Ontario consists of several areas that are considered "Cottage Country". These areas always involve water, water sports, small towns with unique stores and festivals. There is also usually hiking and outdoor fun, including bonfires (when not restricted due to forest fire hazards). Many of the areas are great for skiing, snow-mobiling, skating and other winter activities. There are many attractions within driving distance in and around "Cottage Country".
The ideal for most people going to a cottage (unless you are a real outdoor person) is to get as far away from the city as possible, without having to drive far in traffic and still being as close to civilization as possible, in case you do not want to cook but would rather go out for dinner.
Cottage areas include: The shore and islands of Georgian Bay, Muskoka, The Bruce Peninsula on the shore of Lake Huron, The southern shore of Lake Erie and the shores and islands of several small lakes in southern and northern Ontario.
There is nothing more beautiful than watching a sunset over the water of Georgian Bay or any other Ontario lake, lighting a bonfire and making S'mores with the kids, playing games inside when it is raining or just sitting on the dock relaxing.
Cottages can be considered anything from a multi-million dollar "cottage?" on Lake Muskoka to a small hut on an island. To qualify as a cottage it must be near water and not in a town or city. Most cottages have access to a boat, whether it is a kayak, a canoe, a small aluminum boat with a 9.9 hp motor or a much larger cabin cruiser or cigarette boat.
If you are not interested in cooking your own food in a cottage there are many resorts, hotels, motels, B&B's and other options within "Cottage Country".
There are a few items that are mandatory for cottage-life, including bug repellant, sunscreen, comfortable clothes, lots of food and whatever beverage in which you prefer to imbibe.
The black fly season starts at the end of April or beginning of May and lasts until the first days where the temperatures are around 25 C or higher. The hot weather tends to kill off the black flies. Mosquitoes are also out in full force in the summer months, especially if there is standing, not moving water available in which they can breed. Mosquitoes are more prevalent just at dusk. To guard against black flies, mosquitoes and other insects be sure to use bug repellant or wear long sleeves and long pants when the bugs are at their worst.
There are many cottages, whether privately owned or part of a lodge or resort, that are available to rent by the week, weekend, month or season.
Make sure you enjoy many of the natural wonders, such as the Monarch Butterfly.
Some Cottage Humour
The following article appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on August 21, 2010. It was written by Paul Benedetti.
In Canada during the summer - which can often last more than several entire days - everyone loves to go to the cottage.
By "everyone", of course, I mean everyone who does not own a cottage.
If you are visiting or renting a cottage, lucky you - this is pretty much all you need to do:
Buy hotdogs and hotdog buns. No one wants to eat a hotdog rolled in white bread or in a humburger bun. No one can explain why.
Buy beer. (Always buy what you told your spouse you are going to drink and then double it.) Simply say, "I'm worried people might "drop in", as if anyone in their right mind would drive 300 miles up north on a whim to "grab a beer with you."
Pack a bathing suit, T-shirt, shorts and sandals. Don't bring anything else. No one cares what you wear on holiday, unless you are going to Muskoka, in which case, again, don't bring anything you have. It's not good enough. Just buy all new clothes when you get there. Also, dye your kids' hair blonde and call them Scooter or Biff no matter what their names are. It will help you fit in.
Once you get up to your rented cottage, all you have to do is sit around, read, drink and nap. If you are visiting a cottage, remember to bring an inexpensive "cottage-warming" gift. Even if it is really dumb and somthing you would not put in your garage, never mind your house - like a giant carved carp clock - it will guilt your hosts into not asking you to do anything while you are there.
On the other hand, if you own a cottage, then what you are doing is getting away from all the annoyances at your house, like lawn cutting, housecleaning and your kids, and driving for several hours in traffic so that you can arrive at your cottage and enjoy a whole new set of annoyances.
First, it will take you several hours to unpack. this is because even if you are going up for a weekend, everyone brings enough supplies to survive a nuclear winter and to avoid something even worse than the complete destruction of the earth's biosphere: Driving into town. That's right, you NEVER want to have "to drive into town" to pick up something you forgot.
Husband: Honey, are you sure we really have to bring this 100-pound bag of sugar?
Wife: Yes, yes. If we run out, we'll have to drive into town!
There's actually a reason for this deep-seated fear of town. Most towns in cottage country have a population of 1,270 which increases slightly in the summer to four million. This means that if you can even get into town, you will be surrounded by thousands and thousands of people who forgot some vital cottage necessity - like bug spray or Baileys Irish Cream. In Muskoka, not only will there be thousands and thousands of people, but all of them will be wearing almost identical pastel-coloured golf shirts and plaid shorts. This can be very disorienting.
In the end, one trip into town can take up most of the weekend and sometimes guests who had to "go into town" simply don't come back and are never seen again.
If you don't have to drive into town, then you can "relax" with a bit of window cleaning, septic inspection, spider spraying, sink unplugging, lawn cutting and wood chopping. Once that's done, inevitably your wife will want you to get to work on a few "small projects" she had in mind like building a new guest bunkie or moving the shoreline "slightly to the right".
When you are done the cottage work, you might think it would be time to relax and enjoy yourself, but you would be wrong. It's actually time to go home. This is because everyone wants to "get an early start" so that they can "beat the traffic". The result is that by 9 a.m. on Sunday the highway looks like the Saturday parking lot at Fortinos.
Luckily, it only takes four or five hours to get home where you spend another hour or two unpacking the car.
But don't worry, soon you'll be able to relax - once you get to work on Monday.
Thanks to Paul for his wonderful sense of humour and for allowing us to reprint his article. Paul Benedetti writes a column for the Hamilton Spectator.
How to make S'mores
Whether at the cottage or camping, S'mores over a fire are a must.
A marshmallow is skewered on the end of a long stick (or metallic skewer) and held just above a fire until its outer surface starts to brown. Once heated, the inside of the marshmallow becomes soft or molten. The marshmallow is quickly removed from the stick. The marshmallow is put on one of 2 graham crackers, one of which has a piece of chocolate on it. The other graham cracker is put on top of the marshmallow to make a sandwich. Ideally, the heat from the roasted marshmallow partially melts the chocolate.
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