20/12/2013 05:31 GMT | Updated 17/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Peace on Earth

It is estimated that the average person checks their phone 110 times a day. By the time we have checked our Facebook account 14 times a day, Twitter, Whats App, Snapchat, three different email accounts and Instagram, it's not surprising that most of us never have time for any kind of relaxation or reflective thought.

This may have become a way of life that we all just take for granted, but in reality this kind of compulsive behaviour can leave us mentally exhausted, and physically drained.

When it was suggested to me last summer, that I might like to spend a week on a remote island retreat, on a remote lake, in a remote part of Canada, where I would be denied a phone signal and Wi-Fi for 7 whole days, I have to confess that I was more than just a little bit reluctant.

To me, the word "retreat" conjures up a plethora of unwelcome thoughts of deadly boring seminars, given by deadly boring people, in an equally dull setting. The very mention of the word "retreat" is usually enough to make me run off as quickly as possible and book a five star luxury holiday in the Caribbean.

The mere thought of going somewhere that was more than 400 km away from the nearest major city, and a 7 hour drive from Toronto, was enough to send me into a phone checking frenzy.

To get this into some kind of geographical perspective, Weekes Island is in the middle of Wendigo Lake, NE Ontario, which is 24 km from the nearest town of Englehart. That's not to mention the 10 min boat ride required to reach the island once you have reached the shore of the lake.


Eventually I gave into peer pressure and decided that I could indeed rise to the challenge of surviving a week without a phone signal, Wi -Fi, TV, coffee shops, cocktail bars and luxury retail opportunities.

I was about to spend a whole week on a remote island with only one cottage on it, an unmentionable outside loo, and no facilities other than a pontoon boat, and a couple of canoes.


This was not my idea of fun.

After a very long road trip from Toronto, where we played every car game known to man, as well as a few we invented on the way, we eventually approached the outskirts of Englehart. From here, we were guided on our 40 min journey through the forest by Steve, the owner of the cottage. To say it would have been impossible to find without him, is an understatement. I was contemplating leaving a bread trail in the style of Hansel and Gretel, just in case I might need to make an escape in the middle of the night.


Once we reached the lake shore where we left the truck, we loaded the pontoon boat with what seemed like enough food and drink to last a lifetime and made the 10 min boat trip to Weekes Island.


Steve, the owner explained in great detail how everything worked. I wasn't really listening of course, because I when you are accustomed to calling the front desk when anything goes wrong, you don't tend to...

Once we had settled in and unpacked, I stared longingly at my phone, hoping for a flicker of a signal but it was futile and deep down I knew that I wouldn't be seeing any kind of bar for another week.

Begrudgingly I turned off my phone and put it in a drawer.

This was going to be difficult.

The big question for me now was, "what am I actually going to DO?"

I was astonished at how quickly I adjusted to my new environment. Without any forms of distraction, I quickly learnt how to embrace some of life's simple pleasures.

Every morning we took a leisurely swim around the whole island, which was incredibly refreshing, and an excellent form of exercise that makes sweating up in a city gym seem like a form of torture.

I never thought in a million years that I would ever regard picking blueberries as an activity, but picking blueberries soon became a daily daytime pastime. We made blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry smoothies and even blueberry daiquiri.

Daytimes were spent sitting on the deck reading, relaxing, fishing, taking a dip and paddling around the island on a canoe.


Evenings were spent making camp fires, chatting, singing, star gazing and being mesmerised by the lights and sounds of incredible storms.


Never in my life had I seen such incredible skies.


Never in my life had I seen shooting stars, nor had I ever eaten s'mors.

Weekes Island didn't offer me any luxuries. Well, not in the true sense of the word. But what it did offer me was the luxury of time - time to talk, time to listen, time to laugh, time to relax and time to think.

If you are ever looking for peace on earth, you will find it here.

Photo credits: Clare Meaney, Stephen Pollock and Wayne Pawson