Summer Retreats: Where Canadians Go to Relax

From the fir-covered Laurentians of Quebec to the vertiginous vistas of the Rockies, Canada certainly isn’t lacking for places to escape city life. But what makes a vacation spot the perfect place for a replenishing summer break? We asked a handful of prominent Canadians where they go to tune out and soak up the sun.

Bark Lake, Quebec

David McMillan, co-owner of Montreal restaurant Joe Beef

“I have a cottage in Barkmere on Bark Lake, in the Laurentians. It’s a boat-only-access cottage, nine kilometres down the lake. I’ve got no neighbours and my yard backs up on a protected forest called the Ancient Forest of Silver Bay that’s never been clear-cut. There’s all kinds of majestic trees: yellow birch, white birch. And the catch-and-release fishing is outstanding. There’s lake trout, bass. It’s the second-biggest lake in the Laurentians, but no one really knows it because there’s no road around it and all the cottages are very private. People are very guarded about talking about it!”

Sans Souci, Ontario

Rita Field-Marsham and Kim Bozak, authors of Glorious & Free

“Rita and I have cottages five minutes from each other in Georgian Bay,” says Kim. “It’s my favourite place on earth: the rock, the trees, the variations in weather, the water, the incredible colours coming off the rock at sunset… it’s raw, it’s rugged, it’s just the best.” “The open expanse of the lake is incredible,” adds Rita. “When you’re on the outer islands, you feel like you’re on the ocean, because all you see is open water. Our cottage is on a tiny little island – my friends from Kenya think we’re crazy because you’re literally sitting on a little rock. In Kenya, you get attached to land; this is literally under an acre, surrounded by water. But I love how minimalist island living makes you. We know our little rock inside out.”

Bay of Quinte, Ontario

Nick Farkas, VP of concerts and events at Evenko and co-founder of Osheaga

“On the last weekend in June, before the craziness of Osheaga really revs up, my whole family has a reunion – my cousins from St. Catharines, others from Toronto and my family from Montreal. Prince Edward County is perfect for us because it’s equidistant between us. We stay in a place right on Lake Ontario where there’s a pool and a bunch of different cabins, so every part of the family has their own house. We basically take the place over: We play bocce, eat, drink, barbecue. Sandbanks Provincial Park is a couple of kilometres away, and on the drive in there’s this super-old-school Ontario town called Bloomfield that’s been there since the United Empire Loyalists – we like to look at the antique stores on the way through.”

Banff, Alberta

Janice Price, President and CEO of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

“I live and work in one of the country’s most beautiful natural escapes – so why would I ever want to get away? We’ve got everything here: mountains, history, great food and art. If you add to this mix the year-round performances and exhibitions on our campus, you’d think I would never leave. Just walking my toy poodle Tiger along the Bow River down the hill from the Banff Centre can be enough of an escape for me.”

Algonquin Park, Ontario

Carolyn Taylor, comedian from Baroness von Sketch Show

“I share a small cottage with a friend near the southeast tip of Algonquin Park. The land is high, the lakes are clear and I feel extremely grateful to have access to nature outside the city. I love forgetting about the Internet, wearing the same old tank top for days, cooking on a stove with only one functioning burner and only flushing when necessary. We make trips to the Maynooth Farmers’ Market for hand-knit socks, get fresh eggs and honey from Lea Kitler at Magnificent Hill, watch movies on the VCR and feel unapologetic about drinking Caesars for breakfast.”