– 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 21 facilitated writing retreats in Canada in 2019:
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 2019, they are offering seven different retreats:
When – Dark Moon Ritual: February 1-4, 2019
When – Alchemy Island 2019: April 15-27, 2019
When – Feminist Art Collective: May 13-27, 2019
When – MOTHRA: June 24-July 2, 2019
When – Luminous Bodies: July 2-15, 2019
When – Awakening: July 15-26, 2019
When – Once Upon Water: September 16-30, 2019
Where: Toronto Island, Ontario
Cost: $425 to $1330
Description: “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.”
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 2019, the Banff Centre is offering six different retreats catering to writers:
When – Winter Writers Retreat: January 21-February 9, 2019
When – Indigenous Storytellers and Spoken Word: March 4-23, 2019
When – Spring Writers Retreat: March 11-23, 2019
When – Spoken Word: April 1-13, 2019
When – Writing Studio: April 29-June 1, 2019
When – Literary Journalism: July 1-27, 2019
Where: Banff, Alberta
Cost – Retreats range from $1689.25 to $5651.30
Description: “Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development.”
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.
When – Continuous Schedule, Check above link for 2019 dates
Where: Southwestern Ontario, Various Locations
Cost – Retreats range from $950 to $1495
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.”
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.
When: Nourishing Body; Nurturing Soul – April 5-7, 2019
Where: Roches Point, Ontario
Cost: $325 to $400
Description: “Through input, media, poetry, guided reflections and meditative practices we will explore how steeping oneself in the flow of Mercy unleashes a life of abundance and blessing.”
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.
Each year, Ochre House offers a writing retreat that includes guided excursions to see whales and icebergs. Talk about inspiration!
When: June 9-14, 2019
Where: Ochre Pit Cove, Conception Bay, Newfoundland
Cost: $935 to $1250
Description: “The workshop discusses individual processes and the place of writing in one’s life.”
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.
When: September 9-15, 2019
When: September 20-22, 2019
Where: Pelee Island, Ontario
Cost: $840 to $1575 (week long rates)
Cost: $280 to $500 (weekend rates)
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.”
We just heard about these retreats on Porphyry Island but they sound amazing and the island looks gorgeous. Definitely check these ones out!
When: Writing Retreat with Elle Andra-Warner – July 4-7, 2019
When: Writing Retreat with Jean E. Pendziwol – July 18-21, 2019
Where: Porphyry Island, Ontario
Cost: $199/day trip or $1395/4 day trip
“In addition to your class time there are numerous activities from fishing to interpretive lighthouse tours, drift wood picking sauna, swimming and more to fit every individual’s needs.”
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.
When: July 6, 2019
When: August 22, 2019
Where: Bowen Island, British Columbia
Cost: $249/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.”
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.
When: July 2-12
Where: Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan
Cost: $1695 (scholarships and bursaries available)
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.”
Vocamus Press is a Guelph-based micropress that offers various programs for writers, including a yearly writing retreat on Manitoulin Island.
When: June 14-16, 2019
Where: Manitoulin Island, Ontario
Description: “Spend a weekend writing at beautiful Dominion Bay.”
When: On hiatus in 2019, resuming in 2020
Where: Whistler, British Columbia
“WAC… is unlike other writing getaways across the country due to its setting, varied activities, and multi-disciplinary focus. Not a retreat, but a creative re-boot!”
*This article was originally published on January 1, 2018.
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If you like writing retreats, you may also like this list of 31 Canadian Writing Conferences in 2018.
Also consider this list of 10 Self-Directed Writing Residencies.