Bright Harvest

A weekend writing retreat in Ontario this fall.


Are you a writer who longs to write more?

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 — ten participants and two facilitators — and we’ll write. In silence and in laughter, in circles and all 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 on a Friday afternoon in a soulful old manor house on Lake Simcoe for a luxurious weekend of creative output and self-reflection. Our time will be a mix of writing workshops, group meals, free time, with an extra-long Saturday afternoon silent writing period. Our focus will be ourselves — who are we, on the brink of the winter ahead? What are we craving? What are we ready to let go of? Come to breathe, nap, listen to the birds, explore the gardens, walk the labyrinth, make friends and write your heart out.

A glimpse at past 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.

This retreat isn’t 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 or absolutely need to be connected to the internet. We won’t be sharing the wifi password (this is part of the magic!)


October 25-27, 2019. 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. There will be a casual drop-in dinner at 6. Our weekend will wrap-up on Sunday around 1pm.

You’ll have three Firefly team members to create and support this experience, writing coaches Britt and Jenna, and overall support goddess Bree.

To help us create a community of care, everyone will sign up about a month before the retreat to contribute a dish towards one meal. You will bring the ingredients and prepare the dish alongside others who signed up for the same meal. This gives you an opportunity to connect with some of the participants in the kitchen and to show off that amazing 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 make transit easy and sweet, we’d be happy to connect those wanting to carpool so you can coordinate rides together. There is also a bus that gets super close and we’ll happily pick you up from there if need be.

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.




Rooms and prices:

The Main House: 

  • “The Rupi Kaur Room”, large private room with en-suite, $795.

  • “The Dr. Seuss Room”, “The Rilke Room”', “The Zadie Smith Room”, small private rooms, no en-suite, $695.

  • The Tess Gallagher and Raymond Carver Suite, A “semi-shared” room (walk through one to get to the other) with en-suite, $695.

  • “The Leonard Cohen Room” and “The Alice Walker Room”, shared rooms with en-suite, $645.

Private Cabins:

  • The “Anne Michaels Cabin” private cabin with en-suite, $845.

  • The “Richard Wagamese Cabin”, private cabin with en-suite, $795.

When you sign up you’ll be asked for a deposit between $200 and $400 to claim your spot — deposits vary based on room choice. We’ll follow up once your spot is confirmed with an invoice for the balance, and the option of breaking the balance into four monthly credit card payments. There’s no fee for using this service, we just like to offer it. Note, HST will be added to all costs.

To see our financial and cancellation policies, click here.

Ready to dive in?

Sorry this retreat is now full.


There’s an FAQ right here with loads more info.

Credit where it’s due!

That beautiful photo up there is one of the few on this website that we didn’t take ourselves. It was shot by the wonderful Autumn Mott and shared with permission through Unsplash’s Creative Commons Zero license. Thank you for this gorgeous shot, Autumn!


Bright Harvest retreat at Loretto Maryholme, was like diving into a deep well of possibility. I went in unaware of the project I would be working on, but with deep care and graceful finesse the facilitators brought me to a place where my writing flowed. Because of their gentle prompting I was able to go to places I haven’t been wanting to go with my writing, and have come out with a renewed sense of confidence that what I have to write is important and should hold a reverent place in my life. If it weren’t for these beautiful coaches and the stunning venue, mixed with the alchemy of other participants and time to be with myself, I may have not rediscovered my own writing voice so quickly. Thank you Firefly.

Emma Brandy
Outdoor and Environmental Educator


Thank you for sending me to a table filled with brave open hearted women. For laughter and tears. How each voice had it’s own melody.  Thank you for food prepared in community and endless cups of tea and chocolate for breakfast. For the container created by the facilitators where I could show up as my best self and be in awe of the beauty that came out of each voice at the table. I left this retreat knowing my own capacity for reaching deep inside to pull the words out of sacred places and in awe of how everyone showed all the way up.  Before this retreat I was floundering in a rough personal space but the love and authenticity that all 3 of the facilitators bring was like a sparkling waterfall on a hot muggy day. What they do is truly magical, love magic.

Nina Willow
Doctor, artist and mama who loves light, color, form, texture, tone, and the tender moment


A magical energy surrounded me and guided every step of my ‘Bright Harvest’ journey: my fingertips that somehow steered me to the welcoming Firefly website; the friendly telephone conversation that lit a spark and inspired in me the mantra, “You must do this!“; my seven hour drive on a highway gleaming with the golds and greens of an enchanted Northern Ontario forest; the calmness, kinship, and inspiration fostered by a safe writing space with excellent facilitators and good, honest, questing women; the countless serendipitous happenings that answered so many of my personal questions; gorgeous scenery, particularly the stairs descending to beautiful Lake Simcoe and into my sacred self. All of the “callings” that comprise my life were affirmed by this retreat. A kind of peaceful knowing— a connection to something ‘bigger’: these were, and will remain, the blessings of my ‘Bright Harvest’ journey. Thank you.

Laura Pigeon-Kelly
Writer, Teacher, Moth