Join us for a summer writing retreat in St. Martins, a timeless New Brunswick fishing village
A week by the beach in summer is a balm for the soul, and for some writers, summer is the only time of year they can call their own to focus on the craft.
From the friendly, peaceful surroundings of St. Martins—a fishing village on the East Coast of Canada—to a trip back in time to a 19th century living museum, and a journey through the lush, green hills and windswept beaches of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you’ll experience some of the best of what our home province has to offer.
Costs start at $2,995 CAD per person (approx. $2,215 USD), all taxes and meal gratuities included. See below for details.
If you’re looking for an authentic experience in the Maritimes, join us for a week-long writing retreat in the picturesque village of St. Martins, New Brunswick, on the shores of the Bay of Fundy.
Join authors Dr. Gerard Collins and Janie Simpson this summer for a focused writing retreat in the East Coast Maritimes from July 7-14, 2024. We’ll spend eight days at the St. Martins Country Inn, booked for our writers’ exclusive use.
Having private use of the historic estate will allow us to settle in quickly, and the genuine Maritime hospitality encourages a creative atmosphere that’s naturally conducive to writing, relaxing, and inspiring conversations.
For this entire week in St. Martins, you can write every day and live life to the fullest, all while your mind, body, and soul rest for a while. In the Maritimes, the concept of giving it all up and heading somewhere nice for a wee bit is about as good as life gets—exactly what we’re offering with this retreat in which the only drama permitted will be what comes out in your writing or is conjured up by the wild Atlantic Ocean, in concert with spectacular sunsets and rugged hills.
As a Go and Write! participant, your only job is to focus on your writing, absorb the peaceful atmosphere of New Brunswick, and make memories to weave into your storytelling once you’re back home. Our job is to create the conditions that will help you reach these goals.
About your hosts
A note from a recent retreat participant
“It is not an exaggeration to say this retreat changed my life! I have been struggling for years to finish a personal memoir draft. Just a few days on our retreat, and my writing and I turned a corner. I had the breakthrough that had eluded me for years. The combination of Gerard’s insightful guidance, the support of the other writers who became instant soulmates, and the Irish tradition of storytelling in an 18th century castle proved to be life-changing.
“I am close to finishing my memoir draft, and I give all credit to Go and Write! for providing the environment that enabled me to write and organize my thoughts. I have opened myself up to the possibilities ahead, and I’m feeling better about my writing than I have in years.
“My deepest thanks to Gerard and Jane…”
~ Gloria R.B., Go and Write! alumnus
A New Brunswick renaissance
Just as impressive as the landscape and geography are the accomplishments of artists in the province as New Brunswick arts and culture in the early 21st century is enjoying a rebirth.
The capital city of Fredericton has a long history with artistic achievement, and the Miramichi region has been celebrated in literature and song for decades. Now, southern New Brunswick—places like Alma, Saint John, St. Martins, and Sussex’s AX Arts and Culture Centre (Janie was the founding Executive and Artistic Director there)—are joining the fray, becoming a haven for writers, photographers, musicians and visual artists. The regional identity of farming, lumbering, and fishing folk has expanded to include the arts as a feasible, respected way of life in rural areas.
The literary history of New Brunswick, which is rooted in poets such as Charles G.D. Roberts and his cousin Bliss Carman, has grown with the likes of Alden Nowlan and Northrup Frye, and flourished under present-day poets Allan Cooper, Sue Sinclair, Jennifer Houle, M. Travis Lane, Lynn Davies, and Michael Pacey. Novelist David Adams Richards stands tall as the most renowned of today’s New Brunswick writers, but a plethora of others also stand out, from Beth Powning and Sheree Fitch to Riel Nason, Carla Gunn, and our own Gerard Collins and Janie Simpson.
The singers and songwriters of New Brunswick raise their voices in the forms of Stompin’ Tom Connor, Measha Brueggergosman-Lee, Roch Voisine, Jeremy Dutcher, and Brent Mason, who have stamped their indelible image on the musical landscape of the region and the country.
