It had been 3 years since my wife and I had actually taken any kind of holiday. The stresses of work and life were starting to take its toll and we needed to get away for a while. Just some one on one time to stop re-connect and recharge our batteries.
We got an incredible opportunity to spend a 1 week holiday at a friends cottage in Sundridge, Ontario.
Sundridge and surrounding area is the hub of the Almaguin Highlands Region of Parry Sound District and is located 2 ½ hours north of Toronto along Highway 11 on the shores of Lake Bernard with a population of approximately 1000 residents.
The village has long been known as “The Pearl of the North” to residents of central and northern Ontario.
Being a tourist destination in both winter and summer, with boating and snowmobiling as the main attractions. Algonquin Provincial Park is also accessible near by.
Visit The Village Of Sundridge official website at www.sundridge.ca to find out more.
After a week of organizing and packing items we would be using the entire week including books, bug spray, clothes, toiletries, food and the hand written map our friend had made out for us (just in case), we finally packed our car. Our GPS system, a gift I received for my birthday from my kids earlier this year, was also programmed with the coordinates and it was the first time using it.
We left house at 9:25am, stopped for very Large Size coffees at Tim Horton’s as this would be a 3 hour drive. Not long after 10 minutes into the drive, our GPS system directed us to make a right onto Myrtle Road. I knew something wasn’t right so we made the decision to override these directions and follow the hand written map.
About 2 hours into the drive, I took the wrong exit on Hwy 11 towards North Bay. We got off highway and now realized we were lost. At this point we followed the GPS directions that took us through the rough back roads. Everything came to a standstill as we were stuck in traffic in the town of Huntsville for about 40 minutes due to a town festival going on.
Luckily, the GPS system got us back onto Hwy 11 North bound and at our final destination on Forest Lake Road.
Graven Hurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, Burk’s Falls townships we passed by as we were driving towards Sundridge, Ontario.
We couldn’t help but notice the incredible landscape driving north off Highway 11.
Next Stop, Sundridge, Ontario!
Back roads leading to the cottage.
We finally arrived at the cottage at 1:20pm. We opened the doors and our mouths dropped at how beautiful this place truly was. The cottage had all the amenities of home and so much more including huge windows, from floor to ceiling over looking Forest Lake.
Closing my eyes and just…listening
The sounds I hear all around me…
The sound of the leaves blowing in the trees.
Waves hitting the boats on their docks.
Children in the background laughing and having fun.
Sounds of tools and machinery clearing land for new cottages to be built.
Loons on the lake
Birds-Blue Jays, Robbins, Chickadees, Cardinals, Finches
Boats and skidoo.
ATV, and vehicles occasionally driving by.
What I see..
Variety of trees-maple, birch, blue spruce, pine and some 80 feet tall!
A creepy looking log cabin we call Jason’s House from the movie Friday the 13nth :), includes outhouse.
Bugs-strange looking bugs that come out at night and attach themselves to windows that I have never seen before.
Water plants-lily pads.
Fire- pit, picnic table, seating area made from logs.
Interesting note alerting the neighbours about bears in the area.
Catching up on one of my most favorite things to do…fishing. These Small and Large Mouth Bass would have made a great dinner but I decided to release them back into the lake.
I found out from the locals that some of the fish species in Forest Lake are Northern Pike, Small Mouth Bass, Large Mouth Bass, Lake Trout and White Fish, just to name a few.
Of course, then there’s the really BIG one that got away! I managed to real in a large white fish about 3 1/2 feet long. As soon as I grabbed its tail, the fish completely lost it, broke my line and managed to swim away with my hook and leader still in its mouth. Too bad.
Dining In-Life is Good!
Enjoying the beautiful sunny and breezy weather with some good food and good wine overlooking beautiful Forest Lake.
It was the perfect day to do some sight-seeing and as we drove into town along Main St., we stopped off to admire Beautiful Lake Bernard including the Children’s Centennial Garden, the Northern Tryp Tich Sculpture and the Hope and Memory Garden.
Children’s Centennial Garden on Lake Bernard
Northern Tryp Tich Sculpture located at Lake Bernard
Lake Bernard is the largest fresh water lake in the world without an island. It measures 2.5 km across and 7 km long. It is also a deep lake, charted to the depths of 150 feet but rumoured to have deeper areas of up to 400 meters, leading to speculation that the lake may have been formed by a meteor. The village of Sundridge lies on the northern shore of this clean, clear lake and is 6 km west of Alqonquin Park.
Some of the fish species include small mouth bass, lake trout, white fish, yellow perch and rock bass.
Once, many years ago, Lake Bernard was primarily used as a logging lake and today, one may still see many logs which have become waterlogged and sunk at the bottom of the lake.
Another interesting surprise to the lake are the alleged sightings from locals and cottagers of the mysterious and elusive “Bernard Monster”. Though many sightings have been claimed, no one has been able to get a good photo of the Bernard Monster; however, in 2013 a photo was taken which shows the beat.
Local Shops in Town
Driving 15 minutes from the cottage to the local town was a treat as we got the opportunity to shop and admire all that this town had to offer.
The Red Brick Cafe & Gift House, located at 93 Main St, was one of the first stops we made. The Red Brick café offers a variety of specialty coffees, drinks and baked goods and it’s a great place to relax, read, or visit with friends and they are the only wireless cafe in Sundridge.
The Village Bins your Local Bulk Food Store located at 91 Main St. in Sundridge was another great place to find great goodies. This store offers a variety of products in bulk from baking ingredient’s, candy, dog biscuits, snacks and more.
