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Ontario Cottage Rental – A Winter Wonderland

This is a wonderful time of year to rent a cottage. There’s little more romantic than wrapping up warm for a moonlit walk on a frozen lake, with the smell of wood smoke in the air, and the canopy of stars glittering overhead. Returning to your cosy cottage to curl up in front of the fire and reflect on yet another beautiful day in cottage country rounds off an evening perfectly. And there are plenty of cottages for you to choose from if you are willing to look around the web.

Here are a few words of caution though, as cottage country conditions in winter can be quite challenging, and you do need to be fully prepared.

Make sure the road leading to the cottage you have booked is plowed regularly, and if it is rented in winter, it certainly should be. However, after heavy snowfall or a winter storm, it may be several hours (or days) before the road will be plowed out (depending on the severity of the storm). Check with the owner on the usual delay and prepare to be patient. The plow will eventually come!

A winter storm could extend your stay unexpectedly if you become snowed in. If you take regular medication it would be wise to take along enough for a few days more than you need, just in case. Think about this when you are packing up food as well as take along a little extra.

Roads will be snow covered, and in many cases icy, so extreme caution is advised. Winter tires are essential and 4WD recommended for many cottages. Neighboring cottagers are always willing to help anyone who does get stuck, but will not be impressed by visitors who are ill-equipped to cope with extreme conditions.

Keep the following in your car during your trip to cottage country: a snow shovel; blankets; cell phone; and flashlight. Do not travel without adequate winter clothing in the car – boots, coat and gloves are essential.

Power outages may occur during a winter storm and may last for a few hours or a day or more. Ask the cottage owner what you should do in the event of an outage occurring – for example, what number you should call to report the outage, what precautions you should take to prevent frozen pipes, and where the emergency kit is kept. Few cottages have generators so be prepared to use candles and gas lamps for lighting, and the barbecue for cooking. There should be a supply of water for using to flush toilets, and drinking water for other use.

Listen to local radio while you are at the cottage as this will give you the most accurate information on approaching weather systems. If you go out for a winter walk, check the forecast before you go as weather conditions can change rapidly. Keep to marked trails as even a nicely cleared trail can become snow covered and obscured in a very short space of time.

When leaving the cottage at the end of your stay, follow the instructions in the cottage guide carefully, specifically those that refer to thermostat settings and whether doors are to be left open. A closed door to a bathroom could have disastrous results if a pipe freezes and then bursts when the temperature rises again.

Conditions can be vastly different than those experienced in the city, even just a couple of hours north. Snow squalls off Georgian Bay occur regularly in the Southern Georgian Bay/Parry Sound/Huntsville area. Check the forecast before you travel.

Winter in Ontario cottage country is outstandingly beautiful – come and enjoy!

Heather Bayer is CEO of CottageLINK Rental Management, specialising in cottage vacations in Ontario and Southern Quebec.