Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question we haven’t answered here? Click the blue button on the bottom left of the page to get an answer right away during office hours, or to send us a message after hours.
Our Frequently Asked Questions are sorted into the following four sections: Regarding your Preparations, Regarding Accommodations, Regarding your Stay, and Regarding Algonquin Park Canoe Trips.
Regarding Your Preparations:
What is your Cancellation Policy?
Please review Deposit Protection.
Do guests have to agree to a waiver?
By participating in a Northern Edge Algonquin experience all guests agree to reading and following the principles and procedures outlined in this FAQ and agree to the terms of the acknowledgement and release.
What time should I arrive?
Guests should plan on arriving between 1-3 pm on arrival day. Departure time for most experiences is also 1-3pm.
“Can I stay an extra day?” In most cases we are not equipped to host guests who wish to extend their stay. We are happy to provide suggestions for alternate accommodations if you plan on extending your time in the area.
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 guide. We have extras of most gear.
Who sees my health/dietary information?
It is important to us that we provide the care our guests need – we want to make sure the meals we prepare for you will be enjoyed, and the activities we provide will be safe for you. 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 get to the Edge on Public Transit?
Not only can you arrive by public transit to our Algonquin Park location, we encourage it! Getting to our Algonquin Park location by bus or plane is easy. We add a small shuttle fee to cover the cost of getting folks out to the Edge and we make ourselves available at arrival times based on your travel schedule. Learn more about taking public transit to the Edge.
Can I purchase a gift certificate?
Yes. Gift someone you care about with a Northern Edge Algonquin experience. Choose Gift Certificate at the bottom of the Book Now page (Value = # of people X $100).
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.
How can I help 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 at TripAdvisor.com. 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. Some of our guests even come back to the Edge as a part of our team. Applicants can email [email protected]
Can I just rent a cabin or purchase room & board?
At Northern Edge Algonquin the cornerstone of what we offer is experiences. Accommodation and Meal plans are only available to guests participating in scheduled retreats and adventures, or pre-formed group stays.
What is standard accommodation?
Our standard accommodations are our Canvas & Habitat cabins. These cabins are delightful, comfortable spaces with a short walk to bathrooms. Some guests choose to upgrade to a premium Studio Cabin.
What’s the story with double beds?
Until recently, the Edge didn’t have a lot of couples joining us. Now that we do, we’ve upgraded many of our cabins to have double beds available. Some cabins still feature a set of bunk beds. Double beds are not guaranteed, but if it is clear you are a couple, we will make every effort to have you stay in a cabin featuring a double bed.
Do I have to share my cabin?
When couples or friends book together, we assume you wish to share a private cabin together.
Solo travelers are often paired in shared standard accommodations with one or two others to foster friendships and create space for more participants to join a program – kind of like going to camp! For those solo travelers that really require a private space, they can upgrade to a private canvas cabin for an additional $40/night, or a private Studio Cabin for an additional $80/night.
Is there a single supplement for solo travelers?
Travelling by yourself doesn’t mean you have to travel alone. Single travellers 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(s) for lodge-based stays or overnight camping adventures to ensure you receive the same value for your dollar as everyone else.
Can I store my valuables in my room?
There are no keys to the rooms. You can lock the doors when you are in the room but when you leave, they will be unlocked. Northern Edge Algonquin has never had a problem in all of the years we have been operating but it is best to leave valuables at home or locked in your vehicle if you have any concerns.
Regarding Your Stay:
Will I have Internet Access?
Most of our experiences are 100% unplugged. There are no cell phone towers in and around our Algonquin Park location or in the park. Internet access is via satellite and is reserved for emergency use only. In our opinion, this makes it possible for our guests to fully enjoy every moment of their experience without the distraction of technology.
Canoe trips in Algonquin Park are remote adventures. No outside communication is possible while out on trip. For your safety, guides are trained in advanced wilderness medical protocols and are equipped to deal with most medical emergencies that can arise.
What makes the Edge Green?
Being solar powered is just a small part of the green story at our award-winning nature retreat. Learn more about our eco-friendly facility and operations. Curious about solar power? Ask for a behind the scenes tour.
What restrictions are there for electrical devices?
Algonquin Park camp sites do not have electricity. 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. Please ensure devices such as cameras are fully-charged before your trip.
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, tablets and 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 on the Web upon departure. Instant uploading of photos to the Internet is not possible at the Edge.
Can I bring my own alcohol?
Like many resorts, retreats and accommodations guests are not permitted to bring their own alcohol onto the property at Northern Edge Algonquin for personal consumption.
In addition to being unsafe due to uneven ground, trails and low lighting we are governed by Ontario alcohol legislation that only permits the serving of alcohol by our team at designated times and locations.
