Tuesday, June 23

Summer Happenings

Summer is hopping in Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands. Here are some of the organized events and weekly activities in the region. Check back again as we update the list as we hear about new happenings.

Wednesday Kayak
Join a guided flatwater kayak tour from
the riverside dock in downtown Huntsville, along the Muskoka River to the mouth of Lake Vernon. Hosted by Algonquin Outfitters, this 2-hour paddle is great for new and experienced paddlers to enjoy an evening on the water. Just $15/person includes kayak, paddle and pfd. Meet at the store before 6pm, registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Every Wednesday until September 9

Wednesday Concerts in the Park
In Huntsville at the town dock park. Enjoy a variety of musical performances outdoors on a summer evening.
Bring your lawn chairs or blanket to sit on and a toonie to contribute to the performer(s).
Every Wednesday from July 15 - August 19

Huntsville Farmers' Market
Selection of vendors, located in the Canadian Tire parking lot in Huntsville.
Every Thursday until October 29, from 9am-2pm

Commerce Park Huntsville Farmers' Market
Selection of vendors, located beside Robinson's Independent Grocer in Huntsville's Commerce Park.
Every Friday until September 4, from 9am-2pm

Muskoka Cruise Night
Hosted by the Historical Automotive Society of Canada, with prizes and a 50/50 draw with proceeds going to local charities. At the Canadian Tire parking lot in Huntsville.
Every Wednesday evening until October 28

Magnetawan Farmers' Market
Held at the Magnetawan Community Pavilion, with a range of goods including fresh produce; smoked, dried and frozen meats; specialty cheeses; flowers; baked goods; jewelry; antiques; knitting; sewing; wood carving; homemade jams.
Every Saturday until September 5

Muskoka Nights Cruise-In
Antique cars, hot rods, tuners, motorcycles and vehicles of special interest. Door prizes and a 50/50 draw raising funds for the Huntsville Animal Shelter.
At the Canadian Tire parking lot in Huntsville.
Every Saturday evening until October 10

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Wood n Things Rendezvous
Two-day event featuring chainsaw carving, instrument fabrication, log & twig furniture, wildlife and decoy carving. Live demos, displays, silent auction, farmer's market, bbq, and live entertainment. All taking place in the nearby town of Magnetawan. Visit Wood n Things Rendezvous for details.
June 26-27

The Group of Seven Mural Festival
During this 10-day event, seven new murals will be added to Huntsville's Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery. Each mural is a larger-than-life reproduction of an original piece by one of Canada's famed Group of Seven artists. During the festival, you can watch the muralists work their craft, and you can even participate and "add your brush stroke" to one of the murals. Visit The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery for details.
June 26 - July 5

Canada Day
Lots of ways to celebrate in friendly, old-fashioned, small-town style. Read my post about local Canada Day festivities for more information.
July 1

Serena Ryder at the Algonquin Theatre
Juno award-winning singer/songwriter Serena Ryder is just one of many great artists who will grace the stage at Huntsville's Algonquin Theatre this summer. For information and tickets for this performance and others, visit the Algonquin Theatre website.
July 9, 8pm

Edge of the Woods Theatre Festival
One-of-a-kind event featuring outdoor performances and tasty treats. Each evening’s line-up includes giant puppets, acrobats, stilt walkers, modern dancers and a 5-part a capella musical. Delightful entertainment at downtown Huntsville's riverfront. Admission by donation.
July 10 & 11, 6pm

Creative Changes Art Show & Sale
Weekend event taking place in the town of Kearney. Art show and sale featuring local artists and artisans displaying and selling original works in many different mediums, including paintings in watercolour, oil, acrylic and pen & ink; clay sculpture; bird carvings; wood turnings; pottery; stained glass and more.
July 10, 7-9:30pm - Wine & cheese reception ($5.00)
July 11, 10am-6pm (free admission)
July 12, 10am-3pm (free admission)

Garden Tour
Hosted by the Sprucedale and District Horticultural Society. tour local gardens in the South Almaguin Highlands. Free admission.
July 19, 9am-4pm

Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy at the Algonquin Theatre
Two of Canada's finest fiddlers and stepdancers in a two fiddle/two piano concert perform at Huntsville's Algonquin Theatre. For information and tickets for this performance and others, visit the Algonquin Theatre website.
July 22, 8pm

Daylily Festival
A weekend event to celebrate this amazing flower. Featuring live music of the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra, vendors, demos, and lots of gorgeous blooms. Wander the lily field, choose your favourite plant and they'll dig it right up for you to take home. It's all happening just down the road from the inn at the Fern Glen Garden Centre.
July 25 & 26

En Plein Air Painting & Auction
The Shutterbug Gallery and Huntsville Festival of the Arts are hosting this fun, free event. Watch and cheer as renowned local artists and select dignitaries create masterpieces in public in just four hours. At 3pm a lively and entertaining art auction begins, hosted by James Carrol and Grant Nickalls, with proceeds benefitting a student fine arts bursary. Located downtown Huntsville.
July 30, 11am

Huntsville Jazz Festival
The Huntsville Jazz Festival returns for it's third year with three great evenings of entertainment. Visit the Huntsville Festival of the Arts — Jazz Festival for more information.

