Experiencing "KaBa Kamp" at Ontario's Historic Forks of the Credit Inn
It’s funny, growing up in Toronto, I spent so much of my youth outdoors during winter, and yet in none of my memories am I ever cold.
I can remember the feeling of the snow on my oft gloveless hands, the whipping wind on my face during countless toboggan rides, and being in snow forts that I was sure would become my new form of accommodation. I remember the joy and the smiles, but I do not remember the cold.
As an adult, it’s easy for me to think about nothing but the cold, and, reflecting on that, I’m cognizant of the fact that the temperature hasn’t really changed since my youth, but perhaps my attitude has.
When I came across the opportunity to attend the Winter KaBa Kamp at the Forks of the Credit Inn, I quickly realized that this was the perfect opportunity for me to once again “forget the cold,” and also reconnect with a part of myself that I don’t want to lose. In recent years, I spent so much time living away from Ontario, and I actually missed the winter, so I owe it to myself to remember why that is.
When I met Bart, owner of the Forks of the Credit Inn along with his partner Karey, I knew we were on the same wavelength. He talked about his time as a relatively recent new owner of the inn and noted, “It’s kind of cliché, but we love all seasons up here, winter included. Up here…I just feel like I’m a bit more connected, I feel a lot more grounded.”
I want to tell you the story of how the Winter KaBa Kamp brought me back to a frame of mind I needed to reconnect with, and how this was the ideal weekend to do just that, - but let’s back up a moment, shall we?
The History of the Forks of the Credit Inn
Now, you know me - I wouldn’t dive into the history of the Forks of the Credit Inn unless there was a legitimately intriguing history to draw upon and, in this case, there surely is.
What I now firmly believe is one of the best inns in Ontario started from humble beginnings as a post office that was built in 1855. Shortly thereafter, someone realized this building had “beautiful inn” written all over it and, thus, in the late 1800’s it became “The Dewdrop Inn.”
My personal favourite iteration of this building (not including its current form as the Forks of the Credit Inn, of course) was in the early 1900’s when it was a general store that was actually all a rouse for the lively speakeasy that was hidden upstairs during prohibition.
Before Bart an Karey took charge, there was also the Cataract Inn, which was a popular restaurant in the Caledon area until 2006. About ten years after, Bart and Karey took charge. Funny enough, Bart mentioned to me that he visited the building in the 90’s and fell in love with the place and made a note that if he ever had the opportunity, he’d love to run the place one day. Well, I can tell you they’re doing a remarkable job. They’ve poured their heart and soul into revitalizing the historic aspects of the building, while providing all the modern amenities your heart could desire.
One morning, after breakfast, Bart looked over at me and said, “you know, the majority of the people who walk through the doors are so appreciative of the history of the building, and the area as well.” I remarked how wonderful that was, and asked how much work it was to ensure that people left happy with the experience and he let out a booming laugh and said, “it’s funny, people always ask if I’m retired, a common thing with older inn-keepers, and I always say, ‘nope! I’ve never worked this hard in my life!’”
I can tell you from personal experience that Bart is someone that does work hard to make sure everyone is happy, but loves nothing more than to see everyone happy, and, frankly, I can’t recall being anything but during the entire stay.
I should also note that the Forks of the Credit Inn is located in the hamlet of Cataract in Caledon, which means it’s only a hop, skip, and jump from Toronto.
So, What is “KaBa Kamp,” Anyway?
Firstly, the name “KaBa” is a lovely derivative of the first two letters of the names of Bart and Karey who are, of course, the current owners of the Forks of the Credit Inn. However, I can tell you as someone who has experienced it first hand, KaBa Kamp is a lot more than just a play on letters.
The best way I could describe it is to say that it’s a retreat for adults and, in this instalment, a winter retreat for adults. I’ll be getting to all this in some greater detail but, essentially, it’s a weekend focused on wellness where you’ve got a charming room, delicious meals planned for you, opportunities to get out into nature, regular intervals of different types of yoga, and even a shamanic healing session.
It’s a restorative weekend that, in sum, absolutely has to be considered one of the best yoga retreats in Ontario. They’ve got lots of retreats on the docket, but I appreciated the Winter KaBa Kamp because it challenged my perception of what winter getaways in Ontario could consist of. Sure, I’ve done a billion skiing weekends and so forth, but I didn’t know this was on offer, and I’m grateful that now I do. Suffice to say, my wife Briana and I will be back for another retreat, perhaps next time in the summer.
