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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Comes the Freeze

 Hard to tell, this morning, where sky stopped and lake began. At least until the clouds moved away and the mist stopped rising.  This time of year can literally take your breath away with the changeable beauty outside.

And the colours. White? Not so fast... The complexity of shades in the fragile ice now closing up Bondi Bay is anything but white.

It's frozen... but looks more like a mirror than a rink just now!

Run, Comet, Run

ISON may have made it around the sun...
Check out this great video from NASA showing the bold and close approach, and the smaller, wobblier exit.

Run, little ISON, run... You give hope to Snowballs in Hell Everywhere.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gear Up!

Thanks to their almost 30 brand new snow guns, Hidden Valley is open for skiing on the weekend.  They opened on Nov. 23rd -- which is early, but great for our ski enthusiasts.

We're all in favour of extending the ski season. After all, if we are going to have cold weather and snow on the ground, it's just so much more fun to get out there and play with the stuff!  

Spend some time on the hills, then come in to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and some great company!

Hidden Valley offers the most wonderful ski lessons and camps throughout the winter. They are popular with many of our guests who will come for the week from Christmas to New Years and take advantage of the kids' programs at the Valley while Mom and Dad enjoy some other winter activities -- cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or just quietly reading a book by the fire while the kids are having a blast and mastering a life skill.

Too Close to the Sun

The comet ISON is today going to fly as close as it ever has, or ever can, to our Sun. It remains to be seen if that will result in the same fate as suffered by Icarus.  The temperature where ISON is currently speeding along is, we are told, some 5000 degrees C. That's toasty. And the comet is out there with no sunscreen...

At 2 p.m. today, which is right about the time I am writing this, ISON will be within 1.2 km. of the sun.

Will it make it? Will it shatter apart and burn like chaff?  Will it make it past the Sun and then come undone, lighting up our sky for weeks to come with shadows of its passing?

It's all on live feed... this being 2013, you cannot do ANYTHING, ANYWHERE without somebody putting it up on the Internet...

Screaming Heads

Just before our snow arrived, I had the occasion to drive north to Burk's Falls. With a bit of time to spare, I took a sidetrip down Hwy 520 towards Magnetawan, to the beautifully named Midlothian Road. 

About five minutes down this road -- although there is no signpost that would tell you this -- you come to the Screaming Heads, Midlothian Castle and the Midlothian Valley Organic Farm.

This is not to be confused with Lothlorien, the fabled home of the Elvish in Lord of the Rings. Rather, this is the stuff of weird. Not a bad weird, just weird.  The Castle is guarded by a two-headed dragon...

Of course it isn't open this time of year, the castle, that is, or the Organic Farm, but you can wander about among the sculptures and add some screaming of your own.

 It comes complete with flocks of peacocks. I wondered where they spent the cold winter evenings, but the Castle is big, and probably has a heated Peacock dungeon dedicated to their comfort...

The horses, part of the Four Horsemen display add some variety to the heads and hands... and should set your mind to thinking.

The Screaming Heads and the Castle are brainchildren of retired teacher and artist Peter Camani,

Midlothian Castle and the Screaming Heads is well worth a visit.  You really do have to see it to believe it.

The site is huge. And you can't miss it, as the locals will also say when giving directions. But you really can't.

As you drive along, suddenly you fine yourself accompanied on both sides of the road by huge cement sculptures of, well, of screaming heads.  Hands poking up from the ground.  Forests of screaming trees. Anguished looking horses.

I find it mildly unsettling, but then, I think it is meant to be, and I don't have a house with a two-headed dragon either.  On a November day, it has it's own eerie charm. 

In the summer, the Organic Farm is open, adding another reason to drop in for a visit. As if you'd need another reason.  Just going for a wander through the collection is really reason enough.  But if you can't get there, this video will give you a taste of it.

It is about an hour's drive north of Bondi Village, near the village of Burk's Falls.  Put it on your bucket list.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Timber Trail, Gone

 It was a MUST STOP destination on the way into Algonquin Park for eons, with the Rae family at the helm.

Just a wonderful place to stop for a snack, a light meal, a browse through the gift shop or a walk down along the river's edge.  And that's just us passers-through -- they also had accommodation for those looking for something that truly spoke of the Canadian wild.

The second building, this was. The first burned years ago, taking with it the lives of a young mother and her infant son.  Brian was on the fire dept. at that time, and a close friend of the victim, so it has stayed in our minds forever.  It rose from the ashes, however. Life has a way of doing that.

Several years back, it sold, ostensibly to be a Fractional resort, but then everything just ground to a halt, and the lovely old log building has been sitting derelict and sad for far too long. It changed owners again, and was about to do so yet again.

Until November 20th, when at 5.30 in the morning, flames broke out.  The official cause of the fire has not been released, but scuttlebutt on the street speaks to the owner camping out on the property to clean it up, combined with a malfunctioning bbq tank.  Accidents happen fast.

Kudos to the fire crews, who worked hard and long, but the building was old, wooden, dry, and -- as they say -- fully involved in the fire.

