Friday, August 15, 2008

The Tall Ship Playfair

Summer. The Brigantine Playfair at Parry Sound. Cap'n Weed, if you please, har harr. If'n the Black Pearl be lost at sea, there's a berth or twenty down below, for the likes of your wee teens, wantin' adventure on Georgian Bay. It's the real deal. Toronto Brigantine runs two training ships for high school kids, who'd rather pass on the video arcades and shopping malls for a week or two. For about a $100 a day, all inclusive, you might talk your kids into a working vacation, where they can learn to rig and sail a Brigantine, cook in the cubbyhole galley, and barbecue on a deserted island beach. And meet some other kids. It's character building says our Captain Weed, seconded by his First Mate, Jojo, and it works. It's turned around bored and troubled kids, and polished the rest with a sense of accomplishment, fostering in some a life long passion for sailing. The professional crew of nine, are all alumni of the program, regulars that kept coming back for years, and now training a new batch of kids, 16 on this 11 day leg out from Parry Sound to Midland. The Playfair is a happy ship. Rare for any kid to go home unhappy, even if he or she (it's co-ed) didn't really want to go in the first place. As a registered charity, Toronto Brigantine is doing this for love, not money. Costs are further kept down by sponsors, alumni and volunteers who donate equipment, supplies, and time for maintenance, when their ships winter over in Toronto. Bursaries for some students, are available too. And what's it like? I wandered around on deck and below, talking to the kids and crew. No complaints. But it is so cramped below deck, sardines might be more
comfortable in a can. The mess is really on deck. The galley would fit into your hall closet, berths stacked 3 high, upholstered but hard and narrow. The Playfair was built in 1972, In Kingston, Ontario. It's a Brigantine, a pirate ship in miniature, designed to be maneuvered by a young crew, with a sleek hull, sleeker than than her older cousins, and steel, for easier maintenance and without the timbers creaking and leaking. There's a diesel engine, not much used, but available for dead calms and tricky navigation through narrow or shallow channels and locks. Georgian Bay is mostly where she sails. It's the 30,000 Islands and the rugged coastline that makes her feel at home. Though she sails to and from Georgian Bay, via Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, occasionally venturing to join other tall ships at the festival in Halifax. She might go out more on the high seas, but there are maintenance issues with salt water. Strolling on the big dock to stretch his legs, the Captain pauses by one of the big yachts berthed nearby, wondering what all the fuss is all about. A quarter million dollars for a car on water, with baby buggy plastic canopies. "Usually poorly constructed. You wonder why
they're doing this? The Playfair is overbuilt, so we can push her hard." Of course if you're retired and you've got the dough, you can't push yourself that hard either, though there are plenty of small sailboats that would give you the feel of sailing without the hard work, and the need for deckhands, say your grown-up kids who probably wouldn't show up unless the destination was some Club Med in the Caribbean. But if you feel the urge for more than an adventure out of a DVD box, sailing is still one of the things you can do, even on a budget. It's making a comeback if you read the yachting magazines.
There's skill, of course, even with all the modern navigational aids. And any trip can have an unpredictable factor, usually the weather, that can catch you off guard, like in Lake Erie, a hassle for weekend boaters who have to be at work Monday. Last year Labour Day, says Captain Weed, she was going through the west channel of Lake Erie, very shallow, only 12 feet deep. With shallow water, waves can get whipped up high, and there was a whopping storm. We were stranded for 3 or 4 days. When the coast guard came to check on us, you know these fully enclosed rescue craft, they radioed back, they were turning back. Not going out in that gale, since we didn't really need them. Of course they would have risked it, if we were in trouble. Otherwise the sailing is great,
the best there is in inland waters right around here, all through Georgian Bay. Might be a half million islands. Depends what you call an island. We get a chance to explore some with our students. We've got two big dories for that, plus inflatable lifeboats packed in big drums, if we have to abandon ship. Overcapacity too, it's safety first. Though we let the kids do just about anything you can do onboard, including handling the wheel. Mind you the crew supervises everything closely, so they don't make mistakes or get into trouble. Most of the time we're on the water, only going into port for supplies. So the kids share in the watches 24 hours a day. We hug the shore or sail right across the bay. On this leg we'll be going up to Manitoulin Island, before heading south for Midland. It's a great experience for everyone, the crew and the kids. If you're not a kid anymore, Brigantine does allow for charters and alumni sailings, so you could join them. See

2010 Update

For more great pictures of the Playfair sailing, see Yvonne Berg's Tall Ship Adventure.

