Opening the Summer Cottage

Boys jumping off dock

Each year, thousands of Canadians head North to cottage country to enjoy the great outdoors. If you've ever witnessed traffic along the 400-series highways on the May 24th weekend, you'll know exactly how hectic the drive can be. Yet the drive is by no means the most agonizing part of the process and, for those of you who haven't properly closed down the cottage last fall, an even more laborious task ensues.

If you have taken the necessary precautions at the end of the previous cottage season, you'll soon discover that the process of opening the cottage is much simpler than that of closing it down. Unless your cottage has been inhabited by unwanted visitors of the four-legged variety, there are only a few tasks to complete before you begin to enjoy the beauty of a Northern Ontario summer.

Step 1: Inspection

Your initial inspection should begin with a walk around the exterior of your cottage and the property, and may even begin before you arrive at your destination. As you arrive, check for frayed or downed power lines or fallen trees that may hinder phone communication. If you encounter problems, call your local phone or utility company so that they can address these issues.

As you begin to examine your property, start by taking a look at the roof. Are there any areas that now sag because of heavy snowfall? Are all of the shingles intact and are the outdoor fixtures still securely in-place? Look for cracks along the foundation and check for signs of winter damage on your windows, doors and walls. From a more cosmetic standpoint, look for signs of peeling paint or loose caulking, which can be easily fixed if caught early on.

If your cottage is wooden or if have a deck or balcony, check for signs of rotting wood or loose nails. If any of your stairs are loose (concrete or otherwise), be sure to fix them before inviting your friends over for a barbecue. Similarly, if you've left your dock in the water over the winter months, be sure to check for any signs of twisting, which can easily occur over the winter season.