Renting in the Fall – Important Information

While we mostly think of cottages as summer vacation spots, they can be magical in the fall.  The summer crowds are back in the city; the pace is slower and there’s very few bugs, which is a huge bonus.  Add to that, the potential of some later season warmth and a fall break becomes a very attractive option.

Before you begin imagining wrapping up in a blanket and sitting out on the dock on a crisp fall evening, there’s a few things you need to know about autumn in cottage country.


Let’s start with this one as guests usually expect the cottage dock to still be in place right the way through to the end of October.  Some might still be in for Thanksgiving, but in fact most owners begin planning for dock removal as soon as Labour Day is past.  There’s a couple of reasons for this.

They usually have to get into the water to unhitch and remove a dock and as every day passes and the nighttime temperature goes down, that water gets colder.  Spending a couple of hours (that’s usually a minimum) in cold water in late September is about as much as any owner wants to do so earlier removal is preferred.

Hiring a crew to take it out means getting on their schedule, and since the later removal times are prized, most have to opt for an early September slot to ensure it gets done.  This means if you have booked a week at a cottage in the fall, there’s a possibility the dock will have to come out while you are there, so it’s a good idea to check.  Don’t ask the owner to change his schedule to suit your plans because it’s unlikely to happen.

Water Levels

We hear about water levels on the Great Lakes, but you may not be aware that water is managed on many of Ontario’s smaller lakes and rivers too. Dam controls raise and lower water levels in the spring and fall to deal with run-off in April and in preparation for winter.

This means that the summer photos shown on a listing may not accurately depict what the waterfront will look like in the autumn.  At times levels are high, covering up sand beaches and at other times, lower water may uncover weedier areas.

Services May Be Limited

In some very seasonal areas, stores may have reduced opening hours in the fall with some closed altogether after Thanksgiving. Summer food kiosks are likely closed down by September with bakeries and restaurants operating on only a few days of the week. However, in areas that cater to a year-round residential clientele you’ll find a broader range of services continuing through September and October.

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