Climb aboard the Playfair and the Pathfinder in Toronto for the Toronto Waterfront Festival, June 30-July 4, 2010. Sail training 4 hour cruises for groups up to 20 will be available for charter during the Festival from Toronto Brigantine, a not for profit registered charity.

Playfair and Pathfinder 2010 Summer Schedule. Book your kids (13-18) a berth on one to two week sailings through the Great Lakes, part of the Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge.

Follow Toronto Brigantine's Playfair and Pathfinder Tall Ship Adventures on Facebook.

Become a Member of Toronto Brigantine and help support 48 years of service to kids.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rosseau Antiques Fair

Summer. Rosseau Antiques Fair. On weekends local dealers set up their tables around the big antiques barn on the main drag, the 141. It could have more pizazz. It looks more like a flea market, but you won't find DVDs or T shirts. The antiques are the rummage sale variety, in a case you're looking for a Van Gogh cheap. More the nick-nacks you might find in your garage, but among the stencilled dinner plates from the 1950s, the carpenters' tools, the folding rules, the glass and pots, the box of paperbacks, the rusty egg beaters, the old luggage, the wagon wheels, the bits and pieces from an old house, you'll find something you could use at the cottage, or if you get lucky there might be a valuable broach in a glass case of costume jewellery. With me it's been a habit to wander through the tables of bric-a-brac from garage sales to church bazaars or these outdoor fairs, though I'd say a real find over the years is more and more a rare thing. The good stuff winds up in the pricey antiques shops, because the dealers skim through their stock more carefully. Seems too, there's less available even in country antique galleries, with their best pieces going up for auction in the big city. Probably it's the Antiques Roadshow effect. There's also more of a mania for anything old, because it's collectible and a better deal or
investment than something new everybody has. The mania for anything new that started in the 1950s, only survives in electronics. People tend to hang on to what they've got. So the best places for an exciting bargain are the estate sales where most of the dealers go to find their odds and ends, while looking for the best pieces they can turnover fast. So prices are up, way way up. The glut in antiques that also started in the 1950s dried up by the early 70s. The best deals and in enormous variety came from Cuba, with Cubans and foreigners fleeing the Revolution.
A heady time for anybody in the antiques business. The quality of real European antiques was exceptional and the prices were ridiculous, an enormous amount of furniture you think no one would have the time to pack, showing up in gigantic dealer warehouses in New York, and from there everywhere else. You could get a Steinway Grand for a grand, a Majolica pot too rare for an orange tree for $30, an inlaid Boulle desk, maybe by Boulle himself, for $500. For 3 or 4 years it was buyer pandemonium. Dealers buying all this stuff by the truckload, mortgaging themselves to the hilt, couldn't imagine it would end. But to fuel the buying, one thing was missing: Prices didn't go up. Many dealers found themselves stuck with huge inventories, their buyers saturated. With no profits,
buyers lost interest and the bubble burst. Banks foreclosed on cash-starved dealers. The sad thing was that these were mostly the old school connoisseurs, who really loved what was fine and beautiful, and were in the antique business, not really for profit, but to preserve and pass on this legacy to their clients. Their precious finds in the hands of the banks, were knocked down at bankruptcy auctions for next to nothing, a desperate slash and grab by their own business partners, these once friendly bankers. It was a betrayal that's now familiar in these tough times of foreclosures. By the mid 80's there was a recovery of sorts in the antique market, new people in the business and a new breed of collectors and speculators willing to buy paintings by the yard for their bank vaults.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Austin Clarke's Bajan Birthday BBQ

