From One Cottage Dream to Another

Almost six years ago and after many years of mooching cottage weekends from friends and family, Tory and I decided to buy our little corner of paradise. We bought a small place on a quiet bay in Haliburton from the original owners who started vacationing on it in 1963 and who built the cottage by hand in 1983. Finally becoming cottage-owners was a dream come true. Kate even invested $50 of her own money for the down payment.

The previous owners left us a beautiful, heartfelt letter explaining the history of the place and how they grew it from being a rustic trailer site by adding a small bunkie they used for playing cards, and finally adding the main cabin. The wife also mentioned how her dad spent countless hours fishing, but never caught “the big one”.


Since then we’ve visited what we now call Willow Woods (no offense, Jack – we’ll find something to name after you too. Maybe the sofa you sleep 23 hours a day on) nearly every weekend from spring to fall, and regularly throughout the winter.

Not long after we bought I learned of an organization called Cottage Dreams, which matches cottage owners with cancer patients recovering from treatment. The cottages are donated and made available for patients to reconnect with family and rejuvenate for a week.

I loved the idea. For me cottage = comfort. It’s impossible to not feel comforted sitting on the end of the dock and hearing the water splash against the rocks. Or not hearing anything at all. If there’s a heaven I hope it looks a lot like this:


And as many good ideas do, this one sat tucked away in a drawer until the right moment. Or I guess the wrong moment in my case. When Tory died I searched for ways for Kate and me to give back to the growing community of cancer patients and survivors. I remembered the card I picked up those years ago, and after completing the application, writing a description of the cottage and sending in a few pics, our first guests were booked within a couple hours.

They arrive this Sunday, a female cancer survivor and another five adults.

Why did it take such a short time for the cottage to be booked? Believe me it’s not because it’s anything special (well I think it’s special…). It’s just 850 sq. ft. – the municipality won’t even let you build a cottage that size anymore. There just aren’t enough cottages available in the program, and my bet is it’s because not enough people know about Cottage Dreams or programs like it.

Hopefully that changes soon. Can you help them out and share this post with your friends and family? And if you’re interested in the program – either because you have a cottage or maybe you know someone who could benefit from it – let me know.

We’ve never rented Willow Woods, so there’s six years of stuff to clean up – it’ll be a busy Saturday. Kate and I will do what we can to make our guests feel welcome before we hand over the keys. That way they can spend more time sitting on the dock and finding “the big one” lurking in the bay.

Hope they find comfort, too.

Have a great weekend.


P.S. As of this Monday we’re just two months out from The Tory Day Fund Night of Nonsense, our fundraising event. It’ll cap what I expect to be a successful fundraising campaign and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than with you all. Have you bought your ticket yet?