HOWL involves speakers and convention attendees from abroad. Not to mention, attendees from all over Ontario. In the thick of the pandemic it felt too risky and unethical to organize a dynamic gathering of this kind. We value public health; we respect the wellbeing of local residents in our Township, and of course, the health and safety of our attendees/speakers. With the health situation being uncertain in 2020 and 2021, we made the difficult decision to postpone the convention twice.


2022: Year of Recovery

It’s 2022, and we are feeling extremely confident that the convention will proceed as planned this year. Thanks to vaccines and other public health strategies, evidence shows that our society is reaching a level of immunity that makes it safer to “live with the virus”. As of Spring 2022, vaccine passports, mask requirements, and gathering restrictions have been lifted. We are moving forward with the understanding that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and we can finally plan for a safe in-person HOWL convention experience.

HOWL 2022 Safety Precautions

Even though the Government of Ontario will be ending all COVID-19 directives on April 27, 2022, HOWL will take basic health measures that will help manage COVID risk to help keep Howlers safe. Our COVID-19 philosophy from the start of this pandemic has been: “respect the virus, respect each other.” We want all Howlers to know that we take coronavirus very seriously. If the health situation regresses (mutated and more deadly variant, etc.) and we need to revert back to indoor masking or vaccine passports, we will adhere to any future directives that the Ontario Government or Renfrew County Health Unit might impose upon us.

HOWL's Health Precautions:

Respect for Voluntary Masks

As long as no new health directives are introduced after April 27, 2022, it won't be mandatory to wear a face mask indoors. Let's keep in mind though, that some people may be immunocompromised, or have relatives that are vulnerable. We want attendees to feel welcome to wear face masks at any point throughout HOWL if they need the additional protection.

More Time Spent Outdoors

To help mitigate COVID risk, the social aspect of the convention has been moved outdoors. For instance: the live music performances will take place at the campfire at Bongopix Tavern. Attendees will also be able to enjoy coffee breaks outdoors.

Takeout Food Option

All meals will be served by the Mad Musher Restaurant. Howlers who do not feel comfortable dining indoors at the Mad Musher will have the option to pick up their meals in a takeout container and eat outside or in the comfort of their car/accommodation.

Cash-less Experience

HOWL will be 100% cash-less. Attendees buying drinks or merchandise will need to tap either a debit card or credit card. Drinks can also be purchased on a tab, and the tab can be paid remotely (credit card or e-transfer) by the conclusion of the convention.

Hand Sanitizer Readily Available

Hand sanitizing stations will be strategically available at all locations throughout the convention: at the Lester B Smith Building (presentation site), Mad Musher Restaurant (meal site), and at Bongopix Tavern (live entertainment site).

Photo: Sandy Sharkey

Virtual HOWL: Attend from the comfort of your own home

All 5 keynote presentations and Q-&-A panel broadcasted live via a password protected exclusive Zoom invitation.

What happens in the worst case scenario that Ontario experiences another lockdown?

Since March 2020, as hospitality and service industry business owners, we have experienced strict stay-at-home lockdowns that restrict regional movement, and we’ve also navigated through “soft” lockdowns that permit regional movement, but mandate restrictions such as: indoor masking, capacity limits, and outdoor dining only. Ultimately, HOWL will abide by strict lockdowns that ban gatherings. This is a worst case scenario, in which case we will again postpone.

However, in the event of a soft lockdown – where movement is permitted, including plane travel from USA/Alberta – we will go ahead and adapt the convention to suit the rules imposed by a soft lockdown. As long as we are allowed to assemble 25 people together with restrictions, we will go ahead with the in-person experience. In a soft lockdown situation we will clearly inform attendees and speakers of what restrictions to expect (masking indoors, takeout only meals, etc).


Images copyright © used with permission by Melissa Groo, John E Marriott, Bongopix, Heather Ainsworth, Sam Stephens, and Steve Dunsford