Summer. Leacock Summer Festival, Orillia. The writer himself, Austin Chesterfield Clarke. Earlier in the day at Bala, I had something of a literary relapse. It started with one of the cottage summer weeklies you find in bright boxes on the street. The Bala Triathlon had come and gone by eleven o'clock, as I read the one line event over a rare and excellent double espresso at Olivers almost in the laundromat. Archers on bicycles fording a river? I'll never know. Nothing much else, the Wet T Shirt Night at The Kee, tomorrow or Roller Skating Monday, Ball Hockey Tuesday, Bala Lions Dance Saturday, and the oddest news and features in the paper, like "Inflationary trend dominates bond market future" or "Bracebridge firm fined $1,500 for aggregate pit operating without licence". One piece of real cottage news: "All I can say about this summer so far is that it has been buggy and wet. . ." writes Peter Sutherland elsewhere in the Muskoka Treasury. At least it was hot and dry, rain only threatening on the patio. Looking through the tabloid for what else I missed, of course, the Leacock Summer Festival, about a half hour down the overcrowded, way too fast and nasty narrow and harrowing Hwy 11, the trucker's favorite. Watch out for deer and bikers and the OPP. The wind nearly tottered my cardboard coffee cup. I suppose I should have stayed safely at home, or on the beach with the dogs frisking about, in contravention of beach rules posted, but then dogs aren't noted for any sort of literary sense. Nearby on the patio cement, I noted another from the clan of canines to confirm my uneasy thoughts. In-ev-ita--boo-ull, this big mutt might have wined, but well enough leashed to restrain any idea of a fortuitous double-pawed leap into my lap. About to roam further into Bala, I caught myself in time. One more go through the where was it article in dreary past tense. Opened Tuesday, and it's Sunday, a 6 day event. Which Tuesday? Is it too much ink spilled, is it overly verbose to add some Arabic numerals? MT published when? July 24, no year, no page numbers, and what blasted day was that, in 2008 wasn't it? I needed a calendar to calm me down, something solid and familiar I could trust. It always happens with a strange juxtaposition of events. Prickly heat in combination with a lack of journalistic common sense bordering on journalistic misdemeanors. I made the calculations, on my fingers, going backwards and forwards to double check them. Maybe I was in luck. Perhaps this spell of missed and misspent opportunities that seemed to dog me every weekend for years, was finally about to break? A closing gala barbecue, what, afternoon? Evening? Lunch? With whom besides Mr Clarke, but of course the Giller Prize Winner, so readable enough, writers often more interesting than their work, quite opposite to actors. All ego or not enough loose change in their conversation to talk about anything other than other VIPs, like name-dropping asides to their entourage in tow. An exception though for Film Festivals, the crowds, the glamour and film fanatics who know how to gush or be cerebral. Not exactly like that at literary readings. Subdued, humming at best. But for a writer, absolutely an exciting prospect, literary people, a bar and BBQ. Though would any be there after the Hwy 11 ordeal and other delays, like where exactly was this BBQ? Orillia, a vast metropolis to the uninitiated. The MT was sure to get a snappy Letter to the Editor, even if they no longer published any. I would see to that at least, especially after I arrived and no one was to be found except myself. Or in the other noteworthy case, an unhappily misfiring literary boondoggle, which should not have been newsworthy of even a Page Zero. Perhaps it was all part of a premonition I was having? Something seemed to be transforming about me, a subtle alteration of consciousness perhaps, like a chameleon changing colors, though that no doubt was due to the empty tube of SPF-30 still in the glove compartment. Finally, it struck me. I was having a literary relapse. I had to go to Orillia or else.

An uneventful arrival, except for 3 conflicting versions of what had happened, or might happen and where Austin's Birthday BBQ might be, if it hadn't happened, from friendly natives of Orillia who all agreed that I had missed the Leacock Sidewalk Sale yesterday. Down a long winding path along the lake, more the smooth asphalt bicycle or rollerblading variety, to Old Brewery Bay, maybe a 15 minute walk from the dock and past entire Chinese families 3 generations strong, fishing excitedly along a promising stretch of 18 inch sandy beach. To Museum Road, though no one mentioned it, the obvious dirction to Leacock House and Leacock Museum past Leacock Point Estates, barely estatical, and the Job Fair yesterday at the giant long-term care facility, and on and down to the lake again after being mislead by a sign pointing left, away from Museum Rd, now more the half hour walk with misdirections. But worthwhile with the sky clearing and a friendly bit of sunshine sparkling off the water. Though you could drive and get lost too, but not in any sort of charming way.

