Just like every family, every cottage is unique. Maybe your cottage has a display of off-colour postcards pinned to one wall, souvenirs of past family vacations. Maybe your family enjoys breaking out the 40-year-old cribbage board each night (you know, the one that uses matchsticks for markers because you lost the pegs ages ago).
Quirks aside, there are certain things that seem to pop up at every single Canadian cottage—meaning you’re likely to feel at home, no matter whose lakeside retreat you visit.
You may abstain from junk food in the city, but these Canadian treats are irresistible at the cottage.
Whether you prefer on-the-ground or in-the-water Frisbee tossing, this cottage classic is a guaranteed good time.
Even if you don’t like s’mores (or forgot to stock up on chocolate and graham crackers), chances are you’ve got a bag of elderly marshmallows in the back of a cupboard somewhere.
Ancient Pyrex or Corelware
Usually a mismatched set of bowls, plates, mugs, and baking dishes, these dishes seem to pop up in everyone's pantry.
Though they're usually hung for decoration, snowshoes are also around for that day when there’s been a surprise snowstorm and you’ve got to go to the shed to grab a new roll of toilet paper.
Someone cue up the Kim Mitchell!
Whether you feed the goldfinches, grosbeaks, or hummingbirds (or all of them), watching the daily drama of the bird feeder is a national pastime for cottagers.
A Canadian flag
The go-to decoration for front lawns and decks.
Even if you never had an actual outhouse on your property, you’ve probably got a model outhouse, or an outhouse calendar, or some outhouse-themed humour somewhere around the cottage.
Whether or not they actually work (and some people swear by them), a deck isn’t a deck without the lemony scent of citronella wafting in the evening breeze.
Wind chimes at the cottage often have a wildlife theme—we’ve seen cast-iron moose hung with bells, chimes shaped like birds and, in a different interpretation of “wildlife,” wind chimes made out of beer cans.
A 1970s-era couch that’s ridiculously ugly but ridiculously comfortable
Too ugly for city life, this couch probably has orange and brown upholstery—but there’s no better place to take a nap after a long swim.
Powdered noodle soup
The ultimate rainy-day cottage lunch, powdered chicken noodle soup is easy to pack and simple to make—even if all you feel like doing is curling up with a book.
Vintage lawn furniture in varying states of sit-ability
Your whole family may know about the wonky lawn chair (sit in it very slowly, and don’t put all your weight on either side) but do your guests a favour and let them know too.
A potty poem
Somehow, humour that would be in bad taste in the city is perfectly appropriate at the cottage.
You can throw these in a backpack, or just sip from them on the back porch without having to worry about anything breaking.
A cottage-themed welcome mat
Cottage welcome mats often remind us that we don’t want to be anywhere else.
Long poking sticks for a campfire
Often repurposed from other household uses (chair dowels, anyone?), a good fire-poking stick is a precious thing.
Mismatched, threadbare beach towels
Because woe to you if you take the “good” bathroom towels to the beach.
An oddball assortment of mugs
No one knows where they come from, but your cottage likely has a collection of strange souvenir mugs that say things like “Forest Park Touch Football Champs 1982” and “Annual Conference of HVAC Technicians General Meeting.”