The History of the Island Cottage

This article is a detailed story of the history of the island cottage. Including the best love story ever.

a-frame history
Our A-frame cottage before the rest of the additions.

By far, our most asked questions are always about the cottage. Everyone always wants to know where it’s located? if it’s a family cottage? and how long we’ve had it? So I figured it was time for a dedicated blog post. I’m actually really glad I’m taking the time to do this, I’ve wanted to keep a record of the history on the blog for the longest time. So I hope that you enjoy this little journey through time and the love story of our cottage.

The Beginning of the Island Cottage

In order to really understand the whole story, I need to start at the very beginning, which began long before I was born.

My grandparents immigrated to Canada from the Czech Republic when my dad was just seven years old. It wasn’t easy for them, like most immigrants they left everything and everyone for a better life. I’m always inspired the most by these stories because they really did make the most of their situation. One day I hope to share even more of their story in a book, because it’s the most incredible story I’ve heard.

beginning of the island cottage
The land where our future cottage would sit

In the summer of 1969, my grandparents visited a little island in Georgian Bay. One of their friends happended to work with my grandfather and sure enough they loved the island. The saw so much potential there, from boating, fishing, and the overall simplicity of the place. Later that year both him and his friend decided that they would build two A-frame cottages there.

The Start of the A-Frame

In the spring of 1970, both my grandfather and his friend created plans from scratch for their cottages. Since they were on a limited budget, they would help each other with the construction to keep the costs low. They used recycled lumber and pre-made everything themselves using whatever they had available at their work.

making of the cottage
My grandfather posing with the truck full of the pre made pieces for the cottage.

When I think about the work that went into building this place, I’m always shocked by the scope of the project and that it was done without any power tools! My grandfather was amazing at carpentry and could make almost anything out of wood. It’s why our cottage has so many beautiful details built in the design itself, from the mahogany staircase to the cedar tables. It’s truly a masterpiece.

1970 cottage
Breaking ground in late spring of 1969

When we were looking through all the old photos we were talking about how hard it would have been to do without hydro. Everything was made by hand, and held together by nails rather than scews.

A True Loves Story

The island itself isn’t just for cottages, it’s actually home to a tribe of Ojibway peoples. Half of the island is held in trust from the queen as an income source for the reservation. This is why I also wanted to include a cute story of how my parents met.

A few years after the cottage was built, my dad and his friends would go for rides on their dirt bikes. He was only sixteen when he met my mom. An Ojibway girl whose family lived on reserve, but from that point on, they have been together ever since.

cottage living
Having guests for the first time at their newly built cottage

Love that cute beginning!

I know a few people get confused when I talk about the cottage, and then I share stories of us going home. Some people wonder if I’m talking about two different places? and the answer is it’s both our home and our cottage.

Do your parents live at the cottage?

We actually didn’t move there until I was almost four, just after my parents retired. My dad was an aircraft engineer and we spent a lot of the time traveling when I was younger. I think they always planned on moving to the cottage at some point in their lives.

As a child, I lived on a sailboat and we sailed along the coast of North America. One year we sailed from the Key West of Florida to our little Island in Georgian Bay. It was an experience I still remember, and one I will never forget. But since then my family moved into that little cottage full time and it’s where we stayed until I went off to college.

The A-frame in the evening

With everything that happened this past year, my parents have been back there full time, instead of spending half the year in Florida. Which means we’ve been slowly planning how to design the cottage to suit their needs full time.

Sadly, my grandparents are no longer here. But their memory will live forever in our hearts and in the cottage.

I know my grandmother would have loved to join me in designing the space, she was always so talented and had such a beautiful style. In fact a lot of the things she designed and had done is what you see at the cottage now.

cottage life and love
My dad in front of the cottage

I hope you enjoyed this “cliff-notes” version of the history of our island cottage. The story is so incredible and I’m so happy to finally share it with you. I also hope this helps answer some of your questions.

Interested in learning more about our cottage?

The Cottage Tour: Granny Suite

5 Projects We’re Doing in 2021

12 Things you Need to bring to the Lake House this Summer

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