Cottage Life

Cottage Life May 2020

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The go-to source for cottagers, the award-winning Cottage Life offers valuable advice as well as profiles, how-to articles, recipes, essays, issues pieces, and lifestyle stories that help readers look after their cottages, entertain guests and, of course, kick back and have fun.

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1 min.
s’more stuff

New database for project plans Planning season is in full force. We’re working on a digital home for tons of cottage-themed projects, including some of your old favourites from the magazine—shout-out to the outhouse and outdoor shower! Keep an eye out for the plans, available for purchase on cottagelife.com in May. Hope for the best Your weekly dose of feel-good content has returned! A new season of Hope for Wildlife is premiering on the Cottage Life channel on April 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Follow Hope as she rehabilitates injured and orphaned animals. And if that weren’t already enough, our channel is in free preview until May 3, so you can check us out if you’ve never watched before and see all your favourite CL shows. Head to tv.cottagelife.com for the full lineup…

3 min.
a healthy fear

As I write this, I’m at home with my family, waiting out COVID-19. Amidst this uncertainty, I’m scared. And thinking about the times in my life when my fears were the greatest. One moment that stands out is the summer of 1995, when a massive cluster of thunderstorms passed through Ontario overnight, leaving a trail of wrecked buildings and frightened cottagers. I was working as a camp counsellor near Sharbot Lake, Ont., spending blissful days teaching kids how to kayak. It was so hot the day before the storm, we were sweating just standing still. Given that I was away from the news and weather reports, my only concern that night as I tucked in was how I’d fall asleep on my sauna-like top bunk. Shortly before midnight, just as I was…

4 min.
your letters

Should I stay on the grid? We have been subscribing to and reading Cottage Life since 1992, when my now wife brought me to our family cottage at Mortimer’s Point on Lake Muskoka. We now live in Alberta and have our own place on Columbia Lake, B.C., and continue to get your magazine. We use our B.C. cottage year round, and it has become as much a house as a cabin. I just finished reading “Take Back the Power” (Mar/Apr ’20), and it got me thinking about the ridiculous amount we pay monthly for electricity even though we are only there two or three weekends a month. All of our appliances and older baseboards are electric. There is no natural gas in this area. We turn everything down when we are not there,…

1 min.
q&a with the icon

Why are you nicknamed “the Great Northern Diver”? I’m an excellent diver. My bones are solid. They’re heavy. The extra weight allows me to dive deeper than other waterfowl—most of them have hollow, buoyant bones. Good for flying. Less good for diving. Why do you yodel late at night? I’m Austrian. Are you familiar with the von Trapp family? Just kidding. As a male, I yodel to warn away other males. When I move to a new lake, I learn, and mimic, the yodel of any resident male. So I can out-yodel him. Booyah! As an aside, I wouldn’t call “after sundown” late. And I’ve been told that most cottagers find this sound pleasant while lying in bed. What’s the deal with your red eyes? I know, it makes me look demonic.…

2 min.
beavers, bats, brewskis

Leave it to beavers The Brits must be reading Nature Scrapbook! How else would they know that beavers are such awesome wetland engineers? (See “If He Builds It, They Will Come,” Mar/Apr ’20.) Through a trial program, the U.K. is reintroducing the once-eradicated European beaver (Castor fiber), in the hopes that, like its North American counterpart (Castor canadensis), the keystone species will increase biodiversity and help mitigate flooding. Landowners can apply for licences to release beavers on their properties, where the rodents will do what they do best: build dams to create ponds that eventually become life-sustaining wetlands. Don’t worry, Boris Johnson. Beaver got this. A pound of prevention, an ounce of cure To the refrigerator, Batman! A recent study suggests that some little brown bats—the chubbier ones—may be resistant to…

2 min.
a new law changes a lot

Ontario’s Better for People, Smarter for Business Act 2019 (previously Bill 132) passed into law in December. A sprawling, 90-page omnibus bill, it reduced red tape around a slew of regulations, including allowing landowners to build docks and one-storey boathouses on Crown land (i.e., the lakebed) without a permit. Terry Rees, the executive director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations, says this rule has technically been in place for the last 20 years under the Crown Land Use Policy. “The direction given in that policy was if it’s just a dock, we don’t need a permit,” he says, “because it’s modest.” Landowners could “construct or place structures that are in physical contact with 15 square meters or less of the shore lands fronting [their] property (e.g. docks, single-storey boathouses).” Bill…