Saturday, June 5

Moose on the Move

We were seeing lots of fresh moose tracks on our trails but had no luck in seeing the actual moose . This is often the case so we finally bought a motion-activated trail camera to see for ourselves who was doing all the coming and going. Not only did we capture footage of the moose making all the tracks, we even got to see her brand new baby!

Sunday, March 29

Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes

We miss our guests! Like so many small businesses right now, we’re temporarily closed in order to do our part for physical distancing to slow the spread of the Covid-19 corona virus. And of course even if we were open, I trust our guests would do the responsible thing and stay home except for essential travel. 

We know this is necessary and temporary, but still we miss sharing our home and property with our guests. And I especially miss breakfast time! I love the satisfaction of preparing good food and feeding hungry people who’ve worked up an appetite with a day or two of adventuring and exploring. But even more, I miss the time that comes after breakfast has been served and Jim and I bring our coffees out to the dining room to chat with our guests. Maybe we’ll hear how they spent their day yesterday, or where they’ve been in their travels, or about the work, hobbies, passions or challenges that make up their day-to-day life at home, wherever that may be. We’re often inspired, entertained, enlightened, or simply feel a little more connected to the world beyond.

In case you’re missing our breakfasts, too, I thought I’d share one of our favourites that you can make at home. You likely have the ingredients in your pantry and fridge, and if not, I’m providing some substitutions and variations. I’ll also include gluten-free and vegan options as well.

These are always popular with our guests and are a great way to fuel your day. If you do make them, drop us a note and let us how you’re doing and help us all feel a little more connected in this strange time.

Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes are hearty, delicious and versatile. The recipe calls for some extra time to let the oats soak in the liquid ingredients. This makes for a more consistent batter but feel free to skip the wait if you’ve got a hungry crew to feed, or mix it up after dinner and let it soak overnight for an easy breakfast the next morning. I like to hold back some of the oats and add them with the rest of the dry ingredients in order to add more texture to the pancakes but you can soak all the oats if you prefer.

I sprinkle the blueberries directly onto each pancake but you can stir them directly into the batter if you don’t mind a streaky blue pancake.

1 1/3 cups rolled oats, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk*
2 eggs
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
approximately 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries* (do not thaw if using frozen)

unsalted butter or spray oil for cooking

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of the oats with the brown sugar, breaking up any lumps. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Let rest for 20 minutes to let the oats absorb some milk, or cover and let rest in the fridge overnight.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and remaining 1/3 cup of oats.

When you’re ready to cook, add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined and a few lumps remain. Do not over-mix or your pancakes will be rubbery. Allow batter to sit while your griddle heats up.

Heat an electric griddle to 350°F or a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Check to see that the griddle or skillet is ready by dribbling a few drops of water on the surface. The drops should bounce and roll for a few seconds. If they evaporate immediately on contact, the surface is too hot and you should turn the heat down and wait a few minutes before continuing. If the water just sits on the surface before evaporating, it's not quite hot enough.

Rub the griddle or skillet with butter to coat or spray with oil. Drop the batter onto the surface using a 1/4 cup for each pancake. Leave an inch of space between pancakes and nudge them into circles with a silicone spatula if necessary. Working quickly, sprinkle a rounded tablespoon of blueberries onto each pancake. With the spatula, press them down into the batter slightly.

Cook until the bottom of the pancakes are golden brown, bubbles appear on the top and are beginning to burst around the edges, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancakes over and cook until the bottoms are lightly golden and the pancakes are puffy, about 3 minutes more.

Wipe the griddle or skillet with a clean paper towel, apply more butter or oil, and continue cooking the rest of the batter. If serving all at once, keep the cooked pancakes warm in a 200°F oven until ready to eat.

I often serve these topped with blueberry sauce and a dusting of powdered sugar. Today I simply topped with sliced bananas, toasted almonds and pure maple syrup.

Makes about 14 pancakes.

Recipe can be halved — but why would you? These pancakes make great leftovers for an afternoon snack and are sturdy enough to reheat in a toaster until warm through.

