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Cottagers and steelhead salmon have more in common than you might think

cottagers and steelhead salmon

Every spring, creatures big and small leave their winter homes in a ritualistic migration. We’re talking about cottagers, of course. But like another known migrator, the steelhead salmon, cottagers on opening weekend are driven by an innate need. Salmon need to spawn; cottagers, on the other hand, need to unwind, to connect with nature, friends, and family, and most importantly, to get the lake as fast as possible! Salmon? Cottagers? Here are the obstacles they both face. They both face similar obstacles as they struggle to reach their final destination. To better understand them, we drew inspiration from this scientific, not-at-all cheeky video about the cycle of life in cottage country, courtesy of our pals at Georgian Bay Spirit Co.

Hurdles: Traffic jams, road construction, and so on. Some cottagers leave pre-dawn on Friday in an attempt avoid the worst of the traffic, or take the back roads to sidestep the never-ending roadwork on the highway. Others just crank the tunes, lay on the horn, and deal with it. It’s a rough go. Steelhead salmon have their own, more literal hurdles to jump over as they head upstream: rapids, waterfalls, and dams.

Hunger. Pit stops for coffee or meals just take away from precious time at the lake. That’s why cottagers pack snacks. Snacks for the road; extra snacks for the final destination, to eat with a celebratory “Yay, we made it” Georgian Bay Gin Smash. Steelhead salmon haul their foodstuffs with them too: research shows that the early migrators arrive upstream carrying provisions in the form of extra fat. Who needs a cooler?

Boredom. The long weekend commute can be brutally dull, especially with restless kids, a jam-packed car, and scenery that runs on a mind-numbing loop (silo, field, cow, RV park, gas station, repeat). But at least cottagers can listen to a podcast or play I Spy. Steelhead salmon have to endure their long trip with nothing but their own thoughts. Whatever those are.

Navigational problems. If there’s anything worse than missing cocktail hour—starring your besties, and Georgian Bay Vodka Smash—it’s missing cocktail hour because you drove 650 km in the wrong direction. Happily, cottagers have iPhones, GPS, and paper maps (they still make those?) at their disposal to keep this from happening. Steelhead salmon don’t need any of that: they likely use Earth’s magnetic field to guide them.

Bears. A truly disappointing experience on opening weekend is arriving to find bear damage to the cottage—the door torn off, the fridge knocked over, scat…everywhere. But cottagers don’t have it as bad as steelhead salmon, who might actually be eaten by a bear before they even arrive at their final destination. Now that’s disappointing.