Cottage Guide

The Social Cottager | A Resort in the Woods

Don’t own your own getaway? No matter! Our 4-part series explores unique retreats, be that sipping a fine vintage, doing battle with zombie hordes, seeking nirvana or something deep in the woods. 

Arowhon Pines Resort, Algonquin Provincial Park

Canada. Unplugged. Eight kilometres off Highway 60, smack in the middle of Algonquin Park, Arowhon Pines is a long way from anywhere. With no cell service or Wi-Fi, you’re off the communications grid. “At first, guests are fidgety and a bit angry, checking their phones all the time,” says general manager Theresa Pupulin. “But by day two, they’re thanking us that they’re not constantly receiving messages and notifications and just get to enjoy themselves.”

Live the cottage life. Ping-pong, foosball, and board games for rainy days — Arowhon Pines has all the trappings of a cottage but none of the yardwork and maintenance that can eat up so much of a cottage owner’s time and budget.

Dig in. Meals are included, so the family chef gets to chow down on bacon and eggs without having to scrub the griddle. Spoil yourself by signing up the kids for the early-dinner option, then leaving them with a staff babysitter while you partake in the later adult sitting. BYOW — there’s no corkage fee.

Howl at the moon. Park life has its perks. The loon’s call echoes uninterrupted across Little Joe Lake at sunset. A moose wades clumsily to cool off on a steamy summer day. Arowhon Pines is a haven for wildlife photographers, but on Thursdays in August, it’s worth stashing your camera to join a public wolf howl at the outdoor theatre on Highway 60.

Take a hike. Walkers are spoiled for choice, but no hike here beats Centennial Ridges. This 10-km loop climbs high above the park’s lakes, offering commanding views over the Canadian Shield.

Get your paddle wet. With no powerboats allowed, Algonquin puts paddlers first. You can cobble together a canoe route in any direction, but it’s worth checking out Tom Thomson Lake. Northwest of the resort, this six-hour route threads along small lakes and narrow channels to its secluded waters.

Brush up on art history. Tom Thomson perished under suspicious circumstances in a canoe accident in Algonquin, and you can retrace his footsteps (and paddle strokes). A cairn marks his death on Canoe Lake, and the visitor centre has an exhibit on the iconic painter’s time here.

Rustic, by design. The log beams, stone fireplaces, and almost level lake-view verandas scream Canadiana, but Arowhon Pines’ dining room was designed by Cleveland architect Charles Coleman, who sketched it on brown wrapping paper during a visit in the late 1930s. Since then, modern touches have added to the rustic feel, such as custom headboards hewn from delightfully weathered doors by artist Tim Webb and adorned with quotes by such celebrated Canadians as Peter Gzowski. Summer never comes early enough and always ends too soon. Indeed, Mr. Gzowski. Indeed.

If not here, then … Want a traditional cottage experience but without the drive? Try The Opinicon in Elgin, Ontario. Crave more action? Opt for a cabin and whitewater package on the Ottawa River with OWL Rafting.