A weekend writing retreat in Ontario this summer


Is your creative writing craving inspiration and focus?

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 on a Friday afternoon in an old manor house overlooking a lake an hour north of Toronto. What follows will be 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 silent writing period. Our focus will be ourselves — who are we, the middle of this summer? What are we craving? What are we ready to let go of? Come to breathe, nap, swim, listen to the birds, explore the gardens, walk the labyrinth, make friends and write your heart out.

We’ll officially start at 6:30pm on the 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.

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.




July 19-21, 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 6pm. Our weekend will wrap-up on Sunday around 1pm.


Britt & Ailsa

You’ll have three excited Firefly facilitators, AilsaBritt and Sophia.

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.

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.

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.


Rooms and Prices:

Main House:

  • “The Rupi Kaur Room” and “The Nikita Gill Room”, large Private rooms 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”, shared room with en-suite, $645.

Private Cabins:

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

  • The “The Richard Wagamese Cabin” and the “Nayyiria Waheed Cabin”, private cabins with en-suite, $795. 

When you sign up you’ll be asked for a deposit between $345 and $595 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.

Ready to dive in?

Registation is now full.


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

What people are saying:

Shauna circle.png

I went to the Summerglow Retreat with a completely open mind and with the intention to take the time to receive the creative inspiration I had been longing for. I needed to completely commit to myself, and that meant forgoing my traditionally friendly and conversational communication style. Each person was on their own quest and each of us put in and took out what we needed. I was flabbergasted at how bang-on the exercises were at pulling out the nuggets I needed to spark my creative juices. I valued the honour of listening to and learning from the works of others and treasured the honest feedback and encouragement from all participants and facilitators. And the location… breathtaking and just what I needed to be able to feel released. I will most certainly be back again.

Shauna Rae
Writer, Explorer, Vulnerability Student


Sumair circle.png

The Summerglow retreat was the best weekend of my year. I came out of it inspired, relaxed, and with a goal and direction for my 2 year long project. There was so much incredible thoughtfulness in everything and the facilitators were absolutely wonderful people to to spend the weekend with. The retreat location is stunning. I’m so excited to do it again.

Sumair Sattar



What an experience! Firefly brought a group of novice and seasoned writers together in a way that deepened our understanding of ourselves, our writing practice and our stories. The exercises brought fun and a new perspective on the writing process. The wonderful chunks of silent time allowed me a deeper engagement with my writing, inspired me to tame anxiety (after a good cry on the dock to release tension) and get to work. I enjoyed meeting like-minded people and being surrounded by the beauty and intentionally that is Loretto Maryholme. I loved how the participants relaxed over time, me included, to allow for our creativity to breathe. The group giggle fest on the last morning was the best! I was delighted with the progress I made on my first novel. I highly recommend Firefly!

Colleen Bradley