to match the lines of the new sunroom. Travelling up the road now
the house has a whole new look. Jim owns a 1931 Chevrolet and gets great pleasure in taking his
guests to town for an evening tour of Charlottetown. On good days you may find him on the north
shore showing people this fair Island. Jim has been in the news a lot trying to get people at tourism
to realize that even though we have a Charter of Human Rights we are still a ways away from being
able to feel comfortable about coming to someone's house with his or her partner, and ask to have
a room with a double bed. He feels that the gay & lesbian traveler should have the chance to select
a gay or at least gay -friendly home to stay in while visiting the Island. He asks that letters to the
P.E.I. tourism Minister may help them make the necessary changes in the Visitors Guide for future
years. Jim was very happy to see in the Visitors Guide for 2002 a listing under July Events "PEI GAY
AND LESBIAN PRIDE 2002 ! A beginning!
Jim has been many things in his lifetime, a son , brother, uncle, nephew, great-uncle, husband,
step-father, employee, employer, newsmaker, friend and lover. He now has another couple of titles
to his name as he was ordained in the Universal Life Church in July of 2005 and in 2006 became
Prince Edward Island’s first Marriage Commissioner. Marriage Commissioner gives Jim the ability to
civilly marry couples both straight and gay. Give Jim a call and he can arrange your marriage with
service, cake, food, photographer and even make a DVD of the event. He loves to have people come
to visit at the Lodge and everyone is special. As the sign outside the door says "THERE ARE NO
STRANGERS HERE ONLY FRIENDS WE HAVE YET TO MEET". Come and enjoy our Island way of life,
who knows Jim may even show you a house or two that may interest you as a summer home or
permanent one. Jim would love to see more gay people move to the Island and enjoy what he is
enjoying in this the last tranquil place in Canada.
COME PLAY ON MY ISLAND
Vernon Bridge P.E.I.
Canada C0A 2E0