Writing Retreat - Elle Andra-Warner - Sail Superior

Porphyry Island Writing Retreat

with Elle Andra-Warner

Thursday, July 4 – Sunday, July 7

$1395 + HST


Looking for inspiration? Want to improve your writing skills? Join professional author, journalist, and columnist Elle Andra-Warner on this four-day writing experience at the Porphyry Island Lighthouse on Lake Superior.


The century-old lighthouse and natural beauty of the boreal forest will act as inspiration for your work. Take a break from life and enjoy your time in a place where the only distractions are the sounds of the waves on the rocks and the birds in the sky. Work with an experienced instructor and a group of like-minded people to take your writing skills to the next level.

Included in this tour

Join us for an exciting ride to Porphyry Island in the Superior Rocket. With 500 horsepower, the Superior Rocket can reach speeds of 80 km/h in open waters. This breathtaking trip really showcases the power and wonder of Lake Superior.

-Accommodations are rustic and homely. Pack your sleeping bag and pillow for this authentically remarkable natural retreat.

-The dwelling you will be staying in accommodates 6 people

-There is a quaint room with a double bed — perfect for couples who would like a little privacy

-The other room has 2 single beds and 1 bunk bed.

-These accommodations are not fancy, but they are comfortable and welcoming. If you like being immersed in nature, you are sure to have a genuinely relaxing stay on Porphyry Island.

-Sail Superior supports sustainable technologies, and so it’s fantastic that Porphyry Island includes on-site solar and generator power as well as running water.

-WiFi is also available for people to post their adventures online or connect with the rest of the world.

See bio and retreat schedule for more details on session topics

Your Instuctor

Elle Andra-Warner

Writer, Author, Photographer

Born in castle in Europe. Spoke two languages by age five. Lived in three countries by age six. Now based in Thunder Bay, Elle Andra-Warner is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and author of Canadian best-selling non-fiction books, including Edmund Fitzgerald: The Legendary Great Lakes Shipwreck;  David Thompson: A Life of Adventure and Discovery; and Hudson’s Bay Company Adventures. Her latest book is James Macleod: The Red Coats First True Leader (Heritage House Publishing, 2019) and she has an upcoming book on Lake Superior lighthouses of Ontario, Minnesota and Isle Royale.


A professional writer for more than 25 years, her feature articles about travel, history, people, mining, arts and culture have appeared around the world, published by National Geographic, Northern Wilds, Toronto Star, Lake Superior Magazine, Up Here, Singapore Airlines Silver Kris, Westjet Airlines, Thunder Bay Seniors, Above & Beyond, Connecting Horizons, to name a few.  Her corporate writing includes projects with Diavik Diamond Mines, Northwest Territories Tourism, Ontario Tourism, Confederation College and City of Thunder Bay. Elle has also facilitated workshops on writing, including travel journalism, freelance writing and non-fiction, both nationally and regionally.     


Estonian by heritage, her first few years were spent with her parents in a post-war United Nations Displaced Persons Camp for Estonians in West Germany, before moving to England and then on to Canada with her parents. Since then, Thunder Bay has been her primary residence, with short stints residing in Yellowknife and northern Alberta.

A political studies graduate of Lakehead University, Elle is a National Director on Access Copyright Foundation; a founding director on board of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society; former board director of Thunder Bay Museum and co-editor of their Papers & Records, as well as past president, executive and director of national, provincial and regional organizations.  Elle is a member of The Writers Union of Canada, Professional Writers Association of Canada, Canadian Media Guild, Creative Non-Fiction Collective and Superior Scribes.  She is currently working on two non-fiction books, in addition to writing features and regular columns for publications.

Loose Schedule


  • 8:30 - 9:00 am Meet at Marina Park
  • 10:30 am Arrival – walk from boat harbour to Lighthouse
  • 11:00 am  - Guests enjoy the amenities provided by the destination get settled into the accommodations, have lunch, lighthouse tour
  • 12 noon Lunch will be available
  • 2:00 pm - Session #1
  • 4:00 pm Free Time
  • 5:00 pm (approx) Dinner is served
  • 9:00 pm Session #2


  • Optional sunrise shoot.
  • 8:00 am Breakfast
  • 9:00 am Session #3
  • 10:30 am Practice time and free time to explore the programming at the lighthouse - from bird watching to swimming to cycling
  • 12 noon Lunch will be available
  • 2:00 pm Session #4
  • 3:30 pm Free Time – Rest, explore, practice, play
  • 5:00 pm (approx) Dinner is served
  • 8:00 pm Session #5
  • 11:00 pm Session #6


  • 5:30 am Session #7
  • 8:00 am Breakfast
  • 9:00 am Session #8
  • 10:30 am Practice time and free time to explore the programming at the lighthouse - from bird watching to swimming to cycling
  • 12 noon Lunch will be available
  • 2:00 pm Session #9
  • 3:30 pm Free Time – Rest, explore, practice, play
  • 5:00 pm (approx) Dinner is served
  • 8:00 pm Session #10


  • 6:00 a.m. Session #11
  • 8:00 a.m. Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m. Session #12
  • 10:30 am Enjoy island – pack up belongings
  • 12:00 pm Lunch will be available
  • 2:00 pm return to Thunder Bay

Session #1

Starter session, introducing facilitator and participants. Providing an overview of the writers’ retreat and participants’ feedback of specific interests. Types of writing styles and genres.


Session #2

What’s your writing goal? Professional or for Pleasure? Finding your voice. Writers Toolkit. Writing Strategies. Creative non-fiction vs fiction. Breaking boundaries. What kind of writing makes money?


Session #3

Writing Superstar Travel Articles: The Art of Travel Journalism.  


Session #4

Writing Page-Turner Non-Fiction: The Memoir.  So, what is and isn’t a memoir?


Session #5

Writing Page-Turner Non-Fiction:  The Biography. The story of a life.


Session #6

Writing Page-Turner Non-Fiction: Bringing History Alive. Where to start? Subject. Research. Sources. Organizing work. Writing the historical narrative in an accessible, engaging style….bringing history alive.


Session #7

The Historical Detective and Storyteller in Writing Family History.  Crafting your Legacy Story.


Session #8

Getting published, whether as a contributor or regular columnist. Tips from Canadian journalists. What editors are looking for and what they don’t want.


Session #9

The Business of Writing and the writer as an entrepreneur.


Session #10

Writing a best-seller “can’t wait to read the next page” book. Strategies for non-fiction and fiction.  


Session #11

Getting your book published. Pros and cons of traditional, independent or hybrid.


Session #12

What you need to know about writing like copyright, moral rights, signing contracts (including book contracts), royalties, permissions, and more stuff.  

Trip Specific

  • More info coming soon


  • Layered clothing – Lake Superior can be cold even in July.
  • Warm mid-layer jacket and a windproof/waterproof jacket
  • Socks, underwear, shirts, pants, shorts, etc. (not too many)
  • Rain gear - jacket, pants, hat.
  • Good hiking boot/shoe
  • Sun hat with tie for the boat trip and wind
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray and motion sickness meds if you are prone
  • NOTE: Limited power is available on the island
  • NOTE: WiFi is available in the lightkeepers house although in a limited capacity


  • Sail Superior will provide all passengers with floater suits and goggles for the trips to and from the island

NOTE: There is not a ton of space for luggage on our zodiac boat. Try to only bring a mid-size bag or suitcase in addition to your backpack or roller bag.