Algonquin Park Experiences: Our History
Algonquin Park experiences at Northern Edge Algonquin have been making bucket list dreams come true for a wide range of travellers since 1993.
Forest Bathing, rejuvenation through nature connection, creativity, adventure and nature interpretation are cornerstones at the Edge, but our programs are mostly about unplugging and reconnecting with what matters most in our lives.
Lately, we’ve been focusing on providing customized experiences and hosting group stays for organizations and communities interested in meditation or yoga retreats, executive team retreats, and leadership programs. We work with arts, health and wellness, first nations community groups, education and training, business organizations, and social groups to create truly memorable transformational retreat programs.
Our solar powered facility is sort of like a sanctuary from the busy city lifestyle…. but that doesn’t mean a stay at the Edge isn’t comfortable. Clean, bright gathering spaces, and private and semi-private cabins are spotted throughout the forest on meandering paths. Our lakefront floating platform and gardens, including the Hive Deck are wonderful places for extending programs into nature.
Until very recently Algonquin Park was exclusively the domain of the backcountry adventurer, those willing to camp out and sleep on the ground. In 1993 to celebrate the Park’s 100th anniversary the Algonquin Park visitor centre was opened so that the less adventurous visitor to Algonquin Park could learn about wildlife by visiting the museum displays on a drive through the Highway 60 corridor. At the same time, Northern Edge Algonquin co-founders Martha and Todd Lucier purchased the land that is home to our memorable retreats and adventures at Algonquin Park. Northern Edge Algonquin offers a variety of experience styles at Algonquin Park to meet the needs of a wide range of travellers.
Guided Algonquin Park Adventure:
In 1993, we began offering guided canoe trips into Algonquin Park from our small cottage on Kawawaymog Lake. As Edge co-founder Todd Lucier explained, “These trips were designed for folks who want to be physically active and travel a little further off the beaten trail to discover special places in Algonquin Park. Guests on these trips come from all over the world. They are curious about trying new things like swimming in a waterfall, paddling and portaging a canoe, encountering a moose, howling with wolves or creating memorable meals over an open fire. Our first trips often fused yoga with slowing down and connecting with the natural world.”
The Edge approach to outfitting guided overnight trips into Algonquin Park includes fresh local foods and attracts guests who want to get back to nature and learn new things, while nourishing the body as well as the soul. International media like the New York Times even authored feature stories on the Algonquin Park canoe trip experience at Northern Edge. Over time, we discovered that the idea of sleeping on the ground wasn’t for everyone.
An award-winning facility is crafted:
In 1997, Greg Waters joined the Edge team to donate his labour to design and build the stone floor and hearth in our Points North Building. Three weeks later he became a permanent fixture at the Edge. The Edge is Gregor’s canvas. His incredible craftsmanship, passion, and energy are found in every corner of the property. Gregor designed and led the construction of the mainhouse, Highlander House: 125-year-old-log-cabin, studio cabins, habitat cabins, roman black oven, greenhouse, Steward’s Shop, sauna, floating platform . . . in truth, every building on the property has been infused with his talent. His passion, skill, artistry and vision have anchored the development of the property into an oasis for guests from around the world. . . and when guests sit down to dine, they are treated to the most memorable fare available, from the same gifted man who also grows and sources locally much of the food he prepares.
In between programs, the Edge continues to evolve with our most recent projects: greenhouse, expanded gardens and apiary (bee yard) finished in 2015. In 2016, we added the hive deck, a wonderful lakeside gathering area for large group events, intimate breakout group conversations, socializing and dining. In 2017 we are expanding our kitchen facilities at the Mainhouse lodge so that we can share interactive kitchen experiences with our guests and develop new prepackaged value-added food products featuring local ingredients for retail sale to guests and at regional fine food stores. We also are building a NEW timber fram cabin in the forest to provide a new accommodation and gathering space (anticipated opening summer 2018). Working with Canadore College and ICAMP we are also developing a passive energy saving walk-in refrigeration system so we can safely store locally grown food for making value added shelf stable food products.
