I want to tell you about a very special place. The kind of place where you can let go of everything – your time, your stress, your expectations – and just relax and exist. A place where breathing might be the most important thing you do all day.
Tucked along the edge of Algonquin Provincial Park, one of Canada’s most treasured natural preserves, on the shores of Lake Kawawaymog you will find this special place – the Northern Edge Algonquin Lodge.
The story of the Edge is as personal as it is inspiring. In 1995, Martha and Todd Lucier made an intentional leap away from the bustle of the city and chased a shared dream to find a new life in one of their very favorite places. They have now opened their home for people like you and I to enjoy and share. This is part of what makes the place so special – you can feel natural history mingling with the roots of this family. That trust and openness is hard to give to strangers and a treasure to find.
The Luciers have assembled an exceptional team that feels more like a close-knit family. When I visited the lodge last month on the invitation of Tourism Ontario, I settled in and felt immediately comfortable, finding a wonderful sense of calm and community.
One thing you should know about the Edge is that it is an eco-lodge in the truest sense. I was greatly impressed by the ecological measures throughout, from their off-the-grid power structure (primarily solar) and composting toilets to the amazing daily meals sourced locally and organically as possible. Even smaller details like the pathway made of recycled plastic bottles or the wild berries growing on one building’s green roof were inspiring evidence of the time and efforts taken to create a sustainable and ecologically-sensitive environment.
Points North, the epicenter of daily activities, is a cozy gathering space with a beautiful yoga space upstairs. The virtual living room, you can dip in there anytime for a cup of warm tea, a book to read or a solar-heated shower. Unless it’s warm enough to be outside, yoga practice takes place in the studio under dreamy skylights with fresh breezes coming in the windows.
Accommodation options at the Edge include a range of cabins and the “glampground”. I stayed in a sweet little cabin called Moonbeam: a canvas-covered wood structure that had just the essentials but was very cozy. A generous down comforter topped with a handmade quilt kept me warm and snug, and the canvas walls and ceiling let in the sights and sounds of the forest – the call of the loons on the lake at night, the play of shadows on the walls with each phrase of the wind in the afternoon. Little candle lanterns provided any light my headlamp didn’t provide at night, and toilet and shower facilities were just down the path at Points North. There’s also the option to share larger cabins, some with their own composting toilets, or pitch a tent in the campground up the hill.
Mealtimes at the dining hall feel like eating in someone’s home – and rightly so! The house was the core of the new building that occurred when the Luciers moved onto the land many years ago, and now is part of their family home. The north wall of the open dining room is filled with an exciting library that guests are encouraged to look through and borrow from during the stay (likewise there’s a smaller library to peruse in Points North), with tomes on everything from shamanism to permaculture to whole foods to green building. The book nerd in me wanted to curl up and spend the winter with that book collection.
And then there’s the food! Chef Gregor’s approach is a true study in locavorism – that which he doesn’t grow in the Edge’s garden just outside his kitchen, he sources as locally as possible from the surrounding bounty of small farms and artisanal food-makers. I found myself always looking forward to stepping into the dining hall and seeing what new innovative meal Greg had put together from whatever was fresh, local and in-season. (Stay tuned for a WanderFood Wednesday post featuring some of Gregor’s masterpieces!)
The lodge hosts numerous retreats and wilderness adventures throughout the year with a focus on wellness, exploration and spirituality. I’ll be sharing more about my experience as a participant in the Edge’s Quest for Balance retreat in an upcoming post; in the meantime, you can check out the full retreat schedule here, and the adventure calendar here and start dreaming about your trip to the wilds of northern Ontario.