Policies & Frequently Asked Questions

By participating in a Northern Edge Algonquin experience all guests agree to reading and following the policies outlined in this FAQ as well as the terms of our acknowledgement and release.

We hope your stay at the Edge is like a visit to the home of a friend; a friend who lives on a lake in the forest, tends a great garden, cooks with passion, truly cares about the environment and wants to introduce you to all the things they love about life in this corner of paradise at Kawawaymog Lake, Algonquin Park.

Most Frequently Asked

Meals & Accommodation

Accessibility & Diversity

What to Bring (or not bring)

Alcohol & Drug Policies

Seasonal Conditions

Activities & Experiences

More about the Edge

Most Frequently Asked

What safety measures are in place to protect guests from Covid-19?

Safety has always been our number one priority, and in the wake of Covid-19, it is more important than ever. Our updated procedures and protocols can be found here.

Yes – as retreats are intimate experiences with multiple points of contact with other guests throughout a stay, we do require proof of vaccination.

What is your Cancellation Policy?

We’ve got a very friendly policy that is designed to protect our team and experiences as well as our guests.  Please review our Lifetime Deposit Protection & Cancellation Policy here.

What time should I arrive?

Guests should plan on arriving between 1-3 pm on arrival day. During arrival you will have the opportunity to settle into your cabin, enjoy free time, or experience drop-in activities while the remainder of the guests arrive. Departure time for most experiences is after lunch to allow for travel time back home, though sometimes programming is extended into the afternoon.  We encourage our guests to stay and experience the full retreat program.

How can I get to the Edge without a vehicle?

While our remote location is most easily accessed by a vehicle, there are other options available for those who don’t drive.  Arrival via bus to South River, or plane to North Bay, is possible and we will be happy to provide an at-cost shuttle service to help get you the rest of the way.  As well, we love to encourage carpooling!  Learn more about finding your way to the Edge.

Do you host weddings?

While we often host family reunion retreats & similar events, the Edge does not have the resources or capacity to host weddings, which require a different level of service and care from what we offer.  We encourage you to find a unique space that takes pride in specializing in weddings, as you deserve the very best care from a more experienced team on your special day.

Can I have Internet Access?

Most of our experiences are 100% unplugged, and that’s one big benefit of joining us! We want our guests to fully enjoy every moment of their experience without the distraction of technology, which is more and more rare these days.

There are no cell phone towers in and around our Algonquin Park location. The Edge team uses secure satellite internet for business and emergency purposes, but we do not make this available to guests.

If you plan to call home on arrival, please do so from South River before your last 20km where cell signals will be reduced. If family members need to reach you during your stay, they can leave a message on our Mainhouse phone: (888) 383-8320 x5. Messages will be delivered as quickly as possible.

Can I bring my pet?

There are many types of wildlife that call the Edge home, from loons, ducks, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds of all types, to occasional larger visitors like moose, deer, and even bears.  To best keep our forests friendly for these animals, to keep our spaces fresh for other guests who may have allergies, and to keep your own animals safe while allowing you to enjoy your experience to it’s fullest, we ask guests to leave personal pets with a friend, or consider dropping them off for a stay at Happy Tails Pet Resort in Huntsville.

In alignment with our efforts in accessibility, guests may provide applicable service animal documentation from a regulated health professional ahead of their visit to ensure needs are met.

Should I leave a gratuity?

Gratuities are welcome, but not required. If an individual has made your stay especially enjoyable, please tip them directly. Tips for hospitality staff can be left in your cabin.

Meals & Accommodations

Do you cater to special dietary needs?

Absolutely! During the registration process you’ll have the opportunity to let us know about your dietary needs, and you’ll be very well taken care of.  Over the years we have met the needs of a wide variety of dietary restrictions. It is each visitor’s responsibility to provide information on any pre-existing medical conditions, food allergies/preferences or related issues prior to participation in any program. We always deliver healthy, regional food prepared with care from scratch.

Guest information is shared with your guide/facilitator and dietary needs go straight to our chef, Gregor.  None of this information is made public. If it’s a repeat visit we will ask for this information again because your needs may change.

Can I book accommodation and meals without participating in a retreat?

As a retreat centre, Northern Edge Algonquin operates very differently from most hotels & resorts.  We specialize in all-inclusive experiences: a variety of different programs are available for different types of travelers, on set dates, all with meals & accommodations included.

Guests can visit us by registering for a scheduled retreat program on our calendar, or by arranging a custom group experience for a group of 10+.  At this time we do not offer meals/accommodations outside of scheduled or group programming.

