Our friends Nat and Tim of A Cook Not Mad, drove five and a half hours West of Ottawa to a place they didn’t even know existed until a week before. Northern Edge Algonquin is a low carbon, eco-friendly, solar powered retreat where you can have responsible experiences in nature. They share their experience with us and why you should add this destination to your bucketlist.
Nothing compares to a road trip on a beautiful, sunny spring day. As we headed to Northern Edge Algonquin for A Taste Of Maple retreat, we had no idea what awaited us. Our guide, Jeff, greeted us at the end of the drive way and told us where to park, helped us with our luggage and told us about the different buildings on the property as we walked down towards the lake. We were shown to our cabin, which included two single beds set on either side of the room, shelving in the corner and at the door and a composting toilet that looked a lot like an outhouse toilet. It works the same way as any toilet but instead of flushing, you sprinkle a cupful of peat moss on top. Someone comes by every day to empty the bucket and, when fully composted, it is spread on the flower beds.
We settled in and had a little rest and then off we went for a romp through the forest, on snowshoes. The sun beating down on us was bliss and half way through we started peeling off some of our layers. The snow was packed down on the trail but was melting just enough that if you stepped off the trail at all you would go down a few feet, which made for some hilarious wipe outs if you did not pay attention. Jeff mentioned that we were probably the last tour to go through before the thaw and that we should keep our eyes open for wolves which he spotted earlier that morning on the same trail. Unfortunately we did not see the wolves but they were not very far because we followed their tracks for the last kilometre of our hike.
By the time we got back to the cabins, we were sweating and in need of a shower before dinner. We headed to Points North, one of the main buildings; on the ground floor there are bathrooms with flushable toilets, two shower rooms and a great room that is equipped with a sink and everything to make a cup of tea or coffee. There are also chairs and couches so that you can lounge around and admire the outdoors. Upstairs is a circular room where you can attend a class yoga or practice on your own. All of the architecture on the site is very well cared for and maintained with beautiful artwork and finishing touches that add to your stay, making you feel comfortable and relaxed. Well stocked bird feeders and great views across the lake remind you that you are in a special place where the outdoors and nature are revered.
We heard the dinner bell ring and headed to the main house right next door. Gregor, a man of many talents (he helped build a lot of the structures on the property) cooks delicious food with local, organic produce and meats, his dishes are created with respect for the ingredients and he shows great pride as he describes each meal and where the ingredients were purchased. After a day of running around and snow shoeing we were famished and Gregor’s delicious meal, served in a casual family style, was just the ticket. Adding to the family atmosphere, it is a custom for each guest to clear, wash and dry their own dishes, a simple chore that saves energy and adds to the camp vibe.
Satisfied and glowing from a day in the woods we were then informed that the wood fired sauna was stoked and ready for anyone who wanted to end their day with a muscle melting steam. The Finnish style sauna is housed in a gorgeous building and the gentle lighting from the crackling fire added yet another layer of relaxation that put us both to bed instantly afterwards, snug in our cabin.
The following day after a delicious and hearty breakfast we went dog sledding with Ed and his Sugardogs. Definitely the highlight of our stay for Tim. The dogs were awesome and obviously well cared for and for those of you who think it's just being pulled around by a bunch of dogs, you would be wrong. The trails were narrow and the sled and team needed constant management to keep everybody on track and happy. We had an absolute riot and I think the dogs did too.
Returning to the lodge, our guide, Jeff asked us to meet him up by the maple stand where we would try our hand at tapping a maple tree and then build a fire to make our own maple syrup. Unfortunately a late spring and chilly temperatures meant there was not much sap running but we managed to boil down enough to make some maple taffy in the snow while having a good laugh sharing stories around the fire.
For our last nights dinner we were asked to meet at Humble Hearth , a beautifully rebuilt settlers cabin at one end of the property. Cosy and intimate, we were greeted by our guide around a toasty wood stove in the centre of the cabin. Gregor was again in the kitchen preparing another delicious and hearty meal that he laid out buffet style for us to serve ourselves and then gather around the table to share more stories and folklore of the local area and its wildlife.
At Northern Edge you can't book accommodations only, you book an experience. The enthusiasm of everybody who works at the lodge in sharing their pristine outdoor lifestyle and the pride they take in making sure you are enjoying it the way you want to is very apparent. We enjoyed our time there in the spring but Northern Edge Algonquin, located on Kawawaymog Lake, Algonquin Park is open year round.
They offer yoga retreats, women-only retreats and much more. This is definitely one place to add to the bucket list!
For more information on travelling to Northern Algonguin, contact a Flight Centre Travel Consultant online, or by calling 1-877-967-5302.