Garden Blog

Posted by Arowhon Friends on March 11, 2019


Back to Nature – the Transformation of our Grounds


Chapter One - Call to Action

We were flabbergasted last spring when we heard from the Ministry of Natural Resources, which runs Algonquin Park, that they wanted all the Park leaseholders to adhere to having only natural plants at our sites.


Arowhon Pines had spent thousands of dollars through the years in product and labour, growing perennials in our gardens, which provided flowers for our dining room tables, and tending to barrels full of cheery flowers that adorned our front foyer and cabins. Yes, we knew there were spots on the grounds full of invasive periwinkle and other creeping ground cover.

We started talking about it amongst ourselves then quickly realized that what was being asked was pretty darn reasonable. We looked again at the periwinkle spreading out into the forests. Perhaps we could turn this into a fun, education project for us and for our guests.

Around the same time, we became aware that one of our long time guests, Judith Adam, was a well-known, experienced horticulturalist. After a few emails back and forth with Judith, whose enthusiasm was immediately infectious, we were on our way to putting together our gardening project: to gradually get the Arowhon Pine’s grounds back to its natural state.

Chapter Two – Introducing Judith Adam

1.jpgIn her words…

At its best, landscape design recognizes the assets of a site and develops them to fuller expression. That’s a high-toned way of saying something simple – recognize what’s good about your garden and do something to build on that. At Arowhon, the naturalism and pristine beauty of the site are strong indicators of what direction development should follow. Indigenous perennial plants and conifers, stone and wood construction, and natural water features are the elements that are strong, true, and enduring in this northern garden.

I grew up in New York City, an inner city urban environment, with no access to green spaces. However summers were spent on Absecon Island, a barrier island off the coast of New Jersey; and that went a long way to emphasize the value and power of natural landscapes. (Briefly leaving the island by row boat during Hurricane Hazel was one sure way to understand my lowly place in the natural order of things.) My first garden was made in Toronto’s east-end Beach community, as well as on an allotment garden at the lake’s edge of the Leslie Street spit. That’s where I began hands-on training in making vegetables and flowers grow, and that continues to be my best method of learning.

Eventually I studied horticulture at University of Guelph, with my infant son, Arden, in a basket under the table. My area of specialization was woody plants, consequently I’m a great tree planter. I tried to grow every plant covered in my course material, resulting in several jungles that were culled to make room for subsequent course phases. This was excellent learning, but certainly the hard way to do things. My current garden is one third of an acre planted for pollinators. Don’t ask about my affection for docile bees, because I’ll provide way too much information. (But I will say one of my favourites is the leaf cutter bee, and I could go on about that!)

Sharing experience is the natural inclination of gardeners, so I taught some courses and wrote some books, and answered a horticulture hotline operated by the Toronto Master Gardeners. Now I’m helping my friends at Arowhon, finding ways to bring a fuller expression to the natural values of their site. I’ve been coming to Arowhon since 1975. Little has changed in those decades, and each year Arowhon seems more profound, more itself. That is the remarkable power of a timeless landscape. Our efforts at gardening here are hopefully embellishments to an already established beauty. We hope you’ll notice our work and learn along with us.


Chapter Three - The Plant List

Our first job was to find a copy of “Checklist of Vascular Plants of Algonquin Provincial Park” which lists all the plants natural to our region. It’s a tricky format and you have to read the lists and the legends as it lists everything that has been seen in the Park, not just native plants. The book is out of print but we found a few copies at the Algonquin Bound Outfitters outside the west gate.

Finding a supplier of indigenous plants is a key to the success of this project. Judith suggested Karen at

We will also be talking to Linda at DWIGHT GARDEN CENTRE who has always been a source of great information and support.

Please note that the Latin names of the plants is also key, as there are many variations of everything!