In luck at last. A tent extending to near Old Brewery Bay from the visitors' center and restaurant, was overflowing with literary personages. A stately columned mansion across the drive, Leacock's splendid home he'd had built 80 years ago. People weren't eating yet, a good sign I was in time. The excitement mounted. In the back of my mind I thought I might run into Patrick Crean, the distinguished Publisher and Editor of Thomas Allen & Son, where I had recently submitted my novel, Up On Seven Dollars. Hadn't heard back yet, but it was still early. The wheels were turning, but would they engage? Wasn't that Jane Urquhart in white? But having had to go through the preliminaries, like purchasing a ticket and staking out the last possible desirable seat under the tent instead of the stuffier main dining room, she was gone. But I'd found a friendly long table and the good humor was contagious. Dinner ready, a long line formed instantly for the buffet, presided over by our chef and host, Austin Clarke in dreadlocks. I nodded appreciatively, plenty of jerk chicken and roasted pork tenderloin, plus the earlier rum punch. A mellow evening on the way. After the food and a warm official welcoming from the Stephen Leacock Museum people and the Barbados Tourism Board, partners in the event, Austin took charge. If his wordless manner was engaging, the long stride in his words and pauses awoke a magical sense of time past, of the days of storytellers and balladeers, the accents Bajan, from his island of Barbados. Though he had been away a long long time from his ancient roots and the tropical sun, he might have arrived only the other day to tell us a bit about drawing breath and living life in a gentler way.

Leacock Summer Festival,
Orillia, Ontario, Canada,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Art In The Park

Summer, Harper Pottery, Parry Sound. This is the potter himself, Jonathan Harper. Every summer, about 50 artists and artisans descend on Market Square, by the old firehall and the new library, to show us their stuff. Fairs like Art in the Park, in some of the bigger towns throughout cottage country, are about the best place for something special to hang on the living room wall or put on your table. There are some remarkable finds like Harper Pottery, really stiking, moving and beautiful. A lot though is crafts and knick-knacks granny and the kids might like, a garage sale of new junk, or better hand-made, sometimes quite special, geegaws. Sunday painters also show up with a mixed collection of the good, bad and the ugly. But there's plenty of solid work you'd be happy to find. Since the higher end arts and crafts are mostly sold by art galleries and pricey shops, the show and sale prices at these events tend to be a bargain. And with the economy stagnant for years now, prices haven't gone up much either. Jonathan says that what's hurting is cheap and recently better quality pottery from China, aimed at his clientele and even copying the designs of artisanal pottery, knockoffs like of Gucci, now swamping the artisans too. Next time you're thinking of crockery, look for the real thing from your local potters. The quality, esthetic and collectable value only costs a few dollars more. Contact Jonathan at Harper Pottery in Waterdown, Ontario at (905) 690-0049.

Ivan Trotter works in Toronto, but tours the fairs in summer. Painting professionally for the last 15 years, he now concentrates on French and Italian motifs, which sell better than Spanish or Greek scenes, with Canadian and American too familiar over here to be sought after much. That light and color he sees in the lush landscapes of Europe, also suits water-based acrylics he uses now instead of oils and turps, a health hazard endured by many old painters. It always surprises me in modern art how much an artist's work can vary from picture to picture, never mind from year to year. Many don't seem to find a groove or a style which could make them popular and collectable. Contact Ivan Trotter at

Stoney Creek Woodturning. For John Van Kessel, a hobby became a second carreer after he retired from education in London, Ontario. He has the knack of a true professional, whose work speaks fondly of the woods he uses. You might think he wanderers the forests, but through connections in his town, he manages to find most of his wood from trees that have been cleared from city streets. Since he was a high school principal, I couldn't resist asking him what he's seen happening over the years with kids themselves. "Worst than they've ever been and better than they've ever been. More mature and socially conscious or completely out of control." No surprises, more or less what I thought. Contact John at Stoney Creek Woodturning, in London, Ontario at

Brigitte Nowak works in Toronto. But she's had solid connections with Parry Sound for 50 years, coming up every summer to her family's cottage. She's seen the big transitions in country life, lately she comments, "Like the BMW's and their high-profile people who like to spend their money." Meaning further south especially around Port Carling, where her work sells well at an art gallery. Here it's still mostly pickups and SUVs, but she does agree, "Parry Sound is special, a Frontier Town mentality," she says, (Gateway to the North-- you get that in tourist brochures) "with much the same feeling as Yellowknife." That's about as far north as you ever want to go. Brigitte wasn't kidding. She knows Yellowknife. I do sort of, after several hours of Margaritas in Mexico with this hard-drinking gal from Yellowknife. ¡Viva México! By the way, I'd like to say hi to all my friends in Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara and San Miguel. ¡No perderéis Guanajuato! And to thousands more new friends over there who read this blog, I was pleasantly surprised to find out recently. ¡Hola muchachos y gracias, todos! Anyway Brigitte's work has a wide range beyond country landscapes which she didn't bring along. Contact Brigitte or see more on her website