These days, the path for the arts in New Brunswick is clear: there’s something in the water and the land that makes this area unique, and the literature and arts are not only rising to the occasion but are showing the way.
We couldn’t possibly highlight all of those who have helped shape the New Brunswick arts scene over the years, but we hope we’ve given you a small taste of those who’ve contributed to the overall artistic landscape of the province.
St. Martins Country Inn, built in the mid-1800s
St. Martins Country Inn, our home for a full week this July, is a testament to the wooden shipbuilding history that made the village what it is today. The historic home, which we’ll have all to ourselves, was built in the mid-1800s by David and Rachel Vaughan, a prominent shipbuilding family in the area.
The Inn is situated in the quieter part of this already serene village, and is directly across the road from the iconic Bay of Fundy.
At the beach, time you enjoyed wasting, is not wasted. —T.S. Eliot
Go and Write! retreat participants range from beginning writers who want to start jotting down their thoughts, to experienced writers who’ve published extensively. Previous attendees include playwrights, poets, novelists, television producers, short story and memoir writers, and everything in between.
Writers can register as individual participants or bring someone to share their room and costs. This second person can also be a non-writing spouse or guest, and some bedrooms are equipped with two beds. We do not pair strangers on our retreats, and numbers will be limited to approximately 16 participants on this writing retreat to allow for a more intimate, connected, and focused experience.
We often have non-writers join us on retreats, and they’re welcome to participate in as few or as many of the writing activities as they wish. These folks are invited to join us for all of the meals, readings, and any outings that are part of the program, as these elements are included in everyone’s registration.
There are several common living and sitting rooms in the inn, and there’s a collective energy that permeates these spaces when like-minded souls are quietly focused on creating.
We will host private group readings on some evenings throughout the retreat, where you’ll have the chance to share your writing with your fellow participants, if you like—without pressure.
We will also have two group writing sessions guided by Gerard, an award-winning author and university educator, and each participant will have two one-on-one chats with Gerard as well, where you’ll have the opportunity to talk with him about your writing projects, goals, and challenges.
Breakfast each morning is included in your registration, and we’ll also have five group suppers during our week-long stay.
Rooms at the St. Martins Country Inn—upgrades available
All of the rooms at the inn are lovely, roomy, and tastefully decorated, in keeping with the historic nature of this fine country house, and each room is equipped with a table and chair suitable for writing.
There are inexpensive room upgrades available at the St. Martins Country Inn for those who wish to have additional luxuries and space for our 8-day stay, and rooms will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Below, we have incorporated some photos and general room descriptions from the inn’s website.
Rooms #3, 4, 5, and 6*
Full of charm, these rooms have views of the gardens and Queen beds, and are decorated with a nod to the history of the inn. These rooms also include ensuite bathrooms with a tub and built-in shower, complimentary toiletries, and bathrobes. A television, mini-fridge, coffee and tea station, and Wi-Fi are also included.
*The starting price for your retreat is based on one of these standard rooms.
Rooms #11 and 12
Both of these rooms are on the ground floor and have exterior ramp access, so are ideal for those who’d prefer to avoid stairs whenever possible. They boast a large sitting area and an ensuite bathroom with shower, complementary toiletries, and bathrobes. A television, mini-fridge, coffee and tea station, and Wi-Fi are also included.
These rooms share a balcony that overlooks the Bay of Fundy, and each guest has their own patio table and chairs, great for outdoor writing.
Carriage Rooms 14, 15, 16, 17
The Carriage House is steps away from the main inn, and each of these rooms have a private, bay view balcony, a tub with a built-in shower, and a mix of Queen and King beds.
All of these rooms include complimentary toiletries and bathrobes, a television, mini-fridge, coffee and tea station, and Wi-Fi.
