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As I explained in my previous post, back in 2002 I fell in love with Canada and with the cottage experience. This summer I was able to return to where it all began: Wawanaisa Resort on Georgian Bay. Twelve years on, I was curious to see what — if anything — had changed there and whether this trip could measure up to those amazing memories of my first Canadian vacation.

I was pleased to discover that the resort was much as I remembered it. The Wiltman family, originally from Germany, is still running the resort and Peter and Dorte are just as kind and hospitable as ever. It was fun to catch up after so long.

This time around we stayed in Owl Cottage, one of several 2-bedroom cottages available at the resort. We really appreciated the baseboard heat (even though it was August, the nights were quite chilly) along with the ample cupboard space and big fridge-freezer. As well as the huge amount of food we took with us, I also had way too much fun shopping at Sobey’s in Parry Sound (we don’t have one in Sudbury) and took even more food back to the cottage. Note to Jamie Oliver fans: he–or at least his product range–is available in Parry Sound!

Owl Cottage

Owl Cottage

Peter now helpfully sends out a cottage inventory to renters, so you can easily see which essentials you need to pack. In addition to the items provided in the kitchen, we brought our small grill so I could easily cook my veggie burgers while the guys were barbecuing.

Supper on the deck

Supper on the deck

Wireless internet is now available at the park office if you  feel the need to connect to the outside world. And thanks to some creative cell phone “tethering,” it was also available in Owl Cottage during our stay. I’m not too sure what happened to the TV service though. The only time I switched it on, there were 3 channels all showing exactly the same thing: an England vs. Germany football match! We figured that Peter must have arranged this specially :-)

You can now pay for a boat ahead of time as part of a cottage/boat package, which was what we did. Sadly we didn’t manage to take advantage of it as we were busy doing other things on the one day of really reliable good weather. But the package is a good option for the many families who go there to fish and take their boat out very day.

Evening stroll on the dock

Evening stroll on the dock

We enjoyed some strenuous hiking during the holiday and must have hiked every trail at Killbear Park. We’ve camped there in the intervening years between cottage visits and also experienced a not-so-memorable winter trip which involved lots too much wading in very deep snow. The little convenience store close to the park where I found my spring roll supper is sadly no longer there, but there’s still an assortment of businesses in operation along the road leading to the park. One of my favourites is the Bread and Butter Cafe offering all day breakfast and cold beer. Perhaps not at the same time though…

And what about Parry Sound? We’ve been regular visitors over the years and with the gradual four-laning of Highway 69, it’s now an even quicker option for a summer day trip from Sudbury. Thankfully the town hasn’t changed too much, although the new construction on Bowes Street with all the usual suspects like Walmart and Home Depot coming in seems to have badly affected other businesses. The mall at the other end of town, which used to be a hub of activity, now seems to be almost completely empty.

There used to be plentiful free parking at the waterfront, but options are much more limited now. A huge area has been designated for the use of Island Queen customers only, so everyone else has to squash in where they can. Not a good first impression for tourists. That said, the waterfront is still incredibly beautiful. I love the scenic walk along the fitness trail to the town beach.

Our old lunchtime haunt, the Bay Street Café, is still there, but facing competition from an unattractive Boston Pizza just along the road. A better addition to the waterfront is Bistro on the Bay. I’ve not yet eaten there, but based on its many positive reviews, it’s definitely on the list. And while on the topic of restaurants, I can also recommend Lill’s place on Seguin Street, great for unpretentious home-cooked food and obviously a popular spot for locals as it’s been in business for decades.

Our week at Wawanaisa was so relaxing and just the sort of escape I was hoping for. It definitely proved to be a worthy successor to our previous visit. I hope to be back there someday.

Peace & tranquility

Peace & tranquility

Lake view

Lake view

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