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Canadians Ask: Anyone For An Island?

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 05 June 2001 00:00

Owning an island is not an impossible dream in Canada where, according to Natural Resources Canada , there are almost 57,000 coastal islands of varying sizes. Although not all islands are cottage material, in a country with an estimated 62,000 freshwater lakes, there is probably an island out there for you somewhere, or at least a corner of one you can call your own.

The mystique of owning an island should be separated from practical realities before you sign on the dotted line. As one who is firmly committed to island living, I am the first to admit it is not for everyone. Drinking water, electricity, sewage treatment and garbage disposal are just a few of the concerns that may be complicated by an island setting.

Some island cottagers are surprised that the isolation they searched for doesn't ensure privacy.

"The most unrecognized feature of living on an island is that you are living in a fish bowl," explained an Ontario island owner. "You are visible to everyone. With us, we have the cottage in the middle which gives us a buffer. It is a private spot in the middle of a gold fish bowl."

Not everyone may find an affordable island close at hand. One Saskatchewan couple faces a 240 km drive to get to their island retreat, but they feel the trip is well worth it. They travel from Saskatoon to Lac la Ronge, a northern lake about 50 km by 80 km with 1192 islands, although some are very small. Even though they share their island with three other cottagers, they feel as if it is theirs alone because they have such an isolated section.

"The greatest difference with an island is the degree of difficulty and energy required in getting there. Every drop of fuel, every drop of paint and every nail has to be brought in," explained Bill Johnson who paid less than $50,000 for his property and then gradually built a self-sufficient, winterized cottage. "On the positive side, there are no happy campers beside you. But it doesn't suit everyone. You have to enjoy being outdoors."

Keeping boaters and picnickers at bay without littering the shoreline with signs can also be trying as lake crowding increasingly becomes a problem, especially near urban centres. However, our Ontario island cottager feels the pleasures outweigh the inconveniences.

"This is a place of quiet and contemplation," he said, describing the 10-acre island he paid $150,000 for about 6 years ago. "It is big enough to disappear into but not so far from civilization that you can get in trouble. As we row out, the burdens of life are removed. It's ritualistic, but that is one of the beauties of having an island. We leave the trials, the tribulations, the traffic, the rage, the politics behind. There, all that matters is being close to the environment and having a place to call our own for our own pleasure and enjoyment.

His advice for serious island seekers?

"You have to be willing to go off the beaten path to find your island. If you can get over the herd instinct and turn your sight to peripheral areas, there are still sites available. But hurry. They are not making them any more."

For more articles by P.J. Wade, please press here .

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PJ Wade

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic speaker and author of 8 books and more than 1800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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