Lake at sunset
Photo by Adam Melnyk/

5 common misconceptions about Ontario cottage country

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If you don’t have a cottage in Ontario (and, really, even if you do), chances are you’ve got some misconceptions floating around in your head about what it means to be a cottager in this lovely province.

We’re here to bust—or at least gently puncture—a few of those myths about Ontario cottage country.

Myth #1: “Cottage country” really means “Muskoka”

The reality: You’d be forgiven for thinking that all there is to “cottage country” in Ontario is a couple of hours north of Toronto, but you’d be really, really wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Muskoka, of course, but there are great cottaging areas all over the province. For a change of scenery, head south to the north shore of Lake Erie, or explore options in the Kawarthas. Prince Edward County and more northerly regions east of Toronto also have gorgeous places to get into the cottage life, as does the east side of Lake Huron. And if you’re really longing for the northern feeling, head further north than Muskoka to get that “loon on a lake” feeling without as many crowds.

Myth #2: You have to be a millionaire to own a cottage

The reality: Even in Muskoka, there are far more “average” cottagers than there are mansion dwellers—and if you go a little further afield, you can find great cottages for really reasonable prices. For example, in Lennox and Addington county (the strip up from Lake Ontario between Belleville and Kingston that include Bon Echo Provincial Park) the average price for a cottage is $200,000. In Bruce County, which covers the Bruce Peninsula and includes vacation hotspots like Sauble Beach and Tobermory, the average price for a cottage is about $250,00, with waterfront properties averaging around $300,000.

Myth #3: There’s nothing to do in the off-season

The reality: Learn to love winter sports, because a lot of summer destinations have hopping off-season activities too. If you’ve got a cottage in Simcoe County—the area that includes Barrie and Collingwood—or pretty much anywhere close to Georgian Bay, you can ski just about every day of the winter and never run out of hills. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, skating…we could go on and on. Cottaging doesn’t have to stop after Labour Day weekend!

Myth #4: The locals hate cottagers

The reality: Most locals know how vital cottagers are to the local economy—the extra foot traffic during peak season has a big impact on local businesses. Many also enjoy getting to know people from different parts of the province (or country). Be polite, be friendly, and you’ll probably find yourself having some great conversations with people who love your cottaging area as much as you do.

Myth #5: If you’re not on the water, it’s not worth it

Sure, being on a lake or river is nice, but it’s an extra expense (think cottage price, buying and maintaining a boat/dock and maintaining your stretch of beach or rocks). A lovely cottage nestled in the woods—maybe close to lake access—can be just as magical.

What are some myths about Ontario cottage country you’d like to bust?