Write on the French River


MAY 4 – MAY 9, 2018 

We invite writers of all skill levels to take part in the 7th annual Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat, Friday, May 4 to Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at the magnificent Lodge at Pine Cove.

Limited to 25 participants and taught by some of Canada’s leading writers, Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat offers the gift of time on a storied waterway to travellers, innovators, wordsmiths, dreamers and creatives.

Whether you want to finish the proverbial bedside novel, draft a travel memoir, query editors, or make a living with your pen, you will find expert guidance and good-natured support at this 6-day blend of nature, culture, gourmet meals and superb accommodations.

Applications are due by April 6, 2018.

Please read on to learn about this unique opportunity that combines excellent instruction with superb meals and accommodations at Ontario’s top specialty lodge.

If you haven’t visited the French River, it’s time.



The 2018 retreat is a partnership between the Lodge at Pine Cove and The New Quarterly (TNQ), one of Canada’s top-flight literary magazines – a creative combination that allows you to step away from the busyness of life to write, reflect, rejuvenate, and to access the mysterious world of publishing.

Success in writing is built on dedication to the work. Success in publishing is built on relationships. TNQ, one of this country’s most celebrated publications, has been nurturing writers for over thirty-five years.

Susan Scott is TNQ’s nonfiction editor. Susan has been with the Retreat since 2013 and is your go-to person for the 2018 program. If you have a question or concern, write to Susan at sscott@tnq.ca.

Together, the Lodge at Pine Cove and TNQ have built the 2018 experience around the best of the Retreat’s lively traditions, balancing intimate workshops, small groups and talks with time to enjoy the beautiful, relaxed setting.

In addition to the Standard Retreat, we are introducing a new option in 2018: the Self-Guided Retreat. See below for details.

Writers Craft Workshops and talks or presentations by our Special Guests are optional (no sign-up is required), and open to all.

Meet our 2018 Instructors

Helen Humphreys

Author of the novels: The Reinvention of Love & An Evening Chorus 

Helen Humphreys is the acclaimed author of over a dozen books, a sought-after mentor, teacher and consultant and the recipient of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Toronto Book Award and the Harbourfront Festival Prize.

More about Helen

Alison Pick

Author of the novels Strangers with the Same Dream, Far to Go and more.

Alison Pick Alison Pick’s best-selling novel Far To Go was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Canadian Jewish Book Award.

More about Alison

Andrew Westoll

Author of The Riverbones and The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

Andrew WestollAndrew Westoll’s first book, The Riverbones, a travel memoir set in the jungles of Suriname, draws on the year he studied wild troops of capuchin monkeys.

More about Andrew

Meet our 2018 Consulting Editors

Pamela Mulloy

Editor, The New Quarterly (TNQ)

Pamela MulloyPamela Mulloy is TNQ’s award-winning editor and the creative director of the annual Wild Writers Literary Festival, in Waterloo, Ontario. Her short fiction has been published in the UK and Canada, most recently in Polish(ed), an anthology of Polish Canadian Writing (Guernica Editions, 2017). Her debut novel, The Deserters, will be published by Véhicule Press in 2018. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband and daughter.

More about Pamela

Susan Scott

Lead nonfiction editor, The New Quarterly (TNQ)

Susan Scott Teacher, writer, editor and guide, Susan specializes in memoir, the well-wrought essay, and in helping authors to release powerful, transgressive stories. She is the editor of Body & Soul: Creative Nonfiction for Skeptics and Seekers — an anthology (2019) of essays by diverse women writers — and a member of Native-Immigrant arts collective. Susan has been editing with TNQ since 2009, and teaching at the Retreat since 2013.

More about Susan

Meet our special guests


Writers who want to combine their many interests need a lot of pluck! This year we’ve invited guest speakers who can help us broaden our reading and writing habits to include journalism, blogging, social media, food writing, travel writing and history.

Jake Edmiston

Journalist & story-hound

Jake Edmiston is a reporter and feature writer with the National Post in Toronto, focusing on crime, sometimes on food, but mostly on departures from normal in everyday life. His work has been published across Canada, in the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen, the Calgary Herald and the Vancouver Sun.

Read Jake’s stories

Lindy Mechefske

Book author, food columnist, blogger

Celebrated retreat & TNQ alumna Lindy Mechefske is the author of the award-winning Sir John’s Table and A Taste of Wintergreen and a food columnist with Canada’s oldest newspaper, the Kingston Whig-Standard. She also blogs about her adventures in the kitchen. Watch for her next book, Out of Old Ontario Kitchens, in 2018.

More about Lindy

Nicola Ross

Retreat founder, adventurer, author

The award-winning author of several nonfiction books – her Loops & Lattes series alone is a self-publishing sensation – Nicola is the former editor-in-chief of Alternatives Journal, Canada’s national environmental magazine. She set up the adventure programs at The Lodge at Pine Cove, founded the Write on the French River Retreat, and now pursues her love of writing, travel and sport full time.

More about Nicola

Retreat options

Standard Retreat

Small Groups with Instructors

Now is your chance to work closely with an award-winning writer and Instructor, in a small group (maximum of 7 participants) that meets on a daily basis for exercises, readings and discussions specific to your interests.

Self-Guided Retreat

Consulting with Editors

The Self-Guided Retreat option allows you to enjoy the Lodge at Pine Cove’s warm, immersive environment while you drill down into your project and consult with one of the New Quarterly editors when you’re ready for concrete guidance and perspective.