Thank you for your understanding and compliance with our operational policies. Alcohol is occasionally served without charge to guests as an accent to experiences. Guests are not permitted to bring their own alcohol.
Is Smoking permitted?
The fire circle is our designated smoking area. Please keep doorways, porches, buildings, cabins, and the environment smoke free by smoking only in the designated area at the fire circle. If participating in a canoe trip experience in Algonquin Park smokers are invited to arrange appropriate smoking areas with their C.E.O. and other guests.
Do you cater to special needs?
We’re in a rural forested setting with irregular hilly terrain that may be challenging for those with wheelchairs or physical impairments. Personal attendants are advisable. Please contact us to discuss suitable accommodation choices and accessibility.
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.
Can I bring my pet?
The Edge is a Wildlife Friendly Campus. Please leave pets offsite. We recommend dropping off pets for a stay at Happy Tails Pet Resort in Huntsville.
Are experiences Family Friendly?
Most of our retreats & lodge-based experiences are designed as adult experiences and have a minimum age of 14, with the exception of private custom programs such as Family Reunions and School & Youth Trips.
Our Algonquin Park adventure canoe trips are absolutely family friendly experiences. We plan customized private family Algonquin Park canoe trips for groups as small as four, and families of 2-3 are welcome to join our pre-scheduled trips. The minimum age for Algonquin Park canoe trips is 4.
We do not have childcare staff, so a parent or caregiver traveling with you must attend all children under 12.
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 reqiuired 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.
What will we be doing? Is there a schedule of activities?
We do not have a posted schedule for most programs because our team responds to the interests of our guests, the weather, seasonal opportunities and the needs of concurrent programs happening on site to deliver a customized experience that meets the needs of our guests for each program. Because the experience is uniquely yours it is difficult to post an itinerary online. Guests have indicated a desire to know what the experience will be prior to booking so we sometimes craft a “sample itinerary” and post it online to give a sense of the flavour of our experiences. Guests should note that every weekend is unique, “Program elements subject to change based on weather and guest interest.”
Can I opt out of some activities?
Any activities can be opted out of if you are feeling uncomfortable with the activity, really want another go at a different activity, or need to take some time to rest. This being said, the Edge was designed to deliver fantastic group experiences: If you’re looking for just meals, accommodation, and rentals without any group participation aspect, a different lodge may be a better fit.
Canoe trips are participatory community experiences by nature. Everyone helps carry items on portages and helps with camp activities under the direction of their C.E.O. 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!
Can we have a campfire?
We have three campfire circles at the nature retreat which we use for outdoor fires. Our staff will help ensure a safe enjoyable fireside experience. In Algonquin Park, sometimes dry conditions in and around the area make campfires inside the park illegal. July 2012 was one of these times campfires were restricted with numerous fires threatening Algonquin Park.
Who will I meet on an Edge retreat or adventure?
Our guests are often a mix of solo travelers, friends traveling together and couples all of varying ages. One thing we see in most guests is a spirit of curiosity – a desire to learn and try new things and experience new ways of being as a traveler. Many of our guests meet folks from around the world who become lifelong friends.
Is the Edge LGBT friendly?
Absolutely. We treat everyone with respect, and without judgement or bias. No matter your race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age; you are welcome here.
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. 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.
Does the Edge meet special dietary needs?
If we know about your needs, we’ll absolutely do our best to provide for them. 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. Note: If you choose a specialty diet every effort to deliver a meal experience that meets your needs. Due to our remote location changing food options upon arrival or in the middle of your experience is not an option. Last minute registration and or food requests made less than 72 hours prior to arrival may not be met due to our remote location. Some of your dietary choices may be limited.
What meals are included in my package?
Meals include dinner on arrival day (6:00 pm) through lunch (1:00 pm) on departure day.
Will I want to dress up during my stay?
The Edge is a pretty casual place. Most guests don’t dress up for meal time. On Algonquin Park canoe trips dress is 100% casual with running shoes or hiking boots. Please leave all valuables at home.
What does all inclusive mean at the Edge?
All-inclusive means the price of your Algonquin Park canoe trip or retreat experience with accommodation includes all of the following:
- cuisine by Gregor: sumptuous largely organic and local fare with care for personalized food alternatives for food allergies,
- snacks with juices, organic coffee and Algonquin tea throughout the day,
- free use of any and all outdoor equipment related to your Algonquin Park retreat or adventure experience: snowshoes, skiis, kicksleds in winter and canoes, sea kayaks, paddleboards and mountain bikes in summer,
- guided Algonquin Park adventures by certified, trained wilderness first-aid certified guides and facilitators,
- Algonquin Park Canoe Trips: canoes, packs, tents, sleeping pads, stoves, filters, food, all group camp equipment is included. If needed we can provide sleeping bags too!
