Riverside Retreat

Riverside Retreat

The Drag River meanders in Haliburton County from Canning Lake to the north for a few short kilometres south to where it joins the Burnt River. Surrounded by white pine, balsam fir, cedar and birch trees, the area is home to a range of wildlife. And two acres on the Drag River is where author Ruth E. Walker has cottage property that is open to private retreats, May to late September.

Escape to write in The Rustic

The knotty pine ceiling, walls and floors in the open-concept 600 sf building inspired the name. It may be “rustic” but it has a full kitchen (fridge, propane stove, microwave, coffee maker, kettle, dishes and utensils), propane furnace and 3-piece bathroom with a charming clawfoot bathtub. Bed linens and towels are provided.

Gazebo overlooks the river
Harvest table

The large pine harvest table is ideal for spreading out materials while working on projects. An outdoor deck and attached screened gazebo offer lovely views of the river; on cool or rainy days, the screened front porch is a great alternative.

Patio doors to the deck

Sleep on the queen-sized memory foam mattress of the comfortable sofa bed; settle into a rocking chair to read, reflect or write.

While there’s no cell phone signal, limited WiFi is available and there’s a landline with a Canada/US-wide calling plan. Library branches in Minden and Haliburton Village have high-speed internet access, as do local coffee shops.

The Workshop bunkie sleeps 2

The Workshop is a charming insulated bunkie with a writing desk, dresser, double bed and 1860s handcrafted single bed. The 15 x 20 foot building is finished in tongue & groove knotty pine with a “workshop themed” décor. Bathroom facilities are located a short walk away in The Rustic but a nicely finished outdoor privy is a nearby option.

Ruth’s personal cottage, The Cozy, is right next door should you have any questions or need assistance. She’ll be “in residence” and working on her own material during the times The Rustic is available for retreats.

Haliburton is Nature’s Work of Art

View from Rail Trail bridge
Rail Trail over the Drag River

Haliburton County is home to lakes, rivers and diverse wetlands nestled among forested highlands and meadows and valleys. Walking and hiking trails, ATV and snowmobile trails, parks, campgrounds and towns and villages offer plenty of activities for all four seasons. #MyHaliburtonHighlands

Lazy river ride to Milburn Bridge

Riverside is 15 minutes from the town of Minden, 25 minutes from Haliburton Village and 75 minutes from Algonquin Park. Two hours from the east end of the GTA, the property is mostly level with a gentle slope to the river. There are three steps up to the front porch of The Rustic and access remains at that level for the interior.


An onsite firepit, BBQ, floating tubes for a lazy river ride, and various outdoor and indoor games are available for use.

Choose a self-directed retreat:

  • use of The Rustic
    • $325/weekend +HST (Friday noon to Sunday 4 p.m.)
    • $495/week +HST (Friday noon to Thursday 4 p.m.)
  • use of The Rustic and The Workshop bunkie
    • $475/weekend +HST
    • $645/week +HST
  • additional person $75/weekend & $150/week +HST (maximum 3 people)
  • $100 deposit in advance serves as a security deposit & is refunded after the end-of-stay inspection

Choose a supported retreat with the following options:

  • 1-hour consultation/feedback sessions $40 +HST (includes reading/review of material)
  • other supports such as daily writing prompts and/or accountability check-ins, coaching can be negotiated
  • informal/impromptu visits with Ruth no charge

Send queries to info@writescape.ca. Include preferred dates as some dates are not open for booking.

Ten of Diamonds

Ten of Diamonds

A poetry chapbook by Gwynn Scheltema

What people are saying about Ten of Diamonds

I was much impressed with the whole collection. All the poems in the book evoke other places, persons and times with their verbal music, and never sound forced or merely quaint. The notes at the back are luxurious “value added.” Allan Briesmaster – Poet and
Publisher/ Editor at Aeolus House

It’s stunning! Love the cover and the entire presentation, so crisp, and what beautiful paper stock.  Every poem so creatively distinct from the next. Brilliant work by an extraodinary poet. Heidi Croot – Memoirist

“Song of the Sixties” will, I expect, trigger multiple earworms for anyone who reads it, not to mention a flood of memories for the generation that grew up in the sixties. Judges Comments when “Song of the Sixties” won the 2021 Winning Words Poetry Contest.

A bit about this Collection

This chapbook of constraint poems was my COVID project. And the first question everyone asks is “What is a constraint poem?”

In poetry, a constraint, as in common usage of the word, refers to some sort of shackle or boundary that has been imposed, certain requirements needed. Perhaps the poem, has a certain numbers of lines or syllables or rhyme scheme. Think limericks or haiku. The constraint could also be as simple as including the name of a season, or a particular town, perhaps beginning with a given line. Anything really.

