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 afternoon until Monday 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. Come to breathe deeply, nap shamelessly, write wildly, share from your heart, and get your creative oven cooking.

We’ll officially start at 6:30pm on the Friday night, but you’re welcome to arrive any time from 3:30pm onward 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 Monday 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.


February 21-24, 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 Monday 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, $1195.

  • “The Dr. Seuss Room”, “The Rilke Room”, and “The Zadie Smith Room”, small private rooms, no en-suite, $1045.

  • “The Tess Gallagher and Raymond Carver Suite”, A “semi-shared” room (walk through one to get to the other) with en-suite, $1045.

  • “The Leonard Cohen Room” and “The Alice Walker Room”, shared rooms with en-suite, $970.

Private Cabins:

  • The “Anne Michaels Cabin” large private cabin with en-suite, $1270.

  • The “Nayyiria Waheed Cabin”, private cabin with en-suite, $1195.

When you sign up you’ll be asked for a deposit between $200 and $500 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 six monthly credit card payments. There’s no fee for using installments. Note, HST will be added to all costs.

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 in?

Registration opens on Oct 8th. You can get a nudge when early retreat registration begins by submitting your email below. Alternately, join our mailing list to keep up to date on all things Firefly.


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


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


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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