Friday, August 28

Paddle to Ragged Falls

A popular activity for our guests is the paddle from Oxtongue Lake to the base of Ragged Falls. It's not just fun for visitors, though, Jim and I took an afternoon off this week and did the paddle ourselves. We had a great time!

Starting out from the inn, we stopped in Huntsville to pick up some requisite trail mix and snacks from the Bulk Barn before taking Hwy 60 to Algonquin Outfitters Oxtongue Lake store. They offer both canoe and kayak rentals, which included the life jackets and paddles as well as a map of the route from the store dock to the falls..

The helpful fella manning the equipment office made sure we were all set on the water. Jim and I have paddled extensively so didn't need any instruction, but if you're new to paddling, be sure to tell the staff and they'll spend a few minutes covering the basics before sending you off.

It took us about an hour to paddle from the store dock, cutting across a corner of Oxtongue Lake then up the Oxtongue River, to the base of Ragged Falls. In the calm water below the falls, we pulled our canoe up onto the rocks and then hiked up to the top of the falls. It's a lovely spot and has been a favourite stop of ours for many years. If you want to see the falls without the paddling, it's very easy to get to by car and just a 5-minute walk from the parking lot to the river.

After touring the falls, we got back in the canoe and retraced our route back to the store. On the way home we stopped at Dwight Beach for a swim (okay, Jim swam and I beach-bummed). It's a gorgeous, sandy, shallow beach on Lake of Bays and worth the stop.

We definitely recommend the paddle to Ragged Falls, suitable for both novice and experienced paddlers. This and other local paddling options are a great way to spend a summer or early-fall afternoon during a visit to the inn.

Thursday, August 20

Autumn Events

Autumn is a busy and beautiful season in Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands. Here are some of the organized events and weekly activities in the region. Check back again as we update the list as we hear about new happenings.

Wednesday Kayak
Join a guided flatwater kayak tour from the riverside dock in downtown Huntsville, along the Muskoka River to the mouth of Lake Vernon. Hosted by Algonquin Outfitters, this 2-hour paddle is great for new and experienced paddlers to enjoy an evening on the water. Just $15/person includes kayak, paddle and pfd. Meet at the store before 6pm, registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Every Wednesday until September 9
Huntsville Farmers' Market
Selection of vendors, located in the Canadian Tire parking lot in Huntsville.
Every Thursday until October 29, from 9am-2pm

Commerce Park Huntsville Farmers' Market
Selection of vendors, located beside Robinson's Independent Grocer in Huntsville's Commerce Park.
Every Friday until September 4, from 9am-2pm

Muskoka Cruise Night
Hosted by the Historical Automotive Society of Canada, with prizes and a 50/50 draw with proceeds going to local charities. At the Canadian Tire parking lot in Huntsville.
Every Wednesday evening until October 28

Antique & Collectables Market
A variety of vendors will be offering their wares at Fern Glen Garden Centre just up the road from us.
Every Saturday in September, from 10am - 3pm

Magnetawan Farmers' Market
Held at the Magnetawan Community Pavilion, with a range of goods including fresh produce; smoked, dried and frozen meats; specialty cheeses; flowers; baked goods; jewelry; antiques; knitting; sewing; wood carving; homemade jams.
Every Saturday until September 5

Muskoka Nights Cruise-In
Antique cars, hot rods, tuners, motorcycles and vehicles of special interest. Door prizes and a 50/50 draw raising funds for the Huntsville Animal Shelter. At the Canadian Tire parking lot in Huntsville.
Every Saturday evening until October 10

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Burk's Falls Fall Fair
Three days of fun, featuring live music, art shows, midway rides and games, sheep displays, horse shows, cotton candy and more. At the Burk's Falls fair grounds.
September 5, 6 & 7

Stisted Fall Fair
A day of old-fashioned family fun. Off Yearly Rd., north-west of Huntsville's Lake Vernon.
September 12

Muskoka Ironman 70.3
The region's largest athletic event is slated to attract over 1,500 international athletes. The race course will incorporate many of Muskoka's most picturesque areas, including a 1.2 mile swim in bracing Peninsula Lake; a 56 mile bike ride through Lake of Bays including the hamlets of Dwight, Dorset and Baysville; followed by a 13.1 mile run. Come and cheer the athletes along their race. Visit Muskoka Ironman 70.3 for details.
September 13

Antique, Classic and Custom Car Show
The Downtown Huntsville BIA presents the Annual Shades of Autumn Antique, Classic and Custom Car Show. Exhibits will be up and down the main drag. plus trophies and door prizes. This is one automotive competition that you can take in on two feet.
September 19

Canadian Improv Showcase
Canada's premiere touring improv company comes to Huntsville's Algonquin Theatre. Specializing in unscripted, interactive comedy with a Canadian twist, it's never the same show twice and totally hilarious! Tickets are $22. Visit the Algonquin Theatre for details.
September 19, 8pm

Chocolate and Dessert Fantasy
The Huntsville Hospital Auxiliary invites you to spend an hour or two tasting delicious desserts and finger foods created by many local resorts and restaurants. Live piano music plus silent auction items. Tickets are $15, available at The Clothes Closet, Treasures and Trophies, and Branches Hospital Gift Shop. Proceeds support the Auxiliary's $250,000 commitment to the new Mammography Suite.
At Partner's Hall on the main floor of the Algonquin Theatre.
September 20, 2pm-5pm

Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour
Witness the artistic process at work through demonstrations and displays in the studios of Muskoka's diversely talented artists. Free self-guided tour. For printable map, brochure and more information, visit Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour.
September 26 & 27
October 3 & 4

