Bushwoman Workshops

Whether you have experience in the wilderness or are someone who wants more guidance in the outdoors—these workshops are for you. You will build confidence and trust in yourself, meet new friends, and improve your photography skills.

In February I had the pleasure of attending a Bushwoman Workshop in Minaki, held by photographer Alyssa Lloyd. The promise of tips on how to take photos of the Northern Lights—and photos in general—plus doing all sorts of outdoorsy stuff with a group of women intrigued me. 

Those who know me know I'm adventurous, but most of my adventures have been in the summer months. I'm a bit of a wimp in the cold. Still, a few years ago I decided to embrace winter, rather than hibernating when the snow came. The thought of learning how to take photos of the Northern Lights superseded the dread of being in the cold.

We checked into the Minaki Yurts Friday after work. The yurt was incredible. The heart of the yurt was the kitchen, in the center with eating areas, bathrooms, living rooms, and two bedrooms surrounding it. And that was just the first floor! We made a fire, had some great food and a glass of wine, and talked a bit about our cameras. Around 10 pm, we layered up and went outside with our cameras in search of the Northern Lights. 

My first attempt at shooting at night. Not as good as Alyssa's, but not bad!

While we ended up not seeing any northern lights, it was a clear night with many stars out. Alyssa was great at showing us novices how to take photos at night. We didn't have to go far, as the yurts are surrounded in the wilderness. Before we knew it, it was 1 am and we headed inside. Even though it was about -20°C, we dressed for the weather and weren't cold at all. I might bring extra batteries next time though, as they didn't last as long as I would've liked in the cold.

The next morning most of us slept in before eating a delicious breakfast. We all headed out to a trout lake to go ice fishing. A couple of us had never drilled an ice fishing hole, so we all tried both the hand-held auger and the gas auger. I thought I'd have trouble with the manual auger, but since it had sharp blades it was pretty easy. 

Tracey brought her gas-powered auger and taught the rest of us how to drill a hole. 
While my small perch was the only fish landed that day, Breanne had a pretty big trout that broke her line as she was pulling it up. 

After ice fishing, we all sat around the yurt and played some board games—many of which I hadn't played in years. It was a really great day spent doing things we'd never done before, and sharing that with new friends. 

Alyssa made us a fabulous supper and then, not long after we finished our first supper, Katie Ball brought out her raclette and made us a second supper! Katie was kind enough to share some deer meat as well as bear bacon. We grilled the meat and veggies and melted the cheese below. I was apprehensive to try the bear bacon, but I am so glad I did because it was fabulous—so much better than pork bacon! We sat around and ate for hours; both suppers were wonderful.

Bear bacon and veggies on the raclette!

Some of us headed out to see if we could capture the northern lights the second night, but it was mostly cloudy. We all headed to bed, exhausted after another fun-filled day.

I got up on Sunday morning feeling sad that our weekend was coming to an end. Fortunately, we had another day left of exploring and photographing in the bush. Katie Ball, from Silver Cedar Studio is a trapper and she gave a really interesting talk on trapping in Northwest Ontario, one of the oldest activities in Ontario. 

Next, we split up into two groups. One group went with Breann, who taught us how to light a fire with a ferro rod. The other group was with Alyssa, who taught us how to take portraits. Christina was the one who got the fire lit! 

Christina trying to make a spark
Catching fire!

This weekend in the bush with Alyssa and a bunch of great women was just what I needed. If you can spare a weekend away, I highly recommend attending a BushWoman Workshop.

This May, BushWoman Workshops is holding a day workshop on Lake of the Woods focused on foraging for food, antler shed hunting as well as fishing. You can follow Bushwoman Workshops on Facebook or Instagram to learn more! 

About Erin Rody

I grew up on Black Sturgeon Lake in Northwestern Ontario. I am a staff writer for the Sunset Country Travel Association. Through my articles I hope to entice you to visit the wonderful region I call home. We are all about outdoor adventure; with 70,000 lakes and rivers and a whole lot of forests how can we not be? Whether you like to fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, boat or go camping, Sunset Country has something for you. Enjoy!

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