Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Getting our Ducks in a Row

 What is that saying about 'getting all your ducks in a row?'   Let me tell  you, it's not an easy task.

We did pretty well yesterday, when the merganser duck and the two mallard drakes lined up quite nicely.

The mergansers are among our favourite ducks.  At this time of year, the drakes are in the most spectacular breeding plumage.  Lumina Resort, right next door and a great choice for those looking for a meal-plan and activities program vacation, caught this image of our drake paddling past.

They can be tough to photograph -- quite shy of people, they tend to simply leave before you can get close enough, and all that sparkly white on the drakes when set against water tends to be a real 'meter cheater' for the camera lens.

 The ducks have the most marvellous mohawk hairdoes.   When the drakes are finished with the breeding season, they too will don this gray and russet colouring.  These are fishing ducks -- those long sharp beaks have serrated edges to help grab minnows.

Like loons, mergansers look down into the water to find their lunch.  When the little ones are hatched, it is a common sight to find the whole fam-damily, which can range up to 20 birds, fishing along in the shallows. When they find a school of fish, they all dive at once, until the water is boiling with diving ducks.

The mallards don't fish, and are more sedate in their food gathering techniques, although you'll often find them 'bottoms up' checking out the lake bottom.
This time of year, they too are splendidly arrayed in full breeding plumage, including the wonderfully curled pintails.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Napster has been honoured to be invited to show his work this summer at the Murden Art Gallery and Yummies in a Jar locations in Baysville. Pretty heady stuff, for a cat. For anyone, come to that.  John and Lynn Murden are both artists of high regard, and with discerning tastes. 

For those who have not met Napster, he is our ginger cat, who paints using his tail and sells his work to raise money for various charities, including a Wing and a Prayer and the Aspdin Valley Wildlife Centre.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Between the apple trees and the lilacs, the air is gloriously perfumed these days. Step outside, stop, close your eyes, and simply breathe. It will do you good.

Lawn Art

The does will be dropping their fawns any moment now -- it's the time of year.

I wonder if we will find any of the fawns hiding on the lawn this Spring? Last year we had at least four little visitors tucked away by their mothers at various places on the property.

This doe, by Beaver cottage, was enjoying the morning sunshine, and looking rather pregnant, so we wish her all the best of luck.


Goslings are out of the egg, and out of the nest.  Four little fluffy babies drifting along with mom and dad along the shoreline. The parents are very watchful at this stage, since the little ones are vulnerable.  They took refuge from our boat by ducking (if a goose can be said to duck) in among the branches of this fallen tree, where the goslings provided the only splash of colour.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Frog Song

The garden is (mostly) planted.  Carol has been digging out weeds and digging in strawberry plants, popping in peas, onions, beans, beets, carrots. And flowers.

Brian stepped in the corn, using a marvellous ancient planter that still works perfectly for the job.  He and David spaded their way down the rows dropping in potatoes.

I got the pastures cleaned, fertilized, re-seeded to help green them up for the horses' hungry mouths.

It was hot. Scorchingly hot.

Then, just like that, thunderstorms roiled in. Big storms. Not big like they see in the American mid-west, praise be, and blessings on those people dealing with the massive and destructive weather systems that we are told are now part of the new normal.  But big enough. Crash. Bang. Boom. Lightning strobing up the night.  The up-side was that the hydro (speaking of the new normal) went out.  Without a computer or a television, it was a great excuse to snuggle in for an early night, reading by flashlight, listening to the storm, drifting off to sleep.

Yesterday the rains came sweeping back in early in the afternoon. Without pyrotechnic displays this time, the water just fell all by itself, in sheets of water.  You can almost hear the garden sprouting.  We cannot keep ahead of the asparagus, which grows almost eight inches every day.

When I ventured up to tuck the horses in for their late night check, the rain had given way to thick mist. You could taste the water in the air. Puddles had sprung up even faster than the asparagus.

And the chorus!!!!  The whole place had erupted into spring peepers and tree frogs. Invisible in the dark, they were most certainly not inaudible! What an unbelievable ruckus they were creating.  Up on the hill an owl added the occasional querying "who?" but the night belonged to the frogs. 

Give a little listen.

Monday, May 20, 2013


 Colours pop come spring. Birds bring their brilliant plumage. Snow gives way to a million shades of green. Lakes shrug off the ice to sparkle with blues, grays, lavenders.  Gardens fill with flowers of every colour

But never to be discounted are the apple blossoms, filling the air with perfume.

And the trilliums, crowding out forest floor with white.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Asparagus Season has Begun

Does anything else in the garden grow as fast as asparagus?

We'll be kept busy trying to stay ahead of its bounty for the next few months.