Rooms #7 and 10
Rooms #7 and 10 are large and tastefully decorated. Room #7, with its two Queen beds, is perfect for a pair of writers who wish to share a room to cut down on costs or for a writer who likes a lot of space to spread out. It also has a shared balcony with a view of the Bay of Fundy and an ensuite bathroom with a tub and shower.
Room # 10 has a King bed and an ensuite bath with a Jacuzzi tub and handheld shower, and air conditioning. It also boasts a working electric fireplace, great in case there’s an evening chill off the bay or when the village is socked-in with fog.
Both of these rooms also include complimentary toiletries and bathrobes, a television, mini-fridge, coffee and tea station, and Wi-Fi.
Bay View Premier Room #2
This Premier Room has a four-poster Queen bed, an ensuite bathroom with a tub and hand-held shower, and air conditioning. It also boasts a large, separate sitting area, as well as a working electric fireplace, great for an evening chill or fog off the bay.
This room also includes complimentary toiletries and bathrobes, a television, mini-fridge, coffee and tea station, and Wi-Fi.
Bay View Premier Room #1
Bay View Premier Room #1 is a beautiful, bright room with a King size bed and an ensuite bathroom with a tub and built-in shower. It features a large bay window that—fittingly—looks out of the expansive Bay of Fundy.
This room also includes complimentary toiletries and bathrobes, a television, mini-fridge, coffee and tea station, and Wi-Fi.
Again, rooms will be allocated on a first-come, first served basis—see below for upgrade rates.
Welcome to the Village of St. Martins, on Canada’s East Coast
The average temperature in St. Martins in July is about 20°Celsius, or 68°Fahrenheit—the breeze off the Bay of Fundy keeps things cooler in the heat of summer, and sometimes there’s fog, too, which adds an air of mystery to the village and beaches and often burns off by lunchtime. As with any East Coast region, it’s a good idea to think in layers when you’re packing your suitcase!
Take a walk on the wild side—things to do in St. Martins
St. Martins is home to not just one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In fact, a short walk from our historic inn, you’ll find the St. Martins sea caves, the only place in Canada where it’s possible to stand in a UNESCO biosphere and a UNESCO geopark at the same time.
You can wander right in when the tide goes out about a half kilometre—just be sure and return home before the tide does! As long as you pay attention to the turn of the tide, you can walk along the ocean’s hard-packed floor where only minutes ago, the sea had resided.
If you think you might want to explore the St. Martins Sea Caves from the water, the folks at Bay of Fundy Adventures (formerly Red Rock Adventure) offer guided kayaking tours, and when you wrap up your adventure, you can check out the Shipyard Café with its indoor and outdoor seating, coffee, organic tea, and baked goods—a great place to capture your thoughts.
And when it’s time for a rest, you can just sit on the beach and take it all in, watch as kayakers paddle by, clouds and seagulls drift across the sky, and the sun glints on the crests of waves. Maybe the fog rolls in—in fact, some days, the fog definitely rolls in—and washes out the world’s rough edges, wrapping you within a virtual cocoon.
If you’re looking for more information about the UNESCO designated region or want to do a deep-dive into the village’s wooden shipbuilding history, you’ll want to check out the Quaco Museum, which happens to be located just down the road from the St. Martins Country Inn. The origin of the name ‘Quaco’ is from the Mi’gmaq language and is spelled Goolwagagek, meaning ‘haunt of the hooded seal’.
All that, and covered bridges—two! New Brunswick is home to nearly 60 covered bridges, two of which happen to be in St. Martins. These bridges—once known as “kissing bridges” for the privacy they offered young couples in horse-drawn carriages as they crossed from one side to the other—harken back to a simpler time in rural Canada, even though the bridges are still in full use.
A covered bridge, according to the province’s tourism bureau, is a “timber-truss bridge with a roof and siding. These coverings extend the bridge’s lifespan by shielding it form the worst the Canadian winter can throw at it,” and were once an integral part of the fabric of daily New Brunswick life. The village of St. Martins is home to the province’s newest bridge, the only double-barrelled covered bridge in New Brunswick and one of a few in North America.