We're going to miss this icon along the road to Algonquin Park. We'll have to wait and see what the newest owners build in its place. 

Whatever it is, it won't be able to rise to the standards of friendly warmth and welcome the Rae family built there.

Winds of Change

We got slapped by the edge of the big windstorm last week. The one that slammed across the U.S.A. with several strong tornadoes, leaving massive damage in its wake.

While the worst of the weather stayed well south of us, we could quite aptly be described up here as Windswept.

Or, over at Port Cunnington Lodge, Wind-Wept.

Port is one of the Lake of Bays iconic summer lodges.  My grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth, disembarked from the steamer S.S. Iroquois at the Port dock back in 1905.

At that time, there were a couple of spindly tiny cedar trees on the lawn.  Nothing you'd really notice... especially given that the lodge was full of timbermen as well as tourists. Barges of hemlock bark were in the little bay. The steamer had to nose through them to dock.

Those trees however held on. And on.  

Right up till last week.

Kim will find some creative way to use some of the wood from these, but it is sad to say good-bye to such old friends.

Monday, November 18, 2013


at the New Zealand Winter Games, bronze medal.
this was a National Geographic 'photo of the week.'

The Winter Olympics are approaching.  Now, me, I don't watch that much sports on tv, but when the Olympics are on, I seem to glue myself to the screen. There is something about the Olympics, with the diversity of sports, the diversity of nations. Those five rings. That one flame. That stuff about youth and higher, faster, farther... 

So it's very exciting to know that in 2014 in Sochi (and let us not dwell on the alarming press leaking from Russia about the state of preparedness, the civil rights issues, the fact that even parents of the athletes are still trying to get visas cleared) we've got a real live local hero in young Dara Howell.

at the XGames, in 2013

Dara -- and you've seen her face on CBC in the Olympic lead up ads -- competes in Slopestyle Skiing. Now, if your acquaintance with skiing is limited to the bunny hill and the apres ski celebrations,  Slopestyle is that domain of the slightly insane complete with rails, ramps, jumps, twists, acrobatics. 

You can watch her bronze medal run a the XGames here. That will give you an idea of what she does. And does exceedingly well. She is ranked in the top three in her sport.

She is not the first, nor the only, Olympian who has emerged from Muskoka, but this winter, she is certainly our Golden Gal.

Hailing from Pow Wow Point Resort, she learned to ski at local Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Centre, and don't for one minute think that the Ski Club there isn't behind her 100%.

At the recent Warren Miller film, Ticket to Ride, a portion of each ticket was given to her fund-raising.  And, in the lobby, TEAM DARA was in evidence -- these keen, cheery faces belong to Team Dara members, local kids who are inspired and excited to know a real live Olympic athlete.  They were selling these super t-shirts -- both long and short sleeved.

$35.  What a deal. What a cause.  If you weren't there for the film, you can still scoop up these shirts to support Dara's journey. They are available at Pow Wow Point Lodge, or from Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville.

Go Dara! Just getting named to the Canadian Team is an enormous and inspiring achievement.  We'll be watching, and cheering!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

War by the Numbers

 It was a great honour to be asked to represent the Township of Lake of Bays, to speak and to lay a wreath,  at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Dwight on Sunday.  The ceremonies are spread around up here -- Baysville held theirs last weekend. Huntsville held theirs today. Dwight was one day early.  That's a good thing. It keeps the flame of Remembrance Day burning for longer.

This is the text of my address.
Wars generate numbers. Planes. Ships. Troop Strength.
The trouble with numbers when it comes to the human cost, is what they don’t count. No-one comes home from War unchanged. Some don’t come home at all.  Numbers don’t count the families, friends, villages, of those that served. Those numbers, factored in, increase exponentially, and are unrecorded. Numbers don’t have faces, or hearts or families that grieve.
There is no shortage of numbers. Here’s one:

156,000. The number of Allied troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy on the 6th of June. Picture that. If you weren’t there, you probably can’t. The scale is too large.

19. That was the average age of those in the invasion.
10,000 men didn’t make it off those beaches.  That’s half the population of Huntsville, That won’t come into focus either.  The sheer scale overwhelms and they become well, just numbers...   10,000 dead... what does that really mean? The scale is unimaginable.

We are so blessed to live in a peaceful country. For that we owe thanks to all who stood for us in past conflicts and who  still stand for our Country.  To those who fell.
We must never lose sight of the realization that those numbers aren’t numbers, but people. War translates loss into numbers. As Time slides past, Lest We Forget, we need to translate those numbers back, to get the nameless numbers out of our heads and into our hearts, to give faces to the fallen.
Sometimes the way into the heart is through the eyes
On the Normandy beaches broken  landing craft and sunken ships still mar the strand. In September, two British artists  Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss went down onto those sands and stencilled silhouettes of Fallen Soldiers on the sand. Over 500  volunteers from around world joined them. Some were children who have never known war. Some had lost sons and daughters in current conflicts – some wrote their loved one’s names in sand by a stencilled outline. Some were Men who are old now,  proud in their uniforms, who survived the day when those beaches were taken

Between them, 9000 ‘bodies’ were stencilled on the sand.  They gave the Fallen a shape, well beyond a number.

