After spending a month in one of the largest cities in North America us country bumpkins had to make our escape. We had been trying to plan a weekend getaway ever since landing in Toronto but our work schedule and unpredictable living situation had worked against us. But now, settled in the city, we seized the opportunity to hire a car and head for the lakes.
Known to locals as ‘Cottage Country’ the lakes surrounding Toronto are prime weekend destinations for city-dwellers. Many have second homes (‘cottages’) in the area and in summer the region comes alive with families and holidaymakers taking to the water.
Hoping to make the most of our short time away, we booked an Air BnB close to Fenelon Falls, a short hour and a half drive from Toronto. As we pulled out of the car rental forecourt, we immediately felt a wave of relief and relaxation wash over us. Public transport across Canada is skeletal at best, having a car is the only way to be able to have the freedom we needed.
The city fell away to farmland and forest fringed by the massive and unending lakes Canada is famed for. We had chosen our Air BnB due to its lakefront position, and when we rolled into the drive we weren’t disappointed.
Living in the city, the ‘niceness’ Canadians are famed for has been spread thin. Whilst everyone we have met have been lovely, nothing compared to the stereotypically Canadian welcome we received from our Air BnB host, Teresa. We were given a full tour of her incredible home (including her bedroom and ensuite) before being let loose in the grounds while she finished preparing our room.
We headed straight for the lake. The property enjoys an amazing frontage onto Sturgeon Lake which, even in the gloom of the looming clouds, was beautiful. Spotting two Muskoka chairs (named after the local Lake region) on the end of the jetty, we made ourselves at home in the chilly grey morning. Typical British-summertime style!
After adjusting to the peace and quiet, Teresa called us inside to get settled into our room as the incoming thunderstorm rumbled overhead. As the heaven’s opened, we sat in the conservatory and watched as the storm pummelled at the lake.
Finally, the rain relented as we took the opportunity to take to the water. Teresa gave us free reign of the family canoe and we finally felt initiated into Canadian society as we slid out onto the lake, oars in hand.
Somehow the day had turned into a scorcher so we spent most of our time on the water floating and taking in the cute lakeside homes rather than paddling too vigorously. This weekend was all about slowing down after all…
We finished up our float and headed into the local town of Fenelon Falls for an explore. As schools haven’t broken up yet, the town was still relatively quiet. We sampled the local Kawartha Dairy ice-cream (a must!) and had dinner at the quaint Nolan’s which reminded us a lot of the restaurant we visited on our Scottish roadtrip last summer.
As the sun began to set we headed once again for the water. The Victoria Rail Trail snakes itself around the lake at Fenelon Falls and provided the perfect place to burn off dinner.
It was here that we finally felt completely and utterly relaxed. Here, Canada revealed itself as everything we had hoped it would be. We sat at the water’s edge listening to the birds before rolling up our jeans and dipping our toes in the icy lake.
We eventually pulled ourselves away and went back to finish watching the sunset at our favourite spot on the jetty of our Air BnB.
We sat and watched as the lake turned from pink to oily black before turning in for the night. Despite the weather, it had been the perfect start to our lakeside retreat and the weekend wasn’t over yet!
Stay tuned for part II coming soon! Have you visited Cottage Country? Let us know in the comments below or via our social media pages!