Kawartha means “bright waters and happy lands in Anishnabe”. Over the years, many have been drawn to these clear, deep lakes and the natural beauty of the surrounding forests and rocks of the Canadian Shield.
The Kawartha Lakes include Stoney, Clear, Katchewanooka, Lovesick, Buckhorn, Pigeon, Chemong, Kashabog and Coon Lakes, to name a few. Many are connected by the Trent-Severn Waterway which makes travel by boat through the area easy and enjoyable.
Cottagers and year-round residents are attracted to the slower pace of life and enjoy the restorative powers of the natural environment throughout the four seasons, with canoeing, fishing, swimming, boating and golfing popular during the warmer months, and cross-country skiing, ice fishing, skating, snowshoeing and snowmobiling favourite activities during the winter months.
The many community activities that take place throughout the year are a draw for residents and visitors alike, such as the Lakefield Jazz Art and Craft Festival, the Lakefield Literary Festival, the Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour, and the PolarFest Winter Festival.
Local real estate professionals have commented that over the last few years there has been a surge in interest for properties in the Kawartha Lakes area.
Younger cottage owners like a waterfront with ease of entry into the water for their children, according to John Cameron, Sales Representative with Royal LePage.
“One of the trends we’ve been noticing is that people want a four season winterized cottage even if it’s not going to be used as a permanent residence, with a water system that has heated lines,” says Cameron. “They want to be able to come up on winter weekends, to ski, snowmobile or ice fish.”
Cindy Gynane, Sales Representative with RE/MAX Eastern Realty Inc. Brokerage, agrees. She says that cottagers are now looking for an insulated home with a wood burning fireplace. And potential buyers want to maximize their leisure time by having a cottage that is under two hours’ drive away from the city.
“Most people I show cottages to want to get away from the city for relaxation to enjoy the rocky, tree-lined shores of the Kawartha Lakes,” says Gynane. “They are looking for privacy on their waterfront lot, with trees along the shoreline and property lines.”
Maureen Tavener, Sales Representative with RE/MAX Eastern Realty Inc. Brokerage, says some clients like landlocked lakes such as Kasshabog, while others prefer to be on the Trent-Severn Waterway, to cruise around to other nearby lakes and rivers.
“Younger couples want perhaps a more traditional type of cottage where they can teach their children to swim, boat and fish,” says Tavener. “Then later on, they might fix it up to make it more of a year-round dwelling.”
All of the local real estate agents have commented that another reason cottages in the Kawarthas are becoming so popular is because of their affordability, as the prices of properties in the Muskokas continue to rise out of reach of most families.
Retiring to the Kawarthas
“People are realizing that their quality of life is important and they want to get away from the stress of the city,” says Tavener. “We see a range of clients who are at different stages in their lives, perhaps re-evaluating their values and wanting to combine work, life and recreation in a nicer atmosphere.”
Tavener says that many of her clients are looking to transition to retirement, perhaps by working a couple of days a week in the city, and spending the rest of the week at the cottage working on their computers.
“The Internet has opened up the possibilities for people to work from pretty much anywhere,” she says.
Those considering retiring to the Kawarthas like that it is close to amenities, such as the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, medical clinics, restaurants, shopping, galleries and grocery stores in Lakefield, Buckhorn, Peterborough and more.
“We’re seeing many people retiring from the GTA and other areas, selling their home and cottage and using the money to buy a four-season waterfront home,” says Cameron. “Typically, they want to be within 30 to 40 minutes of Peterborough or Lindsay to be near services.”
Waterfront properties become available when owners sell perhaps because of their age and health issues, if they need to get equity from their home, or they want to move to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
“I live on the Kawartha Lakes and love it here,” says Cindy Gynane. “I can see why people want to move here. Overall it continues to be a strong market – last year was phenomenal and this year I expect to be even better. I’ve been selling homes in this area for seven years now and every year is better than the last.”
by Joanne Culley