Thursday, September 30

An Afternoon in Burk's Falls

The natural setting and outdoor adventures may be the biggest draws for visitors to the area, but the towns and villages of the region offer their own charms as well. Huntsville, being the largest town in the region (pop. 18,500) is well-known to tourists and popular with our guests for shopping and dining. But it's not the only town within an easy drive of the inn.

The Village of Burk's Falls lies just north of us, 16 km up Highway 11. With a population of just 1,000, it is definitely a small town, and a lovely place to spend an afternoon. The Magnetawan River winds through the village. Houses, shops and churches perch on hillsides or cluster along quiet streets. Stores and restaurants are spread out, mostly along the main street, so driving between stops is more common than walking, but parking is free and plentiful.

Here is a selection—by no means complete—of some stops to include when you spend an afternoon in Burk's Falls.

Burk's Falls Welcome Centre & Cafe

Not just a repository of tourist information, the centre has public washrooms, a covered outdoor picnic spot overlooking the river, and an excellent cafe. This is the place for a great latte, cappuccino, or other specialty coffee. Plus their selection of fudges and baked goods are absolutely delicious. I highly recommend the butter tart muffins! Beside the centre is the covered footbridge which is the starting point for the in-town Heritage River Walk.
Hwy 520, just east of Ontario Street.

Circling Hawks Centre 
A retail store selling jewelry, books, crystals, drums and all things of various spiritual beliefs and faiths. A tarot card reader is sometimes available at the store for readings. Beyond the store, the back garden is open to visitors to enjoy a labyrinth, quiet gardens, teepee, bottle tree, peace pole and more (visiting is free). The barn out back houses an art studio showcasing works from local artists.
156 Ontario Street, Burk's Falls

Wooden Roo 
Located in a big old barn, this retail store offers two floors of giftware and home furnishings, many of them hand-crafted. You'll find things such as pottery pieces, solid wood furniture, framed artwork, jams & jellies, jewelry and souvenirs. 
311 Ontario Street, Burk's Falls

Burk's Falls Arts & Crafts Club
A gallery displaying various artwork and handcrafts of local artists. 
113 Young Street, Burk's Falls

Burk's Falls Flea Market
It bills itself as a flea market, but it's more like one mammoth, indoor rummage sale. Crammed into a big warehouse, you'll find all sorts of household and recreational pieces from years past. The first time we were in there, Jim and I were surprised to see a Flintstones car (barely visible under piles of everything else). There are crates of old vinyl records, stacks of books (fairly well organized, actually), housewares, hardware, appliances, furniture, boats.... stuff! Last time I was in, I found a table full of file boxes containing old magazine cover art and advertisements, each carefully protected in a plastic sleeve. I could've spent the entire afternoon just sorting through those.
I took a picture of one old ad for jello. It is a time capsule on paper, providing a glimpse back to a different era. The gist of the message is that if your cook quits, don't worry. You can feed your family jello until the employment agency can send you a new one. I love it! If you go, be sure to share your finds with us.
Young Street, Burk's Falls.

Burk's Falls offers a small selection of eateries, with something for everyone.

Dee's Bistro: Family and fine dining. Ontario Street.
Al's Diner: Classic diner fare. Ontario Street north of the bridge (beside the bowling alley).
Bakery by the Bridge: Baked goods, beverages, small but excellent lunch menu. Ontario Street.
British Boy Fish & Chips: hand-battered fish fillets, assorted menu, take out or eat at the picnic tables outside. Ontario Street.
Danny's Justa Pasta: this one is not in Burk's Falls but further north and very popular. On Hwy 11 between Burk's Falls and Sundridge. 

Around Burk's Falls
Other things to do and see when you're around Burk's Falls include...
Burk's Falls and District Museum 
Screaming Heads 
Magnetawan River Rapids 

Enjoy your visit to Burk's Falls!

Thursday, September 23

A Mighty Wind

 Fern Glen Inn •

A mighty wind blew through here recently, along with heavy rains and a thundering lightening storm. It uprooted trees, snapped trunks and left a mess of branches, limbs and pine needles to clean up. 