- transportation to Algonquin Park lake access points for canoe trip starting points is provided (if required). Most trips into Algonquin Park begin and end from our lakefront.
- wood-fired outdoor sauna prepared for your use during your stay or before or after your Algonquin Park canoe trip,
- an unplugged (cellphone, portable entertainment device and internet free) guest experience,
- overnight accommodations at our Algonquin Park solar powered nature retreat sleeping under a feather duvet.
What should I pack for my visit?
A full packing list is available in our Welcome Package that is send to you upon registration. If you are missing any items please notify your guide. We have extras of most gear.
Do you have a Lost & Found?
When we find items left behind by guests at the Edge, we mark down where it was found and bring it to our office. If the item was found in an accommodation we reach out to the guest who stayed in that space. In an effort to keep our spaces clean and clear, we keep each Lost & Found item for just one month before we donate it. If you believe you have left something behind, please contact our office right away so we can mail it to you.
What is a Leave-No-Trace Traveler?
We encourage our guests to join us in having minimal impact when traveling. Here are a few suggestions to help you be a green traveler the next time you hit the road:
- Bring your own water. Grab a refillable water bottle, turn on your cold water tap and fill. We give each of our guests a refillable Edgy water bottle. Our guests love our drinking water; straight from the ground with no additives (tested regularly too). Remember to fill your bottle when it’s time to head home after your stay!
- Embrace a no poison outdoor travel policy. The most commonly used insect repellant – contains DEET which dissolves/melts some plastics and synthetic fabrics. Yet, many people put it on their skin! During bug season, use safe approaches to repelling bugs that won’t make you (or others) sick. If applying insect repellent keep well away from other people, tents and equipment. The safest application method for everyone is to put a small amount of bug repellant on your hand and rub it onto exposed skin.
- Are you sensitive to smells? Some of our guests are. We encourage guests to avoid the use of perfumes and enjoy a scent free holiday. This tactic also helps keep the biting bugs at bay too. Bugs just love unusual odours and perfume can act like a bug magnet when visiting Algonquin Park.
- Use biodegradable soap. Our septic system is a natural water treatment system. When water goes down the drain, it gets treated on site then goes into the ground. The use of biodegradable soaps is a natural choice to maintaining the health of our water treatment system. If you bring your own soap, please make it biodegradable.
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.
Does the Edge recycle?
Absolutely. Our guests help ensure that waste is properly sorted and deposited in the waste containers provided. We recycle paper, plastic, metal and compost food waste.
How Remote is the Edge?
Cell phones do not work at the Edge, we invite guests calling home on arrival to please do so from South River before heading to our Algonquin Park access location. If folks 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. If you are anticipating a call, please inform your C.E.O.. If you are on medication, bring more than you will expect to need. Ambulance service is about 25 minutes away from our Algonquin Park location in South River, ON.
Can I stay & eat off-site and participate in a retreat?
A big part of what brings people together during a retreat is sharing meals, visiting in our on-site gathering spaces outside of program activity time, staying near each-other, and crossing paths on the way to breakfast. When one participant stays off-site, it can break the shared close atmosphere in a program, so generally this is not possible.
For some rare programs, when we are offering certification of some sort or have a really exciting special guest we want the local community to meet, we offer a day-use fee of $40/day plus taxes in lieu of accommodation for locals. Day use covers organic coffee, teas, snacks, fresh fruit and lunch.
Are there nearby hiking/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.
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. Best time of day to encounter wildlife is in the early morning – before breakfast. Bring a small set of binoculars on your canoe trip to extend your visual range.
Regarding Algonquin Park Canoe Trips:
What’s special about your canoe trips?
Since many companies offer trips into Algonquin Park, we’ve devoted an entire page to the answer.
Can I do this? “I have never been in a canoe before” or “I don’t swim”.
YES, you can go on a canoe trip into Algonquin Park, even if you don’t know how to paddle a canoe or swim. Our guests all wear personal floatation devices (commonly referred to as life jackets) while in canoes or sea kayaks. Before you head out, your C.E.O. will give you a few lessons on paddling strokes. Much of the time our canoeing is on small lakes with flat water and small waves, and gentle winding rivers. We paddle close to shore, take frequent breaks and keep our canoes close together. Once in a while a canoe will tip over. However if it happens to you, your C.E.O. will help you get your canoe floating again and get you back in the seat, get you warmed up and excited to dip your paddle back in the water to continue your exploration of Algonquin Park.
How many people are in each canoe?
Usually our trips have two people in each canoe. When there are odd numbers we sometimes have one of the canoes in the group carry three canoeists to ensure everyone’s safety. There is ample opportunity on our canoe trips for each guest to learn how to paddle in the bow and stern and sometimes even learn to paddle solo!
What’s a portage?
