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.

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 adventures at Algonquin Park.  Northern Edge Algonquin offers a suite of experience styles at Algonquin Park that 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. Our guests on these trips 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.  We even hosted a yoga group that first year before we incorporated.”

Within a few years, The Edge approach to outfitting these guided trips with local, fresh local foods started to attract guests who wanted to get back to nature and eat well. As well international media like the New York Times authored feature stories on the Algonquin Park canoe trip experience at Northern Edge. But 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: 120-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).

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:
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 Algonquin Park Explorer’s Log Cabin packages which bring together the best of the Algonquin Park experience: guided adventures, nature interpretation and education. Nature meets nurture with overnight stays in private cabins at Algonquin Park and memorable candlelit meals featuring fresh, local and organic fare prepared by award-winning chef Gregor. “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.  We’ve been delighted to see these experiences open Algonquin Park exploration to guests of all ages 14-90!

Indeed, the folks at Northern Edge Algonquin continue 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, they 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 on our Explorer Packages 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 & learn about Algonquin Park’s most famous residents.”

In the evening, fireside trapper and wildlife storytelling evenings provide hands-on, engaging interpretation & education about life here in the northwest corner of the Park. After dark, it’s time for a Wolf Howl presentation and discussion of the Algonquin Park wolves, recent studies of wolf ecology and efforts to conserve and protect this treasured species of Algonquin. Mid-late summer guests travel to Algonquin Park’s Nahma Lake. We belt out our best wolf howl, and wait in silence in the darkness for the spine-tingling response from a local wolf pack.

Explorer’s Cabin packages 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.

Rejuvenator Experiences:
“To appease the appetite of the guests who were being attracted to the Edge we developed a retreat called Quest for Balance that fuses 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.” 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 Canadian Centre for Shamanic Studies is dedicated to fostering leaders and growing community in the strengthening 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.