Cottage Life….Yikes! What has happened to you?

This time of year I always get a bit nostalgic when I see the Cottage Life consumer show is going on down in Toronto. Twenty years ago when I was still working with Cottage Life Television, Linda, my dog Pistol and I would attend for the whole weekend hosting at are CLTV booth. There wasn’t much of a budget for design and display and so we would usually dig up trees from the bush for background and then I would raid the Muskoka Store and get Bruce Clark to lend us furniture and props. The weekend was full of silly contests and demos, live chats and just plain ordinary meet and greets. It was spontaneous and a lot of fun, just like cottage life….the way it used to be.


This year the line up is featuring mostly personalities from a host of other TV shows. The big roar was the fact the those blokes Colin and Justin were appearing to talk about their new cottage which they will make over into something “fabulous”.  What no one mentions is that I am the one responsible for their purchase. You see, I was the selling agent. The place was actually up for auction because of me and they had called for a preview.

I remember when I first saw them looking so “urban” along with their friends David and Cheri whom they have spoken several times about in the press and were purchasing  the cottage with as co-owners. I on the other hand purposely dressed the role of boring real estate agent. To be honest I didn’t recognize them nor they me.

I proceeded to show them the cottage and answer all their questions. I could tell they were  experienced at buying real estate but were new to cottage life. The cottage itself was a wonderful log home built about twenty-five years ago. It was in way better condition than anything I remember when I was a kid. However, they proceeded to start mentally  renovating the place. I finished the showing about an hour and half later by handing them a copy of “The Weekend Guy: A Survival Guide”.


It was then after reading the cover they mentioned that they do TV too.

“Of course, you’re those two dudes who raid people’s homes.”


Anyway the showing ended on a positive note. I also learned too that Cheri had a pretty significant job in the film business. I was just finishing off my latest screenplay, which happens to take place in Muskoka, and I vowed then, she would read my script one way or another. (More on that note later.) 

Over the next few weeks Cheri or the guys would email me back and forth about the place. However, they weren’t interested in the auction. As it turns out the cottage didn’t even reach the reserve and in the end after negotiating back and forth,  Colin and Justin, along with Cheri and David became proud cottage owners and apparently experts on cottage life. Beside the Cottage Life Show this week they were on Breakfast Television talking about cottage living.

First of all I must tell you, like myself who on air is way over the top, in real life Colin and Justin are actually quite subdued and down to earth. Really nice guys.  This reminds me of when Rob Salem of the Toronto Star reviewed an episode of “The Weekend Guy TV” and said the last thing he’d want would be to spend the weekend in a cabin with me! To be honest, when I look back at some of those shows I wish I could remember what I was on! You can see for yourself at

My point is until you have had to open and physically dig up your septic bed, jump into
freezing water to save your dock from moving ice, cook a ten course meal on a BBQ because the power is out, evict a family of racoons from your cottage attic, save your deck from sliding into the lake or deal with non-stop partying neighbours at the rented  cottage next door, you are not a cottage expert. Guys, you may be expert designers, but you are apprentices at this life.

I’m not sure what brought this rant on. Perhaps its the fact that Cottage Life announced their own network and rejected two of my ideas for shows. Or maybe it’s the fact that in the last two weeks, three producers from new cottage based shows called me up to “pick my brain” and ask if I had suggestions or connections. Of course I do!


Let me think! Do I have any cottage connections?

I’ve been breathing, writing, drawing and producing cottage themed projects for nearly thirty years.  Unlike many of these guys coming out of the city I would guess none of them know what a septic tank is let alone know what it’s like to deal with one caused by a guest disposing of their tampons!

Oh, by the way, I did get my new show with another network. More on that too later.

’til the week ends. Vince


One thought on “Cottage Life….Yikes! What has happened to you?

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  1. Hey Vince is that you in the picture from 20 years ago?! It was a good weekend and once again we at CedarCoast exhibited there for the 20th Spring show and have a little paddle from Al to prove it. I too remember those days of you doing the stage talk and Bruce Clark running around with furniture props.

    Great to get some more history on this though. Let me know if you need help with the dock.

    Patrick Bongers
    CedarCoast Timber Homes

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