Thanks to the free ranging chickens, we'll also have fabulous orange-yoked eggs to combine into benedict sauce, or just to dip the asparagus into...

Fresh from the garden, direct to the plate -- that is the way to eat vegetables!

Location, Location, Location... and a Soap Bubble

 Congratulations to local entrepreneur Darla Stepanovich and her team on their Grand Opening at the new location on Main Street, Huntsville.

Soap Stones produces the most wonderful soaps, shampoos, conditioners, scrubs, balms, creams... the list is almost endless.

Thanks to them, my bathroom smells of Muskoka Lilacs whenever hands are washed. 

Products are made on site, from natural ingredients.  You can even watch, and participate, here at the SoapStone Bar... what a cool idea! Take part in their classes to learn to make soaps, etc.

Or just prowl through the store, inhale... relax...  These are by far the best products of their kind we have ever found. 

And now, thanks to their new location right on the town's main shopping street, more people will be able to find them too!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Docks Rise, Storm Clouds Lower, Fish (maybe) Bite

 Well, looky there... the docks are back.
And we are able to tie a boat to the dock! This is all good news.  Water levels are still quite high. You will notice that we don't have much sand beach showing yet.

On the other hand, as Taffy sniffs along the water's edge, her nose deep in the tracks of a raccoon, you can see the 'high tide' line where the water was.  Mike and Dave are hard at work cleaning up the shoreline now.  Finally. Everything had to wait until it was dry enough to work there!

On the lawn, the wood violets are coming into their own.

Storm clouds moving in set off the lovely daffodils in the garden by the lake.  One almost hesitates to say that we could use some rain, following so close on the flood event, but it has been (as they say) "powerful dry" and there are fire restrictions in place as a result. It seems we swing from one extreme to the next nowadays.

The ducks seem quite pleased with the water levels.  This handsome chap came bobbing past me by the main dock.

Vic spent the day out on the lake, desperately seeking trout. Or just seeking a chance to spend a day fishing. A bad day fishing still beats a good day at work for Vic.  He had launched his boat at the public ramp at Norway Point, but worked his way up the lake to stop in for a visit.

Kindly, he took us for a ride along the shore.  Taffy was of the opinion that she could do a better job of fish spotting than the fish finder he had on board.  Not true, however, as it turned out.  Just look, though, at how green Bondi now looks!

 Spring greens are spectacular. I have been told that there are over 30 different shades of green on display in the spring woods.  Looking at the far hills here, I can well believe it.  Not to mention the range of colours evident in the stormy sky and the lake water as Vic sets out to continue his quest for trout.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ducks, Geese and Duchesses on the Lake of Bays

 Our docks, as you can see, are slowly reappearing.  The water is going down a few inches every day now. And the sun is hot. HOT. Really Hot.  It was 25 degrees today.  

David dipped the thermometer off the end of the (submerged) dock, and the lake is 15 degrees. Chilly still... but it did not deter someone from being out there on waterskiis. That's too risky for us -- there is a lot of debris in the lake still, and 15 degrees is still cold when you land in the middle of it.

With no docks, we make do.  Brian had the boat "beached" at Anchor cottage.  Dave and I took it for a spin -- we wanted to check the bay for debris, logs that float just below the surface. Brian wanted to go flying, and while he spends most of the time in the air when he flies, there is that pesky bit at both ends of the flight when he is on the water, and the water needs to be open.

We were also on a mission -- which will unfold.

Taffy came along (yes, she wears a life jacket, or as she calls it a PFD: poodle flotation device).  We found a pair of mallard drakes...

Taffy was in heaven - she can smell Summer on the breeze and made the most of it.

The colours in the sky and the lake were lovely.  Dave took me along the shoreline as well to look at the damage to some of the docks in Haystack Bay from the ice.  On the whole, the bay survived pretty well. The ice moved to the northwest side of the bay (along Port Cunnington Road) and that's where the damage seems to be.

Every year I make a point of snooping about in certain areas, trying to track the elusive goose to her nest.  More often than not, the goose succeeds in keeping it hidden from me.  But today -- oh wow -- we found the gander standing guard...

Looking up, we saw the goose up on the shoreline.  A goose on land is quite possibly a goose on a nest...

We snuck ashore, very carefully, very quietly...  and found this nest.  And no, we are not telling you where it is. The property belongs to friends of ours, and we have snooped about on that bit of terrain since we were small kids.  Admire how beautifully she has crafted the nest, and lined it with breast feathers.

And admire the geese. We all get annoyed with them, when they foul the beaches and docks, and with very good reason. Don't feed them, folks. Don't encourage them to stick around your docks.   But you have to admit they are a strikingly beautiful bird.