Far from electricity lines, the Edge is entirely off-the-grid nature retreat powered by 22 solar panels. Up to 40 guests sleep in cozy Algonquin Park forest cabins and enjoy nourishing meals. Unplugged from technology and out-of-cellphone range there is luxury to be found in Gregor’s handcrafted surroundings designed in harmony with our forest home at Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.
New for Algonquin Park Gentle Explorers: The Up North Experience.
Recently, an aging population, and the emergence of multi-generational travel groups, called for new Algonquin Park experiences. When the Edge chose to rebuild a century-old homesteader cabin on the property, the stage was set for Explorers’ Packages which brought together the best of the Algonquin Park experience: guided adventures, nature interpretation and education. Nature was combined with nurture on these overnight stays in private cabins at Algonquin Park and memorable candlelit meals featuring fresh, local and organic fare prepared in unique forested settings. “By adding memorable culinary experiences to guided Algonquin Park exploration we have created packages that aren’t available anywhere else. These packages are tailored to the needs of adult travelers who want a deeper taste of the northern life. Our new “Up North” experiences open Algonquin Park exploration and culture and nature learning programs to guests of all ages 14-75!
Northern Edge Algonquin continues to innovate with new ways to connect with nature. From the beginning, the Edge has offered fully outfitted and guided hiking and mountain biking, canoeing and sea kayaking outings. In 2012, we introduced Stand up Paddle board experiences and built a new wood-fired lakefront sauna. The sauna, an ancient, universal form of restoration provides a forum for sharing stories and soaking in the day’s adventures. “Afterwards, most guests enjoy a dip in the lake,” according to Lucier.
“Morning Tea with Moose Safari, our newest Algonquin Park day trip experience is the canoeing and Stand up Paddle (SUP) tour on the Amable Du Fond River. SUP gives guests a higher perspective than canoeing or sea kayaking and it’s perfect for increasing nature encounter opportunities on the winding river. Guests paddle in the mist, sipping Algonquin Tea Co. teas & learning about Algonquin Park’s most famous residents.”
In the evening, fireside wildlife storytelling evenings provide hands-on, engaging interpretation & education about life here in the northwest corner of the Park. In 2017 we brought back the Tom Thomson Experience with artist Jill Boschulte, and we partner with a wide variety of local experience providers to provide a rich, local taste of our region. Ask about program options for groups that can include magic, music, art, nature connection, yoga, community drumming, shamanic circles, campfire wolf howls and a whole lot more.
Up North programs are offered year round. In winter, snow shoeing, skiing, lake front ice skating and dog sledding combine in the bucket-list worthy Making Tracks: Algonquin Park Winter Experience.
A fire is lit in the 120 year old Explorer’s Log Cabin tucked in the forest at Algonquin Park. The quiet invites some of Canada’s most inspiring nature to draw closer.
“To appease the appetite of the guests who were being attracted to the Edge we developed a retreat called Quest for Balance that fused yoga with adventurous day trips. Guests get their nature fix, but are rewarded with a bit of a pampered experience staying in exquisite forest cabins and drifting to dreamtime to the sounds of nature” For these guests, whom Lucier and his team began to call rejuvenators, Northern Edge Algonquin crafted packages that were perfect for this niche market of getaway travelers whose approach to planning holidays includes a personal wellness component. “By integrating active and restorative yoga with guided adventure and culinary experiences we found our guests were overwhelmingly delighted.”
Life-enhancing Retreat experiences
Martha Lucier has been teaching shamanic journeying and helping guests connect to nature on a variety of retreat programs held year round at the Edge for two decades. As she proudly explains, “We’re really helping people live lives filled with passion and meaning. More than one person has said these retreats have ‘saved my life’.” The Canadian Centre for Shamanic Studies at the Edge is a healing sanctuary immersed in the riches of nature at Algonquin Park. Since 1996, we have offered a variety of shamanism training and workshops, nature adventures, and shamanic healing retreats. The heart and soul of Northern Edge Algonquin programming is dedicated to fostering leaders and growing community in strengthening and supporting community leadership in the Way of the Circle. In the unified shape of the circle, we recognize the infinite potential of what we can achieve together as an empowered community.
Learn more about the Story of the Edge by Martha Lucier.