I feel extremely lucky to be a part of the our family cottage’s story, especially as I’m a newcomer. The cottage was built, by hand, by my husband’s great grandparents in the 1950’s. The lake didn’t have electrical service yet, so they built everything to run on propane. The stove was replaced with a newer gas range around the early 80’s, the fridge was swapped out for an electric model in the 90’s and, although the original gas lamps still remain strategically placed in the main rooms, we use the regular lights now. The water heater also arrived with the electricity, and completion of a mudroom/shower room, so there’s no more boiling water for bathing or washing dishes. The mini water tower system has been replaced with a water pump and filter in my husband’s lifetime. There was never a telephone or any other modern way to communicate with people outside the cottage but that has changed very recently with the placement of a nearby cell tower. However, even with all these upgrades, the materials used to build the cottage and the items furnishing it have remained largely unchanged as the cottage was left, in trust, to my mother-in-law until my husband’s generation of the family was able to take it over and become the next caretaker(s).
This means the floors, windows, cupboards, hutches, board games, and much of the cookware and utensils and the like are straight out of the 50’s. Some things even date back to the 30’s since my husband’s great grandparents didn’t furnish their rustic hobby cottage with new things, but brought their older items from home. Now that my husband has decided he would like to be the one to take up the torch of maintaining the cottage for his generation, we’ve spent our last few summer vacations up there cleaning and making sure the thing doesn’t fall down before we can complete the process of ending the trust and negotiating the price of purchase from any parties who want out. It seems every time I’m up there, I find some new, amazing relic that was tossed into a drawer, cupboard or shed that unlocks another piece of the cottage’s unique history.
As we make plans to rebuild and restore the cottage, we always make sure to come back to the original designs and intentions of past generations to ensure we are doing things correctly and with respect. We intend to preserve as much as possible while making necessary upgrades (hello insulation and bathroom with a toilet). Ironically, it’s looking like me might actually roll back on some of the progress, like the electrical upgrade – that may come and go in my husband’s lifetime – with a switch to solar in an effort to be more eco-friendly. Any changes we need to make will be done with mid-century styles and ideals in mind to preserve the history of the place both sentimentally for the family and visually for friends, renters and other newcomers. It feels like we’re the right people for the job.
Bikini Top Aerie (same cut, different colour)
All photos by me.