This will be our order for spring 2019:

  • Achillea millefolium, common yarrow
  • Asclepias incarnate, common milkweed
  • Aquilegia canadensis, red columbine
  • Chelone glabra, turtlehead
  • Cornus canadensis, bunchberry
  • Helianthus divaricatus, woodland sunflower
  • Eupatorium maculatum, Joe Pye weed
  • Eupatorium perfoliatum
  • Eurybia macrophylla (Large Leaved Aster)
  • Lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower
  • Maianthemum racemosum, false Solomon’s seal
  • Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose)
  • Maidenhair fern
  • Berry Bladder fern
  • Wood fern
  • Lady fern
  • Christmas Fern
  • Rudbeckia hirta, Black - eyed Susan
  • Solidago caesia (Blue Stemmed Goldenrod )
  • Solidago rigida
  • Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
  • Thalictrum pubescens (Tall Meadow Rue)
  • Tiarella cordifolia, foamflower
  • Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry)

We also found that the Muskoka Conservancy has an annual native plant sale on Saturday May 11, 2019. Please visit

Chapter Four - Planting at Arowhon

Our order of many dozens of plants native to the Algonquin region is soon to arrive, and we’re preparing for an intensive planting operation. Unlike the gallon-size containers of fancy hybrids in garden centres, our indigenous plants will be in smaller 4-inch pots, each with a perky seedling that’s going to be right at home in our climate and soil conditions.

Perennial plants are seedlings in their first year, when they develop a crown and root system to support the production of flowers and seeds. The second year is the beginning of their blooming life, when they produce a sampling of blooms. In their third growth season, perennials achieve mature size and begin full foliage and flower display. Purchasing blooming size plants in gallon containers is an effective way to get quick results in a cultivated home garden; but planting in the Algonquin forest conditions is quite a different scenario.

There are practical advantages to installing younger plants when working at the edge of a forest, or even deep in the interior. The Algonquin terrain is filled with tree roots that provide soil retention and rock debris that establishes efficient drainage, both helping to prevent erosion during the considerable snow melt off in spring. Any attempt at planting is likely to encounter roots, and it’s much easier to dig a smaller hole for a young plant than struggling to remove tree roots in holes for larger root balls.

Our first phase will be removing nursery bred ornamental plants that have established themselves in beds and borders. These are the relics of summers past that were planted here to provide a garden aesthetic similar to what we would expect in residential communities. These removals will open space for our new indigenous species, and we hope they will eventually spread into colonies. As in all planting ventures, we’ve made selections appropriate to the available light – at Arowhon we have some areas of full sunlight, lots of dappled light under trees, and areas of consistent shade.

Plants will be delivered to our site and held in shaded outdoor areas protected from wind as we work along. Each plant will receive a feeding of water soluble transplanting fertilizer directly into the pot. Providing this nourishment the day before planting will allow roots to absorb the nutrients and prevent fertilizer from leaching into the soil and nearby water. We can also provide some well composted animal manure (purchased in bags from a garden center) into the bottom of planting holes. It’s important to avoid any fertilizers manufactured from fish sources, such as liquid fish emulsion or fish meal; as well as blood and bone meals. These organic products are magnets for animal appetites, and foxes, raccoons and bears will efficiently rip out plants trying to find the treats.

Once our plants are installed, we’ll use pine needles and leaf litter as a mulch to help keep moisture in the soil. Regular irrigation will be our most important work through the growing season from spring to autumn freeze up. With sufficient water, we can expect our plants to make themselves comfortable at Arowhon and reward us with a timeless and permanent landscape.


Upcoming Events

Posted by Arowhon Friends on March 3, 2019

Laura Traplin Weekend Retreat

May 31st – June 2nd, 2019

Please join me and 20 other beautiful souls for our 11th annual weekend retreat of insight, intuition, mediumship, guided meditations, relaxation and more! Come connect with spirit and your own inner wisdom in the beautiful surroundings for Algonquin Park.

This retreat is open to anyone who feels a calling to attend. There will be scheduled workshops as well as free time to go for a hike, enjoy a canoe ride, relax in the sauna or on the verandah by the lake, read your favourite book or just unwind while surrounded by nature.


 Quick Brown Fox Writing Course

More information, click here

May 31st – June 3rd, 2019


Give yourself a long weekend of writing time – a weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do and wonderful food at every meal, as you sit with your feet up and write in the most beautiful wilderness setting in Ontario. This is where the Group of Seven got its inspiration (Tom Thompson is buried just a couple of lakes over); it’s a wonderful place for you to find your inspiration, too.

