Summer EC Retreat 2015 in Happy Harbour, Muskoka

Happy Harbour, Muskako. July 2015

This past weekend — well, Sunday and Monday, a few select friends and MA family road-tripped up to Muskoka where we had a relaxing “extended weekend” (my words) at a private lakeside cottage.  I’m pretty sure it was my first time to Muskoka after hearing about friends and acquaintances heading up to this quiet nature-y sanctuary.  After a quick breakfast at Marathon Cafe, our fleet of more than six to eight cars headed up the highway north to Muskoka.

The GPS told us it would take around an hour and a half to get to Happy Harbour where we would be taking a ferry to the Georgian Bay Islands National Park first for some hiking and nature time.  However, seeing as we had some expert drivers and speed demons, I believe we got there in around an hour’s time.  There were actually a lot of cops on the road, however, so we did ride up there safely. 🙂

A rare sight of beautiful flat clouds in the sky making a pattern

On route to Muskoka!

Our fleet of riders

Our amazing friends did a great job planning for the trip and contacting the staff there at Happy Harbour to see what their hours of the ferry would be like (you know who you are).  Luckily, we got there in time for the 10:30 a.m. ferry ride.  We split up into two ferries and rode over to the Georgian Bay Islands National Park.  A few had to take the water taxis since our group was simply too big — we had nearly 30 people in our trip!

Day trip ferries

Once we got there, we waited around a little bit.  Some people got some temporary spray-on tattoos, some people got to try out an “old bow” activity, and some of us got to handle a live Eastern Fox snake.  Once we had gathered everyone, we set out on a hike.  It was a beautiful day where the sky was clear.  It was a little humid though, but for the most part, it was a great park.  It was quiet, filled with green trees, the air was clear, and nature was abundant around us.  We had to make sure we got back to the dock though at 2:30 p.m. so that we could take the ferry back to Happy Harbour.

Pineapple the Eastern Fox Snake


After reaching the shore and taking some pictures, we trekked on a second hike.  This time, there was very dense covering of the trees and it was very humid inside.  It had been raining recently so this meant that the mosquitoes were out in full force.  Some of us had already started to get bites already, but once we were walking inside this dense foliage, no one was protected anymore.  There were just so many mosquitoes!  Half of our group started running for cover and sprinted towards the end of the hike.

Hike #1

What a beautiful clearing and beach!

Long story short, it was a fairly sizable trail.  If it weren’t for the mosquitoes, it would have been an amazing and casual hike through the beautiful woods.  However, there were just so many critters flying all around us.

When we finally emerged from the forest, we realized that it actually took us straight back to where we started near the dock.  What a pleasant surprise that was! 🙂  After this “ordeal”, most of us just rested and took shelter inside the information centre.  We rested up in here and chilled until 2 p.m. and got ready for the ferry back to the harbour.

Once we got back, we rode up to our private cottage for the night!  I was so excited to see what it was like because the online pictures foreshadowed a beautiful cottage home with a large living area.  I was reminded of our previous retreat last autumn when we also took refuge in a homey cottage in Wasaga Beach.

Arriving at the cottage. You can see Chris waving, Edward playing the electronic piano, and Sagee entering the place

Our private cottage was on an 8-acre land with a large lake right in front of it.  There was a dock and trees surrounding the entire property.  In fact, when we drove into the property, we had to go very deep into the woods before we reached the home.  Amazing!  The cottage home was raised on some rocks and had a beautiful patio area too.

Our friends got some food ready and the barbecue grill fired up.  By 4 p.m., we were munching on grilled sausages (SO good!), burgers, chicken, and veggies.  Thanks for lunch, guys! 😀

BBQ patio lunch facing the lake! ^_^

Part of our relaxing weekend retreat also included some learning as well.  I was chosen to present on a topic, and I had very little time to prepare or sleep the night before.  I used the precious time before 7 p.m. presentation time to rehearse and cull what I wanted to share.  Yay for quiet time. 🙂

We had an amazing line-up of speakers for the night.  Everyone speaking was experienced in some sense and had some valuable words and topics to share.  My topic was on “how to set a good duplicatable example”.  I shared 8 reasons why this was important for us as business owners.  I think I did pretty good. 🙂

From Andrew’s slides

Because everyone was so passionate about their topics, we actually ran over time by a lot.  We had to scheduled in a 10-minute snack break where everyone ran to get snacks like chips, blueberries, chocolate croissants, popcorn, and more.  Lol.  By the time we finished the segments, it was 11:30 p.m.  A few of our friends had to go back to work for Monday.