It also left us without power for a day and a half, but that's not as big a deal as you might think. We have a gas-powered generator we can hook up to our electrical panel and run all the essentials such as water, heat, lights, fridges, computers, coffee maker (essential!). We just can't run them all at the same time. And of course, we conserve our energy use. When we're the only ones here, and when there's no pressing need for electricity, we shut off the generator and spend the afternoon in the sunshine, or the evening in candlelight. 

After this particular storm, there was plenty to keep us busy out in the woods. A walk along our trails revealed many trees down, blocking the path in at least a dozen places. Some were small or dry-rotted and therefore light enough to simply lift and move out of the way. But there were also a number of big, mature trees down as well. Maple, cedar, beech, poplar. These would take a bit more work—and Jim's chainsaw—to clear out of the way.

So we spent two afternoons making the trails passable. Jim used the chainsaw on the big trees to cut them to manageable lengths. The thin leafy branches we just dragged into the bush. The trunks we set beside the trail to collect later.

The hardwood species will be put to use as firewood, but not this year. Most of the maples that came down were large, seemingly healthy, living trees. Their wood is too green for burning now and will need a year or two to dry out.

Maintaining the trails and getting enough firewood to see us through the winter is demanding physical work. But we love it! Especially at this time of year when there are no bugs and the air is cool and fresh. Plus there's enormous satisfaction to this type of work. The results are so tangible. The cleared trail that had been blocked by a massive game of pickup sticks. The fat logs of hardwood piled in the back of a trailer to be carted out of the bush. The piles of split wood ready to be stacked in neat cords by the woodshed. Real work. Simple pleasure. Bring on more wind!

Wednesday, September 8

Autumn Events in Muskoka & Almaguin

There are many reasons to treat yourself to a Fall Getaway in Muskoka and Almaguin... the colourful maple leaves, the perfect hiking weather, the fresh air (just to name a few). For the planned events and activities, see our list below. As ever, if you know of an event that we've missed, please let us know. Check back often for updates.

Ironman Muskoka 70.3
A challenging race through some of Muskoka's most beautiful terrain, including a 1.2 mile swim in bracing Peninsula Lake; a 56 mile bike ride through Lake of Bays including the hamlets of Dwight, Dorset and Baysville; followed by a 13.1 mile run. Visit Ironman Muskoka for details.
Sept 12

Algonquin Park Fall Workshop Series
The Friends of Algonquin Park are offering nine workshops (most of them one full day each) from mid-September to mid-October. There's fire-making, paddle-carving, animal-tracking, and five different photography workshops. Visit the Friends of Algonquin Park facebook page for dates, descriptions and registration details.
various dates from Sept 18 - Oct 17

Film North
Muskoka's first international film festival, held at Huntsville's Algonquin Theatre, showcases an eclectic lineup of films over three days. The focus is on the films and the filmmakers. Visit Film North for details. Peruse the program lineup here.
Sept 23 - 25

Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour
Two weekends for visitors to witness the artistic process at work through demonstrations and displays in the studios of Muskoka's diversely talented artists. Free self-guided tour. For printable map, brochure and more information, visit Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour.
Sept 25 - 26
Oct 2 - 3

North Words Muskoka Literary Festival
The inaugural festival featuring authors who have written about or been inspired by this breathtaking region. Two days of readings, Q&A's and book signings by such authors as Joseph Boyden, Roy MacGregor, Tish Cohen, Giles Blunt, John Ibbitson, Jeffrey Moore, Peter Robinson, Jack Whyte, Shane Peacock, Alan Pearson and Alayna Munce. Visit North Words Muskoka Literary Festival for schedule of events and ticket information.
Oct 8 -9

Thanksgiving Long Weekend
See the fall colours, walk in the woods, drive quiet country roads, relax and enjoy a long weekend away from it all.
Oct 8 - 11

Art After Dark
An open house for the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council. An evening of guest speakers, music, dance, poetry, and original art. Refreshments served. Hosted by the Burk's Falls Arts and Crafts Club at the Burk's Falls Arts Centre. Visit the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council for details.
Nov 3, 7pm

Huntsville's Girlfriends' Getaway Weekend
A weekend of shopping, pampering and culinary delights in downtown Huntsville. Giveaways, prizes, discounts and demonstrations. Get your holiday shopping done in one weekend (away from the big box stores!). Girlfriends get $25 off their 2-night stay at Fern Glen Inn for this Girlfriends' Getaway Weekend.
Nov 11 - 14