Algonquin Park is an Ontario mecca for outdoor adventure and activities. Whether you’re a plaid wearing canoe carrying portage master, or a first timer dipping your feet into the world of interior camping. Algonquin Park has a lake, a trail, and a campsite for everyones needs. The question is where do you start? Who do you talk to about renting a canoe? And what will you need to know in order to make you camping experience in Algonquin a fun and memorable one. If you’re smart you’ll talk to the locals or someone who’s been around the park a while, and what better place to find some knowledgable travellers than at the Wolf Den Bunkhouse. The closest hostel to Algonquin Park. (We’re talking a stones throw by the way!) I honestly lucked out with this whole Wolf Den Hostel encounter. My travel companion and I had spoken about it, but knew we were short on nights in Algonquin Park, so we weren’t able to book an evening there. Bummer! Fortunately, after an amazing 5 hour guided canoe tour with Jamie Honderich, care of Algonquin Outfitters, we had the chance to explore this unique & inviting Ontario marvel. It wasn’t planned by all means. As luck would have it our canoe guide, who’s also a teacher, just so happened to be the original owner. This man literally built the Wolf Den from the ground up! Timbre by timbre. Jamie wanted us to meet the new owner Ben Teskey, unfortunately he was out running errands that particular day. We came across one of the staff members, who after hearing our little story was happy to let us tour the grounds snapping photos. Jamie was pulling double duty, not only had he shared his knowledge of the history and culture behind Canoe Lake & Algonquin Park, he was also telling us about how the Wolf Den came to be. As with most savvy business owners, Jamie saw a niche that nobody else had filled. The closest hostel to Algonquin Park at the time was the HI Maynooth. It wasn’t long before work got started on building a bunkhouse where international & domestic travellers could meet and congregate, winter or summer, and experience as much of Algonquin park as possible. Jamie took us through step by step what was built first, even going so far as to include where some of the wood came from. Turns out a lot of the wood came from his family farm, while some of the guard rails inside were just lucky finds during long hikes. We wandered around each building. Stepping on freshly fallen leaves, the smell of autumn surrounded this place. I watched as Jamie touched each building. He happily explained details about the building process of each log cabin. It was easy to see that he’d put a lot of heart and soul into this project. When I asked “Why did you sell it?“, he warmly replied “Running this place was a full time job, and ultimately family always comes first for me. It was time, and I still feel it was the right decision.” As we entered the Bunkhouse, Jamie told stories of parties & musical gatherings that he used to throw on the upper level of the Wolf Den Bunkhouse. The walls of this bunkhouse oozed Ontario. Snowshoes & cross country skis hung from the walls, and an old wooden canoe was propped above the rafters. A pile of instruments were setup in the corner of the room. Cozy doesn’t begin to describe this room. We climbed down the sturdy wooden stairs, through the large open kitchen, and found our shoes at the door. Jamie Honderich told us that if we ever make it back to Algonquin Park to be sure to stay a night at the Wolf Den. “You’ll have to meet Ben! Out of all the people that were interested in buying Wolf Den, he was the only one I could let myself sell to. He had a similar vision of what the Wolf Den is and what it can become; a safe, home away from home in one of nature’s most beautiful playgrounds.”
The Wolf Den Bunkhouse & Hostel is open year round for people of all age. Jamie Honderich now operates his own B&B with his partner Pam, check them out at Morgan House, just outside of Algonquin Park. Huge thanks goes out to Jamie for being the friendliest and most knowledgable guide I’ve ever had!