The retreat will feature both instruction and guided writing exercises, plus one-on-one critiquing and coaching from Brian. You’ll also have lots of time to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with your creativity. All writing levels welcome. Whether you are just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us.

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.



Painting Algonquin with Martha Johnson - more information coming soon

September 10th - 15th, 2019

Six days and five nights of painting stunning Algonquin Park, while staying in extraordinary nature at the historic Arowhon Pines lodge. Located in the heart of Canadian Impressionist territory, this workshop includes expert guiding to locations and lore of The Tom Thomson Mystery. We’ll paint evergreens, shorelines, wildlife, water, and the shifting weather, all in the exotic colour palette of Algonquin Park. We also will make time for a canoe paddle, a walk in the woods, a swim in the cool lake.

Martha has a personal connection to Tom Thomson and his mysterious death. Her uncle was Judge William Little who wrote The Tom Thomson Mystery published in 1970. As you might remember, Tom Thomson died in July 1917, drowning in nearby Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, and was buried there. Two days later, his family sent an undertaker to exhume the body and send it back for re-burial in Leith, Ontario. In October 1956, Little and some friends decided to dig up Thomson's original burial place at Canoe Lake. The book tells the story of Thomson's life and the discovery made by Little and his friends. His book is one of several that raised the Tom Thomson mystery to public prominence during the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Highlights will include a “a nocturne session” (painting at night) taking advantage of the September full moon light, and a pontoon transport and walk to visit the remote Canoe Lake cemetery, thought to be Thomson’s gravesite. As well, Judge Little’s son John Little will dine with us then speak about his new book Who Killed Tom Thomson – a Toronto Star best seller and a must-read for fans of true crime and art. 

About Martha Johnson: Martha graduated Fine Art, University of Guelph and was later mentored by Tom Hodgson of Painters 11. She currently teaches Mastering Acrylic Techniques and topical workshops at ArteMbassy in Toronto as well as 20 years instructing drawing and acrylics at the Avenue Road Arts School in Toronto. As a landscape painter Martha is passionate about working out of doors, note-taking and leading workshops across Canada, France, Union Island and Saint Vincent The Grenadines. She is known for an environment subtext in her paintings and ephemeral wire sculptures that adorn private, public and corporate collections worldwide. Deeply interested in Canadian history, exhibition highlights include: Survey the Valley (2007), Kent Island and the Albatross (2013, Grand Manan Museum) and SHADOW RED 2017, acknowledging the hundredth anniversary of Tom Thomson’s death. 

Indigenous summer tours with Christine Luckasavitch

Information coming soon.

In house and meal guests all welcome!




Greetings from Algonquin

Posted by Arowhon Friends on December 16, 2018



December 2018                                                        Arowhon Pines, Algonquin 

Dear Friends of Arowhon Pines

Hello All! We’re fresh from a wonderful and busy 2018 season – thank you for your loyalty, patronage and friendship.

While everything is still fresh in our minds, here are some of the goings-on from the season past and what we’re looking forward to...

There is a beautiful sculpture of two trees in the old fountain bed among the flowers, in memory of the late Helen and Eugene Kates. It was commissioned to renowned metal sculptor Hilary Clark Cole. We’re happy to see that it has become a lovely, peaceful place to sit.


Renovations continue: A new look to Sherwood lounge and deck, and a screened porch on the LK cabin, “like-new” chairs and a different layout for the dining room, and new signage around the grounds. For 2019 the two private suites up the hill have undergone a major revamp including screened porches; it was time. Kudos to designers Tim Webb and Dave Campbell, owners of The Shipyards, Gravenhurst, our long-time friends.

Our 2018 staff was extraordinary. We’ve begun to rebuild and/or renovate our staff accommodation. Arowhon provides all staff with private rooms, something unheard of in the resort staff accommodation business.




A goal of the Algonquin Park management is to have only native plants in Algonquin Park. Plans are in place at Arowhon to meet the challenge of gradually removing all non-native species from our grounds, especially the invasives, replacing them with beautiful, indigenous wildflowers, trees and shrubs. We discovered that one of our favourite guests, Judith Adam, is a well-known landscape designer and horticulturalist, with many published garden books and manuals. This spring, she’ll be helping us with this important transformation.