* No buttermilk? Replace it like this: Measure 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar into a glass measure and add regular milk to make 2 cups; let stand for 10 minutes to curdle. Or mix 1 cup plain natural yogurt with 1 cup milk.

* No blueberries? Replace with sliced or diced apples, pears, peaches, bananas, raisins, dried or frozen chopped cranberries or cherries, or see my variations below. Use your favourite fruit or leave the fruit out altogether.

Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Pancakes: Omit blueberries. Stir one peeled, cored, diced apple and 1 teaspoon cinnamon into the batter before cooking.  Top with warm applesauce sweetened with brown sugar and dusted with cinnamon.

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes: Whisk 1 mashed, very ripe banana into the wet ingredients. Replace the blueberries with thinly sliced firm-ripe banana. For a topping, toast pecans or walnuts in a pan just until fragrant, then pour in some pure maple syrup and simmer briefly.

Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free oats (such as Only Oats brand) and all-purpose gluten-free flour (use a brand with xantham gum for best results).

Vegan: Replace the buttermilk with your favourite plant milk (for best results: measure 2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar into a glass measure and add soy milk to make 2 cups and let stand for 10 minutes to curdle). Replace the eggs with flax (stir 2 Tbsp ground flax seed into 1/3 cup water and let stand for 10 minutes to gel) or 1 mashed very ripe banana. To make an oil-free batter, replace the oil with applesauce.


Tuesday, June 11

Cycling in Explorers' Edge Cottage Country

Spring has arrived and that means cycling season is in full swing around here!

Biking may not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think of a getaway in "cottage country" but pedal power is a great way to experience the region. There's a variety of terrain to suit everyone, from fully paved routes to gravel country roads to dirt trails. Some come to train for an event (we've got some good hills!) while others just want a leisurely spin to take in the scenery and stop at sights of interest.

Early in the season when the mosquitos and black flies are active, you can keep ahead of them by clipping along on your two wheels. In the middle of summer when the days are hot, cool off mid-ride with a dip in a lake. Later, in the fall when the leaves are turning all shades of orange and red, a bicycle is the ideal touring medium to take it all in.

If you're not familiar with the region and wondering where the good routes are that suit your style, there's a handy resource that breaks it all down for you. Bike Cottage Country is a website from Explorers' Edge regional tourism organization. They've organized dozens of routes by sub-region -- check out the many offerings in the Almaguin Highlands for the ones closest to us -- and by style (Tour, Train or Trek). Details with descriptions, maps and directions are there, too.

Don't have a bicycle or can't bring one with you? There are a number of bike shops in Huntsville where you can rent one or get yours serviced. They're also listed on the Bike Cottage Country site.

Want some help narrowing it down? Ask us and we'll be glad to give some advice. In the meantime, here are a few suggested routes to get you started:


Burk's Falls - Katrine Mini Loop
We like to run part of this loop when training for a marathon or running event. A nice way to do this loop is to start and end in Katrine so you can finish with a swim at the public beach on Doe Lake.

Screaming Heads Loop
Many, many of our guests drive to Screaming Heads to walk through this outdoor artscape but cycling gives you a ride through the countryside and makes a day of it. Take a break at the waterfront park in Magnetawan or stop for lunch in town before heading back to Burk's Falls.

AIM Triangle
A long one but fully paved and a nice way to see some of the villages of the area. And if you follow the Almaguin In Motion (AIM) facebook page, you can see if a group ride is happening while you're here.


Sand Lake Loop
A scenic 64k of mostly hard surface (just 4km of gravel) that'll take you through towns with a few opportunities to stop for a swim. You can start from the Almaguin Highlands Visitor Centre as suggested, or start right from here if you don't mind adding more clicks and a bit more gravel as well.

Doe Lake Loop
This is a challenging route with "twisty technical roads, a steady rotation of dirt and pavement, punchy climbs and low traffic" and "features multiple sharp corners after gradients or surface transitions".  If this sounds good to you, it gets even better because you can easily adapt the route to start and end right here at the inn. We'll give you two options depending on how much gravel you want to add to the route.