August 1, 10am - 6pm

Daytime Jazz
A day-long celebration of jazz music under the sun in
downtown Huntsville's River Mill Park. Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the music.
August 1, 10am - 6pm

Kearney Regatta
Events include canoe races and cardboard boat competitions on Mirror Bay; a Saturday night street dance, parade, children's activities, slow pitch baseball and the Northern Lights Steel Band
August 1-3

Perseids Meteor Shower Peak
Every year from late July to late August, the earth passes through rock and dust fragments from comet Swif-Tuttle, creating vivid streaks of light through the sky—better known as 'shooting stars'. This year t
hey are expected to peak August 11 & 12, when there could be as many as a hundred streaks an hour. Stay at Fern Glen Inn and watch the show away from urban light pollution. We'll even serve a late breakfast so you can stay up into the wee hours if you like. Find out more about the Perseid Meteor Shower or other meteor shower dates in 2009.
August 11 & 12
Hawksley Workman at the Algonquin Theatre
Huntsville and Almaguin Highlands native, alternative/rock musician Hawksley Workman returns to his hometown stage to showcase his incredible vocal range and unique stylings. For information and tickets for this performance and others, visit the Algonquin Theatre website.
August 12, 8pm

Sundridge Sunflower Festival
Three-day event taking place at various locations in t
he town of Sundridge. Activities and events include canoe races, cardboard boat races, sidewalk chalk artists, live music, food and vendors, classic car show, historical displays, art show, and outdoor B-movie night. Visit the Sundridge Sunflower Festival for details.
August 14-16

Summer Sidewalk Sale
The Downtown Huntsville BIA presents the Summer Sidewalk Adventure, when shops will be bursting out all over and theadventures will happen on every corner of Main Street all the way to the Swing Bridge.
August 15, 10am - 6pm

Artists of the Limberlost Open Studio Tour

Artists of the Limberlost is a collective of artists and craftspeople with studios along Limberlost Road (off Hwy 60, east of Huntsville). At their annual Open Studio Weekend, the public is invited to not only see artwork and fine craft, but to experience the working environments and to learn about the creative processes involved in each medium. The free tour features 7 studios and also the work of 20 guest artists from Muskoka and beyond. The work is for sale, so everyone has the opportunity to take home a 'piece of the Limberlost' for themselves.
Visit Artists of the Limberlost for details.
August 15 & 16

RBC Sundridge Triathlon
Courses include Sprint Tri, Relay Tri, and Try-a-Tri, plus a variety of race distances for children. Race categories and distances, and registration information are available at RBC Sundridge Triathon.
August 16

Jim Cuddy at the Algonquin Theatre
Blue Rodeo frontman puts on two high-energy shows, backed by a quartet of stellar musicians. For information and tickets for this performance and others, visit the Algonquin Theatre website.
August 25 & 26, 8pm

Hawksley Workman at Burk's Falls Towne Theatre
Huntsville and Almaguin Highlands native, alternative/rock musician Hawksley Workman returns to Burk's Falls to showcase his incredible vocal range and unique stylings. Two nights, with a possibility of a third. The theatre is a small, intimate venue with outstanding acoustics. $30 + GST. For tickets, call 705-382-3138 or book your stay at the inn and we'll order and pick them up for you.
August 28 & 29

Emsdale Fall Fair

The Emsdale Agricultural Society will host its Fall Fair at the Emsdale Fairgrounds and Community Centre. Baby, pet and children's shows, a horse pull, light horse show, poultry exhibition, cattle show and a petting zoo, are all planned events. Enjoy live music, including fiddling, all day.
August 29

Canada Day in Huntsville, Muskoka

There's a lot going on in and around Huntsville on July 1st as we celebrate Canada's 142nd birthday!

Even though it's a mid-week celebration, why not make a little getaway out of it? Stay at Fern Glen Inn on June 30th or July 1st and get a free gift bag of Canada Day swag. Stay both nights and you'll also get a $15 gift certificate for the Nutty Chocolatier.

