My Other Car is a Boat

Sometimes in Northern Ontario, wheels can only take you so far. Some cottagers can only access their properties by boat – and it's a point of pride.

Editor's Note: Throughout Ontario there are dozens of pockets of thriving boating communities, where people get all of their daily chores done by boat: pulling up to get lunch, stopping in at the grocery store, running into town for a tool or part for some project at the cottage. And these kinds of communities are especially perfect for touring powerboaters who want to get as far away from their cars as possible. Read on about one of these great boating destinations in Ontario's Highlands.

For most cottagers in Ontario, the trip to the cottage involves loading up the car and fighting the Friday night getaway traffic out of one of the metropolises.  However, for a select few, that trip involves an intermediate change in mode of transportation.

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When the road does not extend around the lake, or the cottage is on an island, the last few miles to the cottage usually involve travel by boat. That is when the boat goes from being a luxury to a necessity.

When the boat is a necessity, the boat itself changes. A cover? You bet. Who wants to cross the lake with their luggage and groceries in the pouring rain in the open? Then there is spring and fall boating when the outside temperature may be a bit chilly. That cover is mighty handy. Reliability is a major factor. After a long drive from the city, the last thing needed is an unreliable boat. A dependable engine is a lot more important than a fancy stereo or fat sacks.

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After a generation or two of summers at a water access-only cottage, the thought of driving to the cottage seems like a foreign concept. The luggage, the groceries, the beer, and other miscellaneous cottage supplies get transferred from the car to the boat.  A major part of the romance of the cottage is that arrival by boat. Forgot something? It's not a simple trip the local general store. On most bodies of water, a trip for supplies means at least a trip to a marina convenience store, and possibly back into the car for the trip to town. One advantage of a boat access cottage: drop-in weekend visitors are a rare occurrence.

The marina at Limerick Lake, in the Bancroft area serves just over 100 such water access cottage families. The switch from wheels to boat becomes part of the overall experience. Bob Bennett, from the Uxbridge area, has been coming to Limerick Lake since 1965. “A water access cottage is all we’ve ever know, so it’s not a hassle to us," he says. "It’s nice and private, it creates a buffer zone between working life and the cottage, and the great service at the Marina each season has added to the experience for us.”

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Cottager Hilary Burns, from the Durham Region, who has been a water access-only cottager on Limerick Lake for 11 years, had this to say about the experience. “Limerick is exactly what we were looking for: something tucked back to give us privacy, a great place for the whole family to meet and be able to spend time with one another. We’ve turned what was a small shack into what we would consider a second home.”

Ask any water access cottage owner about their cottage, and one of the first descriptors will be that it is water access. It's worn like a badge of pride, denoting a somewhat hardier cottager, as well it should.  To head out across the lake in good weather or bad, sunshine or darkness, rain or snow, takes a special breed of adventurer.

About George Offshack

George Offshack is a long-time snowmobiling and boating enthusiast, as well as owner and operator of the Limerick Lake Lodge in Gilmour, Ontario.

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