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I’ve had a Chrome tab open for years, searching in distracted moments for potential retreat spots. I wanted a place with three things:

  1. character
  2. comfort
  3. a place to get lost in your thoughts

“All are true, especially the 3rd,” said Johnnie, owner of Bed ‘n’ Beach in Gilmour, ON. Johnnie runs an isolated hideaway that seems a perfect destination for dedicated writers. And so, after seven years, Start Writing is hitting the road.

It’s not “if enough writers sign up” or “the dates may change.” Promises and deposits have been made. The only question is, are you coming too?

Gilmour Retreat: Overview

When: Friday Aug. 12th – Wednesday Aug. 17th, 2016

Where: A waterfront venue in Gilmour, about 2.5 hours from Toronto.

Who: Up to seven adult writers. No experience required, other than a willingness to get away from it all and to participate in group sessions. I’ll be facilitating. Milo’s coming too. Bios here.

What: The retreat program features:

  • daily group writing sessions
  • loads of personal time
  • evening reading sessions
  • one-on-one coaching

Cost: $1,100. Includes single accommodation (no sharesies!), meals and HST

Register: Hit the button to sign up now. Keep scrolling for more details or download the retreat brochure.

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Bed & Beach is a 4 acre waterfront property in Gilmour (about an hour north of Belleville and near Bon Echo Provincial Park). The venue accommodates up to 24 guests with a campfire area, swimming, canoeing, a studio and outdoor stage. We’ll be the only group on site for our stay.

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Accommodations are divided between a cottage with three bedrooms and a series of one room cabins: everyone gets their own room.

We’ll gather to eat and write in the cottage, which has a washroom and full-on indoor plumbing. Cabins offer more privacy, but may not have full bathroom amenities. Port-a-potties are always available nearby.


Writers are invited to arrive in the afternoon on Friday, August 12th. We’ll kick off with a communal dinner and get ourselves settled.

From Saturday through Tuesday, we’ll meet in the mornings and mid-afternoons for group writing sessions. Late mornings and early afternoons are yours to read, write and explore. Coaching sessions will be held with each retreater for an in-depth look at a piece of your writing, helping you set writing goals, or however you want to use the time.

On Sunday and Monday, we’ll gather for reading sessions after dinner to share manuscripts for balanced feedback. The formal program ends with dinner Tuesday. Then we get a final night to kick back before departing Wednesday morning. See brochure for full schedule.


Take breakfast and lunches on your own terms. The kitchen will be stocked with a good mix of fruit, yoghurt, granola, eggs, bread, coffee and tea for you to eat when you’re ready.

Provided foods will generally lean towards hearty pescatarian & non-meat fare. You’re welcome to bring anything you can’t live without.

Writers will likely be asked to create one group dinner each. By mid-July a more complete meal schedule will come together (and we’ll confirm food allergies too).

Reserve your space

If you’re ready to put down a deposit or pay for the retreat in full with a credit card, hit the button for next steps. If you’d like to pay in another fashion or have other questions, please get in touch. I hope to see in you Gilmour this Summer!

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