Here are some of the events happening on Canada Day in Huntsville, Muskoka:

River Mill Park - Grand Opening Celebration
O Canada & Canada Day Cake
MP Tony Clement, MPP Norm Miller, and Mayor Claude Doughty will cut the ribbon on the Grand Opening of River Mill Park and Sway Fun Playground. Sing O Canada and enjoy Canada Day Cake.
River Mill Park
2:30 pm (Cake, Flags, Tattoos)
2pm - 2:30pm and 3pm - 3:30pm (Muskoka Concert Band)

Muskoka Heritage Place Strawberry Social
Entertainment, Demonstrations, Canada flags and pins. Includes strawberry scones while supplies last. Free Admission to Muskoka Museum. Heritage Village admission is Adult $10/Child $7.
Muskoka Heritage Place
10am - 4pm

Trillium Jazz Band
Kent Park
12pm - 2pm

Heritage Huntsville Train Station Tours
Tour the Huntsville Train Station.
10am - 4pm

Watch the show
over Huntsville's Hunters Bay, courtesy of the Huntsville Fire Department and KWH Pipe. Avery Beach is a great location to view them.
Dusk - 10pm

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 232
Family activities, BBQ lunch, Roast Beef dinner at the legion.
11am - 9pm
8am (yard sale)
1pm (tractor pull)

Robinson's Independent Grocer
Crafts, tattoos, puzzles, balloon release.
Muskoka Commerce Park
12pm - 2pm

14th Annual Coldwell Banker Thompson Real Estate Flag Placing
Team together and place Canadian flags all over the town.

Monday, June 15

Fennel, Tomato & Sausage Bake

I owe my thanks for this recipe to some delightful guests of ours who sent us a wonderful cookbook, Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home - Cook Your Way to the Good Life. It's full of gorgeous photos, chatty notes, and the type of food-forward recipes that Jamie Oliver is famous for. It's the way I love to cook, with lots of fresh produce, quality ingredients, and simple methods that let the flavour of the food shine.
I've been making a variation of Jamie's Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake frequently this spring. The multitude of colourful vegetables act as a preview of the summer produce bounty just around the corner. But since we're just at the start of the growing season, the slow, deep baking method used here really brings out the best flavour of the veggies.

The dish is perfect for casual entertaining since it can be assembled ahead of time. When it's time to cook, it's mostly untended in the oven, leaving you free to visit with your guests or finish preparing the rest of the meal. The evenings here are still plenty cool enough that it's nice for me to hav
e the oven on, but I suspect that the dish will also work well on the barbeque. Just use an aluminum pan lined with parchment paper for the veggies, and cook the sausages directly on the grill.

So a big shout out and 'Thank You' to Hartley (a very handsome labradoodle) and his people Stella and Dave!

Fennel, Tomato & Sausage Bake
adapted from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home - Cook Your Way to the Good Life
serves 4-6, or 2 with leftovers

2 onions
2 fennel bulbs
2 yellow or orange sweet peppers
2 pints grape tomatoes, rinsed and drained
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
handful chopped fresh parsley
generous pinch dried oregano
10 mild or hot Italian sausages
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9"x13" or two 7"x11" ceramic baking dish (I use my lasagna pan).

Peel and trim the onions; cut lengthwise into 3/4" wedges. Trim the fennel bulbs and remove the tough outer layers; cut lengthwise into 3/4" wedges. Rinse, core and seed the sweet peppers; cut lengthwise into 3/4" slices. Peel the garlic and cut lengthwise in half.

Put the vegetables, herbs and sausages in the baking dish. (Don't prick the sausages—you want to keep the juices inside!) Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Toss it all together to coat evenly. Pick out the sausages and line them up on top of the veggies.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir up the veggies and turn the sausages over. Continue baking for another 25-35 minutes until the sausages are nicely browned and cooked through. If your veggies need a little more time, return them to the oven (remove the sausages first and keep them warm in a covered dish) until done to your liking. I like them a little soft and caramelized, usually another 15 minutes or so.

Serve over steamed rice, a simple risotto, or mashed potatoes. I always make enough for leftovers because this is AMAZING the next day, chopped coarsely and tossed with a sturdy pasta (like bocconcini) and grated parmesan.

This is also great as a vegetarian dish. Just omit the sauages. Another great variation is to toss in raw, peeled, deveined shrimp for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. The shrimp is done when it's pink and opaque.

