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Monday, August 19, 2019

Ontario Lakes Week: First Stop, Bartlett Lodge, Algonquin Provincial Park

As soon as you step foot in that large wooden boat and are whisked away a mere 5 minutes from the parking lot to Bartlett Lodge, tensions start to melt away with the calm Cache Lake waters. Traveling with Amy and Josh from their home in Toronto, it took us about 3 ½ hours to reach Algonquin Provincial Park in central Ontario. Amy had met the owners of Bartlett Lodge, Marilyn and Kim on an Adventure Canada cruise circumnavigating Newfoundland last fall, and she wanted to make this our first stop on a tour of classic Ontario cabins. She started with a winner, the circa-1907 Deil Ma Care cabin, created before the resort even opened by a doctor from Ottawa who would bring patients with TB and other respiratory ailments to Algonquin as a salubrious retreat. After 3 nights at Bartlett Lodge, I’m happy to report that the lodge is just as therapeutic today as it was a century ago! 

The 12 cottages and 4 tents sit on the shores of the inviting Cache Lake. Grab a canoe like we did one early morning before breakfast and you’ll be listening to the distinctive call of the loon echoing across the waters. But even more heavenly than a placid paddle is the chance to swim from the small deck in front of our cabin in the clean refreshing waters. As soon as we arrived, we went for the first of countless swims we would take on our 9-day foray into the lakes of central Ontario. 
 
All meals are included in the price, the highlight being the 4-course dinner, beloved just as much by locals as visitors to Bartlett Lodge. Start with hazelnut gnudi (gnocchi-like dumplings) or wild mushroom arancini before moving on to entrees of chinook salmon or beef tenderloin. But save room for dessert, especially Marilyn’s sublime signature pies, like wild blueberry or strawberry rhubarb. Marilyn is the quintessential host, walking over between courses to all the tables to discuss the history of the place and her love for the region. Not only did her husband Kim and her revive this dreamy waterfront property (they’ve been owners since 1997), but they run a nearby overnight girl’s camp. Off-season, they have a farm outside of Toronto known for its team of Clydesdales. 
 
Swim, paddle, take a Tom Thomson tour with Malcolm (which I’ll discuss tomorrow), hike through old growth forest or up the hillside for vistas of the shorelines, and then return to the Bartlett Lodge for gin and tonics in the Muskoka chairs (the Ontario version of Adirondack chairs) and another fantastic dinner (BYOB, so stop at the province-run liquor store, LCBO, on the way in). It’s a winning recipe for a 3-day add-on to Toronto or Ottawa. Share your dates with ActiveTravels and we’ll check on availability and pricing. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/19/19 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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