The Fallen, as the project was called, -- youcan find it on-line -- was a sobering reminder of what happens when Peace is not present. It created a visual representation of the unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the Normandy landings.  It moved the numbers off the page.

 9000 images of fallen men... Looking down from the cliffs, watching the tide come in and wash the bodies away was symbolic of all the fleeting and precious  lives lost in all the wars.
 As Time moves us away and so much crowds for our attention, the risk is that War  becomes just numbers, just words, just two silent minutes.  It is important to be jolted from that, because War is not about the unimaginable numbers. It is necessary to translate those numbers back into the real human cost, to consider how our freedom has been paid for and to remember all those who marched away to fight on our behalf, and to honour those who never marched home.  To remember that those numbers had hearts, and dreams. For those who lost loved ones , in any War, the numbers aren’t faceless. The scale of the numbers doesn’t make them less human. For families of the fallen that got the call, the only number that mattered was ONE – their ONE.

 We must take time to stop, and consider the great gift given to us in this beautiful country, to never take for granted the freedoms that we have today, those of us  who never have been asked to storm the beaches.  Peace requires eternal vigilance, and  we must never forget what can happen when Peace is absent. Never again let the numbers become faceless and huge.

On this day, we gather to remember. To give our  grateful thanks to those who stood for Canada in past Wars and who still stand now, out on the sharp end,   in current conflicts  .  We remember the Fallen, and their families, and the great price paid . We must also remember the numbers, and translate them always into what they really mean.

We take a symbolic two minutes today to thank the Living, and to honour the dead. And that number is too small. We should take a moment every day to offer our gratitude and blessing, to each and every ONE of them.


PJs at Noon and Other Great Reasons to Love Snowy Days

 Andrea, Nancy, Mary and Dawn rolled into Beaver cottage last weekend for an all too short Girlfriend's Weekend.

Now, there are some who would argue that swirling flakes of snow and gray skies would be counter to a great vacation, but they would be missing the point entirely. 

With beautiful scenery, constantly changing, with deer grazing beside the cottage, with the fireplace blazing, and with an abundance of good food, lots of tea and sympathy, and the best company around, the ladies had a spectacular weekend. 

Why, when we dropped over to say hello on Saturday, they were still in their pajamas, all cosy in the living room, more than happy to watch the snow swirl about outside!  And feeling not the least bit guilty that they weren't "keeping busy" and "doing things".

Sometimes you just need to stop, and let your soul catch up.

The Bondi Babes from Oakhurst

Each November we look forward to the Gals' Getaway weekend with the ladies of Oakhurst Farm, from Ashton, Ontario.

Ruth always has an action packed weekend planned, and this one was no exception.Except... they arrived in the midst of a power outage in the wake of high winds and blowing rain. Our generators kept the water flowing and the cottages warm -- wood heat and propane fireplaces help with that! But cooking was a bit limited. Hellooooo BBQ!!! Nothing daunts this group, however, and we love them for it. This year, the theme was wacky weddings, and a plethora of bridesmaids' dresses came out to play -- some more tasteful in the passage of fashion than others! Games, challenges, food (an abundance of food), no shortage of wine and camaraderie! And the traditional big Hike --

Taffy, always happy to lead a hike anywhere, escorted us to the Lookout. 

These girls are ready for the weather, geared up and good to go!

Coming back, we met up with Hydro -- Heather promptly got "on board" to schmooze the crew and point out that she had chicken in a lovely wine sauce just aching to get put into the oven soon.  This crew was from Walkerton, which was a good indication of how widespread the power outage was.  These crews work hard, often in lousy weather conditions, so here's a cheer for all of them.

 Heather's charm did the trick -- the power came on at 5 p.m. in plenty of time for dinner to be ready on schedule!

In the old cabin in the woods, we discovered a pair of mice who had a room with a view...

We found stumps that called out for Yoga poses...  Lots of mushrooms in the wet woods...

Deer galore...

And on a side excursion into the Hidden Lake bog, we found some outstanding examples of Pitcher Plants.

What a wonderful group!


One Sunset. More than 60 Moons

November 3rd brought us both this beautiful sunset and its reflected glory.
As the sunset faded, we were treated to Jupiter, low in the east, surrounded by the 63 or so moons that have so far been linked to that huge bright planet.
One of the minor moons, Enceladus, has been found to contain water. Which means it could be found to contain Life almost as we recognize it. Which inspired me to write a poem
Inspiration, after all, is where you find it.


Frost. Plus Mist. Frist...

Well, heck, if Shakespeare could invent magnificent words for our language, why can't we?

These were taken at the end of October. As the morning mist rose, it revealed the trees all gilded with silver frost.

 Most of the trees have leaves down now. The occasional one was still hanging on, like the golden poplar on the far shore.