Fall Colour Peak
The hardwood forests are ablaze in autumn colours, painted from a palette of sunny golds, fiery oranges and brilliant reds. Whether you hike the trails, drive the country roads or tour the parks, you're sure to enjoy this spectacular natural show. The peak can last a few days or a few weeks, and usually falls between late-September and mid-October. Even if you don't hit the peak, it's still a lovely and unique experience.
Estimated October 1-15

Thanksgiving Long Weekend
The last long weekend of the season to get out of the city and breath some fresh country air.
October 9-12

Golden Encore
Following the peak of the Fall Colours, after the famous red and orange maple leaves have fallen from the branches, mother nature has one more song to sing before the show ends. That's when the tamaracks, birches and poplars take the stage and grace us with a golden encore.
Generally late October into November

Huntsville's Girlfriends' Getaway Weekend
The shops, boutiques,
cafés and restaurants of Downtown Huntsville are catering to the ladies with a great weekend of shopping, sales, gifts, demos and pampering. It's a great chance to get your holiday shopping started (or even finished!) and to treat yourself to a little 'girl time' too. Free passports are available here at the inn.
Some ticketed events are on the weekend schedule: Fashion Show hosted by Davide Clemmer & Bruce Turner of 'Style by Jury'; cooking demonstrations by celebrity chef Jeff Suddaby; Chantal Kreviazuk on stage. Visit Huntsville's Girlfriends' Getaway Weekend for details.
Stay 2 nights at Fern Glen Inn this weekend and get $25 off your stay (mention Huntsville's Girlfriends' Getaway at time of booking).
November 13-15

Soapstones' Holiday Designer Soap Workshops
Make your own holiday soaps to give as gifts this season. Hands-on workshops take place at Soapstones in downtown Huntsville. Learn the techniques and tools and take home what you make. Kits available to purchase as well. Workshops are $20/person and limited to 8 people per class. Visit Soapstones workshops for details and to register.
Every other Wednesday until Christmas; 6:00-8:00 pm
(Oct 21, Nov 4 & 18, Dec 2 & 16)

Soapstones' Bath Bombs, Bath Teas, and Tub Butter Workshops

Make your own special bath products (they make great stocking stuffers!). Hands-on workshops take place at Soapstones in downtown Huntsville. Learn the techniques and tools and take home what you make. Kits available to purchase as well. Workshops are $20/person and limited to 8 people per class. Visit Soapstones workshops for details and to register.
Every other Sunday until Christmas; 2:00-4:00 pm
(Nov 1, 15 & 29, Dec 13)

Tuesday, August 11

Creme Blanc and the Zen of Berry Picking

Right now the wild raspberry bushes and blueberry shrubs are laden with beautiful, ripe berries just waiting to be picked and savoured. I can't go for a walk (not even to the mailbox!) without stopping along the way and plucking some bright ruby or deep blue jewels and popping them in my mouth.

When I take a container and set out to gather, Jim knows he won't see me for a while. I love berry picking. I get lost in it. I hear the siren call of the raspberries and they lure me further and further into their dense, leafy patch. It makes me feel productive without feeling busy, at rest while in motion. I call it the zen of berry picking. And all the while my little bucket of treasure is steadily filling. Ah, it's a good life!

A couple weeks ago, when the raspberries and blueberries were just starting to ripen, I set out to pick some to use in a guest dessert. It was still too early for a good haul (not enough for, say, a pie or shortcake) but I couldn't let these first berries of the season go to waste and I wanted to share them with our guests. So I came up with a lovely little dessert that let my handful of berries shine. You don't have to pick your own to enjoy these rich little desserts.

Berry Creme Blanc

Sweet-tart berries, white chocolate and vanilla custard play off each other in these rich little individual desserts. Easy to make and great for entertaining as they should be baked ahead of time in order to chill. Easily adaptable to seasonal ingredients and personal tastes.

Serves 4. Recipe can be doubled or halved.

  • butter for custard cups or ramekins
  • 1/2 cup (or more) fresh berries such as raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla vodka or framboise (raspberry liqueur) or other liquid such as Grand Marnier, brandy, cran-raspberry juice, or water

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light cream or evaporated milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 oz (85 grams) good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Butter 4 6-oz (1/2 cup capacity) custard cups or ramekins. Divide the berries among the cups. Heat the raspberry jam and liqueur until warm and liquid. Drizzle evenly over the berries. Set custard cups aside.

In a medium pot, whisk together the heavy cream, light cream or evaporated milk, sugar and white chocolate. Whisk or stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl or 8-cup glass measure, whisk the egg yolks and salt until smooth. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture. Carefully pour this custard mixture over the berries in the custard cups, dividing evenly.

Line a cake pan with a clean dishtowel and place the custard cups on top. The dishtowel keeps the cups from sliding around. Fill the cake pan with hot water to come half-way up the side of the cups.

Carefully slide the pan into the oven and bake until just about set. They will still jiggle a bit (but not wave) but they will set up as they cool. The tops will turn toasty brown. Carefully remove the custard cups from the water bath and set on a rack to cool to room temperature. Cover the cups with plastic wrap then refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours or even overnight.

Before serving, top with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, a mint leaf and a sprinkle of fresh berries.

If you want to guild the lily, take these one step further and make creme brule. Before serving, coat the tops of the cremes with a layer of sugar. Caramelize the sugar using a kitchen torch or placing them briefly under a hot broiler.