Unlike many Ontarians my age, I’ve never dreamed of owning a cavernous mansion in Oakville or a high-rise condo on Front Street. What I would do instead, if through some unlikely event I ever came into a lot of money (perhaps because I won the lottery, or I was the only carrier on earth of the antibody to a world-ending virus), I would instead build myself a cottage and never return to the outside world again.
It’s not like I’m nostalgic for cottages. My family never had a cottage growing up, nor did anyone else I knew. But I love camping, I love living off the beaten path, and I love the idea of being a homeowner without the baggage of owning a house. Houses are stressful – they involve banks, and HOAs, and door-to-door salespeople. Cottages, on the other hand, are just lovely.
Having established my desire to have one, these are the top 5 places in Ontario where I’d love to build a cottage – and why.
The most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen were out over the waters of Lake Huron in Kincardine. I would seriously love to build a cottage in one of the surrounding towns like Amberley or Point Clarke. It’s not really cottage country, exactly, but more like a coastal farm town, where you can find a Great Lake in one direction and rolling fields ten minutes down the road. In other words, it combines the best of two really beautiful worlds.
What makes is it even better is this: it’s an area where regular people can still afford to build a cottage in Ontario. I’ve seen empty lots literally minutes from Lake Huron go for $50,000 – sure, they’re campsite-sized lots, but that’s really all you need when you buy into the cottage dream. It’s attainable, and that’s the best kind of dream there is.
Again, not your typical cottage country. In realty, Elora will probably be counted as part of the ever-expanding Greater Toronto Area in a few years’ time. But it will hopefully be much longer than that before the town loses its personality, which is wonderfully weird and old-fashioned at the same time. It’s like a big Eden Mills or a smaller Guelph.
The problem with Muskoka is that it’s rife with people in the uppermost tax bracket. There is probably more wealth concentrated around Lake Rosseau in Muskoka than there is on Bay Street. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the wealthy — they’re just not my people.
Minden, on the other hand, is an undiscovered gem of a cottage town out by way of the Kawartha region. It’s small and quiet. There is an even mix of modest, country houses and picturesque cottages (many built by sustainable home builder Royal Homes – click here to check them out). The lakes are small, but pristine and healthy.
My favourite part of Minden is this: the lazy river that runs through the middle of town, and the beautiful walking trails that run on either side of it. You can board a raft upstream at the park and float down the river to the ice cream shop (which is actually shaped like an ice cream cone).