Resa Lent

Chairperson of Three Centuries Festival & Café Owner


Published, EAC Communiqué, May 1987


t is difficult to get to know Resa Lent. Not that she’s difficult to talk to. Quite the contrary. She just doesn’t sit still long enough, and this year Elora’s Three Centuries Festival will reap the benefits of Resa’s boundless energy.

Despite her humble claim that there are others who know far more about music than she, the Festival nominating committee, impressed by Resa’s vibrancy, business know-how and dedication to the betterment of the community, appointed her as chairperson of the Three Centuries Festival. 

“It’s a pretty incredible experience to be given,” says Resa “I do have fears about not being able to give enough time to it, but I’m at ease with that because everything else in my life is so crazy!”

Resa made Elora her home 10 years ago. Prior to this she was travelling, having traded in her university books for a knapsack and heading off to Europe, Africa, Mexico and Colombia. She ended up in Quebec where
she was “away up north doing the back to the land routine, using wood stoves, raising animals and no running water.”

When circumstances in her personal life dictated that she live near her family in Toronto, Resa knew she didn’t want to live in the city. She remembered Elora from a previous visit and decided to check it out. The ease with which she secured a job and found an apartment (which took a total of two hours) convinced her this was where she was meant to be and she hasn’t looked back. 

Resa worked in various establishments in the village, including The Nightingale Tea Shop, now home of the Desert Rose Café. “I used to sit in here and dream about what I could do with this place. I really wanted a place to put my energy into,” she says. Finally the opportunity presented itself and despite the knots in her stomach, because she had never owned or operated a business before, she plunged ahead, creating The Desert Rose Café.

Resa is by no means a conventional business person. Writing down business plans and figures is her style. She knows in her heart whether something is going to work. “My business I run from my guts”, she says. And as far as she is concerned the philosophy has paid off. “I know where my business is going, it’s steady, people love it, and they really feel at home here,” she says, referring to her restaurant on Mill Street, Elora. 

Resa’s philosophy of life has her living each day as if it were her last. “I want to live life to the fullest because it’s a great gift we’ve been given. I get really frustrated when people are moaners and are always complaining because I feel we have the choice to do what we want in our lives if we take the power and do it.”

In keeping with her philosophy of life, Resa is not afraid to try new things, although she admits there is a part of her that is fairly reserved. Her most recent attempt at trying something new was in January of this year when she joined an ice sculpting team and participated in the United States International Snow Sculpting Competition in Milwaukee. Her team was one of three from Canada and the only all women’s team. Resa proudly displays a trophy they received after winning the Artists’ Choice Award and she’s determined it won’t be the last! She readily admits ice sculpting has become her newfound passion. 

Resa is a businesswoman as well as Chairperson of the Festival and this is important, she says. “What the town needs is more life outside of just shops and stores and restaurants and I think the Festival is one of the main attractions that we do have,” 

She has been involved with the Festival for four years and she envisions numerous areas of growth, including more free concerts, greater variety in repertoire and quite literally, people singing in the streets. “I would like to see more theatre involved,” says Resa. “There’s an eclectic combination of things you can have with music and theatre and I think we really need to expand that way if we’re going to continue.”

This entrepreneur would also like to see the Festival and community combining their efforts in the winter to bring about a week of music and winter activities which would result in The Festival, the Chamber of Commerce and the service clubs working together. “We need to be more solid. We need to be like a growing trunk of a tree because I see us being too separate,” she says with conviction.

The Chairperson would also like to see the general populace of Elora becoming involved. “We have to start providing other kinds of music and get people to realize that we want to produce a Festival which everyone can enjoy,” she says. Resa realizes these changes will be a while in coming and has set a more immediate personal goal for herself – learning how to run a successful music festival. As the summer looms ahead her only concern is for the Festival’s success and the hope that she will be involved in its ninth and tenth seasons.

So if Resa isn’t running her business, working out in the gym, which she does daily, or carving a block of snow somewhere, you’ll find her ironing out details for the Festival’s eighth season.

“I’m a workaholic. I’m active and I’m not afraid of trying new things” says Resa. All excellent qualities to have as she embarks on her first year as Chairperson of the Three Centuries Festival.

by Terry James,  May 1987

I’m a workaholic. I’m active and I’m not afraid of trying new things.

UPDATE – 1997

Resa continued on the Festival Board from 1987 to 1989. In 1995 she returned to the Festival (now named The Elora Festival) Board.

She owned and ran the Desert Rose Café on Mill Street until October 31, 1990. On that date, while on a short-lived sabbatical from the restaurant, the building housing the Desert Rose burned in a tragic fire.

With a change of pace, Resa worked at Portage, a rehabilitation centre for young people, as first cook, as well as taking palliative care courses and volunteering with Hospice Wellington. She also worked at a camp for children with cancer in the summer.

In the spring of 1995, to the delight of her many former clients, Resa Lent re-opened the Desert Rose Café in a new location on Geddes Street, Elora – a rose coloured building which evokes the glowing warmth that abides within.

I know where my business is going, it’s steady, people love it, and they really feel at home here.


UPDATE – 2005

Resa’s focus is still with the Desert Rose, of course, but beautification of our streetscapes has become an important direction for her. This started initially with Communities In Bloom and then with the Guerrilla Gardeners, a community garden intensification movement, highlighted in an HQ TV documentary on Communities In Bloom. The rose-coloured restaurant is now enhanced with luxurious potted flowers.

In 2002, Resa received the well-merited Chamber of Commerce Business Beautification Award.