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The Insider Blog

Every destination has it’s iconic and time-honoured “must see and do” experiences that exemplify what a place is all about…this blog isn’t about those things.

The Peterborough & the Kawarthas Insider blog is written by locals and folks with connections to the area who have a genuine love for this place and are eager to spill the beans about the fresh, natural and inspiring experiences you probably didn’t know about.

Meet the Insiders

Portarit of a person on a rock in front of a body of water

Tim Johnson

Always in search of a new adventure, Canadian travel writer Tim Johnson has visited 145 countries on all seven continents, contributing articles to some of North America’s most influential publications, including The Globe and Mail, CNN Travel, National Geographic, Bloomberg, the Toronto Star, AFAR, The New Yorker and many others. While he’s wont to roam, he was born and raised in Peterborough, and always loves to return home and explore familiar, but much-loved territory in the Kawarthas.

black and white portrait of a person wearing a hoodie

Michael Hurcomb

His formative years found him with a guitar on his lap and a darkroom in the basement. Michael Hurcomb, named in Canada’s Top 20 music photographers – (NXNE Festival), has forged his way into the industry by fusing his passion and first hand knowledge of the underbelly of rock ‘n roll with his life long love of the still photograph. Only this marriage of influences could teach the artistry of taking the multi-sensory experience of a stadium concert and capturing it’s very essence in only two dimensions. Whether shooting concerts, celebrity portraits, fashion or commercial work Michael keeps his lens focused not only on framing moments but stealthily edging between these moments, flexing his impeccable sense of timing and his eye for a most unusual beauty. Michael has successfully incorporated film into his portfolio, shooting, directing and producing segments for Gibson Guitars, Corbis Motion & Trent University, music videos and documentaries for Martin Sexton and Ladies of The Canyon, and four seasons of the web based music series “Bandwagon”. He’s currently directing and producing “The Radius Project”, a documentary about the wealth of musical talent that came from the Peterborough area.

Smiling person wearing cycling gear

Kieran Andrews

Kieran has been a leader in the Peterborough business community for over 25 years. With a passionate belief that business should build community he and his partner have used Wild Rock Outfitters as a conduit to enrich Peterborough’s outdoor community, clubs and culture. A passionate cyclist, Kieran has explored and mapped every corner of Peterborough County. Pavement, gravel backroads and the tiniest road allowances all get the thumbs up when Kieran is leading a ride. Often a resource for visiting riders as well as local policy-makers Kieran spearheaded the creation of both a local cycling map and the Peterborough and the Kawartha Classics.
Although the proud founder of the now 500 member Peterborough Cycling Club Kieran also finds calls for his expertise and experience from farther afield. Since 2017 Kieran has been a member of the Shimano Gravel Alliance helping to bring his years of gravel cycling experience to both the creation of better gravel cycling equipment as well as encouraging riders to explore more than ever before. Working part of each year as a cycling guide in Europe Kieran has a special appreciation for coming home. “Watching the seasons unfold as I ride the quiet, rolling roads of Peterborough and the Kawarthas never gets old”, says Kieran.

Portrait of Briagh, Bretton, and a child

Briagh & Bretton

Since our return from Chile to the Kawarthas in 2012 we have cofounded The Land Canadian Adventures, won the Bears’ Lair Entrepreneurial competition, been married and had our first child- the incomparably adorable Lily Maeve. We do love an adventure! Our small business specializes in all-inclusive, four-seasons, day excursions, overnight trips and outdoor team building in the Kawarthas’ most beautiful locations. Canoeing when the water is open and trekking by snow shoe during the winter months. Working with international students teaching English as a Second language both abroad and in Canada has allowed us to learn so much about the cultures, languages and philosophies from all over our planet, and Bretton continues to learn and work as a teacher in Trent University’s International Program. We are committed to sharing what we love most about living in Peterborough & the Kawarthas as a young family with people from around the world or around the corner.

