June 4-7, 2010

Leaving Stratford we headed north and east through lush green Ontario farm country passing many small towns and Mennonite farms with "plain folk" in black clothes driving horse and buggies. We connected with Highway 400 north between the Muskoka area but headed on further north along the edge of Georgian Bay until we reached Pointe Au Baril. There we met Claudette at the Marina and John arrived soon after to ferry us in his boat to their cottage on a nearby island. Jim soon realized that the "cottages" he'd heard about were not all the simple rustic shacks he'd pictured.

[Pointe au Baril Marina] [Claudette, Robin & John] [Primitive Cottage]

En route we stopped at the Ojibway Club, once a hotel and now a members only club. We toured the old public rooms and the grounds where several out buildings still survive as rental units. The hotel itself has only the public rooms with shops along the docks.

[Club Ojibway] [Ojibway Salon] [Ojibway Cottage]

The north country has many spectacular outcroppings of multi colored granite with pines growing among them. En route to John and Valerie's cottage, we passed Derek and Merelyn's impressive compound, although they were not in residence.

[Granite Outcroppings] [Derek & Merelyn's Cottage] [Whose Cottage?]

Many grand cottages have replaced the simpler ones of earlier years. One has built a huge Boat House in a quiet cove behind the Cottage.

[McCottage] [Another McCottage] [Boathouse]

John and Valerie's cottage is partially hidden by the pines in front and retains much of the old "cottage" feel with wooden walls and ceilings and no lights in the main rooms except kerosene lamps. An elaborate solar electric system operates other lights, water treatment and appliances. The living areas have great views of the narrows between their island and the adjacent one.

[Cottage] [John and Valeria] [Cottage Dock Deck]

[Living Room] [Dining Room] [Living Room]

A screened sun porch provides even better views. Claudette, Valerie and John work in the kitchen preparing wonderful meals and John grilled on the barbaque outside.

[Sun Porch] [Kitchen] [John on BBQ]

We were assigned the Guest Cottage with sitting room and bedroom and screened porch. Very comfortable!

[Guest Cottage] [Sitting Room] [Bedroom]

Saturday morning John took us on a tour that lead out from what is called the 30,000 islands (actually over 100,000 by recent satellite and computer count) to the open waters of Georgian Bay. Again we motored past many spectacular outcroppings of granite and dark pines.

[Boat tour] [Island inlet] [Narrows]

Finally we reached Georgian Bay visible across the safety of a low granite shoal. Along the inlet here was the gigantic all glass Cottage of the Weston family, one of the riches family's in Canada. They come in by helicopter rather than boat.

[Rene's Bistro] [Pan Tapas & Grill] [Keystone Alley]

Then we all motored back south to the Muskoka Lake district where we joined David and Claire at their cottage in the Lake. David picked us up in his boat for the short trip across to their island. We were soon climbing up the many stairs past several decks from water level to the house itself perched high on a ridge.

[Jim & Robin ] [David & Claire's Cottage] [Cottage]

[Upper Dock Deck] [Under the dock deck] [Lower Dock Deck]

The two story Great Room faces the lake and makes a comfortable and beautiful place to entertain and relax. Claudette and Claire chat in the kitchen perched just above the living space.

[Great Room] [Claudette & Claire] [Great Room]

Three neighborhood dogs make regular stops for "cookies" at the back door. Then Monday morning it was back to the Marina past a huge estate rumored to being purchased by Tom Hanks. Our weekend in the North Country ended too soon. Thanks to our hosts John and Valeria and David and Claire for making it such a wonderful introduction to "cottage" living.

[Neighborhood dogs] [89 Norman] [16 Norman]

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