sunset view over lake

Island Cottage Life

We’ve been away for a bit – away from our Southern Ontario home at our island cottage a little further north – away from technology (WordPress) as well. We purchased our cottage last fall and moved into it this spring.

Our island in the spring
Our island in the spring

We were lucky to find a cottage, that doesn’t seem to need renovation, is in a location that we love, and is not too hard to get to. It’s not a house – just lovely rustic pine-filled cabin – but it has 3 bedrooms – so maybe our kids will visit. Some people have asked – why an island? Aren’t you too old? Well maybe – but I don’t think so. We want to enjoy our retirement, doing the things we enjoy – so far we LOVE it! Here are the “pros and cons” from our point of view of island life!

Island Life Pros and Cons:

Accessibility – Con

This is the main issue with being on an island of course – but we park at a local marina, and take our boat for about a fifteen minute ride to the island. This is just fine with us, but it means that we don’t plan to go back and forth after dark or in bad weather.

In the winter, when the ice is fully frozen, (January to March 15) we can walk, snowmobile or even drive across (I have NO plans for driving!!). From late November to early January, and from Mid March to late April – there is no access – unless we buy a helicopter!

Privacy and the Property Line – Pro

Our island is located in a group of small islands in a bay – and is visible from a number of different cottage properties – so I can’t say that it is isolated. The other cottages are each about 500 metres away. Close enough to wave, and invite the neighbours over, but far enough to not need curtains. (I hope – I wonder if they have binoculars over there?).

Osprey on dead tree branch over lake – our nearest neighbour

We see the occasional jet ski – and a few boats a day – but not too many! We were able to isolate for a few weeks recently in the perfect place – so as not to catch Covid and avoid any delay of an important medical procedure.


The best part about owning an island – is that there is no property line dispute – no whipper-snippering by my neighbours, picking of my blueberries, or boats laying around that aren’t mine. We had toured a few cottages for sale that had obvious neighbour issues. They say that good fences make good neighbours. I think that our “moat” works really well!

sunset view over lake
The neighbouring islands – view over lake

The View – Pro

The obvious benefit of an island is that we have a lake view from all sides – and sunrise on one side and sunset on the other!

sunset view over lake
Sunset view over lake

Pests and Wildlife – Pro

The only creatures (except for one unfortunate lonely squirrel) on our island are ants, spiders, ducks and birds. Any mammal (I mean mice, raccoons or scary bears) would have to swim here or cross on the ice. Cottages free from mice are few and far between in the north! We have set a live trap to capture our single red squirrel – as he must want to be with other squirrels – don’t you think?

My cormorant neighbour
A local cormorant

The breeze from being on an island seems to reduce the mosquito and blackfly population usually rampant in Ontario cottage country.

Services – Pro and Con

We are blessed with electricity, good cellular reception and plumbing – including a septic tank and grey water system. I know we are supposed to be back to nature in cottage country – but we are getting older and an indoor bathroom is a requirement. Not all islands are equipped with these!

The water intake is directly from the lake – and so we import water in big jugs.

After a month or so of no internet and TV, we have installed a satellite TV so we can watch our Blue Jays games, and internet via cellular service – which is why I’m finally blogging again. After our young adults visited last week – we had some regrets about the TV and internet – as the phones and TV were used when maybe we could have been swimming, playing cards and roasting marshmallows together. That outdoorsy tech-free activity is kind of the point of cottage life isn’t it?

There is a local fire and rescue service, but we hope never to need them. The local hospital is about 45 minutes away by boat and car – and we had to visit the Emergency room the other night – to have a fish hook removed from my husband’s hand. (A five hour wait by the way – but all better now).

Everything that comes and goes from the island must be transported in a boat – so we brought up beds that expand when opened and assembled everything on-island. We are diligent composters, re-users and recyclers and take our garbage to a local landfill when needed. (What comes to the island stays on the island?)

black bear at the garbage dump
Another photo of a black bear at our garbage dump

Two sheds on the property were filled to the roof with junk – and every day I remove an item or two – and decided to keep or toss. (Mostly keep – it’s like a flea market in my own backyard).

Old chair from the shed
Today’s project – painting an old chair from the shed

There is a no-burn order in place – so we cannot burn brush (or anything other than hot dogs and marshmallows), which is fair enough – but we have many many piles of fallen trees to dispose of (it will take us years!)

Piles of brush to be disposed of
One of many piles of brush to be disposed of

The Dog – Pro

Our happy Goldendoodle is not sure about swimming – and so he can’t run away!! He can roam his territory at will, bark at fishermen that get too close, without bothering the neighbours, and stand on our shallow sandbar watching the ducks go by.

Happy island goldendoodle
Happy island goldendoodle

We are very happy with our island property. Who knows what the future will bring, but we are enjoying ourselves and keeping busy. I hope to get back to posting DIYs, food stories, wildlife pictures and road trip tales soon – and of course – reading blogs – now that the internet has been conquered. Cheers!

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17 thoughts on “Island Cottage Life

  1. Some great photos! Your island seems to have all the necessary items — plus the bonus of your own vintage finds! As to the internet — perhaps it could mysteriously go “down” the next time your kids are visiting! Bernie

  2. Awesome post and images. it sounds wonderful and any cons, well they happen everywhere.

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