A person wearing a bandana on their head stands under a tent in a forest

Kevin Callan

Kevin Callan is the author of fifteen books, including the best selling “The Happy Camper”, and the incredibly popular series of paddling guides. On a regular basis, he presents across North America and the U.K. and has been a key speaker at all the major outdoor events for over 25 years.Callan is also a frequent guest on radio and television and a regular contributor and columnist for Explore and CanoeRoots Magazine. He is a winner of several National Magazine Awards and film awards and was just listed one of the top 100 modern day explorers by the Canadian Geographical Society. He was also made Patron Paddler for Paddle Canada.

two people smike in front of a body of water

Jay & Jennifer

Jay Nutt is the former owner and long-time Chef of Nuttshell Next Door Café in Lakefield, Ontario. A graduate of NAIT’s Culinary Arts program, he has worked and traveled across the country with stops at Jasper Park Lodge, Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, and the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown. Professional Home Economist Jennifer MacKenzie is a freelance food writer, recipe developer, tester and editor, and media spokesperson. Jennifer is the author of six cookbooks, and writes regularly for websites and publications such as the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine. Jennifer has tested and recipe-edited over one hundred cookbooks on every subject from soup to coconut. Jennifer and Jay live on a little piece of Kawartha waterfront in Buckhorn, Ontario with their dogs, Diva and Benny.

A smiling person sits on rocks in front of a body of water

Doug O’Neill

“The best way to connect with locals and tap into the ‘real flavour’ of a destination is to ask where you can get a hair cut, buy shoe laces, get a good coffee outside city centre or what’s the shortest route to the bus depot. If none of those work, simply ask where you can buy an adaptor for your mobile phone. Trust me, you’ll be sent in every direction under the sun – and isn’t that the best way of discovering a place?” O’Neill, originally from a small Ontario hamlet called Phelpston (“it boasted a population of 139 when I left town after high school”) but now based in Toronto, also appreciates the benefit of having local connections. “If I catch wind that the second cousin of my neighbour’s daughter’s mechanic lives in a place, I’m on the phone the minute I arrive,” says O’Neill, who discovered (much to his surprise) that he had various connections to Peterborough & Kawarthas which he’s been using to get the inside scoop on our region. “My cousin ended up working in Peterborough for a while, my best friend went to Fleming College in Peterborough and ended up buying a house there, and one of my hiking pals is close friends with the owner of a local Peterborough cafe… Trust me, those connections are better than any guide book!”

A smiling person stands in front of a white background

Ann Douglas

Ann Douglas moved to Peterborough when she was five months pregnant with her first child. That was 27 years ago. Since that time, Ann has raised four children with her husband and high school sweetheart and established herself as Canada’s most trusted pregnancy and parenting book author. Expect Ann’s trademark mix of humour and no-nonsense advice in her must-read contributions to our blog.

A smiling man holds a freshly caught fish

Andrew Shufelt

Before relocating to Peterborough & the Kawarthas Andrew was an investment banker working in the heart of Canada’s financial district. These days instead of navigating the concrete jungle of Toronto, Andrew can now be found ‎navigating the 134+ lakes that are found in the Kawartha region; plying these waters for bass, walleye and the occasional muskie. He can also be found competing in numerous fishing tournaments in Ontario and the United States. He is a writer, photographer, blogger and host of CHEX TV’s Casting With Kids. Professional memberships include OFAH, BASS, FMZ 17 Advisory Council, and president of the CBAF Lindsay Club. You can follow his fishing successes and failures on facebook and twitter.

Most Recent Insider Article

  • Black Honey: Barn, bakery, café and secret garden, right downtown
    sandwich and salad

    Black Honey: Barn, bakery, café and secret garden, right downtown

    Black Honey 217 Hunter St. West There’s a lot of life sprouting in the heart of the Hunter Street Café District. Right in the middle of downtown Peterborough, you’ll find…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson

Browse all Insider’s articles

  • 48 hours in Peterborough and the Kawarthas – Weekend Feature
    a plate of nachos

    48 hours in Peterborough and the Kawarthas – Weekend Feature

    A diverse city packed with green spaces and good eats, surrounded by hundreds of lakes and rivers and creeks and canals (and villages and marinas and parks), taking a single…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • A Day in the Life of a Farmers’ Market Farmer
    farmers market

    A Day in the Life of a Farmers’ Market Farmer

    6:25AM There’s a glimpse of pink through the gray clouds hovering over the dimly lit cornfield. Heavy dew and mist blankets the farm as I drive into the lane of…

    Jay Jennifer By Insider Jay Jennifer
  • An Insider’s Guide to Motel Living
    happy motel staff

    An Insider’s Guide to Motel Living

    Ever wonder what it would be like to spend a couple of weeks living in a motel? My family and I had the opportunity to find out for ourselves last summer. We…

    Ann Douglas By Insider Ann Douglas
  • Back to the land: Kawarthas is for Nature Lovers
    man standing infront of a sign in forest

    Back to the land: Kawarthas is for Nature Lovers

    “Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before dawn.” I wonder if George Washington Carver, the botanist who’s credited with that quote, would mind if I tweaked…