Retreat Highlights


Certain traditions bear repeating because, well, they’re just too good to miss. Here are two to keep in mind as you plan your packing list.

Student Readings

A highlight of the retreat experience is the closing banquet and student readings. Your imagination has been firing for days on end. Now is the time to enjoy the spotlight and to share a short selection of your work.

We encourage all participants to bring a short piece (500 words) to share at the student readings, on the final night of the retreat. This could be something you bring along to read, or the piece you develop on retreat.

Field Trip

Another not-to-be-missed tradition is the guided trip down the French River with our host, Alex, who brings this historic route to life. You will learn about the region’s extraordinary geology and river lore, including stories of the coureurs de bois” intrepid adventurers on route between the Great Lakes and the Ottawa River, who followed the voyageurs’ route to the west, filling their Montreal canoes with fur pelts.

Retreat Schedule

To view this years retreat schedule, click the link below.

Retreat schedule

The Lodge at Pine Cove

Why venture to the French River? Because Ontario’s premiere lodge in the heart of the Canadian Shield offers something special. Kim T, a lodge guest, writes, “This is a piece of Canadian heaven. We had the most wonderful getaway, and plan to return every year. A beautiful location, great food, an awesome little cabin.”

When asked what she liked best about the Lodge, a retreatant wrote, “We liked the screened porch, the cleanliness, the ambiance, the bed, the linens…everything!”

To understand how beautiful the Lodge is, please read some of the 100+ reviews on Trip Advisor Our guests will tell you about their canoeing, kayaking and hiking experiences, the delicious cuisine (including hamper breakfasts), our immaculate cottages, friendly staff and attention to detail. The Lodge at Pine Cove is a haven.

Cottages have from one to three bedrooms. Prices are based on single or shared rooms. All cottages have full kitchens. All cottages have a river or cove view, a refrigerator, kettle, coffee-maker, fine coffee and tea, modern bathroom, natural soaps, creams, shampoo and conditioner, screened-in porch, living area and fabulous beds.

Useful information


Your artisanal breakfast arrives at your cottage each morning in a wicker hamper filled with homemade granola, yogurt, fresh fruit salad, juice and freshly baked croissant. Lunch and dinner are served in the Lodge. For dinner, you will be offered a soup or salad, entre, dessert and coffee. Wine, beer and spirits are available at an extra charge. Please make us aware of any food restrictions you may have.

Explore our kitchen

Other Activities

You will have access to canoes and kayaks to explore the French River and Wolseley Bay. Hiking trails that begin onsite lead to spectacular spots along the river. There is a pool table in the Lodge as well as a selection of games and historical books in the Lodge’s Toni Harting Library. We also encourage you to explore the villages of Noelville and Monetville, about 20 minutes away by car, lie in the heart of Ontario’s historic francophone region.

Explore activities


Internet service via satellite is available in the Lodge at no charge. Since our use of broadband is limited, you will not be able to download or view movies, download music or other large files. There is no cellphone reception and Skype is not available. You are, however, welcome to use our telephone.

Explore the lodge

Getting to the Lodge

The Lodge at Pine Cove is a 3½-hour drive from Toronto (Hwy 401 and Hwy 7) and one hour from Sudbury. If coming from farther afield, you can fly into Toronto and either rent a car or take the bus (ontarionorthland.ca/en/). Or, you can fly into Sudbury. Pick up from the bus stop or in Sudbury is available for a fee.

Get in touch

2018 fees

Early Birds

Apply by February 15th for a $125 discount

Your retreat fee is based on your choice of accommodations. A limited number of private cottages is available. Why not venture out and consider sharing? Year after year we hear about roommates who go on to become lasting friends and writing partners.


Based on Private Cottage

(you will have your own deluxe cottage with a private bedroom and bathroom)
Tuition + accommodations for five nights + all meals:
$1,850 + gratuities (10%) + HST


Based on Single-Occupancy

(you will have your own deluxe bedroom in a cottage with a shared bathroom)
Tuition + accommodations for five nights + all meals:
$1,650 + gratuities (10%) + HST



Meet great writers and poets before they’re famous – once your enrollment is complete, you will receive a complementary one-year subscription to TNQ, publishing partner for our 2018 retreat.


How to Apply

Enrollment is limited. The earlier you apply, the better your chances for securing the instructor you want, as well as your choice of accommodation.

There are two ways to apply:

Register online  or  Download application form


Download our application form, complete and return it by email to The New Quarterly’s Susan Scott, at: sscott@tnq.ca. Please also CC nicola@frenchriver.com and laura@frenchriver.com . Once we have received your application, we will contact you to arrange a 50% deposit that then guarantees your placement.

Full payment is due April 6, 2018.


Cancellation Policy

Paddlers If any applicant is unable to attend the retreat due to illness or other health problems, he or she will receive a refund for the amount paid, minus a $100 application fee, ONLY if we can fill that person’s spot at the retreat. If an applicant cancels on or before April 6, 2018 and we are unable to fill their spot, their deposit (minus the $100 application fee) can be used as a credit toward a future booking at The Lodge at Pine Cove throughout the 2018 season. Should an applicant cancel after April 6, 2018, and we are unable to fill that vacancy, their deposit will be NON-REFUNDABLE. We will endeavour to fill a spot left vacant due to illness or other health problems, but we are not able to guarantee it.

More Events

May 4 - May 9, 2018

Paddle the Canadian Shield

Arrange a kayaking or canoeing event with Lodge at Pine Cove, on the French River.

Read more