Meals in St. Martins
While the group will enjoy all of our breakfasts and five delicious suppers at our venue, we also like to build in room for writers to experience lunches and suppers solo, too. This freedom allows you to wander the village and enjoy an introspective meal on your own—we tend to do a lot of our own writing in pubs and cafés, and enjoy being lost in the anonymity.
With a population of 320 souls (up from only 276 people in 2016), the village of St. Martins is thriving these days, mostly thanks to tourism, but it’s also become a haven for artist types, including prominent photographers, painters, and writers.
The influx of creatives to the region explains the appearance of some new shops and watering holes such as Old Molly’s Bar, right across the street from our venue and named after Steam Engine #1 (nicknamed Old Molly), that ran from the village of St. Martins to Hampton. The bar is located in the former residence of one of Old Molly’s conductors.
We visited Old Molly’s last summer and were impressed with their charcuterie boards which feature locally-sourced foods like New Brunswick smoked salmon and Acadian sturgeon, smoked brisket, pepperoni, and sausage, as well as a wide selection of cheeses from New Brunswick dairy shops, such as Edam, peppercorn gouda, tonne, havarti, curds, and smoked cheddar. They also have a great selection of local craft beers, ciders, and wines, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and mock-tails. And fresh New Brunswick oysters!
A bit farther down the road is Spinney’s Seafood Market, known throughout the province as home to some of the best lobster rolls you’ll ever have the privilege of tasting.
Then there’s The Caves restaurant, with their “World Famous Chowder,” great Greek and Caesar salads, homemade soups, and an unmatched view of—you guessed it—the St. Martins sea caves, either from the patio or inside the restaurant.
Exploring New Brunswick
We couldn’t bring you to New Brunswick without showing you some of what our province has to offer, so we’ve arranged for two day trips: one closer to home so you can get a more complete feel for the Fundy coastline, and on another day, we’ll head inland to a living museum along the Wolastoq river.
Day Trip #1: The Fundy Trail Parkway
After we’ve had three days focused on our writing, we’ll board our private coach for a ride up the Fundy Trail Parkway so you can view the ocean, trees, and winding roads from a whole other perspective. The Fundy Trail is one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador. Besides being part of two UNESCO designated sites, the Fundy Trail marks the beginning of the “Fundy Footpath,” one of the top 50 hiking trails in the world.
There will be several opportunities to capture some incredible scenery of this rural paradise from the multiple observation decks and lookouts along the way. On this excursion, we’ll discover many of New Brunswick’s most spectacular sights, including beaches, forests, mountains, and waterfalls, and immerse ourselves increasingly into the New Brunswick lifestyle, which means a slower pace than what most of the Western world is used to.
Later that afternoon, we’ll return for supper followed by our own private Maritime kitchen party with a band called “The Seven-90s”, a group of musicians who play a mix of Irish, Celtic, and Maritime music.
Day Trip #2: Kings Landing Historical Settlement
Your mind and heart will be full after a day at this meticulous, living historic village that not only captures the essence of life long ago in a colonial community, but also offers a peaceful respite from the busyness of the modern world.
Re-entry into contemporary surroundings would be a bit jolting except, when the day is done, we’ll find ourselves back in the seaside village of St. Martins where we’ll settle in for supper and readings, music, or quiet conversation (depending on the mood) at our own 19th century inn by the ocean as the sun goes down and the soft lights of evening blink on.
Take some time this summer to devote yourself to writing
As writers, ourselves, we get it—it can be tough to find time to write. But that’s what’s so great about our writing retreats, and why our itinerary only has two day trips to explore the region: besides those two days—which will provide inspiration and allow you to get a real taste of New Brunswick—the rest of the time is spent focused on writing.
We’ll have two group writing sessions led by Gerard, and you’ll have two opportunities to discuss your work in progress and writing goals and challenges with him.