I loved Bart’s explanation of the formation of all of these retreats - I realized, at the heart of it, it’s about recapturing the joys of his childhood at camp. “A lot of people haven’t had the chance to go to camp, and I want people to enjoy what I got to experience as a kid - and that’s rewarding in itself. I mean, going back to simple things like sitting around a campfire, we take that kind of stuff for granted.”
Highlights of the Weekend at Winter KaBa Kamp
With all the ideas around camp, and the proximity of the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, this is more than simply a yoga retreat in Ontario, and as such, I thought I’d share the highlights. This way you can get a feel for what it was all about and perhaps why I’ve framed this whole experience as a return to something special I’m not sure I ever knew I was missing.
There are a lot of establishments that note they’re “near” an area of interest when it comes to nature, and you arrive only to find out that the waterfall, park, ski hill etc. is actually a twenty minute drive. That’s certainly not the case here, as the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is literally across the street.
As in, we put on our snowshoes at the Forks of the Credit Inn and walked a few feet to the gate of the provincial park kind of close.
The Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is stunning, and I’m frankly embarrassed that I hadn’t been up here before. Seeing as it’s on the Bruce Trail, I really should have been able to get up here earlier, but alas, now all I can do is encourage people not to make the same mistake and take advantage of this park. I should also note that the Credit River flows right through, which also offers some stunning scenery.
On Saturday morning, we went snowshoeing along a loop in the park, and it was one of the highlights of my winter. The snow was as fresh as a daisy, and there was something deeply satisfying about crunching through the snow. In a way, I feel quite connected to my inner-Canadian side in a pair of snowshoes, and I cherish that.
Believe it or not, I’ve been a fan of yoga for years and while I wouldn’t call myself a “yogi”, I also feel I have an understanding and respect for yoga after something like a hundred hours of practice. The yoga I participated in at the Forks of the Credit Inn was just special, and I say that for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there’s something about the location that is conducive to feeling open and connected. During our practice, we couldn’t hear anything but the instructor - there were no cars, no rush hour, no phones ringing, no anxiety. We also practiced in the front room which was carefully strewn with lit candles for yoga at night, as well as light pouring through the windows in the morning. Honestly, when it comes to yoga retreats in Ontario, you’re not going to do better than the Forks of the Credit Inn. The space is intimate and inviting, and the practice is for all skill levels.
Now, it’d be almost criminal to not give credit to our teachers as well. For much of our yoga, we were with Lindsay Vandenhurk from Discover Your Yoga, and she was just exceptional. She ran three classes with us which ranged from restorative yoga and a more energetic yoga flow, all the way to snowshoe yoga, which we all called “snow-ga” for short. No, I’m not kidding, we did yoga in the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park on a bridge over the river, and it was absolutely magical. It’s funny, but as with my childhood, I really can’t recall the cold during this. I was simply in another, welcomed place.
Lindsay deserves credit as someone who is extraordinarily perceptive, and knew how to cater to each and every one of us. There were six participants in the weekend in all, and she created a program that both challenged and suited us all in different ways. Most importantly, she exuded warmth, and I can’t say enough good things about her. She works regularly with the Forks of the Credit Inn, so if you do decide a retreat is for you, she might just be your teacher as well!
I also want to thank Robin, who also came in for one session that I know the group really appreciated. During moments of extended poses, she would read thought provoking quotes which helped to keep both the mind and body engaged. It was the first time I’d had two different teachers in one weekend, and it was something I personally cherished.
All that to say, If you like yoga, you’re going to like KaBA camp!
If this article is right up your alley, you’ll also appreciate my article on making the most out of winter in York Durham Headwaters or Bri’s article about winter in York Durham Headwaters as well!
Bart made sure we were never left wanting, I’ll tell you that much. The meals were always hearty but healthy and, importantly, sourced from the local community of Caledon and the surrounding area of Ontario’s Headwaters region.
For breakfast, we’d have things like freshly made scones, quiches that would blow your mind, fresh fruit, pastries and an unlimited stream of coffee. For lunch, it’d could be fresh sandwich meat, and endless charcuterie boards with cheeses, mustards, olives and soft bread. One night for dinner we had a mushroom chicken dish that stole my heart, alongside a homemade caesar salad, broccoli, and to top it all off, a sizeable slice of decadent cheesecake.
It’s a good thing we were so active, my friends, because otherwise I would have come home with a little potbelly, though it would be accompanied by absolutely zero regrets.
Perhaps this was the most important element of it all - the other people who embarked on this journey with Bri and I. What was magical about the weekend was that everyone was there for the same purpose, and that gave us a sort of inherent symbiosis. We grew, shared, and moved together throughout the weekend.
