After opting for a local staycation during Ontario, Canada's big lockdown, I found myself exploring the beautiful Kawarthas Region just three hours away from the city of Toronto. Here, I stayed at Towering Pines Cottage Retreat, a stunning log cabin surrounded by nature.
This spring, I had the pleasure of staying at Towering Pines Cottage Retreat, a custom-built Scandinavian-designed chalet just outside of Bancroft, Ontario, Canada, in the township of Faraday. It’s also mere minutes away from Grail Springs Spa, an award-winning holistic health and wellness centre situated on the same road. This waterfront property on Lucerne Lake is nestled among the towering pines was the perfect getaway for my household amidst the province’s lockdown that had been stretching out since December 2020.
The stunning log cabin (‘cabin’ being a considerable understatement) has all the rustic touches of a forest retreat, but with the conveniences of a luxury getaway. While it can comfortably sleep fifteen people, lockdown measures meant it was just the six members of my immediate family able to stay together. Situated along the Whispering Pines, a North Hastings Scenic Route in the Kawarthas Region, Towering Pines Cottage Retreat is the perfect place for a family holiday, but also a romantic escape from the city or a quiet week away with friends. Naturally, with this in mind, I’m already planning a trip back with my close friends at some point in the (hopefully) near future, since international or long-haul domestic travel doesn’t quite yet seem on the horizon for us Ontarians just yet.
But I digress.
Because we had been visiting before the province’s big stay-at-home lockdown, we were able to dine in at a couple of restaurants, so long as we followed all safety guidelines — which we were keen on doing, regardless, in addition to us being vaccinated. We tried out two local places for pizza. One which was quite expensive and didn’t have the best tasting options, and the other was Mama DeLuca’s, which I’d highly recommend. Mama DeLuca’s shares its location with a Subway at 110 Hastings Street North and is run by the same owners.
Between the baked pasta alfredo with veggies, garlic breadsticks, pizza, and boneless chicken wings orders, my mom and I both loved our respective meals. While ordering the food, we sparked a conversation with a couple of people behind the counter, whose family happened to own the establishment. What’s so lovely about small towns like Bancroft is that the folks living there are often quite friendly and open to conversations with locals and visitors alike. It certainly lends to making a vacation out of the city simultaneously feel like your home away from home.
The following night, we dined in at the Bancroft Brew Pub, located at 4 Bridge Street West. It’s attached to the Bancroft Brewing Company, a craft brewery that supplies beer to the pub and to locals who can pop in to purchase it to bring home in cans. While we didn’t have a chance to try out the craft beer this time, I’d definitely love to on my next visit! Instead, on this visit, I enjoyed a starter of honey garlic cauliflower bites and an entrée of their incredible vegan Thai Fry. Like most people we interacted with while in Bancroft, the staff at Bancroft Brewing Company were so friendly!
The town itself, a short ten-minute drive from Towering Pines Cottage Retreat, has many quaint shops to peruse during safer times. A handful of thrift shops (some of which even sell new, handmade items crafted by local artisans), Stedmans V & S Department Store (which has everything under the sun within its walls), Ashlie’s Books, and a few boutiques were just some of the shops we had the opportunity to visit. Unfortunately, stores tend to close quite early in town, so we learned that the best time to visit these spots is during the late morning or early afternoon.
If you’re coming in from the Toronto area, you’ll pass by The Old Tin Shed at 25 Sherbourne Street North. Like so many stores in the area, this standalone shop is a family-owned business. Inside, there is a treasure trove of stunning items for sale, hailing from over two hundred artists and suppliers. My mom and I, who have very similar tastes, caught a glimpse of the charming building surrounded by shrubbery, a vintage pickup truck, and rustic signs, and made a point of circling back later in the day to check it out after settling into the cottage.
Inside, we found ourselves completely overwhelmed in the best way possible. Lovely pieces of home décor, gorgeous iron hardware, hand-painted signs, linens, locally made clothing, preserves and condiments, candles, hand-crafted jewellery and accessories… To be honest, we circled around the shop several times to get a true feeling of it all, because it was hard to gravitate around a single section before catching a glimpse of another and having your attention pulled in a new direction.
In a way, the same can be said about Towering Pines Cottage Retreat itself. From the moment you pull into the horseshoe driveway, the spacious three-storey log cabin takes your breath away. The cottage is four levels in total, including a walk-out lower level that leads onto a picturesque lake view deck and a peaked loft with an amazing view on either end.
Despite the weather being a bit chilly still, we were able to enjoy some time sitting out on the colourful Muskoka chairs lining the beachfront while gazing out at Lake Lucerne. Because this is a non-motorized lake, you don’t have to worry about your quiet time being interrupted by motorized watercraft or water scooters, including being woken up at early hours of the morning while people zip around the lake. The water was still during our visit, reflecting each sunset and sunrise, as well as the soaring pine trees lining the shore. Had it been a bit warmer, we definitely would have taken out the two canoes and peddle boat available to guests, to get some time in on the water.
Instead, we could enjoy outdoor bonfires each evening and smaller fires in the woodstove and fireplace, located inside, to keep warm. With these flames going, it made for a toasty sleep each night, which I was more than grateful for. With six single beds, four queen beds, and three sofa beds available to us, we had plenty of room to spread out over the four levels and enjoy our personal space each night. However, during the day, the shared living areas made it ideal for spending quality time as a family, whether that was sitting by the fireplace and watching a movie, curling up on the couch and reading a book, sitting around the harvest-style dining room table for a home-cooked meal (using all the amenities readily available for guests to use in the kitchen), or sipping coffee or hot cocoa made with the coffee maker and Keurig machine while out on the screened-in porch.
My time at Towering Pines Cottage Retreat is something I will cherish forever, not just because it was a much-needed local getaway during a global pandemic, but because of the incredible time I was able to spend there with my family. Whether you’re there for a weekend or an entire month, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to truly appreciate everything that the property and surrounding area have to offer you. Regardless of your reason for visiting this little slice of paradise, you, too, are sure to be awe-struck.
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* This article was featured in Wanderous Affair: Volume 4, Issue 1