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17 Writing Retreats in Canada

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 and writing residencies give us that space, plus, they offer the perfect excuse to take a vacation alone. At a writing retreat or residency, 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 17 writing retreats and residencies in Canada:

Al Purdy A-Frame Residency

An a-frame house built in 1957 by author, Al Purdy, is now the site of a writing residency program open to all writers with preference given to poets and poetry writing. Located in Ameliasburgh, Ontario, at the edge of Roblin Lake.

“While the primary aim of the A-frame is to provide writers with time and space to concentrate on their projects, the residency also gives them the opportunity to interact with the community.” 

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.

Over the years Artscape Gibraltar Point has hosted thousands of artists both local and international, who have taken advantage of the facility’s quiet and natural setting to focus on their practices and projects through short-term residencies and long-term studio rentals.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

The Banff Centre, located in Banff, Alberta, 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.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development.

Berton House Writers’ Retreat

The Berton House Writers’ Retreat is located in the Yukon, on the edge of Dawson City. The house is acclaimed writer, Pierre Berton’s childhood home. Berton House offers 3 month writing residencies together with a $9000 honorarium, plus travel costs are covered. Timing varies and residents are accepted based on an online application process.

“The residency has hosted 84 writers since it was launched in 1996 and has played an influential role in the publication of dozens upon dozens of manuscripts.”

Caetani Cultural Centre

Located in downtown Vernon, British Columbia, the Caetani Centre operates out of a 120 year old heritage home, the former residence of an artist, writer and teacher. The Centre is run by a not-for-profit society dedicated to facilitating high-quality creative programming. They offer 2 week to 3 month self-directed writing residencies at very affordable rates.

“Creative living and working spaces in an independent community atmosphere.”

Fireside Writing Retreat at the Dreamers Writing Farm

During this fireside writing retreat, participate in a series of writing prompts designed to explore themes connected to your lived experience. Do you want to learn how to reflect inward and unlock what you keep hidden, even from yourself? Find out how expressive writing leads to deeper self-acceptance and healing.


“People who routinely “write to heal” experience increased confidence, a sense of calm, and a deeper appreciation for the life they’ve lived.”

Firefly Creative Writing

I’ve personally attended two of their retreats and they were lovely, inspiring, emotional, and exhilarating. Firefly runs numerous retreats in Ontario throughout the year, providing a retreat for every season.

Description: “To write — to really write — we need to drop down into ourselves and our stories. We need to somehow create a depth of focus that lets us see and step into the wide, dazzling possibility of the next page.”

Go and Write! Retreat

Go and Write! retreats are offered by award winning authors, Gerard Collins and Jane Simpson. In addition to a yearly retreat in New Brunswick, they offer writing retreats in Scotland and Ireland.

Description: “Go and Write! Kingsbrae offers you a rare opportunity to leave the rest of the world behind, to sit alone in your own writing studio or bedroom in a gorgeous, turn-of-the-century mansion where you can get lost in your own thoughts for hours – even days – and come out with a clearer sense of what it’s all about, what you’ve been through, and where you go from here.

Leighton Artist Studios

Located on the Banff Centre campus, in Banff, Alberta, the Leighton Artist Studios offer writers and artists the ability to delve into their work in a peaceful wooded setting.

“With serene forest views and thoughtfully designed interiors, the Studios offer an environment that is intense and stimulating; a location free of daily pressure and distraction; an ideal space for creativity and intense productivity.”

Loretto Maryholme

Loretto Maryholme, in Georgina, Ontario, 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.

Description: “Autobiography is a gift to the future as well as to the present, especially to one’s own family and often to a wider world. But it is first of all a gift to the one writing it, as forgotten memories arise and create a golden chain of one’s life, including all in our life experience. In this workshop you will be given ways to begin writing your autobiography or continuing it if you have begun.”

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.

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

Ou-telier Residency

This residency is offered on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, also known as the Isle of the Arts. It caters to writers and artists who are “focused and kind.”

“We welcome applications from emerging and established artists of all mediums including writers, photographers, textile and 2D artists… Our hope is that you will leave the residency feeling rested, renewed and inspired.”

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. They offer writing retreats on Bowen Island, in British Columbia.

“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.”

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.

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.”

Spark Box Studio

Set in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Spark Box Studio is an artist studio and residence run by two artists. They can accommodate up to 3 artists simultaneously and residencies can be as short as 3 days or as long as 2 months.

“An affordable, focused environment that encourages exploration, experimentation and the cultivation of new ideas.”

Vocamus Press Writing Retreat

Vocamus Press is a Guelph-based micropress that offers various programs for writers, including a yearly writing retreat at the Crief Hills Retreat Centre, in Puslinch, Ontario. 

Description: “Spend a weekend writing at beautiful Crief Hills Retreat Centre.”

Warbler’s Roost

A quiet and beautiful place in Deer Lake, Ontario, where you can focus on your writing.

“Warbler’s Roost offers short-term one week accommodation at discounted rates for artists who want to focus on their work in a distraction-free environment.”

Yasodhara Ashram Yoga Retreat and Study Centre

I’ve met a few writers who have spoken highly of the Yasodhara Centre, in Nelson, British Columbia. Although they don’t offer guided writing retreats, their Restorative Retreats are great for writers in need of peace, time to focus, good food, and yoga.

“These self-guided retreat opportunities are created especially for you to experience the Ashram and reconnect with yourself during these changing times. They can appeal to you as a spacious personal retreat or as an artist or professional retreat to focus on a specific project.”

*This article was originally published on January 1, 2018. It was last updated on May 21, 2023.

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