    Doug ONeill By Insider Doug ONeill
  • BBQ & Brews
    someone eating ribs

    BBQ & Brews

    With warm weather, our thoughts tend to drift to cold beer and barbecued food. Instead of travelling south, head to the Kawarthas where our established and growing craft breweries are…

    Jay Jennifer By Insider Jay Jennifer
  • Black Honey: Barn, bakery, café and secret garden, right downtown
    sandwich and salad

    Black Honey: Barn, bakery, café and secret garden, right downtown

    Black Honey 217 Hunter St. West There’s a lot of life sprouting in the heart of the Hunter Street Café District. Right in the middle of downtown Peterborough, you’ll find…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Brothers, can you play me a tune?
    man with a drink

    Brothers, can you play me a tune?

    “The easiest way to find good live music in Peterborough?” said Ryan. “Just stick your head out your front door and you’ll find it!”

    Doug ONeill By Insider Doug ONeill
  • Fantastic Fall Fishing
    a boat in a lake with forest

    Fantastic Fall Fishing

    People often ask me, “When is the best time to go fishing?” and my usual reply is, “Anytime you can!” And I mean it. I can’t remember a time I…

    Andrew Shufelt By Insider Andrew Shufelt
  • Five Reasons Fall Paddling in the Kawarthas is the Best
    two people canoeing on a river

    Five Reasons Fall Paddling in the Kawarthas is the Best

    As Champagne is to France, Darjeeling is to the Indian Himalaya and Islay single malt is to Scotland, so is canoeing to Peterborough & the Kawarthas. Peterborough is the birthplace…

    Briagh Bretton By Insider Briagh Bretton
  • Four free (or nearly free) family getaways
    colorful sign in a garden

    Four free (or nearly free) family getaways

    Looking for ways to stretch your family vacation dollar just a little further? Here’s the scoop on four area day trips that are big on fun, easy on the budget,…

    Ann Douglas By Insider Ann Douglas
  • Four Ways to Experience Peterborough & the Kawarthas
    a variety of different activities

    Four Ways to Experience Peterborough & the Kawarthas

    From dining at sophisticated sidewalk cafes in the heart of town, to finding the sky after skimming along the surface of a big lake, Peterborough and the Kawarthas offers a…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Hot Tips for Kawartha Ice Fishing
    person holding fish on frozen lake

    Hot Tips for Kawartha Ice Fishing

    Are you looking for a new outdoor adventure to try this winter? If you like to exercise, sun and fresh air then ice fishing might be right for you. There…

    Andrew Shufelt By Insider Andrew Shufelt
  • Island Cream Caribbean Cuisine: Dining around the world in Peterborough and the Kawarthas
    store front

    Island Cream Caribbean Cuisine: Dining around the world in Peterborough and the Kawarthas

    227 Hunter St. West, Peterborough It’s a place packed with flavour. Located in the extreme southern reaches of the Caribbean, just off the coast of South America, Trinidad is green…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • It’s Cold Outside (But that’s not a bad thing)

    It’s Cold Outside (But that’s not a bad thing)

    There are two types of winter people. Those who see 30cm of snow in the forecast and rejoice at the fun they’re going to have and… those who do not.…

    Michael Hurcomb By Insider Michael Hurcomb
  • Jasmine Thai: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas
    statues

    Jasmine Thai: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

    195 Simcoe St., Peterborough https://www.jasminethai.ca/ The beating heart of any Thai town or city, night markets are the place where people gather—and feast. Under bright lights on poles and strung…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Kawartha Bass Tournaments
    a bunch of boats in lake

    Kawartha Bass Tournaments

    There is a bass tournament on a Kawarthan lake every weekend throughout the summer. Some are friendly 6-12 boat local bass club get-togethers, others are high-stakes Pro/Am events with over…

    Andrew Shufelt By Insider Andrew Shufelt
  • Kawartha Cycling (Two) Daycation
    woman cycling down country road

    Kawartha Cycling (Two) Daycation

    A Kawartha Cycling “daycation” is something special that riders can fit into one day… or two.