One of the boathouses that got hit hard by the ice this year made me especially sad.  This boathouse, once upon a time, belonged to Major James Halliday Rattray. Those of you who live near the Credit Valley Conservation Area will be familiar with the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area, located on his former estate.  Up here, he vacationed at his beloved cottage until his death in 1959.  My father, Paul, was the caretaker for the property for Major Rattray, and they were good friends.  I have a faint for fond memory of being at his estate in Mississauga, and getting to ride a pony there... but I digress.  This cottage was the summer home for the Major, and his guests. 
 A great supporter of the arts and politics, he frequently had intereesting vistors.  Shortly after World War Two, the cottage hosted Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrov of Russia for a summer season.  When Major Rattray was unexpectly called back to the city, it was felt 'improper' for the Grand Duchess to remain in the empty house with just the cook and houseboy... so Major Rattray asked Paul if she could stay with him at Bondi Farm for a week.  Also in residence at Bondi at that time was Paul's mother, Elizabeth, and his new fiance, Rosemary Hannah Buck. 

My mom told us of the Duchess going out for the day with her paints and coming back at the end of the day for dinner with lovely paintings of flowers.  The Last Duchess, as she was known, was famous for her artwork, and some of her paintings hang in very esteemed collection, including with the Queen of England. They are very valuable, and for years I used to comb through our attic, hoping I would find, squirreled away, a sheet of watercolour with flowers splashed across it. No such luck.

My mother also confided, many years later, that when the Duchess came to stay in the farmhouse, there weren't enough bedrooms. She of course had to have the grandest room... which meant everyone else had to swap about.  "and that," my beloved and very proper English mother told me, when she was 81, "is when I moved in with your Father."    So I have a truly soft spot for the Grand Duchess, and for Major Rattray (who is interred on the property in a columbarium, along with his dog Sam). And for this old iconic boathouse.

Coming Clean

 Here is a cheer for all the great volunteers who came out today to help the Dwight Lions' Club with the annual roadside clean-up.

Bob and Brian posed for some 'action shots' for me.  As did Mike and Dave.

There were plenty of other people out there helping to make sure our roadsides are as beautiful as they should be.

And shame on those who still haven't got the message and toss their garbage out the car windows.  It ain't that hard, kiddies... put it in a bag, and put it in the trash bins when you get to your destination.

Bob tells me that there is a glimmer of hope, however. When the Lion's started this annual clean-up about fifteen years ago, they picked up over 30 bags of garbage along the designated route.  This year, it was down to 5.

Which is still 5 too many.

It is these great folks who come out to volunteer for all sorts of local activities, including this task of picking up the trash that makes this such a wonderful community.  So here is a big round of applause for the Dwight Lion's Club, and all its members and volunteers.

We really truly appreciate all that you do.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Welcome, Very Welcome, Home

 Our bluebirds have returned. They are most welcome.

There are two pair currently arguing and haggling their way along the fence line trying to decide on the right birdhouse for the summer.  Like any property transaction, it can be complicated.

Particularly when the tree swallows are also checking out the Real Estate.  There was quite a discussion this morning between the swallow and the bluebird concerning one particular birdhouse.  There are plenty out there, so hopefully they will be able to work it out.

 Now I will begin my quest for the best photo of a bluebird.  This one won't be it...  too far away for the focus to be sharp, but it does show off the gorgeous colour in the bird!

Mrs. Bluebird is more muted in her colours, but still extremely elegant.  Understated, really.  She was also diligently examing the houses on offer.

And to make me very happy, two pairs of barn swallows have returned. They always arrive a week or so later than their cousins the tree swallows. They are such happy birds, and the stable fills up with their twittering calls.  Some people I am told don't like them in the buildings, but I think those people have shrivelled up souls.  For me, for my stable, these birds are among the most delightful of visitors. The barn swallows have been experiencing a bit of a rough ride in the past few years, and have been in decline, so I'm thrilled they are back.

How Rivers Run -- The Oxtongue River

 Brian took these last Spring, 2012. It's going to be interesting to compare them with this summer's, post flood.

This is the Oxtongue River, curling and swirling its way to Dwight Bay. That's Dwight, up in the top of the photo, just left of centre.

Rivers are constantly remodelling themselves. You can see, on the left side, where the old oxbows and swales remain from previous river routes.

This is a good look at the delta at the River mouth, and how far out into the Bay the sand and silt accrue.

You can see from this that once upon a time the mouth of the river entered Dwight Bay more to the left of the photo.  Who knows? Post flood, it may be doing so again.

This last, taken in Fall (obviously) is one of my favourites. The old river trails, swales, oxbows, ponds are all clear to see.