Writers’ Sanctuary near Toronto

“Some of my best work has evolved out of Sue Reynold’s Sanctuary Sundays. She provides a peaceful and nurturing setting, as well as experiential exercises to get the writing juices flowing and inspire the writer within. Sue herself is a beautiful, encouraging, and supportive presence (plus an excellent cook – lunch is included!). Sue has an innate talent for recognizing the jewels in each writer’s work. The effect of this one day lasts weeks, a door opened for future writing.” – Poet Annabelle Murray

When I was the mother of a young child I used to dream of having a place I could go to periodically to write. Not for too long – there was too much going on at home. But a day now and then – a few hours to devote to my poor book that so often got shunted to one side because of all the other demands of my life.

And then, as it has a habit of doing, my life changed. I moved into this cozy space in the woods full of bookshelves, a fireplace, a kitchen where the coffee pot is always ready to pour a cup or two, and a yard where the wildlife parades past the windows and serenades day and night (everything from blue jays and chickadees, juncos and nuthatches, to wild turkeys, deer, a weasel, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, wolves, and – just a couple of times in the spring – a black bear).

It’s a magical space and I realized I could share it with other writers and make those creative days I had once dreamed of happen, for myself and for other members of the writing tribe.

And so, Writers’ Sanctuary Sundays were born.

At a Sanctuary Sunday, we begin at 10:00 a.m. Writers are welcome to arrive a few minutes early to settle in, grab a coffee or tea, and muffin or some fruit and chat with the others.

The morning is spent doing a series of on-the-spot timed writing exercises to stretch those stiff writing muscles and get the creative writer in you feeling more relaxed, focused and perhaps even a little experimental.

After the delicious lunch (provided) the afternoons are spent in silent communion with other writers, working either on a computer or by hand on whatever project is preoccupying you as a writer these days. If you don’t have a laptop but want to work on a keyboard, you will be provided with a computer. Your Word file can be emailed to you at the end of the day.

Uplands is in a peaceful rural location, so you are also welcome to go out for a walk on quiet country lanes if you need a break. There’s even a couch or two if you need your afternoon nap for half an hour to wake up refreshed and ready to write some more!

Writing is over at 4:45 p.m. for those who need to get home, but if you wish to stay, there will be an opportunity to sit a while longer, to share some of what you’ve been working on and to debrief, discuss issues of craft, etc.

02 Morning visitor January 11 2009

Space is limited.

Place: Uplands – 10 km west of Port Perry, 10 km southeast of Uxbridge.
Click here for Sanctuary dates for 2014

Cost: $75. per Sanctuary, lunch included.

As I drove away from my first Sanctuary with Sue Reynolds I began to cry and the words came to my mouth, “I can do this. I can actually write.” I felt heard, respected and honoured in that circle of writers. But the most potent gift was the confirmation that what I longed to do was a possibility and not just a dream. Sue’s remarkable ability to not only recall whole phrases read from a long piece but the way she makes one’s own words shimmer with beauty and meaning as she turns them over in her mouth is an experience every writer and aspiring writer should have. When I look back over the novel I have just completed I notice that all of my favourite scenes begin with a prompt I received at Sanctuary. I am a reasonably self-motivated writer now, but a nourishing day at Sanctuary gives me the opportunity to share with other writers as well as devoted time to turn out usually at least dozen pages of work to launch me into the next phase of my work. — Novelist Deepam Wadds

Because Sanctuary dates are so popular, and because the group is limited in size, your registration is not confirmed until payment is received. If you prefer not to use Paypal, you can pay by emailing your payment or by cheque. The mailing address is:

Sue Reynolds
13240 Mast Road,
Port Perry, ON
L9L 1B5

To read what one participant wrote about the Sanctuary experience, please click here.

Sue takes me on a direct meditative plunge into the writing world with the added bonus of amazing food. I love writing in the quiet safety of Sanctuary. – Memoirist Anna G

The atmosphere of encouragement at Sue’s workshops and Sanctuary Sundays has enabled me to stretch and see myself as a creative writer while adding a whole new gunnysack of tools to my practice as an Expressive Arts Therapist. –Writer Jon O

Sanctuary Sunday’s with Sue Reynolds have become an integral part of my writing life. The rural environment is inspiring and the home-cooked lunches are delicious. But, it is Sue’s sensitivity as an artist and her encouraging voice in the safe space she has created that truly nourishes my “writing soul” and keeps me returning every month. – Writer Clare Bolton

Sanctuary is the place I come to let go of all my writing distractions. Here I can absorb the precious creative energy of my fellow writers and spend a quiet day writing and sharing my work. –Writer Theresa Dekker

Sue’s Writers’ Sanctuary feeds my soul and nourishes my spirit, I need it. It is a place where I can leave my baggage at the door or come in with it and just fall into myself and write. This space is calm, safe and relaxing and Sue’s writing prompts are gentle, yet powerful and effective. I am able to produce pieces I can use in a larger work or stand on their own. Because of Sanctuary Sunday, my writing is moving forward in ways that would not have been possible without it. I am grateful to be a part of Sue’s Sanctuary Sunday. – Memoirist Steph C

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In the summer of 2013 I was invited to do a TEDtalk on “Shining the light on our Changing Communities”. I talked about the therapeutic writing program I do with incarcerated women. You can view the talk here.

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