As we move into a new year and a new decade, I’d like to take a few moments to thank the many people who have helped to make Fancy Free the very special spot that it is. Some of these are friends, some are family, some are neighbours, and some are guests who over the years have made Fancy Free their home away from home for a week or two and often return or keep in touch in various ways.
All are important to us, as they are part of that rare, intangible sense of connectedness to the past that people feel once they settle into a day or two of life on Fancy Free island. History and the present day meld together seamlessly. Indeed, our introduction to all guests includes the idea that just by being there, they become part of the history of Fancy Free too.
Not much has changed over the years on Fancy Free island, since somehow the beauty of the island and the recipe that was first used to build and furnish the cottage at Fancy Free is so timeless that there seems to be no need to improve upon it.
The views out of each window of the sparkling waters of Big Rideau Lake are endlessly hypnotic. The joys of swimming and boating, of reading on the porch or slacking off in the hammock, of group meals al fresco around the picnic table by the barbeque, or gatherings around the fire pit, or playing ball or badminton on the lawns or board games around the table, all have been enjoyed in much the same way by generation after generation for almost 150 years.
One of the comments that we hear often is the sense of peace, family togetherness and psychic restoration that people experience on Fancy Free.
This sense of timelessness, or of time standing still, is enhanced or perhaps even created by the fact that at Fancy Free you are actually of course on an island and are physically separated from the hectic realities of everyday life as experienced in the world on the other side. You have a boat trip to take, a rite of passage of sorts, every time you arrive or leave Fancy Free.
Although Fancy Free island is so close to the mainland that you can swim over the channel to it in just a few minutes, it’s still a place apart. That makes it different, and special. It gives you a chance to create your own experiences with few interruptions from the outside world.
Another way of looking at is that you can better develop mindfulness, a sense of being in the moment or being closer to the others who are around you, when you are at an arm’s length from the mainstream.
That’s the timeless secret of the “bolthole”, the cabin, the retreat, the canoe trip, the journey on the footpath. A change of perspective is refreshing, and necessary, from time to time.
Another nod to the past is the way that our operating principles have stayed true to the old-fashioned theme that a good welcome to the island is very important.
In this age of the instant and the impersonal, we believe in the importance of the slow and the personal. All new guests are greeted at the mainland dock on their first day, and brought over to the island for a short tour and introduction. They are shown how to run the motor boat, and where to find the things that they’ll need, and they can ask all the questions they want. We simply would not dream of doing it differently.
And then when you are comfortable, we turn things over to you. The island is completely yours to relax in and enjoy a type of privacy that is granted to very few.
It’s the allure of the private island. If you haven’t experienced it yet, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
For those of you who have already been Fancy Freers, please come again. There’s a warm welcome waiting.