Discover Your Weekend Winter Wonderland in Cottage Country
Does winter gives you the blues? Leave them behind this year by spending winter weekends at the cottage. Read and relax by the fire, have tons of fun outdoors and experience the season’s beautiful side in Parry Sound’s winter wonderland.
By Patti Vipond
Some people just don’t like winter. Often this dislike is based on winter memories forged in urban settings. Slogging through city slush in sodden boots. Fighting through biting winds on icy sidewalks. How about sitting in endless blizzard-stalled traffic jams? Snow in the city has no useful purpose. However in cottage country, snow is right at home. Every inch of deep powder is an invitation for you and your family to have the kind of fun that can only be enjoyed in winter.
The Parry Sound area is particularly fabulous in the snowy season. There are plenty of outdoor activities to satisfy everyone from toddlers learning to skate to weekend warriors looking for new thrills. Come on up and cross country ski on scenic trails, drive a dog sled team, discover fat biking or snowmobile on some of Ontario’s finest trails. You can skate at an indoor arena, or glide on outdoor rinks and frozen lakes. Families and friends can showshoe across the drifts together.
If weekend relaxation is your sport, stay cozy by the fire or wrap up in your favourite blanket and enjoy brilliant views of forests swathed in snow and winter-softened landscapes twinkling in the sun beneath unbelievably blue skies. Whether your weekend includes card games by the woodstove or time out on the trails, Parry Sound is the best place for bracing outdoor sports, lively festivals, tranquil retreats and stellar entertainment.
Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, 2 Bay St., Parry Sound
There’s no need to stay in the city to see fantastic fall and winter entertainment. The Stockey Centre hosts top Canadian and international musicians, actors and entertainers, as well as a Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) series, from October to March. Come and hear Canadian music stars Barenaked Ladies (Oct. 2), Stampeders (Oct. 21), Murray McLauchlan (Nov. 8) and rising folk/blues group Hidden Roots Collective (Nov. 30). Celebrate Remembrance Day with the play Billy Bishop Goes to War (Nov. 11) or rock out with live classic album concerts like Supertramp’s Crime of the Century (Nov. 29) or the Eagles Greatest Hits (Feb. 8). The TIFF Film Series runs every second Thursday from September 7 to January 4 with recent releases like The Big Sick (Oct. 19) and The Glass Castle (Nov. 16). To order tickets, call 877-746-4466 or go to www.stockeycentre.com.
Art Classes and Wine, Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at painting and have a fondness for wine, the Stockey Centre has the perfect winter art class for you. Local artist Andrea McIntyre teachesstudents to create an acrylic painting on canvas. Classes are held every second Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. from November 14 to February 27. The cost of $29.95 includes brushes, paint, a canvas, an apron and a glass of wine. To register, call 877-746-4466 or go to www.stockeycentre.com.
Winter Crafts Show, Bobby Orr Community Centre, November 24-25, 2017
If you are looking for handcrafted, original gifts, the Parry Sound Arts & Crafts Association’s annual show is the place to do it. The show features toys, ceramics, jewellery, clothing, art and Christmas décor created by local artists and craftspeople. 7-17 Mary Street. November 24 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. November 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kearney Dog Sled Races, February 10-11, 2018
Ontario’s largest annual dog sled race event happens in the scenic town of Kearney, near the western border of Algonquin Park. Mushers and their dog teams participate in two days of racing that includes a 4 Dog Sprint, 6 Dog Sprint, men’s and women’s 1 and 2 dog Ski-joring and the popular Kid & Mutt event on Main street. All races start downtown. For more information, go to kearneydogsledraces.ca.
Parry Sound Snowfest Winter Carnival, February 16-19, 2018
If you plan to go to a winter carnival this year, make it this one. Held over the long Family Day weekend, Snowfest is four days of something for everyone including lots of family activities and good food. Festivities open Friday with the annual Fisherman’s Ball Dinner & Dance. The Rotary Club Ski-A-Thon, ice-fishing derby and more follow Saturday’s pancake breakfast. Sunday activities include tobogganing and an evening bonfire with fireworks. Snowfest wraps up Monday with free public skating at the Bobby Orr Community Centre. Events are at various locations. For more information, please call Town of Parry Sound at 705-746-2101.