The main thing was that we all bought into the value of KaBa Kamp, and knew that this was much more than just your average yoga retreat in Ontario. I say that because there was a big mental aspect to all this, and we all developed a deep trust with each other. Will I see these four new wonderful people that I met that weekend again? I’m not sure, but I am sure that we’ll forever have a bond, as with our yoga teachers, the shamanic healer, and, of course, my buddy Bart.
The Shamanic Healer
When Andrea arrived on the Sunday with her quirky, bubbly energy, I’ll be honest that I was a little skeptical of what the next two hours were going to be all about. When we all sat down in a circle, though, and I saw the way she connected with a world that I’d yet to be attune to, I was really in awe. The whole ceremony to me was something intimate that all of us experienced together, so I don’t want to get into specifics, but I did want to mention one particular moment.
At one point, she looked over my left shoulder and mentioned that she felt the presence of my paternal grandfather, a man who I’ve never met, but whom I’m told I’m very much like. She said that he had his hand firmly on my shoulder and was telling me to finish the project that I started six years ago - that I had his permission.
The project that I started six years ago, but have left in limbo a bit as of late, is around creating a podcast with the several hundred war letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother. The idea is to get to know him with the listener, highlight the love my grandparents shared, and contextualize what ordinary Canadians were faced with during the war. I think about the project every single day, but for some reason I felt resistance - as if I might not do him justice. So, imagine hearing that…I was stunned, I am still am.
Last night, I began my research again, and I will make sure the podcast is released this year. I’m honestly getting emotional just writing about this, and my heart is beating with unbridled enthusiasm.
The Surrounding Area
Not far from the Forks of the Credit Inn, or Caledon for that matter, is the Alton Mill Arts Centre, which is built on the banks of Shaw’s Creek. They’ve got studio artists, galleries, cafes, and plenty of unique gifts for purchase. If you’re in the area, this is the perfect place to spend a few hours, regardless of the season. I wandered upstairs and found myself chatting to one of the painters, a woman by the name of Lynden Cowan. She painted striking scenery of our nation, and I was instantly enamoured. She’s actually a part of my highlights for the Forks of the Credit Inn weekend on Instagram. You can roll through them on my account (just click on the circle that says KaBa camp).
She even emailed me days after to say that she’d started her own Instagram page, and she’s really doing a marvellous job of populating her feed - I’m impressed! We have no shortage of talent in this province, and she’s a prime example of that.
It’s also worth stopping at the GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Co., which also isn’t particularly far from Caledon, Ontario, nor the Forks of the Credit Inn. They describe themselves as the first farm-to-barrel brewery in the Greenbelt, and I have no reason not to believe them. If you can, go in the warmer months to see their hops farm in full bloom, as it’s something to behold. GoodLot appears to be doing things the right way, and they’re expanding their operations, so watch out for them in the near future, and pop on by!
If you loved this piece, be sure to also check out my article on the Top Things to Do in Winter in Toronto, Winter Camping in Ontario or my article for York Durham Headwaters on Durham College’s W. Galen Weston Centre for Food
What Makes KaBa Kamp Special?
Everybody who is involved with KaBa camp comes from a place of sincerity. Bart and Karey are trying to preserve an historic building and pay respect to a simpler time. Lindsey and Robin are trying to remind us that the mind and body and intimately connected, and that’s a powerful thing to understand. Andrea is trying to remind us that there are worlds that we may not see, and that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
The whole experience, all of KaBa Kamp, was a series of important reminders to get back to understanding what’s important in this life. When was the last time I took a couple of days to separate from the hectic pace of daily life? Too long to remember, of that I know.
And that’s what KaBa Kamp is, in sum. It’s a chance to actively put your to-do list to the side and, for once, put yourself first. You’ll leave after the weekend, and swear you’d been there for weeks. With your shoulders relaxed, and a soft smile on your lips, you’ll leave, knowing much of what you learned won’t be left behind.
They fill up fast, so you may want to take a peek at availability! Not surprisingly, they’ve got a 9.8 on Booking! A small note that any bookings made through the below search box will indeed give me a tiny commission, but those things help keep this little blog of mine running smoothly.
I want to humbly thank York Durham Headwaters for hosting me as media. All opinions are my own. I also want to thank my good friend, Barry Best for his photography. Below, I’d love to know in the comments if you’ve stayed at the Forks of the Credit Inn before, or visited any of the sights in the article. For that matter, let me know what I should check out next in York Durham Headwaters an Ontario at large. As always, thanks for reading!
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