Writing getaways in Ontario

Do you need a spot to get away to write?

It’s hard to fit writing into the chaos and demands of life.

We feel it, and we hear it from our clients and class participants a lot. So, we’ve put together this sweet list of Firefly-approved Ontario getaway destinations for you, our sweet community.

We’re not officially partnered with any of these, we just like to share good information when we have it. If you have any questions about the particular properties, follow up with the owners themselves.

This list is always growing, so if you have a spot you want on this list, drop us a line with some pictures and tell us why you think it is perfect for our writers, and we may add it on.

As you’ll see, we’re especially low on barrier-free spaces, so if you find anything out there that’s suitable for a range of mobility levels, please let us know!

We made a little legend for what we think is core information. Here’s how it works:

Meals are provided.  If you don’t see this, you’ll have kitchen access, but will have to bring your own food.

You can get here without a car! Transit either drops you right there, or a pickup can be arranged at the closest bus or train station. (There is usually a fee for this.)

You get the whole place to yourself. No shared kitchen, bathroom or common areas.

Small Pond Arts is an artist-run residence in Prince Edward County for creative folks who want to escape the grind and get some work done. Run by a painter and a theatre artist, every detail has been considered, including the massive art banners hanging from the silo and the “art walk” through the forest. Meals are provided and are shared with the hosts and other artists in residence so you can easily find yourself having breakfast with a collage artist and an experimental sound musician. Rooms are big and comfortable, the bathroom is shared and there’s the opportunity to camp if you prefer the woodsy experience. Lots of Fireflies have stayed here, including Chris, who had an incredibly productive week in the room at the top of the stairs on the right. Click here for details.

Loretto Maryholme, the site of our Winterfire retreat, is a lovely property run by the Loretto Sisters, just north of Toronto. In addition to the spiritual retreats they host, they also rent out space for self-guided retreats, which of course can be filled with writing. Our personal favourite spot is “Blackbird Cabin”, an original, rustic wood cabin down by the lake. That said, it’s no stranger to the odd mouse, and doesn’t have water in the winter, so it’s not for everyone. They also have rooms available in the newer buildings too. Guests can enjoy lake access, and a beautiful labyrinth to walk in the woods. Some of the rooms are on the main floor, so this is one of the more accessible places for a range of mobilities. Follow up with them for more info. There is a lot of Christian symbolism, so not a good fit for anyone who would find that uncomfortable. Click here for details.

The Nook is a sweet little off-grid cabin nestled by the water in Prince Edward County. It is cozy, isolated and very private, a perfect get-away for folks who are looking for big silence and a rustic edge. Being off grid, there’s a generator to fire up if you want hot water or to charge your laptop or to fill up the most beautiful bathtub in southern Ontario (see above). The fridge is powered by electricity. There is lake access and a wood burning stove for the winter. Three Firefly clients have stayed here, including Chris, and have loved it.  Click here for details.

Artscape at Gibraltar Point is an artist residency center located right on Toronto Island, making it a phenomenally convenient escape for Torontonians. Artscape provides short and long term artist residencies for artists from all disciplines at surprisingly affordable rates. More institutional than charming, this space doesn’t offer frills, but a concentrated group of real-ass creatives working hard in one location can have its own kind of magnetism. Private rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms are available. Several Firefly students have enjoyed month-long and weekend-long retreats here and have all come back with a creative charge. There are ramps and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, but the showers aren’t barrier-free yet. Click here for details.

The Al Purdy A-Frame is the original country home of late Canadian poet Al Purdy in Prince Edward County. A group of volunteers have worked tirelessly to get it set up as a writer’s residency offering 1-3 month-long stays, especially for poets. Get this — you get paid to stay there. You need to apply of course, and they only accept a limited number of people per season, but what a beautiful thing this is. We have huge admiration for everyone who pulled this together. We haven’t stayed here, but we’re emotional and financial sponsors of the project. Click here for details.

An Urban AirBnB can be just the thing for folks looking for a low-fuss sanctuary close to home. Coach Danette found this sweet little nook in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighborhood and spent four awesome nights there, working up a storm. Funky, private, and easy to get to. There are lots of other possibilities at the main AirBnB website, but click here for details on this one.

Warbler’s Roost is a new artist residency near Algonquin Park. This one hasn’t been tried out by any Fireflies yet, so we’d love for you to go and fill us in! It looks wonderful and is quite affordable. All residencies are minimum one week, all starting on a Monday. Breakfasts are included, as well as some nice extras like kayaks and snow shoes. Let us know if you go check this place out. Click here for details.

Bon-Eco Suites are a series of small, contained apartments designed for creative folks in the tiny town of Tamworth about 2.5 hours from Toronto. Firefly-Vicki spent a very productive week here, writing her fabulous travel memoir. She tells us that the host was wonderful and she got some of her best work done. These suites are private, nicely arranged, and what writer can resist a new little town to explore? Click here for details.

How about a treehouse? This is a gem in the rough. The sculptor and photographer Bill Lishman (did you see the movie “Fly Away Home”?) rents out this treehouse on the back of his land near Skugog, about an hour from Toronto. It’s small, rustic, isolated and very unique. Chris’s sister went there for her honeymoon and loved it. It’s tiny though, so you need to be cool with your own company. There’s a bit more space in warm weather when you can use the porch. It’s also very isolated; they’ll take you back in the ATV with all the water you need for your time and then leave you to write and sleep and listen to birds.  Check it out right here.

Thirteen Moons is a retreat center about 2 hours north-east of Toronto, primarily designed for women. We haven’t checked it out ourselves, but our dear friend Annahid stayed for a few nights and loved it. Unlike a lot of the other ones on this list, this space is more comfortable and spacious than rustic. All meals are provided and (organic and vegetarian) the property is beautiful, and guests receive a free facial or foot spa. Meals are shared with other guests. Click here for details.

Okay, Loves!

That’s all we’ve got today. Isn’t there a lot? There’s so much! We’re all so lucky to live here.

If you visit any of these places, we’d love to hear how it goes. Drop us a quick line, so we can keep growing our know-how about places to get away to.

Wishing you productive days and restful nights at beautiful places…

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