By Heather Trusler
I first summered as a toddler on Georgian Bay at a little place called Go Home Bay in 1953 and have summered here ever since. My husband arrived up at 3 1/2 months and has spent every summer here as well, but, as he was 5 years older than me, we didn’t “connect” until our annual Regatta races in 1969 and were married at my parents’ cottage two years later.
In 1972, we started to build our own place and, over the years, we’ve put on an addition, built several docks and a boathouse, installed a steel roof, made innumerable repairs, raised two boys and a girl and now welcome our 5 grandchildren each summer to enjoy this water-access-only community.
In mid March, Jim and I were quarantined in our Newmarket condo, so had to content ourselves with reading, tv watching, card playing, and phoning our many Seniors friends and relatives to keep in touch. We also discussed with our children, who live in Ottawa, when and how we could possibly all get up to our summer place. Georgian Bay is inaccessible all winter by the vast expanse of ice and this year, the roads into Honey Harbour where we dock our big boat had been closed by the Township to prevent a huge influx of summer residents arriving early. With numerous conference calls and emails, the family made plans to reconnoiter as soon as possible.
Finally the roads reopened. In late April, our sons traveled up the shore in the wide open waters of Georgian Bay to our cottage in our 24ft. Seacraft. In just 4 days, they repaired the docks which had been damaged by winter storms and hauled out the rowboats, the kayaks, the canoes, the little motorboats. They then wired the boathouse before heading back to pick up the rest of the family.
On May 8th, the whole gang arrived up – Iain, Elysia and 3 year old Mackenzie; Brittany and her partner Tom; Ross, Ann, and their gang of 4—Quinn, Skye, Hope, and Beau; there was so much equipment they had to make two trips. They then all isolated themselves for two weeks. And they brought up EVERYTHING — over 50 pounds of flour, canned tomatoes, cases of beans, tuna, salmon, peanut butter, a freezer full of meats, plus screening, a tent, and several cases of wine!
Our younger son, Iain, built a large garden and planted tomatoes, lettuces, veggies and herbs. Our daughter, Brittany, organized the kitchen, having wisely purchased several very large pots and pans, plus two sets of dishes from Costco to accommodate such a large group. Our older son, Ross, assembled tables, chairs, built pegboards and a large video monitor down in the boathouse to turn it into office space. Jim and I arrived up on May 22nd and FINALLY the whole family, all 13 of us, was together.
It is now August — every morning, the grandchildren have their chores, each to his own ability: brush the the crumbs off the table (perfect for a 3 year old), sweep the kitchen, then the living room, load the dishwasher, bail the boats after it rains; then the fun begins. There’s hours of swimming, fishing off the dock, playing cards or Scrabble or Charades, wading in the water for bugs and frogs and butterflies. All the grandchildren sleep in a large tent near the water, often the occasion for great hilarity. Four of the adults work online for their businesses in the boathouse “office”, while others make the myriads of necessary repairs that occur at any cottage.
Brittany is in charge of the meal schedules, with everyone taking turns, even the grandkids. Every morning, I bake 3 loaves of bread, as well as pies, cookies, and cakes with a grandchild or two, usually with lots of spoon- licking involved. Although we have not yet decided, there is a distinct possibility that we will all stay up here together until Thanksgiving, homeschooling the grandkids as long as we can.
All in all, we have managed quite well, and, although totally isolated from the rest of our cottage community, we are thoroughly enjoying a truly unique experience as a gregarious loving family in this idyllic paradise called Go Home Bay.