For the past year, CanoeFM has been offering local musicians the chance to record new material in a professional environment without having to leave Haliburton County.

The non-profit community radio station has created a recording studio at its office on Mountain Street in Haliburton. People wanting to make new music, recording a keepsake for friends and family, or putting together a podcast, can rent out the space for $20 an hour.

Station manager Roxanne Casey said the studio has brought a whole new element to Canoe’s regular operations.

“There are lots of private recording studios up here, but there’s nothing like this. I feel we’re plugging a pretty sizable gap in the community. Musicians don’t necessarily need to leave our County to record their music,” she said. “We just want to get the word out, so people know this space is here.”

Since launching in February 2023, Casey said around 25 people have utilized the studio. It was also used to record The Importance of Being Earnest – which aired on Canoe’s Radio Playhouse last summer.

The project, which cost approximately $70,000, had been in the works for several years. The station’s former board chair, Paul Vorvis, floated the idea in early 2022, believing space in Canoe’s meeting room could be repurposed and better utilized. They secured $35,000 from the Community Radio Fund of Canada towards renovations and used proceeds from radio bingo to pay for the rest.

There are acoustic panels fitted on the walls, new speakers, and a new computer set-up, kitted with programs like Logic Pro, to streamline the recording process. Musicians should bring their own instruments. Laurie Sweig, one of the lead volunteers at the studio, said people have brought in guitars, a cello, viola, and a keyboard.

People looking to mimic sounds of a specific instrument can use a MIDI controller Canoe has purchased. It replicates sounds using online software, which can be layered within a final recording.

“My dream for this place is that anyone who is too shy to go to a professional studio, has a song they recorded in their basement on their phone, to come here and put a professional version together,” Sweig said. “There’s a lot of talented people in this community. I think this new space is providing opportunities for musicians to get their foot in the door at an affordable rate.”

Casey said there’s an option for musicians to record music at the studio and then submit it for broadcast on Canoe’s airwaves.

Bethany Houghton was introduced to the studio about a year ago. She and her husband, Ernie Demuth, have played there twice and plan to record an album.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere – Laurie is great, really encouraging. And knowledgeable. She makes it really easy for people to go in there and do their thing,” Houghton said.

Michele Swyer utilized the studio for an instrumental piece featuring piano, cello, violin, and viola, earlier this year.

“It was magical hearing it back for the first time. I didn’t think my song could get any better,” she said. “The studio is pretty impressive. Recording was fun because you can experiment with so many different things… we have a real treasure here with this new space.”

Sweig said more volunteers are needed if this studio is to grow. Training is provided for free.

“I’d like to see us busier, building our volunteer team, and getting more people comfortable enough to do recordings,” she said.

People looking to book a time to record need to fill out an application and schedule a pre-recording meeting. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Sweig at