I had thought that I was going to be spending a couple of days in Montréal before we headed down to Niagara on the Lake (NOTL for short) and the Shaw Theatre festival, but it was decided that 33 degrees was too hot in the city and I was transported to the red and white cottage up in the Laurentian mountains instead. In the middle of the woods and next to a large and peaceful lake this is where my friend hangs out in the summer. The other family residence is the yellow and white cottage and they both have a New World charm all their own. Folk live here on the lake in the humid Canadian summer as it’s much cooler than in the metropolis.
|Is that Minnehaha?|
After a good night’s sleep I awoke to a positive orchestra of bird song and a breakfast of blueberries bagels and yoghurt from the country kitchen. One of the bird calls I became most familiar with was that of the Canadian white throated sparrow or the ‘Canada bird’ so called because part of its song sounds like it is saying ‘Canada, Canada, Canada.’ To me, its long ascending single note was the call of a whistling kettle and every time I heard it I couldn’t help saying ‘kettle’s boiled!’ which was probably quite irritating for my companions after a while.
|Breakfast in the Laurentians|
The lake houses all have their own jetty and boathouse and canoes are paddled across for evening visits at sunset for cocktails and civilised socialising. It is a way of life that has been this way for generations and the rural idyll is a perfect confection of summer flowers, water based activities and Canadian wildlife. There are deer here, groundhogs, raccoons and skunks. I tried out the flat bottomed kayak which was easy to manage on the calm millpond of that afternoon. the blue heron swooped by silently. No sign of jet skis or motor boats here
|We love it here!|
We had several close encounters with very tame chipmunks (or ground squirrel as it is sometimes known) and the chickadee is a frequent visitor to the bird feeder on the porch. The only slight drawbacks are the mosquitoes which love to feast on fresh flesh, and the sweet smell of skunk. Chanel no 5 it is not.
The cottage is a summer home only, in the winter the lake freezes over and so would you if you stayed put up here. The wooden two storey structure has all the classic Canadian cottage features such as a screened in porch, canoes suspended from the ceiling and Adirondack chairs. It has an open fireplace built from local stone in traditional style. The interior is very retro chic with lots of ice cream colours, throws, cushions and funkily furnished from garage sales and flea markets.
|Ride ’em cowboy!|
Everyone on the lake paddles their own canoe (as it were) or their own rowing boat or paddle board. You can while away many an hour watching the blue heron or the Loons on the lake – that’s a bird not the neighbours. The next day, after a morning swim in the clear cool water, we then decided it was time to take out the rowboat for a morning row, and we did a short tour of the lake and all the different boathouses which belong to different properties. See Instagram for details. (@monicashirleywilson)
The lake is lovely and refreshing to swim in at this time of year and you can go in more than once a day if you feel like it but once was enough for me to be going on with. In the winter freeze the locals cross country ski or snow shoe through feet of the white stuff but in the summer the lake heats up quite nicely. That evening, as the humidity climbed we prepared ourselves for a summer storm while sitting on the porch drinking shandy, a suitably retro beverage.
|Retro chic shutters|