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Art Of Cottaging

Summer. A bower of flowers, off a dirt road, Magnetawan. Wannabee cottagers hope for a backyard like this and a lake out front. They're not disappointed if the money works out. They'll overlook a lot of other things too when the weather's good. Like filling up their cruisers at the local marina at $170.00 a pop. Country life isn't exactly cheap, not if you want the glossy magazine version. With boats though, you should be able to get a good deal, used. Always more for sale, and you don't wait months for delivery. For the first big splurge, do your research and you could be grinning on a budget. Careful, the used ones have their secret histories like cars. Cottagers are forever trading up, or trading down when the wife files for divorce. Be brave and remember winching in and out of boat launches, the trailer usually parked outside your garage, boat tarped over in case of rain or mice, might qualify as that thing outside we never use from the soon to be ex-wife and why don't you rent a berth? The $20,000 adventure could be Boat For Sale, by fall, especially when the kids go to college. Cottages too, crest the same waves, but the glamor and high prices don't fade. It might be a sweet deal if you're part of a big city clan rolling in for the weekends. Otherwise you might be surprised at what a big and expensive deal it is to run your dream hideaway. But new cottagers show up all the time to take up the slack. With a little cottage fever and visions of barbecues and beer by the dock, the boating and swimming, the easy life of a Muskoka summer, they keep on retreading the cottage experience at least for their kids. It gets out of hand when the cottage turns into a long distance suburban chalet sprawl out of a cookie-cutter kit catalog like your neighbor's giant A frame over the living room, with the big triangle windows that look way better from the inside. Some days it's all worth it. Great weekends eventually do happen when everything's just right. Before the flies in spring while you're still hassling with the overwintering dust and must or maybe late summer when the bugs have been burned out by the hot sun, and everybody's favorite people do show up together, and no one forgets to smile or shrug.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Spring for a change, from a visit today to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, near Rosseau, with Audrey Tournay. You don't necessarily plan on these things. Life happens when you're thinking of other things, an echo from John Lennon. Audrey was a schoolteacher in St Catherines when in the mid '60's someone gave her two orphaned skunks. "They're almost as nice as beavers, and funny too." Now it's 400 skunks later, and only skunked 8 times. It took a few more years and buying an abandoned farm to set her on her way. A vet from Parry Sound kept dropping over with various adorable wild animals he'd doctored, but not yet strong enough or old enough to get back to the wild. No one, Audrey found, not the government nor any other agency would care for them. So she wound up doing the job herself on her 800 acre farm. All sorts of animals, mostly local, some exotic like a lion she has now from BC, that grew too big for a pet. Animals with hard luck stories, the majority not injured like you might expect, but young and orphaned, parents killed by cars, but mostly by hunters. Bears for instance, about 90 today in a woodland pen, black and brown, really the same species, even born together in the same litter, are common guests. At about 18 months they go back to the wild. Documentary film crews have showed up for the emotional moment. Deer, wolves still, though with so few now, they're mating with coyotes who've moved north, even with dogs. Audrey's is part coyote, as it happens. Like her other friends, from around 200 in the spring to a thousand by fall, her dog found her too. And just about any other wild animal in these parts, from raccoons, to deer and owls. Audrey never turns a wild animal away.

Beavers are Audrey's favorites. Any current resident would make himself at home in your lap, and do in hers when pint-sized, feeding and nuzzling. Since they're to return to the wild, close human contact is kept to a minimum. They're as wonderful as Grey Owl says they are, the one who used to be a trapper and lived around Parry Sound. His cabin was loaded with them, very sociable and unstoppable. Can't sit still for a minute unless they're sleeping in your bed. If you're a cottager, they could wind up gnawing your furniture. See the Aspen Valley website on how to deal with furry and feathered visitors, in a kindly way. There's a downloadable pdf, Living with Wildlife. Animals should be respected and protected. With a little understanding, they'll mind their own business, even bears.

