The Algonquin Eco-Lodge is an off-the-grid choice for lodging in the wilderness of Algonquin Provincial Park, all with the comforts of indoor plumbing, hot showers, a wood burning sauna, and a 24-hour carbon neutral hot tub overlooking a private glistening lake that mirrors the surrounding deciduous and pine forest of the Canadian Shield.
There was silence all around, except for the sound of our footsteps crunching the ice and snow beneath our feet. After a 3-hour drive from Toronto, our media team, Justin, Melanie, and I, finally made it to Algonquin Park for a wilderness weekend to escape our brick-and-mortar city lives.
With no cell-phone service, we looked for clues as to which direction we should walk after parking the car. Luckily, we found a sign that read:
Follow the trail past the Algonquin park gate, and after 200 meters turn right. Continue on for about 20 minutes and we are at the top of the hill.
Minding our instructions, we lugged our backpacks and suitcases on what turned out to be a 2.5 kilometer walk on flat land. There were no animals to be seen, around mid-March; I wondered what might I find beyond the dormant pine trees on the sides of my path.
It was a winter evening after all, so the bears were in hibernation; but what about the wolves? Were they looking for a late-night snack; or the moose, the white-tailed deer, the red foxes, and the other forest inhabitants of Algonquin Provincial Park?
Fortunately for us, Robin Banerjee, Algonquin Eco-Lodge’s Founder and Owner, met our group halfway to help us transfer our luggage in his snow vehicle.
Robin was dressed in a puff-winter jacket, knee-high winter boots, jeans and a black tuque with his wild long hair peeking out from beneath. We walked to meet him at the top of the hill where he was waiting for us by the Eco-Lodge, in style.
Micro-hydro Turbine Generator
When we arrived, Robin showed us his micro-hydro turbine system that looks just like a gushing mini-waterfall, pouring into the water streams connected to Moffat Pond.
Robin told us that he installed the micro-hydro system to produce alternative energy in 2009 to get the Eco-Lodge completely off-the-grid. He also received a 2012 Ontario Tourism Award for this initiative.
“We’ve reduced Green House Gas emissions by 7.5 tons per year thanks to the new hydro system”
The turbines were designed in British Columbia, the pipes from Ontario, and Robin hired a local electrician to install it. The powerhouse is built from timber that was cut in a local sawmill.
When the water levels are at their highest, the turbines produce approximately 11kw of continuous power in the winter, and 4 kw in the summertime, providing more than enough electricity to power lighting, hot water tanks, the fridge and freezer, and even some electric heating in the winter.
The radiant Algonquin Eco-Lodge was lit at night, surrounded by a contrasting dark forest. It’s based on the southern tip of Algonquin Park, a world famous wilderness park that is over 7, 600 square kilometers in size, and a very popular destination for locals from Ontario, as well as Europeans seeking an authentic Canadian Wilderness experience.
Upon arrival, we dropped our bags in our cabin rooms furnished with pine-log beds, before heading for dinner in the rustic dining hall. Each of our rooms had an electrical plug outlet, so we could charge our electronics. However, there was no cell phone service, or Wi-Fi available at the Eco-Lodge for our digital detox getaway.
The Dining Hall
The dining hall had three large wooden tables, large enough to fit an entire sports club. The chandelier was decorated with wood shaped like antlers, to remind us that we were in the countryside. This was definitely not the city.
After dinner, the lounge provided a cozy meeting spot to have a chat by the fireplace, play guitar, or share a board-game. We met a few German fellows there, a common type of clientele for Robin.
Meanwhile, Justin, being a band member of a Toronto-based Folk-Metal band called Unicorn Headbutt, had fun playing with Robin’s guitar. It was all funked-out in vintage decal stickers.
Robin served us a satisfying 3-course dinner of homemade Ceasar salad, Lasagna and garlic bread seasoned with Rosemarie and Basil, and a scrumptious freshly-baked cake topped with berries.
For breakfast the next day, Robin made us a generous portion of pancakes with maple syrup, berries, coffee, tea, and orange juice.
Robin told us that he collects fresh Rosemarie and Basil for meals in the summertime, and also often shops in Bancroft at the Farmers Market to support the local community.
The 24-Hour Carbon-Neutral Hot Tub
After dinner, we tip-toed across the ice, snow, and slush to the Algonquin Eco-Lodge’s 24-hour carbon-neutral hot tub, powered by Robin’s green electricity from his waterfall.
Since Robin’s property is 12 km away from its neighbours, there was absolutely no light pollution. The night’s stars shone brilliantly over the property’s private 30-acre lake next to the hot tub.
We could see the reflections of Algonquin Park’s deciduous and pine forest mirrored on the top of the lake’s surface.
Saying Our Goodbyes (until next time)
The next morning, Robin served us fresh pancakes with homemade berry sauce, orange juice, coffee and tea, before we trekked back across the 2.5 kilometers of snowy path to get back to our car.
For the first time, I looked forward to the 25-minute walk across the path, alongside rolling hills and the private lake mirroring the pinewood forest. In deep contrast to city life, I enjoyed the fact that convenience was not a priority at the Eco-Lodge, and my efforts were well worth the reward.
* All expenses for this trip were provided for by the Owner, so please keep this in mind, however, I did tell Robin beforehand I was going to write an honest review.
About Algonquin Eco-Lodge
The Algonquin Eco-Lodge caters to wilderness enthusiasts, and is open summer and winter seasons (only 3 hours from Toronto or Ottawa). Connected to over 40 km groomed trails inside Algonquin Park, these accommodations offer opportunities for cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, hiking, and canoeing.
Other seasonal activities:
Winter: Look for paw prints in the snow to find nearby wildlife sightings for moose, deer, wolves, and beaver.
Summer: Go birdwatching to see Pileated Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Snowy Owls, and Pine Martens.
All seasons: Take a Day Trip to High Falls, or the Grand View Lookout.
For more information on lodging and hotel information, visit https://www.algonquinecolodge.com/
About Ecotour Magazine
Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.
Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada!