August 14-18, 2019

August 14-18, 2019

About The Forest Festival

The Forest Festival takes place each August in Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve. The Reserve's 100,000 acres are home to many activities, from the world's longest forest Canopy Walk to Canada's only freshwater tour submarine and renowned Wolf Centre. Canada's first FSC certified forest, Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve is committed to sustainable and integrated resource management

Our History

The Forest Festival was founded in 2007 by Stuart Laughton and for a time operated in association with R. Murray Schafer's Patria Music/Theatre Projects. Emerging fully independent in 2009, the Festival began working in earnest towards the creation of a self-sustaining (no public funds) arts festival that reflects the ideals of the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve. Over the past 5 years the Forest Festival has begun to make a name for itself as a signature event in Central Ontario.

Spectacular Venues

The Forest Festival has two of the most singular concert venues in all of Ontario.

  • Bone Lake Amphitheatre, a rustic 600 seat amphitheatre hugging the shore of Bone Lake, facing a stage floating on the lake itself.
    (currently under construction)
  • The Logging Museuma historic building transformed into a warm and wonderful concert venue for the duration of the Festival.

Hardworking Board

The Festival's Advisory Board ensures the quality and calibre of the Forest Festival remain second-to-none.

Meet Our Advisory Board

Stuart Laughton – Forest Festival Artistic Director

Stuart Laughton founded The Forest Festival at the urging of Peter Schleifenbaum, and has been Artistic Director since its inception. He is also the founder of Opening Day Recordings (5 JUNO nominations from his first 18 releases), the blues/roots band Porkbelly Futures (featuring Paul Quarrington) and a number of other initiatives.

A classical trumpeter (with Canadian Brass and La Scala, Milan), Stuart began visiting Haliburton Forest as a participant in R. Murray Schafer’s environmental music dramas. He lives in Burlington, Ontario and has recently launched “Stuart Laughton’s Radio Dial,” performing as a singer/multi-instrumentalist in non-classical music (

Peter Schleifenbaum – Haliburton Forest, Founder

Born, raised and educated in Germany, Peter and his wife Elke came to Haliburton in 1988 to take on the management of their family’s company. With a PhD in forest history and forest economics, Peter’s focus was the vast timber resources of the company, which had been neglected for decades. But the task and operation at hand was almost purely tourism related, which was a new experience for him. His lack of previous exposure to common tourism operations allowed him to think outside the box and venture into some of the innovative tourism products Haliburton Forest is known for today. One of Peter’s greatest achievements was Haliburton Forest’s certification as Canada’s first sustainable forest under the international FSC standards in 1998. Along the way, Peter and Haliburton Forest attracted a lot of attention, resulting in numerous commendations and awards. 

Today Peter has retired from Haliburton Forest, but his heart remains with forestry in a very broad sense, expressed in his maintaining an adjunct professorship at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry, which operates a very active research facility at Haliburton Forest.

Elke Schleifenbaum

Frequently introduced as “Peter’s wife”, this highly inappropriate description should be “behind every great man there is a great woman“. Elke does not have a job description at Haliburton Forest and if there was one, it might be: book-keeper/ purchasing-manager/ animal keeper/ floater/ payroll officer/ office manager/ designer/ etc. Elke takes an active part in the day-to-day operations of Haliburton Forest and has had a significant impact on how things at Haliburton Forest look today. Her professional background is bookkeeping but her heart is with animals, which is why she can often be found looking after the company’s sled-dogs, wolves, horses or Hershe, the moose, which owes its life to Elke’s compassion and tenacious commitment.

Malcolm Cockwell – Haliburton Forest, Managing Director

Originally from Toronto, Malcolm holds a B.Sc. in Forestry from the University of Toronto and is a PhD Candidate at the same institution's Faculty of Forestry. After working closely with Peter Schleifenbaum for several years, Malcolm took responsibility for Haliburton Forest as the Managing Director in December 2016. In addition to his work at Haliburton Forest, Malcolm is a Registered Professional Forester, serves on the Board of Directors of Forests Ontario, and represents Haliburton Forest at the Ontario Forest Industries Association. When Malcolm isn't working, he can usually be found stomping around in the forest.

Anne Lindsay - Violinist/ Composer/ Producer

Anne Lindsay is one of the most engaging and versatile instrumentalists in Canada. She is equally talented as a violinist/fiddler, composer, singer-songwriter, producer and arranger. Anne has played on hundreds of recordings and is a featured performer with the Jim Cuddy Band, Blue Rodeo and John McDermott. She was the resident fiddler for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the stage production of The Lord of the Rings.