Writers appreciate the stimulation that comes from outstanding experiences, but we also need time to rest and think about it all, put distractions away and settle down to some serious writing.
Join us in New Brunswick for a week this summer to experience a writing retreat that combines a little bit of touring with a whole lot of writing.
All told, New Brunswick is the perfect place to find yourself in mid-summer as you seek solitude and respite from the world, and a sense of quiet and well-being you’ll find in few other places. There’s something different here in the big, blue sky and the surrounding oceans and forests that allows a person to breathe, to remember why you’re here, and to feel like your true self.
Nothing less than authenticity—that’s what you’ll find here in our home province. And if that leads you to write, then don’t say we didn’t warn you. You might find yourself wanting to come back over and over because, if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, when a writer finds a good place to write, it’s always best to go back there whenever you can. As any writer will tell you, in such places is where the magic dwells.
- 7 nights at St. Martins Country Inn with private bedroom/bathroom
- Private day tour of Fundy Trail Parkway and entry tickets
- Private day tour to Kings Landing Historical Settlement and entry tickets
- All breakfasts included each morning, plus five suppers
- A private Maritime “Kitchen” Party featuring traditional and contemporary music
- Two group writing sessions
- Two one-on-one chats with Dr. Gerard Collins
- Professional, honest, and thoughtful commentary on your pre-submitted writing sample from an award-winning author and university educator—helpful regardless of your writing level
- The company of other writers
- Group readings and conversation on several evenings
- Non-writing participants are welcome to take part in as few or as many of the elements of the retreat as they wish
- Ample time and opportunity for writing, idea-gathering, and solitude
A major difference between Go and Write! and most travel companies or writing retreats is the personalized aspect of our tours. We ensure there’s both social time and alone time built into the itinerary, as well as plenty of time for wandering and gathering thoughts in a solitary fashion. We encourage writers to give each other space, although social time is also guaranteed, if that’s what you’d like. Note, also, that we don’t compel strangers to share a room as most writers prefer solitude or, at most, the company of a friend or family member of their own choosing.
In all, we pride ourselves on being open and inclusive and, being writers ourselves first and foremost, we imagine the best writing retreat possible and try our best to deliver on that ideal.
Kind words from one of our 2022 retreat participants:
“I am beginning to reflect on the joy the trip has brought me… The tenderness and care you showed us was so evident in the choices of lodging, the comfortable bus rides, and the knowledgeable guides. It was your day-to-day presence, while checking on all of us, that was especially meaningful. I am not certain I can explain the impact, but I feel it has awakened a longing in me and an understanding of something deeper that was not previously there.”
~ Ann K., Go and Write! alumnus
Double occupancy, per person, sharing room, including taxes and meal gratuities = $2,995 CAD before room upgrade (approximately $2,215 USD)
Single occupancy: including taxes and meal gratuities = $3,595 CAD before room upgrade (approximately $2,660 USD)
Please note that there is NOT a surcharge for single travellers. The true cost of the retreat is based on the single price, but if you bring someone else, you share the room costs, which lowers the price per person. We do not pair strangers on our retreats, and numbers will be limited to approximately 16 participants on this writing retreat to allow for a more intimate, connected, and focused experience.
Costs start based on a Standard Room at the St. Martins Country Inn; rooms are allocated on first-come/first-served basis.
Upgrades for the St. Martins Country Inn based on the venue’s recommendations and costs
- Room #11, 12 upgrade: add $80 CAD total, including tax, for the full 7-night stay
- Carriage House Room #14, 15, 16, 17 upgrade: add $130 CAD total, including tax, for the full 7-night stay
- Room #7, 10 upgrade: add $160 CAD total, including tax, for the full 7-night stay
- Bay View Premium Room #2 upgrade: add $320 CAD total, including tax, for the full 7-night stay
- Bay View Premium Room #1 upgrade: add $400 CAD total, including tax, for the full 7-night stay
Contact us for more information and to reserve your space, and to see which room are available. We’re happy to answer all your questions by email, phone, or Zoom.
