A Renaissance Paradise

Muskoka is an excellent environment to learn
Learning in Muskoka

by Jessica Sheppard

One of the beautiful things about Muskoka, beyond its striking natural environment, is the array of opportunities it offers residents and guests to develop their talents and interests. The area is quaint and quiet enough to provide a serene escape from a busy lifestyle, but accessible enough not to seem isolated. On one hand, opportunities for community engagement, recreation and socialization are readily accessible; on the other, reflection, peacefulness and mindfulness can be found. In many ways, it is the Renaissance Person’s paradise.

The concept of the Renaissance Person is based upon the ideal of education as a means of civic engagement. Historically, Renaissance People were gifted intellectually, physically, and artistically; they were well-rounded in their talents. The root was the belief – in the words of Leon Battista Alberti – that “man can do all things if he will.” It was felt that allowing citizens the agency to explore and develop their interests and talents led to a richer, more moral, society.

Although the idea of the Renaissance Person has existed for centuries, it is still relevant today. Research suggests that well-rounded individuals tend to be more successful in school and the work force. They possess responsibility, resilience, and resourcefulness: characteristics that allow them to contribute meaningfully to society and live happy, fulfilling, lives.

It is difficult to experience Muskoka without being captivated by what it has to offer. Whether one is exploring the lakes and forests, learning about local history, enjoying the solitude of nature, or seeking an artistic or vocational muse, life’s richness somehow seems more evident in this place. Those fortunate enough to spend time in Muskoka have the opportunity to embrace their inner Renaissance People, thereby enriching their lives and their communities.

Jessica Sheppard hopes to inspire future generations of Renaissance People through her work as Co-Curricular Lead at Rosseau Lake College.

Step by Step


Walk along the shoreline of any of Muskoka’s idyllic lakes in the autumn, deciduous leaves bursting in an array of burnt colours, and you find yourself reaping unspoiled rewards only nature can provide. To do so mindfully, with a sense of surrounding in each of your steps, and you can turn a simple hike into a reflective practice.


Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, says, “walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking.  It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it.  Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace.” These thoughts resonate while walking on the pine-needle strewn trails of what was once Lady Eaton’s Bridle Path, hugging the waterside of Lake Rosseau. The esteemed Eaton family owned more than 50 acres of land here, which has, since 1967, been host to the independent school, Rosseau Lake College. In preparation of its upcoming 50th anniversary, the school has begun the process of restoring Lady’s Eaton’s Bridle Path; most recently a group of student volunteers helped to clear the stone steps that once led to her palatial cottage manor and garden. The manor no longer exists, but the newly renovated gardens give us a glimpse of her early 20th century tranquil lifestyle.


Hiking Muskoka’s trails in the fall, discovering igneous rock formations reflecting in the misty waters, glimpsing stolen moments of wildlife— this is not just an excuse for exercise. It is a chance to connect with the past, to being present in every step, heading towards a future full of gratitude for natural delights such as this to start the day.



Eric Daigle is the senior English teacher and Academic Lead at Rosseau Lake College.