Looking for a spot
to cozy up and 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 area
Loretto Maryholme, the site of five of our own annual retreats, we have a lot of love for this place. Originally the summer home for a group of social-justice-oriented nuns, the nuns now host silent retreats, spiritual retreats and rent out space for self-guided retreats, which of course can be filled with writing. Guests enjoy lake access, and a beautiful labyrinth and the feeling of being in a place with a long history of spiritual connection. Some of the rooms are on the main floor, so this is one of the more accessible places for a range of mobilities. Click here for details.
Warbler’s Roost is a beautiful B&B located about an hour north of Huntsville. The owners, who are artists themselves, offer self-directed artist residencies to artists and writers who are looking to nourish their creativity at this rural getaway. Set in the middle of the woods, and only steps to the shores of Deer Lake, there’s no lack of inspiration from the natural world here.
Residencies are for a week, and breakfasts are included in the price. There’s also access to well-equipped kitchens to use during your stay. If you’re without a car the owners can arrange to pick you up from the nearest town for an extra fee. Coach Ailsa spent a productive week working on her novel here in early 2018, and came back raving about the hospitality and quiet beauty she experienced. Click here to find out more.
Spark Box Studios This hip studio in Prince Edward County is new to our list, recommended by a writer who stayed there and loved it. Run by two print makers, they offer residencies for artists of all stripes. Residencies can be as short as a weekend or as long as two months and include one weekly shared meal with other resident artists. They also offer workshops, guest lectures, internships and awards that provide financial assistance, especially to emerging artists. Check them out right here.
Fells Meadows, home of our silent retreat, is a cozy and stunning spot for gatherings and quiet contemplation. It consists of a century farmhouse, a yurt, two small cabins and 100 acres of trailed woods and fields. Leslie Fell is a soulful and conscientious host, who facilitates workshops and does one-on-one work with people but also understands the need that many guests bring for silence and space. Approx 90 minutes from Toronto, right near that big apple on the 401. Check them out here.
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.
Thirteen Moons is a retreat center about 2 hours north-east of Toronto, primarily designed for women. Unlike a lot of the other ones on this list, this space is more comfortable and spacious than rustic. All meals (organic and vegetarian) are provided, and the property is beautiful. Meals are shared with other guests. Click here for details.
Khel, which means “To play” in Hindi, is a creative and meditation arts center near Caledon, just 50 minutes from Toronto. The host at Khel, who is an artist herself, offers workshops as well as residencies. Residencies run from 2-14 days, and include delicious Indian food as well as optional meditation sittings. Unlike most residencies, Khel only hosts one artist at a time, which makes it perfect for introspection, silence and rest. We haven’t visited Khel yet, if you do please let us know! Click here for more details.
The Pelee Island Book House has gained a lot of attention since Margaret Atwood endorsed it and started to run retreats here. What many people don’t know though is that they also host writer’s residencies. These are at set times and last either 7 or 14 days. A group of writers move through the residency together. Unlike a lot of the residencies on this list, this one is just for writers. We haven’t been here yet, but one of our students has and tells us that it’s utterly gorgeous. It’s a hike from TO — around 4.5 hour of driving and then a ferry which leaves once a day in the morning. Click here for more info.
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 the image at the top of the page!). 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.
Don’t underestimate the powers of Air BnB. If you’re not looking for something specifically for writers, Air BnB is the gateway to thousands more places to get away and write. There may even be somewhere a short walk away from where you live which will feel like another world. Have a look. But be warned, that website can be a wormhole! Just don’t let it eat up too much time. The idea is to write, not just to plan to write. Click here for more.
Bon Echo Suites are a series of small self-catering apartments in a century-old building on the main street in the tiny town of Tamworth, Ontario. They are close to cafes, grocery store, and everything else a writer might need. Free parking, and a shuttle service from Kingston is available. Click here for more.
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…