How does retreat pricing work?

Pricing for most retreats is a combination of our all-inclusive accommodation & meals fee, and a program fee that is decided by us and our partners.  Learn more about what you are investing in when you plan a trip to the Edge, and how our prices are decided.

Do I have to share my cabin/room?

When you register for a retreat at the Edge, you decide if you’d like a shared or private accommodation, which have different pricing rates. 

Solo travelers are often paired in shared accommodations with one or two others to foster friendships and create space for more participants to join a program.

When couples or friends book together, you’ll access the shared accommodation rates with no additional roommates.

Is there a solo supplement for single travelers?

Traveling by yourself doesn’t mean you have to travel alone. Single travelers at the Edge get the same benefits as everyone, and we don’t charge single supplements. We’ll partner you with a same-sex roommate to ensure you receive the same value for your dollar as everyone else.

Private accommodations are available for participants who do not wish to share a room.

What is mealtime like?

In a word – “Amazing”. We take great pride in delivering a culinary experience that will have you asking for recipes. Savour abundant, freshly harvested, global culture buffet dining with chef Gregor’s specialties to thrill your pallet and expand your culinary savvy. Learn more about mealtime. Meals at the Edge are more akin to attending a dinner party with an engaging chef than visiting a buffet at an all-inclusive.

In the spirit of community we invite guests to assist with clearing and washing personal dishes. Remember those days before automatic dishwashers when the best conversations happened at the kitchen sink? It’s that way here all the time.

Which meals are included, and when are they served?

Most retreats include all meals from dinner on arrival day to brunch or lunch on departure day.

The bell will ring to signal mealtime, which is typically at 8:30, 12:30, and 6:00, though timings may vary for your retreat.  We encourage everyone to be on time for meals as ingredients are often combined at the last minute as guests arrive in the dining room, ensuring fresh tastes are enjoyed at their peak of flavour.

Is the tap water safe to drink?

Yes – the source of all tap water at the Edge is our deep well. It’s delicious, refreshing, and safe to drink. Water is not drawn from the lake except to water the flowers or put out campfires.

We are visited regularly by our health unit to ensure the highest level of clean water is available for our staff and guests.  Read about the Ontario Water regulations and most recent testing directive from our board of health. See the latest water test results of our deep well water here.

Can I stay & eat off-site and participate in a retreat?

Visiting in-between defined program times, sharing meals and community space, sleeping in our dreamy cabins and crossing paths on the way to breakfast are all a part of what creates a rich, intimate atmosphere, helping us to build trust & community within a retreat group – and these elements are part of what sets retreats apart from workshops.  For most programs, it is not possible to stay off-site.

For some rare experiences (when we are hosting a unique special guest or a special certification that we feel the local community will appreciate), we may choose to offer a day-use fee of $50/day plus taxes in lieu of accommodation for locals. Day use covers use of spaces plus organic coffee, teas, snacks, fresh fruit and lunch.

Can I stay an extra night?

In most cases we do not have the capacity to host guests who wish to extend their stay. We have partnered with Explore South River to provide suggestions for other local accommodations if you plan on extending your time in the area.

Accessibility & Diversity

Who else is registered? Will I meet like-minded friends?

Our guests are often a diverse mix of solo travelers, friends, and couples, of varying ages from 18 – 80+.  While they may not be like-minded in all ways, our guests tend to share a spirit of curiosity – a desire to learn and experience new things, meet new people and reconnect to themselves in new ways.  You might meet a lifelong friend who turns out to live across the world, or just down the street.

Is the Edge inclusive? LGBTQ2S+ friendly?

Absolutely.  We are an inclusive team with LGBTQ2S+ members, actively working to create a diverse, inclusive, and safe space. We treat everyone with respect, and without judgement.  No matter your race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or age, you are welcome here.

Is the Edge accessible for visitors with diverse abilities and barriers?

If you have an accessibility need, please touch base with us prior to your visit so that we can help make recommendations and plan ahead for you to have the best possible experience.

We value accessibility, and some programs may or may not be a fit depending on the nature of your needs.  In some cases, participation may be possible with the help of a friend or personal attendant.  When appropriate, we will do what we can to make it possible for those with auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, or visual barriers to enjoy our programs.

Because we are in a remote, forested, hilly setting, footing is uneven on some trails and wheelchair access to some buildings and areas is limited.

I have a health concern – will it be safe for me to participate?

