An Idyllic Yurt in Northern Ontario

A hand-built escape on 600 acres with a private river

Shara Gibson isn’t your typical landlord. In 2013, she took the internet by storm with two tracks that demonstrate her haunting songwriting abilities and vocal prowess. But music isn’t Gibson’s only passion project. For the last few years, the Canadian singer has been busy building a yurt in Northern Ontario with her family—from scratch. The result—a remote and charmed escape, set on 600 acres along a private river and beside a national park—is now available for rent year-round. Rustic, minimal and with space enough to accommodate five, it’s an inexpensive treasure and only the first step in the family’s vision.

The lands on which the yurt is located play host to vast fields full of horses—and interaction with the horses is encouraged. The land, however, used to be a buffalo farm owned by a German man for decades. Gibson and her family have a view in mind to populate the fields with buffalo this fall, as they lay the proper infrastructure required. It’s a next step toward their grander vision: ultimately, they plan to launch a micro-brewery as well, with experimentations commencing on IPAs.

The yurt and its grounds lie in Mattawa, Ontario—accessible by car from Toronto (about a four hour drive) or plane via the small North Bay airport. The town sits at the hub of the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers. There, the sprawling Algonquin Provincial Park provides a lush wilderness environment for hiking. That said, a trip off the yurt’s grounds isn’t necessary as it plays host to private river access and a small sandy beach. There’s even a cedar canoe for use. Exploration of the untouched river provides everything from wildlife to swimming nooks and more sandy beaches.

The experience on the grounds centers around minimalism and sustainability. In fact, 80% of the furniture in the yurt was built from scratch using wood collected from the forest. A handmade yoga platform rests nearby. A fire pit, firewood and basic tools make for a nice activity by night. For a remote, thoughtful retreat where many have yet to step foot, there’s nothing quite like this custom-built, 23-foot yurt and the lands surrounding.

The yurt is available on Airbnb for the reasonable price of CAD $71 a night.

Images courtesy of Shara Gibson