You might also see Chris Brackley around the grounds this summer, with compass in hand. Chris is a cartographer, and the official map-maker for Canadian Geographic Magazine. He will be creating a new accurate map of the grounds, trails and lakes. Chris was drawn to his profession by the many summers he spent at Camp Pathfinder in Algonquin Park. He spends a lot of time at his nearby cottage on Canoe Lake.

Anne Hardy’s WHERE TO EAT IN CANADA ( is Canada’s only independent guidebook to restaurants across the country. Every restaurant in the guide is personally tested. There are no free meals for their reporters, no advertisements and no payment for listing.

“The cooking at Arowhon Pines this year has been some of the best we’ve ever experienced. Major investments have been made in the property—a new kitchen, a new dining-room entrance and a new front office—and they’ve richly paid off. The chefs may be working from established recipes—Eugene and Helen Kates put everything into the computer—but there’s a liveliness and variety to the meals that we haven’t seen before, and the dessert buffet is more elaborate than ever.”


Chef David Cooke, has been seriously talking to us about an Arowhon Pines cookbook. Do you have Arowhon favourites you want to see included in the book? Let us know, and stay tuned.

In January, we’ll be contacting you to say hello and ask that you confirm your booking for next year with a deposit. For those of you who have not yet picked some dates, we hope to hear from you soon. The suites and the rooms along the lakeshore are going fast, especially during the peak times of the season!

Season’s Greetings from the very merry team at Arowhon Pines.

Love Theresa



Spend some time exploring by canoe or trail some of the more obscure and/or historic elements of Algonquin Park…

The remains of the Gilmour Lumber Mill at Potters Creek. Opened in 1887, 500 workers lived here. The community sported a hospital, horse stables, warehouse, cookhouse, storehouses and offices, mill workers houses, boarding houses and cemetery. Turtle research continues each season along the old railway bed 3 km from Arowhon.

Baden Powell Lake is a good day trip from Arowhon. Named after the founder of boy scouts and girl guides, there is a log book and badge swap on the west shore of the lake.

Standing chimneys are all that is left of Camp Minnesing located on Burnt Island Lake. We suggest you canoe part way, then walk the white trail – or you can canoe all the way.

Tom Thomson cairn and totem is located on Canoe Lake, apparently at the site of one of his favourite campsites, accessible only by canoe.






Best Wishes – I’m here for the asking. Adam




A seasonal life style is a wonderful opportunity for staff to travel, learn new skills, meet people and enjoy the world. Although it might not be for everyone, for it involves more work sending out resumes, making travel plans, packing bags, saying goodbye (again) to family and friends, finding accommodation, etc. – I’ve always found it to be the right life for Donna and me.

Seasonal staff bonds last a lifetime. I am still in contact with chefs whom I met when I was in my twenties. As the old man now, I relish keeping up to date with all the travel plans of our young staff.

I usually spend the off season teaching culinary arts at Algonquin College in Ottawa. This winter, however, with all three of my boys flown the coop, Donna and I have decided to take a three month tour of Southeast Asia – Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand – a trip that we’ve been planning for decades. I am calling this a "food research" tour and plan to bring back lots of new recipes and tastes to incorporate into our menus next season. We leave soon after the holidays and we’re very excited!

No matter what I do though, by the time the snow starts to melt, I can feel Algonquin Park tugging on my soul, and can't wait to start a new season in the kitchen, and a new adventure!

Happy Holidays from Chef David Cooke


Holiday Gifts - 2018

Posted by Arowhon Friends on November 28, 2018

Holiday Gifts from the Arowhon Pines Tuck Shop

Always in good taste...Give the gift of a meal or an overnight stay at Arowhon Pines...Holiday gift certificates are available.

Please contact Adam or Theresa in the office at
(416) 483-4393
We’re here until Dec 20th!