We ask our guests to let us know about physical and medical needs as a part of the registration process – this information is voluntarily provided, and will be made available to your facilitators so that they can be aware and plan ahead.  We will do everything possible to create a safe experience for you, and we encourage you to listen to your body and communicate clearly about your needs.

Please note we are located in a remote location and ambulance services are minimum 25 minutes away.  If you are on medication, we recommend bringing more than you will expect to need.

Are experiences kid-friendly?

The majority of scheduled retreats at the Edge are social, personal wellness, or workshop oriented, and are designed as adult experiences.  Some programs like Up North: Algonquin Explorer have a lowered minimum age of 14, as they are a good fit for families with mature youth.If your family is joining us for a Family Reunion or similar private group experience, kids are certainly welcome.  Youth pricing is available with a minimum of 10 registered adults.

What to Bring (or not bring)

What should I pack for my visit?

A printable packing checklist is available in our Welcome Package that is sent to you upon registration.  If you are missing any items please notify your host. We have extras of most gear.

We highly encourage bringing a surprise to share with other guests – this might take the form of a game or activity, an instrument/song/poem, or a tasty treat.

What’s the dress code?  Will I want to dress up during my stay?

We’re calling the dress code “retreat casual”. Wear what you want – athleisure and loungewear are pretty common and most guests don’t dress up for meal time unless a themed dinner has been coordinated in advance.

We invite you to dress in a way that will help you to feel comfortable, warm, and dry during the activities you may encounter during your visit. Bring outdoor wear appropriate for the season. 

Will valuables be safe in my room?

While cabin doors can be locked for peace of mind while you are in your room, they do not lock from the outside. We haven’t had issues in the past, but we recommend leaving valuables at home or locked in your vehicle.

Can I bring my electronic device?

The Edge operates on solar power which provides us with energy for pumping and heating water, energy efficient lighting, music, and most of the comforts of home. Blow-dryers, hair-straighteners, and other devices that produce heat when plugged in, cannot be used here. These devices can damage our electrical system so we ask that they are left at home. Since cell phones don’t work here, power off your devices during your stay and to join us in conserving power whenever possible.

We also ask that any devices that may impact the experience of other guests be left at home, as many of our guests are looking forward to unplugging.  For example, portable gaming devices, drones, tablets, personal computers, & cell phones should be kept at home or in your vehicle.

What about a camera? We love when guests take photos and share them with us on social media after their visit!  Please ensure devices such as cameras are fully-charged before your trip.

Do you have a Lost & Found?

Northern Edge Algonquin cannot accept responsibility for items lost or left behind when guests depart.

If you believe you have left something behind, please contact our office right away so we know to look for it.  Guests are asked to cover the costs of postage for mailing found items.  Unclaimed items found are kept in our office for one month before being donated to a local charity thrift shop.

Alcohol & Drug Policies

Is Smoking permitted?

The fire circle is our designated smoking area for cigarettes and E-cigarettes. Please keep doorways, porches, buildings, cabins, and the environment smoke free by smoking only in the designated area at the fire circle.  Smoking and use of e-cigarettes is never permitted indoors and will result in a steep cleaning fee.

Can I bring alcohol, cannabis, or recreational drugs?

Experiences at the Edge invite us to connect through all of the senses.  Alcohol and drugs inhibit the depth of connection possible and can be a distraction from the personal transformation that our guests are seeking.  We also respect that some participants who join us at the Edge may have had previous harmful relationships with alcohol or drugs, and we are creating safe space to engage together.

Guests are not permitted to bring their own alcohol onto the property for personal consumption, and the majority of our retreats are alcohol-free.  As an experiential accent to some experiences, we may choose to surprise guests with a brewery visit or artisan cocktail workshop when it will not interfere with the safe delivery of programming.

Guests are not permitted to bring drugs (including cannabis) for recreational use. If you have a medical need, please notify us prior to your visit to ensure your needs are met without impacting the safe experience of the group.

Do retreats involve hallucinogens?  Does the Edge welcome “plant medicine” retreats?

Retreats hosted by the Edge and the Way of the Circle Centre facilitate heart-centered, authentic connections without any intake of hallucinogens.  If you found us while searching for the deep kind of experience a plant medicine retreat offers, we invite you to explore our Heart Foundations Retreats to find out if a “Way of the Circle” retreat can help answer your heart calling. This program offers support in retreating inward to find answers to questions, restore our connection to ourselves and the earth, and co-create ceremony within our daily lives.

