Spring Thaw

A weekend writing retreat on Lake Simcoe every spring


Longing for a weekend of writing, laughing and lake-gazing?

This is a weekend for folks who want to escape the city, snip the ties on their responsibilities and create some beautiful, focused time to write. We’ll gather at a big manor house on a lake — twelve 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 evening 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, with the winter at our heals? 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 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.

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.


May 1-3, 2020. Our home will be the Loretto Maryholme Spirituality Center, 1 hour north of Toronto. 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 6pm. Our weekend will wrap-up on Sunday around 1pm.

You’ll have three Firefly team members to create and support this experience, writing coaches Ailsa and Sophia, 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 room, 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 room with en-suite, $645.

Private Cabins:

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

  • The “Nayyiria Waheed 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 installments. Note, HST will be added to all costs.

Ready to dive in?

Registration opens January 2020.


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