Summer on the lake: ‘It’s as Canadian as ice hockey’

In Canada, the summer ritual of decamping to the lakeside is passed down through generations – especially in Ontario ‘cottage country’, where our writer’s great-grandmother built a hideaway in the 1890s

It’s 9pm on a sweltering summer Friday. There’s neither a soul nor a breath of breeze on Lake Muskoka, 120 miles north-west of Toronto. On a long wooden dock, we load our scruffy 1966 Cutter, one of the first fibreglass runabouts on the lake. Ripples from the shifting weight erase its perfect reflection on these otherwise glassy waters. This is the final leg of our weekly 2½-hour pilgrimage from the city: we put in the groceries, then the overnight bags, and finally Belly the basset hound, who often misjudges the leap between the dock and the boat gunnels. Against a purple, orange and cyan sky, I take the helm and turn the key to fire up the old outboard. Then we push off for a weekend in Ontario cottage country, an experience that is as Canadian as ice hockey.

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