8 Facilitated Writing Retreats in Canada

– Facilitated Writing Retreats in Canada – 

We all love the people and places in our lives, but writing comes more easily with solitude and time.



Those are beautiful words, right? Luxurious words that conjure images of writing studios filled with cozy armchairs, sunlit windows and silence.

Like me, you’ve probably learned to write pretty much anywhere, from your living room surrounded by kids (this is me right now), to busy coffee shops, airports, and even in a car at the side of the road.

But sometimes, writers need space – we need time and solitude like we need water and air.

Writing retreats give us that space, plus, they offer the perfect excuse to take a vacation alone. At a writing retreat, you can relax and recharge while working on something that’s important to you.

I especially like facilitated writing retreats that combine free writing with group workshops. The workshop portion gets the writing juices flowing, making solitary writing more productive.

– Plan your Writing Retreat –

This year, leave behind life’s daily pressures to write with people who love writing the way you do!

Here are eight facilitated writing retreats in Canada in 2018:

1. Artscape Gibraltar Point

Artscape is an artist community on Toronto Island that offers self-directed and facilitated retreats. They provide space for artists, musicians and writers, and run many mixed media workshops and residencies.

In 2018, they are offering a retreat for artists of all types including writers, called “Awakening: Earth-Based Spirituality and Art.”

When: July 16-27, 2018
Where: Toronto Island, Ontario
Cost: $850 to $1000

Description: “Engage holistic practices that connect mind, body and spirit with the self and environment.”

2. Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

The Banff Centre is world-renowned for the caliber of its programs. One of Canada’s most prestigious writing contests, “CBC Canada Writes,” offers a Banff Centre residency as one of its top prizes.

In 2018, the Banff Centre is running a Literary Journalism writing retreat and a retreat called “The Art of Walking: Writing Practice in Motion.

When – Art of Walking: April 2-14, 2018
When – Literary Journalism: July 2-28, 2018
Where: Banff, Alberta
Cost – Art of Walking: $2221.10 (financial aid up to 50% is available)
Cost – Literary Journalism: $0 (value of $44375.10). Writers are awarded a $2000 commission, plus up to $750 travel stipend.

Description – Walking: “Explore walking as the cultivation of a set of tools for artistic expression.”
Description – Journalism: Encourages the exploration of new ideas in journalism and experimentation in writing.”

3. Firefly Creative Writing

I wrote about Firefly Creative Writing in an earlier post. I’ve personally attended two of their retreats and they were lovely, inspiring, emotional, and exhilarating. Firefly runs numerous retreats throughout the year, providing a retreat for every season.

In 2018, their spring retreat is called “Spring Thaw.” It’s offered at Loretto Maryholme, a beautiful former nunnery on Lake Simcoe.

When: May 11-13, 2018
Where: Georgina, Ontario
Cost: $625 to $795

Description: “Breathe, nap, listen to the birds, explore the gardens, walk the labyrinth, make friends and write your heart out.”

4. Loretto Maryholme

Loretto Maryholme looks out over a beautiful flower garden cultivated by nuns and Lake Simcoe is just a few steps beyond the back porch. In addition to renting their facility to organizations like Firefly Creative Writing, they also conduct their own retreats.

In 2018, they are offering a writing retreat called “Reconnecting with Earth and Self: A Writing and Ritual Retreat.”

When: May 4-6, 2018
Where: Georgina, Ontario
Cost: $225 to $325

Description: “An ancient ritual will be used to create offerings for healing the earth and ourselves.”

5. Ochre House

Ochre House is a vacation and studio facility located in a former United Church set in a beautiful, natural location, in Ochre Pit Cove, Newfoundland.

In 2018, they are offering a writing retreat called “Writing with Care” that includes guided excursions to see whales and icebergs. Talk about inspiration!

When: June 10-15, 2018
Where: Ochre Pit Cove, Conception Bay, Newfoundland
Cost: $750 to $1000

Description: “The workshop discusses individual processes and the place of writing in one’s life.”

6. Pelee Island Book House

Pelee Island is well known for its bird observatory and dedication to the conservation of wild birds, but Pelee Island is also a hotbed of literary talent. The Pelee Island Book House has some high-caliber instructors in its roster, including Margaret Atwood, Graeme Gibson, and Steven Heighton.

In 2018, they are offering four writing retreats. These include two spring retreats called “Writing Nature” and “Writing and Divination,” and two fall retreats called “Fiction Writing” and “Publishing 101.”


When – Writing Nature: May 10-16, 2018
When – Writing and Divination: June 10-15, 2018


When – Fiction Writing: September 10-16, 2018
When – Publishing 101: September 21-23, 2018

Where: Pelee Island, Ontario
Cost: $840 to $1575

Description: “When not reading or writing, participants can go for a bike ride to the lighthouse, or walk along the beach, collecting shells and rocks, listen to the birds, and enjoy the breeze from the lake.

7. Pulp Literature

Pulp Literature publishes one of my favourite Canadian literary magazines and I’ve also worked with them to edit my writing. They have wonderful developmental editors on staff. This year, they’re offering one day mini writing retreats on beautiful Bowen Island!

January 6, 2018
January 25, 2018
May 10, 2018
May 26, 2018
June 23, 2018
June 28, 2018

Where: Bowen Island, British Columbia
Cost: $229/per retreat

“You’ll return home with a notebook full of new words, a head full of new ideas, and if you choose to join our Groaning Board banquet, a belly full of fabulous food.”

8. Sage Hill Writing Retreats

Sage Hill is a long running, not-for-profit organization based in Saskatchewan that provides development opportunities to writers. Many writers have gone on to publish after working with Sage Hill.

In 2018, they are offering many different writing retreats at two different times. In the spring, they will run a poetry retreat, and in the summer, they are offering a series of retreats focused on introductory writing, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and playwriting.


When: May 6-19, 2018
Where: Muenster, Saskatchewan
Cost: $1995


When: July 16-26, 2018
Where: Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan
Cost: $1695

Description: “We draw writers out into the broader cultural spectrum, helping them to take part in and contribute to the vibrancy and voice of Canadian literature.”


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If you like writing retreats, you may also like this list of 25 Canadian Writing Conferences in 2018.

Kat McNichol
About the Author

Kat McNichol is the Co-Editor for the Journal of Integrated Studies and the Editor-in-Chief of Dreamers Creative Writing. She is also a Director of Marketing-Communications in Waterloo and has spent the past 12+ years writing marketing copy for the high-tech industry. She holds a B.A. in English Literature, and an MAIS in Writing and New Media, and Literary Studies and she is currently completing a PhD in Career Writing at Tilburg University.


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