Newsletter August 2020

Hello all, it’s Pam writing to you from Fancy Free cottage. It’s been a glorious summer on Big Rideau Lake. We hope you have had a chance to get away and enjoy a classic Canadian  “C” – cabin, campsite or cottage. Here’s a quick update and some Eastern Ontario insider tips.

There are still some good weeks available at Fancy Free before the 2020 season ends. We are taking bookings now for 2021 as well. If you are interested, please fill out the inquiry form here.

People often ask us what our favourite month is at Fancy Free. The answer might surprise you – or maybe not. It’s September. 

Most of September is very summery here in southern Ontario. Summer this year officially goes from June 20 to the September equinox on September 22nd. That means that on Big Rideau Lake, temperatures are still warm and sometimes even hot during the day for a good part of the month- ideal for a lakeside cottage.

But unlike mid-summer, the evenings cool down beautifully in September and all the biting insects completely disappear. You can lie out at night and watch the display of stars and planets roll across the night sky to your heart’s content. It gets dark earlier in the evening, which is a bonus to star gazers since you don’t have to stay up past midnight. Fancy Free is in a dark sky area so if it’s clear you can see a spectacular array of constellations.

Photo credit Terry McBurnie
Photo credit Terry McBurnie

Sleep comes easily under one of Fancy Free’s fluffy duvets. If the morning air has a chill to it, all the better for making a fire in Fancy Free’s Swedish wood stove, whipping up a batch of pancakes, topping them with local maple syrup, then going for a paddle in the canoe off the dock of Fancy Free Island or a hike at the nearby Mill Pond Conservation Area. 

If you’ve run out of maple syrup, you can even walk to get some! Saunter down the Houghton-Briton Bay road from Fancy Free’s mainland dock. When you reach McEwen’s farmhouse, after maybe a mile or so, you can buy some of the best amber Grade A maple syrup in the world. They make it in their own sugar bush and there’s always a supply of syrup in jars available for sale on a table out on the back porch of the farmhouse. A hand lettered sign tells you how much to pay, and you put your cash in the little jar. You have to know about this place since there’s no roadside sign to tell you. Like much of Eastern Ontario, old traditions still remain but you need to know where to look. 

Big Rideau Lake is generally much quieter in September too, since many of the families who summer on the lake have gone back home for school term, which in Ontario starts after Labour Day. The water’s warm, often warmer than the night air, so mists will rise in the channel in front of the porch in the early morning. You have the feeling of having the lake all to yourself in a canoe or kayak. 

The trees begin to turn colour around the end of September. By month’s end the forests are usually well into the fall riot of scarlet and gold and with the blue of the lake the island is at its most beautiful. 

Photo: Heather Gough

There’s also the summer harvest to enjoy. The family farms of Eastern Ontario produce abundant delicious produce. Look for ripe sweet corn, juicy red tomatoes, squash of all sorts, apples and many other fruits and vegetables.  INSIDER TIP: You can buy locally produced cheeses, preserves, baking and meats from Wendy’s Country Market in Lyndhurst or from Coutt’s Country Flavours on Port Elmsley Road near Perth.

So go ahead and have a September feast! Some wine from nearby Prince Edward County or a locally brewed beer will wash it all down. And for dessert, you must try some fair trade, award-winning Hummingbird chocolate from Almonte. Enjoy!

Photo: Heather Gough

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