We're happy to share our knowledge of the area and suggest routes, detours or places to catch a breath or grab a bite along your ride. Not only that, our breakfasts will fuel you up so you can hit the road spinning!

To check availability and rates or to book online, click HERE. Or visit our website at for more information about the inn, the rooms and the property.

Friday, November 10

Local Moose

While we know we share our forest and surroundings with moose all sorts of wildlife, it's not every day we get to actually see them. That's why we were so excited for our guests -- and ourselves -- to have so many sightings this season.

The highlight was a mother moose and her calf spotted hanging out at the pond for five days straight! Even though we haven't seen them for weeks now, the fresh tracks on the Seguin Trail tell me they're still in the neighbourhood.

Some of us managed to snap some quick photos. Thank you to our guests for sharing theirs!

Monday, May 8

Spring Fuel & Fun 2017

June will be bustin' out all over! The Fuel & Fun promo from Explorers' Edge is back and it's the best way to make a Spring getaway even better. Book your June jaunt now and get $100 in free gas and goodies!

Just book your getaway by May 30 for a 2-night stay between June 2 and June 30 and you can be 1 of 500 travelers to receive a $50 gas card and $50 worth of vouchers to use-as-cash at participating restaurants, shops and attractions.

We love Fuel & Fun because it lets us give a great gift to our guests -- who doesn't like to get free gas and spending vouchers? -- but also because it lets us showcase a lovely month before the busy summer season gets in to full swing. Whether you're looking for a quiet retreat to recharge your batteries or a few days of hiking, paddling, cycling and exploring, we hope to see you here this June!

Quantities are limited -- first come, first served -- so act quickly to avoid disappointment.

When do you stay?
Any two consecutive nights between June 2 and June 30, 2017

When do you book?
Make your reservation and register for your vouchers (we'll tell you how) by May 30, 2017

What do you get?
$50 gas card plus $50 in spending vouchers to use at participating shops, eateries and attractions during your stay. Of course, you also get two comfortable nights and two delicious breakfasts at Fern Glen Inn.

What's the catch?
There is none! You don't have to "buy one" to "get one" nor spend a minimum amount of money. Consider the free gas and vouchers as an invitation to come explore the quintessential Canadian wilderness just north of the city -- courtesy of Explorers' Edge, our regional tourism organization.

The Fuel & Fun Getaway at Fern Glen Inn

Your getaway includes:

  • 2 nights accommodation for two people in one room
  • fresh and delicious breakfast each morning
  • $50 gas card
  • $50 in Experience Vouchers to use-as-cash at participating attractions, restaurants and shops during your stay

Your getaway price:

  • Stays between June 2 and June 21 start at $228/couple when you apply the Spring Quiet Season Discount
  • Stays between June 22 and June 30 start at $248/couple
June 9 & 10 is Band on the Run weekend! The only breakfast option on Saturday June 9 is an early “racer’s buffet” to give time for racers, spectators and your hosts to get to the starting line on time. No check-ins or dinners on the Saturday. Sunday’s breakfast is our usual affair!

Lower rates available for solo travelers. 13% HST is extra.

Call, email or book online. Visit Fern Glen Inn for more information about the inn and the area.

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* Quantities are limited. Only the first 500 "Qualified Bookings" within the entire Explorers' Edge region will receive the Gas Cards and Experience Vouchers. To be a "Qualified Booking", you must:
• book by May 30, 2017
• register your confirmation number directly at Explorers' Edge
• stay between June 2 and June 30, 2017
• stay for 2 consecutive nights or longer
Experience Vouchers may only be used between 
June 2 and June 30, 2017, at participating businesses.

In partnership with

Thursday, April 20

Foxy Neighbour

We've been seeing signs of one local resident for months. All winter we routinely saw fresh tracks in the snow and and the occasional glimpse of orange fur through the trees and we figured out there must be a den in the woods just beyond our back meadow. Our sly neighbour has become quite bold and one March evening as guest sat around the fire pit, the foxy fella sat on a knoll and watched them with open curiosity.