Sebastian’s Meats & Delicatessen, established since 1817 offers a variety of cold meats and everything ready for the BBQ. ‘s the go-to place for fresh meat. We were met with a smile from Sabina and they offered such great customer service.
Sundridge Food Land was the only grocery store in town. Located at 10 John St., we were pleasantly surprised to find out that it was open 24 hours, 7 days a week. We found it to be clean and the staff were friendly. Prices of the food was a little more expensive than our own grocery store at home but they did offer hot ready-to eat items such as whole chicken and had a deli and bakery.
Tucks Bait & Tackle Shop located at 88 Main St. is a family owned and operated bait and tackle shop located in sunny Sundridge. They are conveniently open at 5:30am to satisfy angler with live bait and fishing accessories setting you up for a great fishing experience. We stopped in and asked about what types of fish are in the lakes and what were the best types of bait to catch them with. I purchased some worms and was eager to get back to start some more fishing. Tucks Bait & Tackle Shop also announced that they have extended their hours to be open 24 hours on Friday’s, Saturdays and Sundays.
Cox’s General Store, located at 21 Main Street, Sundridge is one of the only variety store in town that offers everything you need including movie rentals, (yes you don’t find these around anymore), fresh coffee, snacks, milk, lottery tickets and more. They even sell worms and they always have a special every week posted outside where anyone walking or driving by can see. The staff give great service and are very helpful. If you’re ever in the store, check out their local community board. Here we found cottages close by for rent, items for sale and even local events going on in the town. Residence in the area say its the best general store in town.
A small bird smashed into one of the large cottage windows and stunned itself. If was struggling to fly. Fearing it would further injure itself, I caught it in my hands and placed it into a small cardboard box for a short time so it could calm down. We are happy to say that this little bird appeared ok and we happily let it go.
An Unexpected Visitor
At approximately 3:30pm, on Monday, while on the deck, we were both a little surprised to notice a dog that casually came up the steps and walked over to us. I was a little nervous not knowing if this dog was friendly and commented to my wife not to get too close. Of course, she welcomed this dog and immediately approached it. The dog wagged it’s tail and was actually happy to meet us.
Thinking he was lost, I called the owner’s phone number on his tag. It turns out that this dog’s name is Dexter and he lived close by. Dexter makes frequents visits to this cottage whenever the owners are around. I was informed that this dog would go home when he wanted to. Well, it turns out our guest kept coming back every day, earlier and earlier and stayed later every night we were there. We both didn’t mind the company and Dexter would get up occasionally if he smelled or heard something in the bushes. My wife was extremely happy because after that note regarding bear sightings, Dexter kept an eye out for strange animals. It put her mind at ease.
On the last evening of our holiday, Dexter stayed with us until 10pm before he finally went home. He never came back Saturday morning before we left. My wife was a little upset and she was hoping to say good-bye to Dexter before we left. We did leave a note along with some treats we bought for letting the cottage owners know that they were for Dexter. He truly is a great dog. We called him The Keeper of Forest Lake.”
Howling Sounds While Fishing
Tuesday heard strange howling sounds while fishing from one of the cottages close by. We recorded them on our I-phone and found out that it was quite possible that it was a wolf. What an experience to be able to hear something like this!
The cottage had a supply of board games and we decided to play Monopoly which lasted 3 hours with Dan winning….of course.
My wife woke up at 4:30 in the morning and managed to witness and capture photos of the mist slowly forming on Forest Lake. It crept in slowly through the trees and onto the lake forming into a fog and slowly disappeared as mysteriously as it came just before the sun came out. Marvelous experience.
There was one particular evening where the stars were so bright and appeared so close, we could almost touch them. We even saw the Big Dipper.
We were in search of a thank you gift for our friends for letting us stay at the cottage for a week. We drove into town and found a Huge yard sale. None of the items had prices on them. Instead all interested buyers made a donation in support of a local animal shelter in the area. I thought this was such a great idea! We managed to find a thank you gift and some great finds for ourselves!
Thanks for the Memories
We had an incredible and relaxing holiday. Sad that our vacation had come to an end but are very grateful we had an opportunity to stay here over the past week. So many great memories to share with our friends and family. Will definitely consider coming back To Forest Lake next year.
Dexter never came by to visit on the morning we were leaving to drive back home. We didn’t get a chance to say good-bye but we did leave a note and some treats on the counter for him as our small way of saying thank you. We are going to miss him and are glad we got a chance to meet him even if it was just for a little while.
If you may be considering a trip to Sundridge, Ontario I have created a list local businesses in the area along with their website information in order to provide you with some suggestions and ideas of great businesses and restaurant’s to visit while you’re in town.
Other Local Points of Interest
Places To Eat:
Marc Anthony’s Restaurant Pizzeria
Hwy 124, Sundridge, Ontario
Blue Roof Restaurant
Hwy 124/Page St, Sundridge, Ontario
Patty’s Double Decker Take-Out
Hwy 124, Sundridge, Ont.,
Bernard’s Bistro On The Lake
93 Main St., Sundridge, Ont.
Antonio’s Grill Subs & Ice cream
Hwy 124 South River
Places to stay:
Mary’s Hide Away Four Season Rental
Spring Lake Road
NorthRidge Inn & Resort
Caswell Resort Hotel
77 Main St., Sundridge, Ont.
Dog Sled Trips
1 Industrial Park Road
South River, Ont.,