The rest of the night was chill time.  I took a shower and had an early night — passed out immediately like a pig. 🙂  (Oh, despite the beautiful cottage home, the one downside was that this home only had one washroom for all 25+ of us to use — the second washroom was probably in the master’s bedroom, but it was restricted to us because the owner locked the room.  The fact that we all managed through that shows incredible teamwork as a group.)

What a beautiful home

The next morning, I woke up early to see some of our friends already up making breakfast.  So awesome. 🙂  I spent some time outside sitting in a cute little lounge chair facing the lake in the early morning and chatted with Jason.

Good morning, private lake!

Can you spot the BV?

Before long, Chris opened the patio door and announced that breakfast was ready.  How awesome!  We had some delicious “hamburger” scrambled eggs (beef patty, cheese, eggs), veggie scrambled eggs, pancakes (the best ones are the BV ones), sausages, and grilled chicken (best with Sereen’s hot sauce).  It was such a delicious breakfast.  Thanks, guys! 😀

After breakfast, a few of us donned some lifejackets and boarded the little boat.  Our boat of four people rowed out into the private lake where we combed through thousands of water lilies, lily pads, and plants to discover what was in our little “backyard”.  It was beautiful and the weather was perfect!  The forecast had previously said it was going to rain, but the clouds were high and clear.

Taking the boat out for a spin!

It was a beautiful day

We rowed to a rock formation and “docked” ourselves.  The guys were so creative.  We took some nice pictures and then returned back home.  We picked up a few items for a longer journey this time to discover the rest of the eight acres of water and land, including two more passengers who wanted to come with us.

We “landed” on a nearby island/rock formation. You can see the house behind me

To the left is a bridge and to the right is our cottage

The boys were able to expertly “dock” the boat while we explored the island

What beautiful water lilies!

They towed us back to the house for a while XD

Our boat was a little slower this time around, but it was a little more fun.  Due to the specific muscle power needed in rowing, I was lucky enough to get the front row seat of the boat as the “captain” (I didn’t do anything but take pictures and enjoy the ride).  Thanks, guys lol. 😀 😀 😀

Second adventure! Me as captain in the front seat

Bernard, Jason, and Eric had a smaller canoe so they were a lot more swift and fluid

What a gorgeous spot!

We landed on the second island/rock formation

We ventured to the other side where there was a lot more vegetation.  The blooming water lilies were absolutely gorgeous!  How privileged and amazing it was to be out there on the water enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature! ❤

A late lunch before we set off for home!

We visited another rock formation “island” before we returned back for lunch at around 2 p.m.  This time, there were chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, veggies, oranges, and ribs to enjoy.  I don’t think everyone got to enjoy everything though.  I didn’t get to try any chicken or mashed potatoes, for example.  It didn’t matter too much though because after we ate, we cleaned up, packed up, and left the place by 4 p.m.  It was time to drive back to Markham and home!

The road trip back home was so much faster (why is it always like this anyway?).  Some of us stopped by Kiko Cafe for dinner — yum, Neapolitan Pasta!

Good-bye private lakeside cottage. Until another time! 🙂

What a great retreat that was!  It was so relaxing for those two days.  I can’t wait for more retreat trips to beautiful cottages with more friends! 😀  Thank you everyone for making it a fun trip!!

About stenoodie

I'm a stenographer, foodie, avid traveller, and new mom who loves to share her experiences with the world.
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7 Responses to Summer EC Retreat 2015 in Happy Harbour, Muskoka

  1. andy1076 says:

    So cool!! I’m envious of your trip 🙂

  2. gchan7127 says:

    Wow!! It looks like you guys had a lot of fun!! Lots of good food too!! So someone was responsible for breakfast and lunch?? So he/she didn’t get to go out with u guys?

    Captain sounds like a great job and title lol!!

    • stenoodie says:

      Cooking of the meals was all teamwork. It’s not like we had a single person doing all the work lol. People could do whatever activity they wanted if they chose to.

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