Sometimes a change in elevation puts rapids or a waterfall between Algonquin Park lakes. “Portage” is a French Canadian word which refers to “carrying over”. Portages are marked on maps and by bright yellow signs that show how long the portage is in metres. In most cases, there are stairways and paths that we walk instead of paddling the rapids. Guests and C.E.O. work together to get all the equipment (canoes, packs and paddles) safely down the trail to the next lake. Ask your C.E.O. to help you “solo a canoe” -for bragging rights if you are up to it. No one is ever asked to carry more than they can, but in the spirit of community, when everyone helps out, there is often time to enjoy a light shore lunch or swim in the rapids before heading on to the next campsite.
Will animals in Algonquin Park come into our camp site?
Most wildlife are attracted to campsites by interesting smells. It’s important to keep a clean camp site and properly store food so that animals are not attracted to your camp site. Snacks should never be kept in your daypack or tent overnight. Your C.E.O. will secure all camp food barrels to keep smells contained and lock out Algonquin Park critters that may want a free midnight snack. Leftover food waste and packaging needs to be properly stored too.
Is the water safe to drink?
Water on our Algonquin Park canoe trips is safe to drink. Some people may have heard of a water bourne illness called Giardia Lamblia (beaver fever). This disease is caused by ingesting untreated water that has been contaminated by beaver fecal material. All water used by guests on Algonquin Park trips is treated in one of two ways to eliminate the risk of contamination.
1. Boiling water destroys Giardia cysts.
2. Filtering drinking water removes Giardia cysts.
A person needs to consume a significant number of Giardia cysts to get the disease giardosis. Dishwashing with warm soapy water, rinsing and letting dishes dry will never allow enough cysts to find their way to people’s mouths to make them sick by contaminating dishware. Dishwashing water does not need to be boiled first.
How many people will I be travelling with into Algonquin Park?
Our travelling groups are kept small. Within Algonquin Park, each camp site is restricted to nine sleeping people. Most of our trips have about 4-5 guests. Your trip will have at least one C.E.O., sometimes two. Rarely, but occassionally our Algonquin Park canoe trips travel in slightly larger groups, spending mealtime and daytime together and sleeping on two adjacent camp sites.
Where do we sleep on Algonquin Park canoe trips?
We offer a full service camping experience. Apart from your own small camp pillow, all camping equipment is provided. Three season tents include built-in vestibules and mesh insect nets. Thick air or foam cell mattresses are also provided free of charge.
Will I get my own tent on my canoe trip?
Whenever possible we sleep travelling companions together in a private tent, but sometimes tent sharing is required with other guests in more remote, smaller campsites.
What is the food like on an Algonquin Park canoe trip?
Our trained and experienced guides are famous for their delicious colourful camp cuisine. Local food, fresh produce and local meats are served, in a combination of local camping favourites and international style cuisine, with special dietary requests easily and happily accommodated.
What are the bathrooms like in Algonquin Park?
Most campsites have outhouses (lovingly called “boomboxes”) that are neat covered wooden boxes set over a hole in the ground, located on a trail away from the main tent and kitchen area. Your CEO will help you determine a system of letting others know when the toilet is in use. We bring in our own toilet paper, handwashing station and hand sanitizer. Personal hygiene is very important while camping in Algonquin Park and everyone is encouraged to wash their hands regularly.
Are there restrictions on what we can bring into Algonquin Park?
Cans and bottles and portable entertainment devices are not allowed.
Can I bring my camera on my Algonquin Park adventure?
We encourage guests to protect their cameras or smartphones from the weather (especially on Algonquin Park canoe trips) and to fully power their devices before arriving and/or bring extra batteries. Bring along a few zip-lock clear bags to keep valuables like these dry.
When/How do we pack for canoe trips into Algonquin Park?
Pack up generally happens the evening or morning prior to departure. We have a lot of group camping equipment including the kitchen, tents, tarps, as well as personal equipment – sleeping bags, sleeping pads and small stuff sacks of each guest’s personal clothing that are packed together in large canoe packs prior to leaving the Edge. Great care is taken to ensure things stay dry while in Algonquin Park. Each guest also carries a day-pack with all the things they may want to have immediate access to: rain gear, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses, journal, pen/pencil, camera, flashlights. Each guests also carries their own complimentary Northern Edge Algonquin water bottle which they can take home afterwards.
Can I clean up after my trip?
We have beautiful showers you can use at the end of the trip to get all cleaned up and ready to head on your way home or wherever else your journey may take you.
Where do I park when out on a canoe trip? Is it safe to leave important travel documents behind?
We have two private parking areas for vehicles at the nature retreat. Just leave whatever you don’t want to take with you on your trip in your car and it will be safe when you return. We’ll even mind your car keys while you are away on your canoe trip.