We understand that some sacred plant medicines can be very powerful when used respectfully in ceremony.  Our commitment is to offer safe experiences with a high level of care that abides by national & provincial law in regards to hallucinogens. It is our specialty and a part of our philosophy to create engaging experiences that foster depth of connection and transformational ceremonies, without the use of these substances. For these reasons, we restrict the use of consciousness-altering substances as a retreat element for all programs at the Edge.  We are happy to work with guest facilitators to co-create meaningful and healing program elements that can engage our senses and open our minds and hearts naturally.

All plants can be sacred in their own way.  Plants like sage, tobacco, sweetgrass, cedar, lavender, lotus flower, and many others which do not produce hallucinogenic effects are welcome.

Seasonal Conditions

How is the weather?

Summer time temperatures range from 10 at night to 30 degrees C during the day. Winter temps can reach -30 C in January, but generally are about -10 C during the day. See current Algonquin Park Weather report.

What if it rains?

Courtney once described this beautifully before a retreat, and we couldn’t say it better:  “While we can’t plan the weather, we can plan to lean into experiencing the depth of beauty that the rain brings with it. Experiences can become more dynamic once we befriend the rain. What if each rain drop was nature’s way of showering us with a million little possibilities for something extraordinary to happen while asking for our commitment and trust to simply let it play out. The rain can bring fog, changes in water flow, wildlife activity, the sound of droplets dancing on the water, and awaken evocative scents in nature – these added elements can be enjoyed as an incredibly memorable visual and sensory experience.” – Courtney Sinclair, Edge Facilitator

We endeavour to ensure everyone is warm, safe, and if not dry; comfortable.  We can provide extra rain gear and we’ll warm up with a hot drink once we’re back inside.

Should I worry about bugs?

Black Fly Season typically begins in late May, and is at it’s worst for the first two weeks of June.  After this, the black flies mostly go away and the mosquitoes take their place for a few weeks.  Once we get into warmer days (usually marked by the Dragonflies hatching) the bugs are not much of a concern.

If you are worried about bugs, the best defense is wear long sleeves, wear light & bright colours, and tuck pants into socks.  Avoiding perfumes and aromatic soap & shampoo will also help you to attract less attention.  We may have a bug jacket you can borrow, or you can bring your own.

If you choose to bring bug repellent, please ensure it is DEET-Free and not in an aerosol spray as these are toxic to our environment and can impact the experience of others who may be sensitive.

We recommend natural repellents that feature lemon eucalyptus.  It works great!

Learn more about mosquito & black fly seasons in Algonquin Park.

Will I see Algonquin Park wildlife?

You bet. At the Edge you’ll see red squirrels, chipmunks, pileated and downy woodpeckers, osprey, and a variety of birds and waterfowl including loons, mergansers, and geese. Sometimes a fox, deer, moose or bear will come by, but sightings on the property are rare.

In Algonquin Park wildlife including otters, beavers, loons, moose are frequently seen and wolves are occasionally heard, especially in early August. The best time of day to encounter wildlife is in the early morning – before breakfast.

What are the night skies like? Will I see Northern Lights?

The night sky at the Edge is a festival of stars year-round, depending on cloud coverage. You’ll be able to see the milky way, constellations, and even some bright planets! Those of us who live at the Edge have even seen the Northern Lights a time or two, but this is incredibly rare and is never something that we would promise guests.

Activities & Experiences

What will we be doing? Is there an itinerary?

We do not have a posted schedule for most programs because our team responds to the interests of our guests, the weather, seasonal opportunities to deliver a customized experience for each program.

Some programs like Quest for Balance may have a sample itinerary available to share the flavour of the experience – but not the exact activities.  Every retreat is unique and fluid, and program elements are subject to change based on a variety of factors.

Can I opt out of some activities?

At the Edge, we present opportunities to experience a wide variety of activities – and it is our hope that our guests will be interested in trying something new and stepping a bit outside their comfort zone.

You will always have the choice to participate or not, and there will be the opportunity to take solo or rest time in lieu of planned experiences.  That said – you are signing up for a group retreat with programming.  If it’s your intention to just enjoy meals, accommodation, and equipment while doing your own thing, a more traditional lodge or resort may be a better fit.

A note on canoe trips:  Canoe trips are participatory community experiences by nature. Everyone helps carry items on portages and helps with camp activities under the direction of their guide. Many guests come away with a great deal of personal satisfaction and empowerment in learning new paddling strokes, setting up tents, filtering water, starting a campfire, learning outback cooking recipes and even portaging a canoe solo!