Deer are still a delightful sight, prancing across roads and highways, so always be prepared to stop in cottage country. At Aspen Valley, unlike many zoos, they're happy here. For one thing, they're in the country, and penned in very large woodland enclosures, and that only for a time, so they can go back into the wild when they're big and strong enough. The Sanctuary is open to the public from Victoria Day through Canadian Thanksgiving, admission by donation. It's a great outing for kids and not a commercial venture. Bring a picnic lunch and roam around. Visit some animal friends. It's amazing to be able to get close to them. Over the years, as more wild animals have descended, still with no other place to go, Audrey's had to expand. Fortunately through donations and sponsors, but still no money from the government, she's been able to hire a small staff and enlist some volunteers. They're an enthusiastic lot, usually a half-dozen students from Germany, Switzerland and England, some returning year after year. It's the enchantment of the wild and wide open spaces and of course the animals. If you're a cottager, staying for the summer, check out the Sanctuary's nature study courses for your kids. Drop in and see Audrey, a great and gracious lady. She's an artist and storyteller too, inspired by her bears and beavers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Deep In Cottage Country

Near Tait's Landing on Lake Manitouwabing where you can rent one of these pontoon golf carts. A fun way to spend the day, away from people again. Wish there were more of Stephen Leacock's small towns. They've disappeared and Orillia has sadly lost its Sunshine Sketches, now a big, but still charming and attractive place. The Rathskeller has been bulldozed by the huge Chinese buffet. Still you do get some sentimental incidents that ping back from the old days. Fussy old ladies getting their hair done at jam packed beauty salons doused in stinging peroxide. People jumping out at you thinking they know you. Kids and dogs and picnics. Wet frisky dogs on the beach. The trip to the bank, an ordeal of a different sort. Book ahead, like at the beauty parlour, but they don't answer the phone or you can call an 800 number in Calcutta. Don't fret about polishing your shoes and the cravat knotted right. The guy behind the desk isn't the manager or the assistant manager or even the loans officer, but a customer service rep who types into his keyboard. It's the financial software and his printout that gives you the final, absolutely final, bad news about your loan application. Cubbyhole bars and bars tucked into restaurants can be social stomping grounds. The bigger places are just noisy or empty. Smokers don't like them anymore. You might find a few chewing emergency nicotine gum. Suspicious characters are still rare, but now you find them talking into their cellphones on street corners. Watch for the cop on his beat in his squad car at the only traffic light in town. Could cost you plenty. Weddings and funerals, the big social occasions right up there with church basement Jackpot Bingo. The strangers in town, the still contagious city slickers whether loud tourists or LL Bean catalog cottagers, and the occasional drifter who wants directions for somewhere else. Bibles on your doorstep from a half-dozen evangelical outfits and always a pair of Mormons somewhere. Hassles at the liquor store, a pint of whisky or an armload of beer, cut off by bourbon stuffed buggies hustling for the door and the double parked Mercedes. Or the revenge of the locals: Waiting at the Beer Store while pickups unload 300 cases of empties and cash them in. The rumor mill and the grapevine from the old Rathskeller now at the Tim Hortons. Ask a nosy question. Somebody has the answer, spell it for ya forwards and backwards.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sentimental Places

Summer. Dillon, near Killbear. Cottage vacations always remind me of other cottage vacations. When I was growing up it was either that or playing ball during the long hot city summers. The rich kids flew somewhere with their parents. Getting in the car a few hours out of town was a big enough adventure. The air was sweeter. It made you eat a lot or sleep a lot or play a lot of cards at night on the porch. We didn't have our own cottage, so we rented this and that. Every day was great when it wasn't a drag or raining and boring. Odd things left behind in the cupboards, a Playboy Magazine found under the mattress, no hot water or no running water, just a kitchen hand pump and the outhouse outside. Poison ivy, mosquitoes and ticks. A local general store in the nearest small town or at the gas station for something to do, some still surviving like this one, nothing trendy and expensive, dropping in for a Coke, some candy and other junk for kids, plastic rafts that took dad a half hour to blow up, board games and jigsaw puzzles and comic books. Lazing on the beach with a transistor radio. Sunburn and Noxzema, and sand between your toes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Lazy Day On The Lake

Summer. On the big arm of the Magnetawan near Lake Cecebe. Once we're in the city, we can get back to the country in comfort, some of us with the money. That's driven prices sky high in Muskoka and many other nice spots, near or far from the city. It's not fair to the locals who have to adjust to this city economy. Used to be they could save for something they could build on a lot somewhere, a cottage or a new home. Lots are just as juicy as cottages, when speculators find them and hang onto them long enough. Now the locals are mostly stuck in low-end housing in scruffy towns that cottagers wonder about. Why do these people live like this in the country? As if country people are rather stupid and want to live in a ramshackle bungalow on a postage stamp lot by the railroad tracks. If there is any real basis for resentment, locals for city slickers, this has to be it.