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A Writer’s Escape to a Northern Paradise

Log house surrounded by trees.
Our lovely log house cottage!


A week ago we departed for Muskoka in Northern Ontario, to a cottage on Lake Cecebee near Burk’s Falls. We were vacationing for a week with our daughter, Dianna, her fiance, Stephene, our granddaughter, Lexi, and her dog, Princess Cinderella. It was our first experience cottaging in the Muskoka region, so we had no clear idea what to expect.

We drove down the treelined road leading to our cottage, turned into the circular driveway and discovered a beauty standing in front of us. It was a large log house, surrounded by fairly dense forest, and stood high on a hill overlooking the small dock and the lake.There were walking trails aplenty too! The house had a deck on three sides, and it was a veritable palace inside. Wow! Some cottage! No expense was spared in its construction and appointments. John and I had the bedroom on the main floor while the others occupied the two bedrooms in the basement. The home was fully stocked with appliances, dishes, silverware, linens, towels, etc. All we had to bring was our personal effects and our food.

Deck with railing and deck furniture.
This rear deck overlooked the lake.

Lake Cecebee was clear and blue, and we had our own dock and canoe. The trees and hills surrounding the property were verdant – such awesome natural beauty! We felt like we had stumbled upon a paradise.

View of lake through the green trees on either side of the property + beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds.
View of the lake from the rear deck.

The next day, Stephene worked hard to get the fire pit ready for our campfire. It was located half way down the hill to the lake where they had cleared and leveled a large area for this purpose. The fire pit was in the centre, surrounded by a circle of different coloured plastic Muskoka chairs. We roasted marshmallows and enjoyed the warmth of the fire because the temperatures were cool that week. It was very quiet and peaceful – and the fire kept the mosquitoes at bay. Once the fire was finished, we climbed back up the hill to play board games inside the cottage.

Flat gravel area with fire pit in the centre surrounded by Muskoka chairs.
The fire pit surrounded by Muskoka chairs half way down the hill to the lake.

Almost every morning was sunny and fresh enabling us to enjoy our morning coffee on the back deck overlooking the fire pit and the lake below. John was in charge of breakfast, Dianna prepared lunch, and I cooked the dinner with Stephene’s help on the barbecue. The modern, fully equipped kitchen plus the sliding glass doors off the kitchen to the barbecue made the meals easy to prepare.

Sunrise view of the lake from the rear deck.
View of the lake from the back deck at sunrise.

Every night we played games like Yahtzee, Blackout Bridge, Scrabble, and Sequence. I kept track of the winners each night. Lexi proved to be the Yahtzee expert! John won at scrabble, upsetting me as the family Scrabble champ. John also excelled at Blackout Bridge, but it was the women who trounced the men at Sequence.

Anne standing among trees in the middle of the circular driveway - her back to the road.
I’m standing with my back to the road on the other side of the circular driveway.

Our most exciting adventure occurred when we decided to rent a pontoon boat at the Port Carmen Marina just down the road. The first day we toured the entire lake. We docked at Magnetawan and walked around the town taking in the sights. There we learned it is the Sister City to Baltimore, Maryland! The next day we traveled the other way and followed the river that leads to Burk’s Falls – about a one hour trip each way. There we explored the town and had lunch and drinks at the local pub. The scenery at Burk’s Falls was lovely – we went up and down the Riverwalk and saw the river dam close up. The village reminded us a bit of Havre de Grace in Maryland – with its beautiful promenade.

Anne and lexi posing by the deck railing with the water in the background.
Lexi and I by the railing of the upper deck of the dock side restaurant in Huntsville.

The pontoon boat was large and very comfortable with plush seats. The river cruise to and from Burk’s Falls was breathtaking! The water was like glass and the forest on either side came right to the river’s edge. Stephene was the Captain making sure we got to our destinations without getting lost. Dianna and Lexi both had their turns at the controls too. We are grateful to him for making these boating adventures possible

Stephene sitting behind control console and Dianna sitting in an adjascent seat holding a map on the pontoon boat.
Captain Stephene at the wheel with Dianna navigating from the lake map.

One day, John and I took Lexi for a visit to Huntsville and thoroughly enjoyed this lovely town. We enjoyed the shops and boutiques and a quaint restaurant on the marina dock that allowed leashed dogs on the dock level. We found the people there to be very friendly and helpful. It was fun watching the different boats coming and going while we dined and sipped martinis.

Raging fire in the fire pit at night.
Stephene successfully built a huge fire after a rainy morning.

The Nutty Chocolatier store was reminiscent of the old fashioned candy stores back fifty years ago. The candy/fudge and chocolate were all freshly made and smelled wonderful. We had a hard time making choices and then dragging ourselves out of there!

Anne sitting at the front of the boat wearing a sweater with the lake and far shore in the background.
Here I am relaxing in the sunshine – but it was a cool day on the lake in our pontoon boat.

It wasn’t easy packing up to leave and leaving behind the peaceful beauty there. We loved our stay in that beautiful log home which made the rainy times easy to bear.

Lexi holding a stick used to roast marshmallows. Her eyes are closed and she's licking her lips in enjoyment.
Lexi was in charge of roasting marshmallows over the open fire – this one was very tasty!

We are so fortunate to live in a rich, gorgeous province like Ontario – there is so much untouched nature to enjoy. We had a great time bonding with each other as well as with Mother Nature. One can’t ask for much more!

Stephene sitting in a chair with Dianna beside him in her chair holding the dog on her lap.
Stephene, Dianna, and Cinderella enjoying the fire.

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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