Anne has three award winning CDs of her own and has won numerous awards including: Solo Instrumentalist and Producer of the Year (Canadian Folk Music Awards), Jazz Violinist of the Year (National Jazz Awards) and the K.M. Hunter Award (Ontario Arts Council).

Barb Bolin

Barb has been involved in Arts and Economic Development organizations for over 40 years. She is the founding Chair of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and the Arts Council ~ Haliburton Highlands as well as sitting on the Board of The Ontario Crafts Council, the  Provincial Ontario Trillium Foundation Board, past Chair of the Haliburton Highlands Economic Development Corporation and the Haliburton Creative Business Incubator. Barb Bolin retired from the position of Dean/Principal of the Haliburton Campus of Fleming College. Since retirement Barb has enjoyed travelling, having more time to attend theatre and performing arts events and in 2012 became the vice chair of Abbey Gardens - a local food initiative.

Kevin Shea

Kevin Shea is owner and president of SheaChez Inc., and former president of Sirius Satellite Radio, YTV Television Network, Global Television Network and Alliance Atlantis Communications.  He serves on the marketing board of the Haliburton County Development Corporation and CanoeFM and is the former chair of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. His past governance experience includes chairing the Canadian Film Centre and serving on the boards of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Canadian Women in Communications, the Canadian Cable Television Association, the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, the Banff International Television Festival, Life Network, Prime TV Network, CN Tower Limited, Children’s Broadcast Institute and the Canadian Children’s Foundation. He also chaired the Toronto Tourism Recovery Alliance in the aftermath of SARS. In 2013, Kevin was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.

Lesley English – Festival General Manager

Since 1990 Lesley has worked behind the scenes in the theatre business as a writer, producer, director, stage manager, administrator and educator. She managed Patria Musical Theatre Productions “Princess of the Stars” and The Forest Festival in its inaugural year. She has served as chair of the Arts Council ~ Haliburton Highlands and chaired the steering committee for SPARC (Symposium for the Performing Arts in Rural Communities) a first-of-its-kind in Canada event. In addition she is managing director/partner of an award winning creative agency with an international clientele.


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Previous Playbills


  • Susan Agluklark
  • Sarah Harmer
  • Cowboy Junkies
  • Rob Lutes
  • Sultans of String
  • BMC Organ Trio
  • Leahy


  • Buffy Sainte Marie with Annie Sumi as opener 
  • Jimmy Rankin
  • Stuart Laughton's Radio Dial
  • Alison Young Quartet
  • Angel Forrest
  • The O'Pears
  • Jim Cuddy


  • Whitehorse
  • Shine On
  • Sarah Harmer
  • Red Hot Ramble
  • Oh Susanna
  • Melissa Bel
  • The Alan Doyle Trio


  • Canadian Brass
  • Greg Keelor & Jim Cuddy
  • Measha Brueggergosman
  • Angel Forrest
  • The Shuffle Demons
  • Manteca
  • Magoo - Family Show
  • Barbara Budd
  • Bruce Cockburn


  • The Good Lovelies
  • The Heavyweights Brass band
  • Lighthouse
  • New Country Rehab
  • Natalie MacMaster with Donnell Leahy
  • Fiddlefire
  • David Woodhead’s Confabulation
  • Murray Mclauchlan


  • Highlands Opera Studio
  • Jim Cuddy Trio
  • John McDermott
  • Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnett
  • Amanda Martinez
  • Bebop Cowboys with Russell deCarle
  • Suzie Vinnick Trio


  • TorQ Percussion Quartet
  • The Spinney Brothers
  • Russell deCarle
  • Patricia O’Callaghan
  • Grooveyard
  • Dave Young Quartet
  • Sultans of String


  • Creaking Tree String Quartet
  • Dan Hill
  • The Nathaniel Dett Chorale
  • Hilario Duran Trio
  • Soul Stew
  • Ken Whiteley’s Gospel Revue
  • True North Brass


  • Paul Quarrington and Porkbelly Futures
  • Anne Lindsay and Jason Fowler
  • Forest Festival Brass
  • Anne Lindsay


  • “Primadonna Goes Into the Woods” with Mary Lou Fallis
  • ONnanoKo percussion ensemble
  • Forest Festival Brass
  • Porkbelly Futures
  • R. Murray Schafer lecture
  • Forest Dance Theatre


  • Porkbelly Futures (with guest Zoe Chilco)
  • Forest Festival Brass with Stuart Laughton
  • Patria Music Theatre’s ‘Princess of the Stars’ by R. Murray Schafer