So perhaps it wasn't surprising last week when Jim was out in the back yard and Mr. Fox decided to pay a visit. I like to think he was introducing himself (or herself? We really don't know if our Mr is a Ms!).

Mr. Fox catches a glimpse of Jim...

...decides to take a closer look...

...and closer still.

Cool as a cucumber, he walks right past. Fantastic!

Monday, December 19

Jim and Jackie's Adventure Down Under

From the Kepler Track, overlooking Lake Te Anau and snow-capped mountains beyond.

Inspired by tales of travel from our guests -- and an incredible seat sale too good to pass up -- your intrepid innkeepers set off for another adventure, this time to Australia and New Zealand.

We closed up shop after a busy fall season then hopped on a series of flights for the looong journey to the other side of the world.

The trip started out with sun and sand in tropical north Queensland, mixing some R&R with easy touring from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, and spending a night on a liveaboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef.

Sun and sand to recharge after a busy season.

Watching the sun rise over the Coral Sea from a boat on the Great Barrier Reef.

Jim's bucket list: diving the Great Barrier Reef. He did seven dives over two days, including a night dive.

Not a diver, Jackie's happy to snorkel instead.
We saw sharks! Both of us saw sharks, and they didn't try to eat me!

We then spent a brief time on the north island of New Zealand, discovering the wild west coast and temperate rainforest of the Waiteke Ranges, before flying to Queenstown on the stunningly scenic south island. Here the adventure included fiords, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and sheep (so many sheep!) on our road trip from Queenstown to Christchurch.
We were in New Zealand when the big earthquakes struck Kaikoura and Wellington but we were fortunate to be safely in Queenstown at the time, well away from danger.

Karekare Beach, where the movie "The Piano" was filmed.

Wild and wonderful trees in the temperate rain forest.

Mountains + rivers = wateralls. We saw so many!

New Zealand Fur Seals at the mouth of Doubtful Sound with the Tasman Sea beyond.
Rushing river on the Haast Pass.

Franz Joseph Glacier
Windsurfer on Lake Wanaka. Love the colour of the glacial lakes!
Playing in the big boulders on Castle Hill.

Looking down on a lush New Zealand valley.

Up to the top of the world!

The highlight of our time in New Zealand was a spectacular hike on the Kepler Track. On the 3-day/2-night hike, we covered 50km and a lot of elevational change. To make it even more challenging, the second day -- the toughest one when we cross a number of ridges over the saddle of the mountain -- we were blasted with a snow storm and 65kph winds. We managed to get a little video (below) before the worst of it. The snow was coming sideways and on the exposed ridges, we were nearly blown off our feet. Such fun!

Climbing above the tree line, eye-to-eye with mountains.

We're heading for that summit behind Jim.

One of the ridges on the Mount Luxmore saddle.

When we weren't above the tree line, we were in verdant mossy forest.

Down on the valley floor, getting near the end.
From Christchurch it was back to Australia, this time to Melbourne. I have family just outside the city and it was a real treat to spend time with them (some I hadn't seen since they left Canada over twenty years ago!). While there we took a trip up the Great Ocean Road where we marvelled at the scenery and also saw kangaroos, wallabies, cockatoos, penguins and koalas.

The famous Twelve Apostles and sandstone cliffs.

Clouds, sun and mist over cliffs and ocean.
A mighty wind, an exhilarating view.
Wild cockatoos who don't mind taking a free meal from a human. Kind of like our chickadees!

We came across this koala in the wild while out on a hike. Of course Jim climbs the tree to get a close-up.

It was worth the effort for this adorable guy!
Hiking in the Otways. Now that's a tree!
We had an amazing time and can't believe the month flew by so quickly. It has only whet our appetites to experience and explore more of this incredible, diverse part of the world. Cheers to the next adventure!