About Wild Woods Hideaway
Wild Woods Hideaway is a rustic eco-resort tucked into the forest along the shores of Mink Bay in Kenora, Ontario. We want to make camping available and enjoyable to as many people as possible by providing rustic, hand-crafted accommodations at reasonable prices, access to beautiful and diverse all-season trails, a wood-fired sauna, a dock for swimming and use of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards to explore the lake.
We are ideally located to offer a wilderness vacation experience combined with the convenience of being located on the outskirts of the city of Kenora. It is possible to walk from our tents and cabins to some of the best restaurants in town or to pick up whatever you forgot to pack at the local grocery store. Whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall, Wild Woods Hideaway provides what you need to rest, play and explore the lake and forest of the Canadian Shield.
Wild Woods Hideaway is owned and run by Kristine and Peter Zylstra-Moore. We have called this place home since 2014 when our family was just the two of us, living in a 12-foot camper overlooking the lake while we worked to make our dreams of a rustic eco-resort, a homestead and a family living on this land into something real.
The first time we walked down the long, tree-lined driveway, descending from the rush of the highway into the quiet of the hidden away forest and shoreline we knew this was the place we wanted to make our home. Though it was not untouched wilderness and included a mess of run-down buildings, abandoned vehicles, scrap metal and garbage piles, we felt drawn to the land and what we knew it could become.
In the years since we moved here we have cleaned up the mess, recycling and re-using what we could. The metal and garbage picked out of the forest, field and lake filled so many loads in our trailer that we eventually lost count while the buildings we dismantled fueled epic bonfires and filled eight 40-yard garbage bins.
There were times the mess felt endless, even tragic and yet as we walked our land we were inspired by the wild and weedy trees and plants that were reclaiming the land, even growing in the hoods of old cars and on top of rubbish heaps. We found patches of wild asparagus, feral fruit trees and old rock fences and discovered an old, overgrown foot path that connected us to the neighboring Mink Bay trail network, opening up a further 90 acres of forest, shoreline and a glorious assortment of wildflowers to explore.
Among the first things we built was a dock which gave us easy access to the quiet waters of the lake. Whether to immerse ourselves in its waters, cast for supper, launch a canoe, watch the sun set or listen to the loons sing, the dock became a place to go when the work felt overwhelming and we needed to ground ourselves again.
That first year we also built a house for ourselves. Knowing a camper is not a realistic place to live during the winter in North Western Ontario, we had planned to have something livable constructed by late fall. Reality however, did not line up with our best hopes and one morning in late September, with nothing more than a foundation poured we realized it was time to accept that we would not be moving into our house any time soon. We were in a canoe, floating along our north shore at the time and as we pondered what we were going to do, our eyes landed on a small 8 by 12 foot shed standing near the water’s edge. We began renovations to turn it into something livable the next day, moving into the one room cabin we call the Boat House a few weeks later.
With the help of family and friends we did finish our house that winter, allowing us to shift to full-time construction of Wild Woods Hideaway the following spring.There are so many people who believed in us and this place, showing up to lend a hand, give advice, finances or a listening ear.
Though at times the work has seemed endless, the feral beauty of this place has been a source of strength for us. Songbirds and running water sang to us. Eagles and northern lights danced above our heads. We felt blessed to call this place home and to share it with our growing family.
We have made the shift since moving here from a couple with a few too many pets and endless projects to become the parents to three beautiful, wide-eyed, children. Becoming parents changed everything, shifting our focus, slowing our pace. Our love of this land took on new meaning as our children discovered the joys of moss, rocks, sticks, bugs, grass, flowers, mud-puddles, caves, icicles, bird calls, stars, reflections on water and countless other small things and we shared in their wonder.
We moved here knowing we wanted to raise our children somewhere they could play and explore outside. In some ways we were naive but that innocence allowed us the audacity to believe that with love and hard work we could create the life and home we wanted to share with our children and also create a place for others to visit and have the kind of vacation experience we sought when we were urban dwellers with full-time jobs; simple, beautiful, restful and inspiring.
We have seen otters playing on the ice in late winter and have witnessed timber wolves in pursuit of a doe and her fawn. Every spring we watch for pelicans and listen for the return of the loons that call our lake home each summer. Each season we come to know this place we call home a little better. We love our land in all its wild and reclaimed beauty and hope you will come experience and love it too.