Does the Edge provide outdoor equipment?

Outdoor equipment including canoes, kayaks, SUP boards and bicycles, snowshoes, cross country skis and kicksleds are provided for your enjoyment at no additional cost. Where required for your experience, appropriate instructions on their use will be given. The Edge does not rent equipment, it is provided as for the enjoyment of our guests. For outdoor equipment rental services contact Swift Canoe (South River) or Voyageur Quest (Kawawaymog Lake).

Safety equipment such as Personal Flotation Devices, bicycle helmets, and whistles are provided and shall be worn as instructed by your guide. Guests must follow the directions of facilitators and guides re: safety procedures, equipment use, etc.

Are there nearby hiking/biking/skiing trails?

On the Edge of Algonquin Park we have a great trail system called the Forgotten Trails. They are great for hiking, mountain biking, snow shoeing or skiing. We’ll share a map with you and give you directions. Our favourites are One-a-Day (30 minute round trip walking from the Edge), Tower Trail, Moose Mountain and the Loxton Beaver Trail. All are easily accessible within 5 km of the Edge.

Can we have a campfire?

We have two fire circles at the nature retreat which we use for campfires. Our team will help ensure a safe enjoyable fireside experience complete with storytelling, music, games, and “smores” –  If you have something you’d like to bring to share around the campfire, please do!

In some dry and hot conditions we may be restricted from lighting fires in order to protect our forests.

Is there a spa on-site?  Can I book a massage?

The Edge does not have a spa, however, our wood-fired sauna is a wonderful highlight for many during their visit to the Edge.  It’s a proud Canadian tradition to take a dip in the lake or roll in the snow during a sauna experience.  The sauna takes a few hours and lots of attention to heat up, so we’ll plan the best time to fit it into the itinerary and your facilitators will let you know when it is ready!We do have some small sanctuaries set up in the forest for a variety of therapy experiences that might be available.  Often, Foot Reflexology with Vicki is available as an add-on.  If a therapy add-on is available during your retreat, we will let you know before your visit.

More about the Edge

What’s the rest of the story?

The Edge has an International reputation for our intimate learning environment, unique retreat programs and Algonquin Park adventures. They are all designed around helping build life-changing insights and making connections. In short we designed the Edge to be the change that we wanted to see in the world. Learn more about our green campus, or read the story of the Edge by co-founder, Martha Lucier.

What makes the Edge Eco-Friendly?  How will my stay be different?

Designed from the ground up to be sustainable and environmentally sound; Northern Edge Algonquin aspires to be a natural oasis in this hyper-connected, hyper-speed world.  We hope you enjoy unplugging, slowing down and being cared for as you take part in our shared retreat experience.

The sun provides us with the energy necessary for pumping water, energy efficient lighting, music, and most of the comforts of home. 14 solar panels provide 2.8 kW of power (The average home runs on 10 times as much power). Our back-up generator runs from time to time when the sun doesn’t shine or when we use more power than we produce.

Our guests appreciate and contribute to our efforts at being an eco-friendly, responsible provider. Living in respectful harmony with the natural world makes a stay at the Edge a community experience that connects guests with one another, our staff and the natural world.  You can contribute by helping us to rotate solar panels, turning off lights when you’re the last to leave a room, conserving water, leaving “no trace”, and by leaving devices that produce heat from electricity (like your hair dryer) at home.

How can I contribute to the dream of the Edge?

One of the most important ways you can help is by sharing the value of your experience with friends, families and co-workers and online via Google Reviews, TripAdvisor, and Social Media.

Another way to help is to come again – with friends!

For some people, it is also possible to make a financial contribution to the scholarship fund. Accessibility to many of our programs and learning experiences can change lives and communities. One of the biggest expenses we have is taking care of our gardens and the forest. Even trees need professional tending in order to prevent and mitigate the effects of damaging weather events. A contribution to the Edge Greening Fund will ensure continued enhancement to our natural campus.

What are the values of the Edge?  How are we striving to be good allies?

We recognize the need to be loud and proud about our values!  We’re doing some writing on the subject that will be shared here soon.

I’d love to work at the Edge! Are you hiring?

Sometimes we’re hiring! The Edge Team is the heart and soul of this place. As a co-creative and positive work community, we support each-other in our individual & collective growth, leadership, and in pursuing our dreams.

Got a question we haven’t answered? Send us a message or give us a call to ask!