All Photos by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country
In the same way wealthy New Yorkers head to the prestigious Hamptons on summer weekends, many wealthy Torontonians have their “home away from home” known as a cottage where they spend their summer weekends. A typical drive for a cottage dweller is anywhere from 1 to 4 hours each way to relax on a quiet lake for a weekend.
In reality, the lakes in Muskoka are far from quiet, with high-power speed boats constantly zipping past – the smell of fumes in the air and discoloured, oil stained water below. Cottage dwellers themselves likely spend more time maintaining their cottages than actually enjoying them – but they will argue that is half the fun.
In my younger years I dreamt of having my own cottage. There was a time when I could envision myself hopping into a truck, motor boat in tow and heading to a cottage every weekend.
Needless to say, my perspective changed over the years and now I almost find it comical that people are willing to sit in traffic for several hours only so they can get to the cottage and clean their boat, cut the grass, pour gas into the boat, spew pollution in the air and then go back to sitting in traffic again for another 3 hours Sunday night.
But there is a reason they do it en masse – and it’s not just to secure a place in the upper class of society. No, they will tell you they want to get out of the concrete jungle for the weekend – they want to enjoy nature.
For the last few years I have been making the case for enjoying nature without stepping foot in an automobile. Last May I posted the article “Finding Mecca in the Toronto Islands”. This year I will reiterate how we have much to be thankful for in our own back yard.
The following photos were taken last Saturday afternoon while I toured the Toronto islands on my kayak. Instead of sitting in a car for several hours, it takes 10 minutes to reach my kayak by bike, and I can paddle to the island in about 20 minutes. You couldn’t even pack your car that fast, and anybody can certainly afford it.
Enjoy the photos, and experience the nature and the wildlife in the heart of Canada’s biggest city!