This is a story of a cabin. To be more specific, the Black Bear’s Den cabin at Silent Lake Provincial Park. But it doesn’t start with the cabin. It begins with a video course at Humber College, which I decided to take this January. Or maybe its origins are rooted in much earlier times marked with restlessness that led me to the Humber website in the first place in search of a distraction, something to get me out of the rut.
A cozy cabin at Silent Lake Provincial Park
The beginning, however, doesn’t really matter much so let’s get straight to the middle. After weeks of checking the Ontario Parks reservation page for a last minute cancellation, we finally managed to book a cabin at Silent Lake. We never stayed in a cabin at this park, only in a yurt, so we were excited to try it out.
Whenever we stay at a cabin or a campsite, they become more than just places to crash for the night. We grow attached to them in a few short days and always thank them when we leave. I know it sounds a bit Marie Kondo-is but in my imagination every cabin, every yurt, every campsite possesses a living memory, a spirit of sorts that is a combination of all the stories of adventurers and explorers that stayed there before us. Some places, like the Gitche Gumee cabin at Porcupine Mountains, get such a strong hold on us that we plan entire trips around another visit there.
The Black Bear’s Den cabin was still fresh, its story bank only just starting to fill up. But it became not only an inspiration but also an important character in our story.
A typical Ontario Parks cabin, except this one has bears, lots and lots of bears
Late Friday night we rolled onto a snow-covered road at Silent Lake. On my lap, I cradled my camera bag, with my faithful companion snuggled inside next to some audio equipment that I borrowed from work and had no idea how to use. In my pocket was a list of clips I had to shoot for my first video assignment: someone walking through the door, someone talking, background blurred, background in focus, someone moving and so on. The whole thing had to be about 30 seconds long and the clips didn’t even have to be connected so nothing particularly complicated, unless you consider that I’ve never done this before. As I stuffed our snow pants into a backpack in preparation for our trip (frigid temperatures were in the forecast), I tried to think of what I would shoot but nothing came to mind. All I knew it had to be done over the weekend or it wouldn’t get done at all once Monday comes. So there I was on a Friday night: my bag full of equipment and my brain empty of any ideas. But that’s the thing with stories. Sometimes they take on the life of their own, all you have to do is follow their lead.
Finally, Ontario Parks cabin with a name
We drove straight to our cabin, something you can’t do in all parks since a lot of roofed accommodations are walk-ins in the winter. While it was our first time at a Silent Lake cabin, we stayed at similar cabins at Killarney and Arrowhead so we expected the same setup. And in many ways it was. Table, chairs, a queen bed and a bunk bed, everything made out of wood. Fridge, microwave, an electric kettle, a BBQ outside, no coffee maker unfortunately. A gas fireplace, the usual stuff.
How many bears can you count?
This cabin was different, however. It had a name – Black Bear’s Den. Just a couple of weeks ago, in my previous post I suggested that Ontario Parks should start naming their roofed accommodations like they do in Quebec, and there it was – a cabin with a name. My husband joked that they must have read my post, saw that I was coming and quickly stuck a name plate above the door. Which wasn’t true, of course, because other cabins had names as well. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they are; the name signs were attached above the inner door so for me to find out would require peaking inside each and every one of them, which I am sure, wouldn’t be welcomed by their occupants. I guess one way to find out is to stay in all of them one by one. It was, however, a fun exercise to come up with names of our own like Beaver’s Lodge.
And it wasn’t just the name. The decor reflected the theme. There was an abundance of bears featured on the curtains, a picture above the bed, an artwork above the door, the base of a lamp. We counted 19 in total. Everything was pointing towards this video featuring a bear, somehow. So when I saw a stuffed toy in the park store, I knew it was meant to be.
Meet Paws, the newest member of our adventure team
The next morning started slow. We had breakfast, played Seven Wonders. Then Fancy Boots came for a visit with her Sister and the Kid. We played some more Seven Wonders. When they left, we started making dinner – stuffed onions, which were meant for a campfire but ended up in a BBQ instead.
Breakfast making time
It was a slow, relaxing day
Somewhere in between we kept shooting the required clips. We started with a video of my husband getting attacked by a bear at Black Bear’s Den and then it snowballed from there. Once he was attacked, he had to run away. One thing led to another and we ended up with a silly story with a surprising twist. My husband displayed a hidden acting talent and everyone had a lot of fun in spite of temperatures in negative 20s. You are welcome to watch it down below, or you can skip it entirely and scroll down for some actually useful information about Silent Lake cabins.
Cabins at Silent Lake
There are 10 cabins in total all located close to the park entrance and can be accessed in a car. The cabins are a little too close to each other for my taste but we enjoyed the view of the lake from our deck and close proximity to the comfort station. The comfort station has warm flush toilets (definitely a perk when it’s -20 outside), showers and a dishwashing station.
There are 10 cabins at Silent Lake, some are a little too close to each other
The cabin is heated with a gas fireplace controlled with a remote no less. We hardly ever used it, however: it was pretty toasty inside even though it was freezing cold outdoors.
As I already mentioned, each cabin has a queen bed and a bunk bed and can accommodate up to five people. There is table with a bench and two wooden chairs (plus five more plastic chairs on the veranda). A small kitchen area has shelving, a counter top, a fridge, a microwave and an electric kettle.
BBQ on the deck makes food preparation a breeze, quite literally since the temperature was in negative 20s
The entrance is with a code, which makes late arrivals very easy. You just have to call the park in advance. The park requires a $250 deposit, which you get back once the park staff inspect your cabin before you leave. This was a first for us but the whole process went smoothly. You just have to plan for it on the morning of your departure.
The view of frozen Silent Lake from our cabin
The park itself is a beauty in the winter. There are 19 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails but you have to bring your own equipment. You can also go snow shoeing or try ice-fishing. With all our video shoots, visits with friends and freezing temperatures, we didn’t do any of the usual winter activities. Yet it turned into a fun weekend even if with a bit of a twist.
Silent Lake offers lots of activities in the winter, canoeing isn’t one of them
To learn more about roofed accommodations in other parks in Ontario and beyond, check out this post.