This is a wonderful time of year to rent a cottage. There’s little more romantic than wrapping up warm for a moonlit walk on a frozen lake, with the smell of wood smoke in the air, and the canopy of stars glittering overhead. Returning to your cosy cottage to curl up in front of the fire and reflect on yet another beautiful day in cottage country rounds off an evening perfectly. And we have plenty of cottages for you to choose from.
To really enjoy the experience you need to be prepared for everything a cottage winter can bring so please take a few moments to read these winterwise notes.
All cottages offered for rental during the winter months have road access and receive a snow plowing service from either municipal or private sources. However, rental guests are advised that following any major snowfall, snow plow providers are contracted to clear local roads in a predetermined order. Consequently, plowing at your cottage may be delayed for several hours or, in severe storm weather, several days. Conditions in cottage country can be vastly different from those experienced in the city, even just a couple of hours north. For example, snow squalls off Georgian Bay occur regularly in the Southern Georgian Bay/Parry Sound/Huntsville area.
In the unlikely event that a lack of snow clearance prevents you leaving the cottage on your planned departure date, you will not be liable for any additional accommodation charges. Conversely, should a lack of snow clearance prevent you from reaching the cottage, you will receive a refund of the rental fee for the day(s) the cottage was inaccessible. However, neither CottageLINK Rental Management nor the cottage owner will be held responsible for any losses, additional expenses or penalties incurred as a result of being unable to arrive at or leave the cottage on time due to a lack of snow clearance. Please note that CottageLINK Rental Management in conjunction with the property owner will be the final arbiters in deciding the accessibility of an individual property.
Winter Driving in Cottage Country
Guests are also reminded to ensure that they and their vehicles are suitably prepared and equipped for driving in the wintry conditions likely to be encountered during their visit to Cottage Country.
Although most major highways and major county roads are kept relatively snow and ice-free, cottage country rural roads can remain snow or ice covered for sometime after a fall of snow. Therefore, when considering a cottage rental during the winter months when snow and ice are likely to be a factor, good winter tires are essential and 4WD is highly recommended.
Keep the following in your car during your trip to cottage country: a snow shovel; blankets; cell phone; and flashlight. Do not travel without adequate winter clothing in the car – boots, headgear, coat and gloves are essential. A bag of sand or a traction mats could come in handy as well.
Preparing for the worst is also advisable. A sudden whiteout or vehicle mechanical failure can rapidly deteriorate into a survival situation if you have not prepared adequately. Ensure you have sufficient warm clothing and supplies with you to keep you and your passengers safe until help arrives or you are able to continue your journey. Bear in mind that in cottage country cell phone reception can be patchy at best and non-existent in many locations.
In addition, many cottages may be located some distance from centres of population, especially such services as gas stations. Do not leave the highway and venture onto cottage country roads with a gas tank that is less than half-full. A heavy snowstorm or strong winds could cause a widespread power outage that may last for several days. So, even if there is a gas station near the cottage, there is a good chance that it too could be affected by the same power outage and be unable to pump gas.
Cottage Country can be a fantastic place to visit in the depths of winter. However, before you consider packing the ice skates and heading for your waterfront cottage, do bear in mind that you can’t just skate on any ice-covered lake unless it has been groomed specifically for that purpose. Moreover, gauging the strength of ice is very difficult; remember there is no such thing as 100% safe ice. Keep safe by following these rules:
- Never walk or drive on cloudy ice
- Only go on clear, thick ice
- Spring ice is NEVER safe
- Ice thickness is never consistent – it may be flat on top, but is not on the bottom
- Snow on ice acts as an insulator – it makes ice warmer and weaker
- Extreme cold snaps will weaken the ice
- Ice formed over running water (rivers & streams) is more dangerous than ice formed over standing water (lakes & ponds)
General ice thickness guidelines (new, clear ice only) are as follows:
- Less than 2 inches – STAY OFF!
- 4″ and thicker – probably safe for walking and ice fishing on foot
- 5″ and thicker – probably safe for ATV or snowmobiling
- 8-12″ and thicker – probably safe for small cars or light pickups
- 12-15″ and thicker – probably safe for medium trucks
We do not issue refunds for vacations foreshortened by adverse weather conditions. This is outside our control but may, however, be covered by travel insurance.
Finally, remember to read and follow all instructions sent by CottageLINK Rental Management and any additional information and instructions provided by the cottage owner and contained in the cottage guide to ensure you have a problem-free stay. This is especially important when departing the cottage to ensure you leave it in such a condition that water pipes do not freeze between rentals.