    Kieran Andrews By Insider Kieran Andrews
  • La Hacienda: Dining around the world in Peterborough and the Kawarthas
    brick building

    La Hacienda: Dining around the world in Peterborough and the Kawarthas

    190 Hunter St. West, Peterborough https://www.lahaciendaptbo.com/     Sandra Acriniega never intended to move to Canada, or open a Mexican food restaurant—but that’s exactly what happened. Growing up in Guadalajara, capital…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Only in Peterborough and the Kawarthas
    lift locks in spring

    Only in Peterborough and the Kawarthas

    Five completely unique, bucket-list experiences you’ll only find here. Just a short drive from Toronto, when you get to Peterborough and the Kawarthas, you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world.…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Paddling Routes in the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
    a lake with forest

    Paddling Routes in the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

    Have you ever noticed what happens to the landscape about a half-hour’s drive north of Peterborough, as you pass Buckhorn or Burleigh? The stratified limestone that supports the Saint Lawrence…

    Briagh Bretton By Insider Briagh Bretton
  • Pastry Peddler: Sweet and savoury freshness, on two wheels
    store front

    Pastry Peddler: Sweet and savoury freshness, on two wheels

    Pastry Peddler 17 King St., Millbrook Sitting next to the four corners in charming village of Millbrook, it’s an easy drive to find this café, housed in a graceful historic…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Persian Empire: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas
    cooking machinery

    Persian Empire: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

    636 Queensway Ct., Peterborough https://www.persianempire1.com/ Set in a nondescript, low-slung building in a semi-industrial area, just a couple blocks off the hustle and bustle of Lansdowne Street’s commercial strip, sits…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Publican House: Legendary beer and super-local cuisine
    store front

    Publican House: Legendary beer and super-local cuisine

    The Publican House 294 Charlotte St. Mention Publican House to most locals, and they’ll think of one thing—beer. Long a legendary pub location, the place now makes some of the…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Rare: Hyper-local, and more than just steaks
    someone preparing steak

    Rare: Hyper-local, and more than just steaks

    Rare 166 Brock St. Once, this downtown favourite made its name on excellent steaks. But after Tyler and Kassy Scott took over about two years ago, they decided to broaden…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Rolling Grape: Big hills and robust flavours, on the family farm
    2 people drinking wine on swings

    Rolling Grape: Big hills and robust flavours, on the family farm

    “We always talk about farm to table,” says Jon Drew. “But there’s not many farms where you can actually sit at the table.” But that’s the routine at Rolling Grape…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Shafiq’s Taste of India: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas
    elephant statue

    Shafiq’s Taste of India: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

    301 George St. South, Peterborough https://shafiqstasteofindia.com/ It’s long been a staple on the steaming streets of Mumbai and Delhi and Dhaka, where a steady and seemingly unending flow of traffic…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Spring into Fishing – Early Season Tips
    little boy fishing

    Spring into Fishing – Early Season Tips

    No bugs, no water-skiers, no pleasure-boats and a pristine lake all to yourself; it is no surprise that fishing insiders know spring is a great time to get out fishing.…

    Andrew Shufelt By Insider Andrew Shufelt
  • St. Veronus Cafe and Tap Room: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas
    wood sign

    St. Veronus Cafe and Tap Room: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

    129 Hunter St. West, Peterborough https://www.stveronus.com/ They’re an institution across Belgium—and in particular, the city of Antwerp. Flemish to the core, “brown cafes” (sometimes known as “brown bars”) are a…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • The Favourite Greek: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas
    brick building

    The Favourite Greek: Dining Around the World in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

    360 George St. North, Peterborough http://www.favouritegreek.com/ Chios is everything you imagine when you picture the Greek Islands. Located in the North Aegean Sea, the colours are profound, the bright blue…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • The Villages of Peterborough County
    a road with fall trees

    The Villages of Peterborough County

    Get in your car and trace two-lane country roads, winding through a series of the province’s most charming—and surprising—small communities. Road trips provide some of travel’s greatest pleasures, even if…

    Tim Johnson By Insider Tim Johnson
  • Twelve minutes yet a million miles away
    water and forest

    Twelve minutes yet a million miles away

    Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is the largest provincial park south of Algonquin. If you enjoy canoe trekking or back country camping you may have already visited to take in the…

    Jay Jennifer By Insider Jay Jennifer
  • Winter Camping in the Kawarthas
    chid looking through round hole of a camping tent

    Winter Camping in the Kawarthas

    In ice we trust, in snow we must, go camp in frozen country. With axe and saw for timber is law, to make our homes more comfy. -Traditional It’s still early…

    Briagh Bretton By Insider Briagh Bretton
  • Winter Road Trip
    man sitting on a bench covered with ice in a partially frozen pond

    Winter Road Trip

    Google Search has no word for people like me – someone who is the opposite of a ‘Snow Bird.’  I don’t flee winter in search of sun, sand and swim-up…

    Doug ONeill By Insider Doug ONeill