For my collection, I had FIVE constraints that appear in every poem, hopefully without calling attention to themselves. The first three were suggested by other people, and I added two more:

  • the name of a famous diamond
  • an archaic or seldom used word
  • set in a time that is not now
  • two colours
  • one article of clothing

How can I get my copy?

PRICE: $12 including postage anywhere in Canada.

Payment options:

In both cases make sure to include your name and full mailing address so we can send you your book!

  • Email auto etransfer to info@writescape.ca (preferred option)

  • Pay below through Paypal. Note: $1:56 HST charge will be added at check-out.

For orders outside of Canada please email info@writescape.ca for price quote.

About the Poet

Gwynn Scheltema’s poetry has been published in anthologies, journals and magazines in Canada, Europe and South Africa, online and in print. She is one of five featured poets in One Ticket Five Rides. (Whirling Dervish Press). Gwynn writes from her peaceful home on the shores of Lake Seymour on the Trent Severn Waterway system in Ontario, Canada, but she was born and raised amid drought and dust and civil war in Southern Africa. These two contrasting landscapes vie for attention in her writing.  Ten of Diamonds was her COVID project, published in June this year.

Listen to an interview with Gwynn about this book and her poetry in general. This interview aired on Word on the Hills, September 12, 2021 on Northumberland 89.7 FM

Living Underground: a novel

Living Underground: a novel

The Allies won both World Wars and our history books make clear who were the bad guys and who were not. But “the enemy” is often just another ordinary person caught up in extraordinary events. And the effects of those two wars continue to echo to contemporary times.

Sheila Barnes is a shy and unhappy teen living in 1960s suburban Toronto. Sheila’s dismal childhood is transformed when Sigmund Maier, the family’s enigmatic German tenant, introduces her to opera, music and much more. Later in her adult life, Sheila reconnects with Sigmund when he asks for her help with an immigration issue. Perhaps now she will discover the truth of why he vanished years ago? But, “truth” has no clear definition and memories are nebulous.

Sheila is drawn into the turmoil and accusations surrounding Sigmund’s life before and during World War II. As she struggles with her own issues and family conflicts, she is forced to confront the secrets she has held for over 30 years.

Only a handful of times in a reader’s life do they come into contact with a book that causes such a rift in their sense of reality. Living Underground is one of those books for me. It left me breathless at every turn.

author Kevin Craig, “Try This Book on for Size”

How can I get my copy?

PRICE: $12 including postage anywhere in Canada.

Payment options:

In both cases make sure to include your name and full mailing address so we can send you your book! Ruth is happy to personalize your copy.

  • Email auto etransfer to info@writescape.ca (preferred option)

  • Pay below through PayPal. Note: $1:56 HST charge will be added at check-out.

For orders outside of Canada please email info@writescape.ca for price quote.

Fall Workshops

Fall Workshops

This fall, Writescape’s Ruth E. Walker will be offering a workshop series in Haliburton

Three Steps to Creative Writing 

Thursdays, September 8, 15 & 22

A free workshop series, in partnership with the Haliburton County Public Library in celebration of Bookapalooza, the Haliburton Highlands’ one-day celebration of readers and writers.

Three sessions:

  • Finding Your Muse: inspiration is everywhere – seeing, touching, reflecting, Sept 8
  • Five-Sense Skill Builder: deepening connections using the 5 senses, Sept 15
  • Make a Scene: beginnings, middles & endings explores scene ingredients and their purpose, Sept 22

Attend one, two or all three sessions. Each is designed to focus on one approach to creative writing, with all three complimenting each other in skill development. No experience necessary. Will suit adults and young adults.

Ruth Walker

Presenter: Author and editor, Ruth E. Walker offers practical, hands-on exercises and a warm and welcoming atmosphere for writers at all levels. A partner in Writescape, Ruth has presented workshops at conferences, colleges and in communities such as Moose Factory, Muskoka, Haliburton, Ottawa, Peterborough, the GTA, London, and the Niagara Region.

NOTE: The library plans to hold this workshop series in person. Any necessary COVID protocols per local heath authorities will be followed.

No charge to register or attend, thanks to Bookapalooza, a one-day celebration of readers and writers with author presentations, trade show and Children’s Book Nook. Free books. Giveaways. Surprises. Special guest author Terry Fallis at the evening Big Book Club. September 24 10 to 4 p.m // Big Book Club 7 to 9 p.m.

