Winterfire Writing Retreat

Winterfire Creative Writing Retreat


A warm-hearted winter writing retreat in Ontario.

In this busy world we’re always making things — lists, plans, emails, sandwiches. It takes time to step out of the bustle and create mindfully, carefully and lovingly. This is a retreat for people with stories in their hearts that they want to get down. We’ll gather at a big manor house on a lake — twelve participants, two facilitators and an organizer — and we’ll write. In silence and in laughter, in circles and alone, we’ll find just the right words and sentences and images to move our stories out into the world.  Participants may have projects on the go, or may simply arrive with big open hearts and the desire to create.

Here’s how it works:

We will gather at a cozy old manor house on Lake Simcoe from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. Over the course of the weekend, we’ll create a warm and supportive mini-community to let go of our city stresses and write, write, write. Our time will be a mix of guided writing exercises, silent writing time, workshops and of course big shared meals and plenty of laughter. Every participant will also have access to half an hour of undivided attention from a Firefly coach to talk about their writing blocks and questions. Come to breathe deeply, nap shamelessly, write wildly, share from your heart, and get your creative oven cooking.

A glimpse into past Firefly writing retreats at this location:

This retreat is ideal for people who:

~ Are excited by the idea of quiet time, heart connection, and creative self-reflection.
~ Want to share their ideas and their writing with others.
~ Appreciate communal atmospheres and feel drawn to forming connections with others. (That said, this is an introvert-friendly space, and there will be lots of time to do you own thing.)
~ Want to know where their writing will go if they eliminated distractions and just keep writing.
~ Are craving some time away from Facebook and buzzing telephones.
~ Love claw foot tubs and wrap-around porches.

This retreat isn’t ideal for people who:

~ Might prefer to go to a spa. This retreat will involve focused writing and lots of introspection, as well as helping out with some meal preparation and cleanup. This isn’t a space to be catered to, it’s a space to actively co-create.
~ Are working on a writing project they’re not motivated by, like something for work. This retreat is built on the love of words, and tapping into the heart of our writing processes.
~ Believe that their writing can only thrive in a critical writing environment. We believe that writing flourishes with have heavy doses of kindness and support.
~ Don’t want to share their work with others. There will be lots of opportunities to share, and while it’s totally fine to pass from time to time, we’re looking for participants who are excited by sharing, even when it’s a little squirmy.
~ Honestly can’t go a day without checking Twitter.


February 23-25, 2018

We’ll officially start at 6:30pm on Friday night, but you’re welcome to arrive any time from 3:30pm onwards to settle in, take a nap, do some writing. We’ll serve a light dinner at 6. Our weekend will wrap-up on Sunday around 2pm.

Our home will be the Loretto Maryholme Spirituality Center, 1 hour north of Toronto.

Ailsa and Danette

Your facilitators on this retreat will be Danette and Ailsa – you can see their beaming faces to the right.

To help us create a community of care, everyone will be assigned to a “meal team” before the retreat, to help bring and prepare one meal for the group. This will give you an opportunity to connect with some of the participants before you arrive, and to show off that amazing side dish you know how to rock. (Plus we all know that the real party is in the kitchen…) We’ll do our very best to accommodate all food restrictions.

To help with transport, we’ll arrange carpools wherever possible. We’ll happily help try to arrange pick-ups from the closest Go Bus station if we can’t get everyone into carpools.

Also note: All new-to-Firefly participants will have a chat on the phone with one of the facilitators before their registration is final. We like connecting in person to make sure it’s the right fit.


Edgar House: 
– Large Solo with en-suite (“The Rupi Kaur Room”) – $795 – Full
– Tiny Solo with no en-suite (“The Dr. Seus Room”) – $695 – Full
– Semi-Shared with en-suite (“The Tess Gallagher and Raymond Carver Suite”) – $695 – Full
– Shared with en-suite -(“The Leonard Cohen Room”, “The Alice Walker Room”) – $650 – Full

Fensom Cottage:
– Solo with no en-suite (“The Rilke Room”, “The Zadie Smith Room”) –  $725 – Full
– Shared with no en-suite ( The Jhumpa Lahiri Room”)- $625 – Full

When you sign up you’ll be asked for a $200 deposit to confirm your spot. The balance will be due three weeks before the retreat starts. You’ll also have the option of breaking your balance into four monthly credit card payments if you set this up early enough. There is no fee for this service, we just like to offer it.

We don’t want money to be a barrier to participation for our programs, but we know it can be. This can be especially true for people facing marginalization, including black, indigenous and other people of colour. We have a small scholarship fund available, allocated on a first-come-first-served basis for anyone who needs it. Please let us know in your registration form if you’d like to apply. On the other hand if you’re able to contribute to our scholarship fund, click here.

To see our full financial policies please click here.

Ready to dive?

Get an early bird nudge when registration opens


Click here for our retreat Q & A. If you still have questions after that, drop Bree a line and she’ll very happily answer all your questions.

Firefly’s Winterfire Retreat in 2016 gave me a beautiful opportunity to step outside my routine and devote some time to creativity. The Firefly team is deeply supportive and loving, and in the first activity we did, it already felt like a safe space to share some freshly written lines. I am grateful to have had the chance to spend time with Firefly’s phenomenal writing coaches.

Meaghan Mazurek
Writer and Teacher

Attending Winterfire last year was like a launch pad for me. All of my writing habits had gone dormant, and I needed a spark. I found it there. Chris and The Firefly Team created an incredible space for sharing, writing, silence, more writing, more silence, and lots of coming together. A fountain of words came out of me that weekend, and I have been busy writing ever since.

Eden Hertzog
Owner, cookie expert, New Moon Kitchen


When I came back from last year’s Winterfire Retreat I felt connected. Not just with other writers and friends, or with my projects and writing dreams, but with myself — my words, my stories, my heart.

Kelly Wilk
Freelance Writer

Can We Keep In Touch?

Can We Keep In Touch?

Every 2-3 weeks we email out a poem we love, a link to a new video writing prompt, and news of upcoming workshops. Can we send them to you?

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