From our 2018 collection, priced to sell. Please add HST, postage and handling:

Ladies Made in Canada bamboo t-shirts with grey or red peace signs $ 25


Arowhon Pines ball caps (limited availability) – red, tan and blue/grey $ 25


Arowhon Pines Note Cards from paintings by Kelly J Kaufman
$ 40.00 / package of 10


Local pottery by Karen Grey – yellow canoe, loons, trees, aurora, beaver, fish, daisies and more…
Small Bowls $ 40
Large Bowls $ 75


Wildlife Photographs - Michael Morgan

Posted by Arowhon Friends on September 30, 2018

Michael Morgan, a regular guest, has kindly shared some wildlife photographs from his years visiting Arowhon Pines.


Anne Hardy’s "Where to Eat in Canada" includes Arowhon

Posted by Arowhon Friends on August 12, 2018

Anne Hardy’s "Where to Eat in Canada" is Canada’s only independent guidebook to restaurants across the country.  Arowhon Pines is ecstatic to have received a 2 STAR rating. 

Note: Every restaurant in the guide has been personally tested. Their reporters are not allowed to identify themselves or to accept free meals. They accept no advertisements. They accept no payment for listings.

The cooking at Arowhon Pines this year has been some of the best we’ve ever experienced. Major investments have been made in the property—a new kitchen, a new dining-room entrance and a new front office—and they’ve richly paid off. The chefs may be working from established recipes—Eugene and Helen Kates put everything into the computer—but there’s a liveliness and variety to the meals that we haven’t seen before, and the dessert buffet is more elaborate than ever.

The menus are all planned a week in advance so no guest will get the same meal twice. As you enter the huge hexagonal dining-room you’re confronted by a big buffet table loaded with soups (perhaps lobster bisque with truffle cream), pâtés, salads and things like crispy duck in moo-shu pancake, shrimp dumplings and scallops with watercress.

You can eat as much of any or all of these as you like. When you sit down—first come, first served—you have the choice of four entrées, one of which will be fish (baked halibut, say, in a parmesan crust) and another vegetarian. If you’re hungry, ask for a second helping (they’re free). If you’re not, ask for a half-portion. You can even get a different second entrée—if you don’t want to choose between the fish and the lamb you can just have both. The dessert bar has too many choices to list, but among them should be maple mousse, fruit salad, blueberry tart, carrot cake and the resort’s famous butter tarts. And once again, you can help yourself to as much as you like.

The price in parentheses at top right is for a room for two with three meals a day, plus all the recreational facilities—like canoes—that are available.

Open daily 12.30 pm to 2 pm, 6.30 pm to 8 pm from 3 June until Thanksgiving. Bring your own bottle. Master Card, Visa. Book ahead. Wheelchair access.

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100 Mile Challenge Barbecue - Aug 5, 2018

Posted by Arowhon Friends on August 7, 2018


FlyGTA is providing passenger air service from the Toronto Island Billy Bishop Airport to Muskoka Airport -

Discount Car Rentals is represented at the Muskoka Airport – 705 645 0372 is the local number.

There is also a limo service through Hammond Transport:

The twin engine Piper Panther aircraft will comfortably accommodate up to eight passengers at a time with a one-way ticket price of $140. 

The flights will run to and from Muskoka on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during peak travel times.



Summer 2018 Arowhon Pines

Posted by Arowhon Friends on June 3, 2018





Arowhon Pines
Inside Algonquin Park

We’re Officially Open for the Season! 

Now that the snow is gone, Algonquin Park becomes a landscape of sparkling, warm lakes, cascading streams & forests of every green imaginable.

Spend your holidays at Arowhon Pines canoeing & kayaking a chain of lakes, hiking trails to see moose & other wildlife, swimming in the lake, playing tennis, sailing, SUPing & relaxing. Rates include all meals - our food is made from scratch, from quality local ingredients and prepared with care by a team of chefs.

Choose to be off the beaten track, miles off the highway where peace and quiet reign. We look forward to welcoming you!


Theresa, David and Adam and All of us at Arowhon Pines





Thank you Scott Martin Photography

Posted by Arowhon Friends on June 2, 2018

Thank you Scott Martin Photography for the stunning photographs in and around 
Arowhon Pines.