Register now through the library website. Questions? Email Ruth at info@writescape.ca or Hillary Montgomery at Haliburton Library hmontgomery@haliburtonlibrary.ca

On-demand Workshops

On-demand Workshops

Gather your group. Pick your topic and your date. And we’ll bring Writescape to you.

From beginning writer to seasoned professional, we’ll customize sessions to suit your programming themes and audience needs. Choose from Writescape’s Workshop Catalogue 2016 to help you and your colleagues hone writing craft and develop new skills and techniques.

“I came away with an understanding that will stick with me … great handouts and examples.”

From two-hour evening sessions to week-long programming, you tell us what you need and when you need it. Writescape will supply professional workshop leaders, hands-on exercises and practical handouts, and a creative, supportive atmosphere for an excellent learning experience.writing-828911_960_720

“…a safe place to be vulnerable with my writing and to risk trying something new.”

Writescape facilitators have delivered workshops and presentations across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as Ottawa Region, Durham Region, and Northumberland, Kawartha, Haliburton, Muskoka, Simcoe and Niagara regions, Southwestern Ontario and into the U.S.

startup-594090_1920 (1)Step 1: talk to your group or colleagues about what you need

Step 2: choose your program from our Workshop Catalogue 2016

Step 3: contact:
leave a comment

We focus on your needs and deliver inspiration, expertise and support. We make it happen.

Custom Retreats

Custom Retreats

Your Retreat, Your Way

Does your writing group want a private, customized retreat where…

  • writing and workshopping space is provided
  • a peaceful, natural setting will encourage your muse to create
  • all meals are catered
  • a 24-hour beverage station is available
  • a professional writer and editor is on hand for support
  • customized programming can be provided
  • rates are budget friendly

From weekend get-a-ways to week-long retreats, you tell us what you need and when you need it. Writescape will work with you to make it happen. Contact us at info@writescape.ca; 705-778-5139 or leave a comment below.

Writescape’s custom Just Write! retreats are held at Glentula on the shores of Lake Seymour just over an hour east of Durham Region. Bookings can be made in all seasons. Gwynn and Don and the two house cats will be happy to welcome you.

Montage with words -- The many lovely faces of Glentula

Be inspired

Nestled in the forest, on the shores of Lake Seymour, Glentula offers peace and inspiration. Five acres of forest and walking trails, steams and lake, gardens, gazebos and secret hideaways. And inside, a bright workroom, book-lined study, or your own private room give plenty of options to write in.

Be supported

Gwynn is onsite and ready to support your writing.  After-dinner campfire readings give participants an opportunity for group feedback. Optional warm-up writing sessions and activities can be arranged.

Be comfortable

Glentula is a private cottage home with single and double occupancy rooms. All your meals and snacks are provided. This intimate retreat space accommodates five to eight participants. Registration includes accommodations, meals and all-day access to beverages and snacks.

Getting There:

Glentula is at 101 Morningside Drive, Havelock, ON. Click here for directions.

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Scrivener for Writers: The Basics

Scrivener for Writers: The Basics

Offered On Demand.

With Heather M. O’Connor, a.k.a. Dr. Scrivener

Scrivener. This powerful writing, editing and publishing software is specially made for writers. It’s like Microsoft Word on steroids.

Learn the basics in this hands-on workshop for beginners:Scrivener screenshot

  • create a new project
  • import your manuscript, images and research files
  • organize your project notes and research
  • navigate the Scrivener workspace
  • work with the corkboard and outliner

Date: Two Wednesdays that you book in advance

Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Venue: Private location in Whitby (flexible)

Fee: $80 [$70 for writing association members-WCDR, WCSC,WCYR, SOH etc.]

Registration limited to 5 people. Preregistration required.

$70 – Register for Scrivener Basics (member rate)

$80 – Register for Scrivener Basics

To register:

  1. Select your workshop (Add to Cart)
  2. Find Your Shopping Cart on the right
  3. Check out with PayPal to pay securely using a credit card or PayPal account

Can’t make it? Book an appointment with Dr. Scrivener. She makes house calls!

Flexible times and location:

  • meet at my home office in Whitby
  • learn at your kitchen table, your meeting place, the local library
  • pick the times and dates that work for you

Recruit your own group:

  • arrange your own small group sessions—perfect for critique groups
  • work at your own speed in a private one-on-one training

Choose a class or customize the curriculum:

  • Scrivener Basics (new users)
  • Scrivener Power Tools  (intermediate users)
  • Compile and Ebooks (intermediate users)
  • pick your own topics or get “unstuck”

Email Heather O’Connor for more information or to book a training.