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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cottage country escapes fuelled by baby boomers

   One-Tank Trip for March 24/12

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Why wait for summer – do it now – since the weather can’t get much better.
   Across “cottage country,” owners are heading out to open up the place much earlier than usual with the arrival of summer-like weather.
   Would-be cottage buyers are scouring the countryside for that perfect dream place by the lake – largely fuelled by baby boomers looking for their retirement escape.
   Cisco watches for loons as the sun sets over another great day at the cottage on Bass Lake. (Jim Fox photo)

   How to become a cottager
   Learn all about it at the Spring Cottage Life Show, returning to the International Centre in Mississauga from March 30 to April 1.
   “Every cottager has something they just can’t wait for as opening weekend approaches,” said show publicist Peggy Sheffield.
   “The first sound of the loon . . . the first night sleeping in the bunkie . . . the smell of the first barbecue with cottage friends” are among the joys of this largely Canadian second lifestyle.
   Created for cottagers by cottagers through Cottage Life magazine, it will attract about 30,000 people over three days and features some 475 exhibitors along with “exciting and informative feature areas and seminars.
   There is everything from boats to docks, furniture to artwork, septic systems and building products, water toys, canoes, kayaks, hammocks and everything to put more fun in the summer sun.
   As the show kicks off the magazine’s 25th anniversary, there’s a draw to win a one-of-a-kind cedar-strip canoe from Langford Canoe, worth more than $5,000.
The Spring Cottage Life Show is giving away a cedar-strip canoe similar to this one from Langford Canoe, worth more than $5,000.
   Party on
   The RE/MAX Cottage Dock Party returns as the show’s social hub, Sheffield said.
   That’s where showgoers can “relax with a drink, catch up with friends plus meet the personalities behind Cottage Life Television.”
   Show host Erin McCoy, cottage handyman Wayne Lennox and dockside chef Jason Fitzsimmons will be looking for interesting stories and cottagers to feature in the next season.
   Over at the Cottage Kitchen, barbecue guru Rob Rainford gives tasty demonstrations along with Alain Bosse, the Kilted Chef from Halifax, with his PEI mussels in maple cream curry sauce.
   Time to tame that grimy grill with a how-to series showing the steps to tuning up and polishing the Barbie and how to fillet a fresh fish for dinner.
   Cottage Life food editor Martin Zibauer shows how to make bacon for an unforgettable cottage grub experience.

   Join the cottaging club
   Find out about price trends and where to find that hideaway as the Cottage Real Estate Centre features more than 70 realtors from across Ontario cottage country.
   “It’s the only opportunity of the year to comparison-shop thousands of listings without leaving the city,” Sheffield said.
   Chris Winney, a broker with Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty in Northbrook, will share her checklist for “Finding the Perfect Family Cottage.”
   She represents Land of Lakes, between the Kawarthas and the Ottawa Valley, where average cottage prices are considered affordable at $275,000 to $350,000.
   Winney finds that baby boomers now want to retire to a cottage, making this a “huge trend.”
   Blended families want cottages as a gathering spot as a “real learning and coming together experience.”
   Also in the market are “younger owners” who want a place they can use but also rent out for an investment as well as “some payback.”
   Lawyer Peter Lillico will also speak about dealing with family members in cottage-sharing arrangements.
   More than 475 exhibitors will pack the Spring Cottage Life Show attended by about 30,000 people over three days.
   Retro or metro?
   While retro at the cottage can be good, the show’s main stage features designer and decorator Jeanne Grier.
   She will show the latest trends in cottage decorating, including colours, materials and tips for easy year-round cottage living.
   At the workshop, carpenter Wayne Lennox will show do-it-yourselfers how to build a deck.
   Over at the Cottage Wildlife Centre, there will be an up-close look at cottage country critters including the Massassauga rattler, turtles, snakes and birds of prey from the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre.
   Learn about the Toronto Zoo Adopt-A-Pond program and the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, while Bill Bat Boy will give tips for keeping bats, squirrels and other creatures out of the rafters.
   There will be nature-themed crafts and the kids camping zone and children can select and prepare a white spruce seedling to take home and plant.
   There is also free child care for up to two hours on Saturday and Sunday, for children two and older.

   If you go:
   The show is at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd., Mississauga on March 30, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; March 31, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and April 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
   Admission is $17; $10, ages 13 to 17; free, 12 and younger; $24, weekend pass (discounts on-line and in Cottage Life magazine, April edition). Parking is free. www.cottagelife.com/shows


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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