Sunday, June 14

June Walk in the Woods

The weatherman couldn't have been more wrong about this weekend. Instead of the rain and grey skies in the forecast, we had gorgeous sunshine and a bright blue dome overhead. Perfect for Saba and I to enjoy a walk in the woods.

Our trails start out winding through mossy, evergreen softwoods.

After crossing the creek, the flora changes to mixed forest with a variety of hardwoods (such as maple, beech and ironwood) in addition to the soft pines, fir and balsam.

For many people, the brilliant white bark of the silver birches is unmistakable—and photogenic!

There are also clearings and small meadows. Rocky outcrops can be
hard to find at this time of year under the lush new growth.

Low-growing wildflowers, such as the four-leaved, four-petaled Four O'clock Flower, manage to get a foothold among the trees and ferns towering above them.

With 10 km of trails on-site, there's plenty of room to explore. We're not the only ones exploring it either! I followed a set of moose tracks along one of our trails until it disappeared in the brush. It's nice to know someone else (some moose else?) is enjoying this lovely patch of woods!

Each moment
of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 11

Danny's Justa Pasta

Perhaps the most popular restaurant in the Almaguin Highlands, Danny's Justa Pasta is a favourite with many of our guests. It's certainly no surprise they've built up a loyal and far-ranging fanbase over the past 25 years.

Executive Chef Danny Galekovic and Head Chef Adam Ferguson, along with the attentive and courteous staff, take pride in serving up freshly prepared, made to order dishes using fresh ingredients. As the name suggests, much of the menu is devoted to pasta, but the selection is interesting and varied.

On the current menu, you'll find some classics such as Seafood Linguini with scallops, shrimps, halibut and mussels in a spicy tomato or delicate cream sauce ($23); or Penne Arrabiata with a full-flavoured extra spicy tomato sauce loaded with fresh garlic and fresh herbs ($16).

You'll also find some unexpected and inspired gems such as Penne with pork tenderloin, shrimp and mixed fresh vegetables in a spicy Thai sauce ($23); or Linguini with leeks, trio of onions, marinated roma tomatoes, fresh garlic, baby spinach and chili peppers in extra virgin olive oil, topped with a raw egg yolk ($17).

You can also cu
stomize your pasta by adding chicken breast, pork or beef tenderloin, mixed vegetables, shrimp or scallop to any dish. For the no-carb crowd, you can substitute out pasta for fresh raw baby spinach topped with your favourite pasta combination.
As tempting as it is to head straight to the pastas, don't miss the appetizer menu. Many of our guests have raved over the Escargot ($10), which changes daily. Or try the House Paté ($13) or Carpaccio ($13). Of course there are also a selection of salads, bread and soups to choose from for your starter. An assortment of desserts and beverages round out your meal.

Being such a popular spot, there is oft
en a wait for a table, especially at dinner time on weekends, but it's easy enough to pass the time. While waiting for your table, just stroll across the parking lot to the Eclectic Cottage gift shop. It's a great store packed with all sorts of home decor and cottage life goods.

Danny and his team seem to have thought of everything, even Rover. There's a Dog Walk trail behind the shop so your pooch can stretch his legs after waiting so patiently for you.

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Located directly on Highway 11, just south of the town of Sundridge and about 27 km north of Fern Glen Rd, Danny's Justa Pasta is an easy drive through lovely scenery.

Take-out is available, just call a few hours ahead. We've got the phone number and directions for you. Plus we're happy to provide our guests with plates and cutlery to reheat their meal for a comfortable dinner back here at the inn.

Wednesday, June 10

High Rock Lookout Park

Last week Jim, Saba and I took advantage of another lovely day with a little drive up to High Rock Lookout Park. Just south of the town of Sundridge, the park provides a gorgeous view over Lake Bernard and the surrounding hills. In addition to a stone-walled lookout point, there's a covered pavilion with picnic tables as well as some rather rustic facilities. We were also pleased to see a little staircase leading down the side of the steep hill to natural rock terraces above the water.

Lake Bernard's claim to fame is it is the largest-in-the-world freshwater lake without an island. We were here on a Thursday morning in early June, so the lake looked as far removed from civilization as one smack in the middle of Algonquin Park. But in a few short weeks when the water is warm and the summer season has begun, the lake will be dotted with sailboats, jet skis and all manner of watercraft.

A visit to High Rock Lookout Park can be part of a great day trip during your next stay at Fern Glen Inn. We'd be happy to help you plan a route north of us to include the park as well as some rapids and waterfalls along the way (great for a cooling dip in the water) and some hiking on the Forgotten Trails a little further north near South River. Both Sundridge and South River offer shops, cafes and restaurants to complete your outing.