The Rondeau Cottage Community:

Myths vs. Facts

Correcting Misinformation About Ontario's Original Cottage Community

Myth: Cottages don't belong in Rondeau.

Fact: Rondeau became a provincial park to host its cottage community, and cottages have been here since the beginning. Rondeau Provincial Park was chartered in 1894 specifically for the purpose of cottaging. It is the only provincial park in Ontario founded for this reason. The earliest cottages still standing today were built ca. 1903; older ones have been demolished by the province. The cottage community has long proven itself integrated and compatible with the park's thriving ecology.

Myth: Cottages are temporary structures that can be easily relocated outside of the park.

Fact: Rondeau's cottages had to be constructed to standards of the day when they were built. While almost all cottages are wood frame structures, they were designed to be permanent and cannot be easily removed. Most cottages have foundations and some even have basements. They're definitely not temporary.

Myth: We always knew we'd have to demolish and leave.

Fact: Rondeau's original cottage leases were the standard 21-years, always renewable in perpetuity. This changed in the 1950's as the park wanted to expand the campground and planned to develop hundreds of transient trailer sites where the cottages sat. The 278 cottages have original Crown Leases from 1933 that were extended in 1954, 1975, 1996, 2017, 2019, and most recently 2022-24. As per O.Reg. 347/07 cottages are authorized in Rondeau thru 2038. Yet we're still officially viewed as "temporarily" occupying public parkland. C'mon.

Myth: No other provincial parks have cottages.

Fact: Rondeau is one of a dozen parks with privately-owned cottages within park boundaries: Algonquin, Awenda, Balsam Lake, Bon Echo, Bonnechere, Kawartha Highlands, Killarney, Presqu’ile, Sandbanks, Sleeping Giant and Sturgeon Bay. In addition, Ontario Parks has been steadily constructing their own rental cottages ("roofed accommodation") in many other parks. There are 5,000 cottages in 17 provincial parks in Manitoba, 2,000 cottages in provincial parks in Saskatchewan and 500 cottages in provincial parks in Alberta. All warmly welcomed.

Myth: Only Rondeau is home to hundreds of cottages.

Fact: Rondeau's cottages form a village; every cottage is close to its neighbour. Algonquin has a similar number of cottages but they're widely scattered around lakes and one might be several kilometres from its nearest neighbour. Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Provincial Park near Peterborough hosts more than 500 cottages on privately-owned lots. Kawartha Highlands is regarded as a groundbreaking partnership between Ontario Parks and private landowners. This is a proven-successful model for the future of cottaging in Ontario.

Myth: Rondeau's cottages were built haphazardly along the beach without park approval or authorization.

Fact: Rondeau's cottages were built exactly where the government told us to build. Although surveying in the early 1900's wasn't quite as precise as it is now, each cottage lot was staked-off by park staff. Almost all "off-lot" structures have been demolished... any that remain are grandfathered and owners pay an additional land-use fee defined by our landlord. The original plan for the park had groups of six cottages separated by a public beach access. While the province has demolished 100+ cottages in the last 60 years, the remaining cottages still firmly adhere to that plan. Sadly the park stopped maintaining public beach accesses in the 1980's so they are currently impassable and no longer usable as such.

Myth: Rondeau's cottages aren't "Heritage" at all. They're an aberration in a park and should all be demolished.

Fact: Rondeau is Ontario's original cottage community and has been recognized as a Cultural Heritage Landscape of provincial and local significance. We meet the provincial definition under O.Reg. 10/06 and the municipal definition under O.Reg. 9/06 as determined by experts in this field. A 2012 study on the cultural heritage aspects of Rondeau's cottage community won a national award from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals. Incidentally, one of the three primary goals of Ontario Parks is heritage preservation -- so we encourage them to follow their own rules and recognize Rondeau as a community deserving of permanent protection.

The Facts About Our Cottages...

Myth: Cottage visitors don't meaningfully affect park entry counts. Most people through the gates are birders.

Fact: We very strongly disagree. Although we don't have visitor destination stats, the RCA believes at least half of all gate entries (80,000 out of 160,000) will end up at a cottage. As a Visitor Centre employee noted, "Get rid of the cottages and you'll have to get rid of us... nobody will come down here anymore."