Seguin Sled Dog Mail Run, February 17, 2018
For the 33rd year, sled dog teams and their drivers will haul bags of sledvelopes, letters prepared for the Run, over bush trails from Humphrey to Rosseau where the Post Mistresshand stamps the deliveries. Have breakfast and meet the drivers and dogs, at the Humphrey Arena from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. Run starts 9:45 a.m. Teams arrive from 11:30 a.m. Vendor market and ice carving at the Rosseau Hall 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch available 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 705-732-4300 x 263.
If seeing the pups run in Kearney or Seguin inspire you to mush, you can learn to drive a team of sled dogs at Chocpaw Dog Sled Expeditions in South River. Call 705-386-0344 or email email@example.com. North Ridge Ranch Muskoka Dog Sledding Tours in Huntsville also teaches
how to direct a sled dog team. Call 705-788-2828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cross country skiing
The popular Georgian Nordic Ski and Canoe Club near Parry Sound has over 30 km. of performance, backcountry and single-track cross country ski trails for experts, novices and beginners. Try the popular Lynx Trail. The Jack Rabbit program teaches kids to ski. The Club’s Sounder Ski Tour in late January features competitions and prizes for all ages plus food and music. At 8 Nine Mile Lake Road in McDougall. Ski equipment rentals on site. For information, call 705-746-5067 or go to www.georgiannordic.com.
The 6.5 km. Rotary and Algonquin Regiment Waterfront Fitness Trail, a former railway spur line with great views of the Sound and inner harbour, is used in winter by Nordic skiers, fat tire bikers and snowmobilers as part of the Parry Sound Snowmobile Club trail network. Access points at the Stockey Centre, Champagne St. near the Parry Sound Harbour, and the Salt Docks on Marion Ave.
The Whitestone Recreational Trail, a 2.9 km. loop through mixed forest, welcomes nordic skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts. Take Hwy. 124 west from Parry Sound to Hwy. 520 and go north to Ardbeg. Turn left onto Whitestone Lake Rd.
Shovel off a rink in front of your cottage or come into town for arena and outdoor skating. The indoor rink at the Bobby Orr Community Centre at 7-17 Mary St. is open all winter for skaters. Programs include Parent & Tot and Adult Skate. Public skating is on Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. For information, call 705-746-2701.
The Humphrey Community Centre holds public arena skating on Saturdays at 11 a.m. to 1p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 15 Humphrey Dr., Seguin.
At Kinsmen Park in Parry Sound, enjoy a covered outdoor rink with change rooms and washrooms. Public skating Monday to Friday 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Located on Parry Sound Drive near Hwy. 400.
If you own a pair of snowshoes, you can start your own trail from your cottage’s front door. For excellent groomed snowshoeing trails, head for Killbear Provincial Park at 35 Killbear Park Rd. in Nobel, and the Georgian Nordic Ski and Canoe Club at 8 Nine Mile Lake Rd. in McDougall.
White Squall Town Shop at 19 James St. in Parry Sound rents lightweight snowshoes for one day or longer. White Squall holds informal guided hikes from the shop on Sundays in January and February. To reserve snowshoes or for more information, call 705-746-4936 or email email@example.com.
Thanks to the arrival of fat bikes, biking is now a year round sport. With extra large tires, these sturdy bikes can be ridden on any packed snow trail except groomed cross-country ski trails.
Rent a fat bike at Parry Sound Bikes and head out to the town’s Rotary and Algonquin Regiment Waterfront Trail. Feeling adventurous? Try the 80 km. Seguin Trail running from Parry Sound to Emsdale in the Almaguin Highlands. Parry Sound Bikes is at 25 Mary St. For more information, call 705-746-6060 or go to www.parrysoundbikes.com.
Georgian Nordic Ski and Canoe Club invites cyclists to use many of its trails with a day pass. For information, call 705-746-5067 or go to www.georgiannordic.com.
Parry Sound’s winter wonderland is a sure cure for the urban winter blues. Come up and discover the pleasures to be had during weekends at the cottage whether nestling cosily indoors or being active outside in the fresh air. In Parry Sound, it’s easy to experience the lovely side of winter.