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Lake Muskoka (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Lake Muskoka (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Summer escape

Cottage/cabin/camp/chalet: Whose neck of the woods is better? Add to ...

The Kootenays, B. C.

Claim to fame

An outdoors enthusiast's paradise. With skiing, mountain climbing, biking, rafting and golf - potentially all in one exhausting day - you name it, they've got it.

Dominant drawback

With potential dangers ranging from avalanches to grizzly encounters, relaxation isn't always the first order of business.

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Foodie factor

Local delights abound given that British Columbia is home to the 100-mile-diet and the neighbouring Okanagan Valley is the fruit basket of the country.

Local legends

Ogopogo may technically live next door in Lake Okanagan, but you have to give props to Canada's most-famous aquatic cryptid. And keep your eyes peeled for Bigfoot.

Local alternative

Not content simply drinking the neighbouring valley's vino, some buyers are willing to pay a premium to have an Okanagan winery within stumbling distance.



Muskoka, Ont.

Claim to fame

Stephen Harper's G8 posse may have taken over last month, but it's Hollywood stars from another era (Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn), captains of industry (from Eaton to Rogers) and a cup-winning lineup of former and current NHLers that usually attract the shutterbugs.

Dominant drawback

One word: traffic. With seemingly half of Toronto heading north along the same road, the commute can make Los Angeles congestion seem like a Sunday drive.

Foodie factor

Every cottager has their own pick for best chip truck or roadside restaurant en route, but once at the lake it's usually an all-day barbecue buffet.

Local legends

Lake of Bays, just east of Muskoka's "Big Three," is one of at least a dozen Ontario lakes that boast monster sightings.

Local alternative

The Kawarthas, northeast of Toronto, is one of several cottage regions offering similar stretches of water, bedrock and forests for a lot less money and a less rage-inducing road trip.

Bay of Fundy, the Atlantic provinces

Claim to fame

"Highest tides in the world." Seems trivial until you're standing 30 feet below where the waterline will be in how many more minutes … ?

Dominant drawback

Overseas buyers have scooped up some of the best oceanside views in recent years.

Foodie factor

A world of fresh oysters - not to mention lobsters, crabs and other seafood - is literally at your doorstep.

Local legends

Tales of mermaids and monsters may be mythic, but a variety of sharks and whales do frequent the bay.

Local alternative

PEI: At a maximum 280 kilometres from tip to tip, you're never more than about 30 minutes from the ocean - five from a kiosk selling Anne Shirley tchotchkes.

Eastern Townships, Que.

Claim to fame

Situated about an hour east of Montreal, the region offers well-marked wine tours, bike routes and picturesque historic towns.

Dominant drawback

Many a homeowner has had nightmares about asbestos, yet this vacation destination is one of the world's leading suppliers, centred on the 130-year-old Jeffrey Mine in the town of, you guessed it, Asbestos.

Foodie factor

Leave the stereotypes (poutine, maple syrup) at home and gorge on artisanal cheeses and foie gras washed down with local wines and microbrews.

Local legends

There have been more than 200 sightings of the giant serpent Memphré since European settlers were first warned of the Lake Memphremagog monster by the local Abenakis.

Local alternative

St-Hubert may have cornered the local market for rotisserie chicken but, for many Quebeckers, Swiss-inspired chalets at Tremblant are the hot choice for a weekend dip.

Lake Winnipeg, Man.

Claim to fame

Communal living and a small-town vibe predominates on Lake Winnipeg, with cabins laid out in rows set back from sandy beaches.

Dominant drawback

As if seagull-sized skeeters weren't bad enough, last year Maclean's dubbed it "Canada's sickest lake" for the toxic algae blooms that cover much of its surface.

Foodie factor

The world's 10th largest freshwater lake supports a $25-million commercial fishery and is the original home of the famed smoked Winnipeg goldeneye.

Local legends

Relatively shallow Lake Winnipeg seems to be monster-free, but Manipogo calls neighbouring Lake Manitoba home.

Local alternative

For a more rustic - or in some cases, palatial - getaway, Winnipeggers cross the border into Ontario's Lake of the Woods.



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