Unpacking the Mystery Around Water Access Properties on Georgian Bay
By The Phillips Team
The SUV is packed – the work week is over and anticipation is in the air! The drive up the highway to cottage country can be challenging, but it is worth it. The cottage awaits. You arrive at the marina, the SUV doors are opened – food, supplies and gear are unloaded. Down the dock you go with all of your belongings to begin loading them into the boat. The SUV is parked, and boat leaves the dock. For many people, this type of cottaging is unknown or perhaps misunderstood, but for those who have water access cottages, the boat ride symbolizes the part of the journey that is exciting and exceptional!
There is a sense of adventure in owning property within an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, where the beauty and mystery of this body of water can only be truly understood by encountering this cottage lifestyle experience firsthand. And once understood, it is truly extraordinary. Knowing this, an unique group of cottagers continues the legacy that has been enjoyed for generations. This is why we thought that it would be a neat idea to unpack some of the mystery around water access properties.
There is a long history of cottagers travelling from the GTA and beyond to enjoy the shores of Georgian Bay. Seeking to find a contrast from urban life, early cottagers would brave the rustic roads up to cottage country, travel along rough trails to a boat landing, load their wooden boats with supplies, and travel across the water to their property out in the islands. They dreamed of a peaceful retreat, a timeless get-away where they could enjoy the sheer beauty of nature and the vast waters of Georgian Bay. Some would travel short distances, minutes from the mainland, while others would travel from marinas in Midland up the shores to the Sans Souci area, and others still that would travel for hours along the shoreline to reach their destinations much further north.
Through a spirit of cooperation, early cottagers created communities out in the islands and began a legacy that continues on in the hearts and spirits of cottagers today who still enjoy this wonderful cottage lifestyle. Many of these families forged lifelong friendships that have spanned generations, as they worked together to build and maintain their cottages, docks, sleeping bunkies and boathouses. They helped each other to open their cottages in the spring and close them down in the fall. They shared a passion for cottage life on Georgian Bay, collectively creating common meeting spaces, churches, associations, social events and mostly, a deep and lasting community of people who loved the Bay and cared for one another. Today, there continues to be rich and vibrant water access communities on Georgian Bay, each with an unique history and a rich heritage that is cherished by those who have a passion for life on the Bay!
Thinking about this cottage lifestyle?
There are many nuances to owning a water access property and understanding this is key to making an informed decision about ownership. Water access properties can be private islands, a part of an island, an outer island, an inner island or property on mainland that is accessible only by water. Properties can vary in price significantly and in most cases, a water access cottage can be an affordable option, frequently offering frontages and lot sizes that are larger than their drive-to counterparts. Location of the property, its proximity to local amenities and marinas, the length of time it takes to get there by boat, the type of shoreline, the frontage exposure, and the proximity to neighbours are all key factors influencing the value of a property. Having said this, private islands are an anomaly! The outer islands located the furthest out in the Bay, closest to the open water with open Bay vistas are extremely exclusive and can be worth millions. They are the gems of Georgian Bay!
The outer islands of Georgian Bay offer ultimate privacy, complete tranquility, gorgeous vistas of the “big water,” and the spectacular experience of the Georgian Bay weather cycles. These island properties typically require a longer boat ride from local marinas and are sometimes accessed by private float planes. They enjoy all four exposures and varying types of shoreline. These picturesque properties are exclusive and prestigious and are often a place of great joy and adventure for generations of family and friends. They are lifestyles, as Robin Leech used to coin, “of the rich and famous!”
Owning a private island in the inner islands of Georgian Bay is the perfect combination for many cottagers. It is very appealing for those who cherish their privacy and are seeking an island retreat that is tranquil and serene. The inner islands provide more protection from the intense Georgian Bay weather patterns, calmer waters, shorter boat rides from local marinas, and warmer water. They can also be a more affordable option than the outer islands.
Boat Access Mainland & Shared Islands:
A number of cottages are located on mainland and shared islands on Georgian Bay, and can offer a wonderful cottage experience. These properties are accessed by boat from local marinas and boat rides can be as little as a few minutes and as much as 45 minutes. These properties often enjoy neighbours and are typically less private than island ownership. Having said this, there are many properties with wonderful privacy, exposure, acreage and natural Georgian Bay shoreline. These properties can be a more affordable option from a purchase price perspective.
Although there is definitely more work required to transport people, items and supplies to and from water access cottages, the beautiful boat ride and the feeling of freedom that you experience when you reach the dock is incredible! Generations of people have enjoyed water access cottage properties and continue to do so as they offer a cottage lifestyle that is truly unique. Personally, we have grown to love this cottage lifestyle so much that we have invented every possible rationale for why we love the extra work that is involved. And, we are not alone!
A Note from Gary:
Water access/island real estate is a very specialized area of real estate practice. In order to protect your best interests when buying or selling real estate in this very unique market place, give me a call. I am a business minded, entrepreneurial Realtor who understands the highly specialized nature of this market and possesses the knowledge, expertise, business and negotiation skills required to protect your interests as a buyer or seller in water access/island real estate. There are a multitude of nuances and considerations in water access/island property real estate and I understand them thoroughly. After all, we not only work in this area, we live it! Cheers, Gary