A non-refundable deposit of $1,200 CAD per person is due when you reserve your space. Final payment is due April 5, 2024. This date may be extended for late registrants.
Listed price is in Canadian dollars and includes taxes and meal gratuities; other gratuities are at participants’ discretion. We have estimated the price in US dollars for our American participants’ convenience, based on the rate of exchange at the time; the actual cost in American dollars will depend on the conversion rate at time of payment.
Note: Rates shown do not include credit card processing fees. For those paying by credit card, we will have to add 2.4% and the fee is non-refundable. For Canadians, we’re able to offer an e-transfer option to save you processing fees. For other registrants, we also accept international bank transfers; please research the processing fees charged by your bank as you’re responsible to pay those fees. Contact us for more information.
Some people choose to pay by credit card if it has an associated trip insurance policy. It is your responsibility to research and understand details around any insurance coverage associated with your credit card. Visit our Expectations, Rules, and Refunds page for more information about the importance of trip insurance.
Register by contacting us.
A few notes
Airfare is not included, and travellers are responsible for arranging their own flights. If you would like our assistance in arranging ground transportation between the airport and the venue, contact us; there may also be savings to be had if you wish to share transportation costs with another participant, just let us know if that’s of interest.
For those who are flying, the closest airport is the Saint John Airport, approximately a half hour (0.5 hrs) away from St. Martins. Note: Saint John Airport (YSJ) is NOT to be confused with the St. John’s Airport in Newfoundland—a lovely spot, to be sure, and Gerard’s hometown where we plan to host a retreat in 2025, but not where we’re hosting this retreat :-).
Airports and approximate distance to the St. Martins Country Inn
Saint John Airport: 0.5 hour
Moncton Airport: 1.5 hours
Fredericton Airport: 1.45 hours
Bangor Airport: 3.45 hours
We have partnered with Saint John Limo (not actual limousines, just very fine vehicles) to offer discounted rates to Go and Write! participants for airport transfers, and there may be an opportunity to share costs with another participant. Go and Write! participants who have traveled with this company in the past have told us how much they’ve enjoyed the professional and reliable service from owner Lorne Webster and his staff.
For those who fly into Saint John Airport and wish to stay overnight in the City of Saint John before or after the retreat, we have partnered with Chipman Hill Suites to offer a 15% discount off their regular rates to Go and Write! participants. We have enjoyed the hospitality at their historic locations ourselves, many times, and their Sydney Street location is a particular favourite; we even hosted a retreat there—just visit our Saint John 2020 webpage for some photos and memories of that Go and Write! retreat.
Check out our entire 2024 retreat lineup!
Additional locations we’re working on for 2025 and beyond:
A few additional notes
We are staying in a historic residence with no elevator; while there are two rooms with exterior ramp access, the St. Martins Country Inn is not fully accessible and participants will be required to use stairs. Rooms are assigned on a first-come, first served basis.
Travel cancellation, interruption, and health insurance is highly recommended. Participants are responsible to research the implications of travel restrictions at home and abroad before and at the time of travel. Ensure you have everything you need so you aren’t turned away from establishments or airports.
Your non-refundable portion of your deposit is 100% non-refundable. If you cancel up to 6 months before a retreat for any reason, any other payments you’ve made to us are returned to you, less the non-refundable deposit and payment processing fees. If you cancel from 4-6 months before a retreat, we will return 75% of any fees paid less your non-refundable deposit and payment processing fees. If you cancel within 4 months, any fees paid cannot be returned. If the retreat needs to be postponed, we will make every attempt to reschedule. We can only offer refunds if our providers also refund monies to us.
Due to contractual obligations with our suppliers, we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy, regardless of the reason.
All participants are required to review our Expectations, Rules and Refunds page and acknowledge agreement with the contents before registering for a Go and Write! retreat.