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home of the week

Photography by EMILIO CICCARELLI

8860 Highway 41, Shirtcliff Lake, Lennox and Addington County, Ont.

Asking Price: $10-million

Taxes: $5,896.16 (2021)

Lot Size: 160 acres

Agent: Jen Fitzpatrick, broker with Re/Max Finest Realty Inc.

The backstory

The property is five parcels totalling almost 160 acres that surround the lake.

There’s no shortage of cottage properties for sale that say “private lake” but rarely does an offer actually mean “there are no other private owners on this lake.”

That’s the situation with Shirtcliff Lake, where Kathryn O’Dwyer is the sole owner of five parcels totaling almost 160 acres that surround the lake. The only part she doesn’t own is a chunk of crown land.

“The properties surround the whole south side of the lake, and around the two coves on the east side, and a stretch on the north side … and after that on the north side is crown land. There’s another property on Todd lake (an adjoining lake),” Ms. O’Dwyer said. “The lake is big, you can land a float plane on it. I looked into that when I got fed up on the traffic.”

Located near the town of Kaladar, north of Kingston and Bellville and about two and a half hours from downtown Toronto, the area didn’t use to be the hottest property market but sales are up 52 per cent in the first half of 2021, with the average price for a home up 27 per cent from 2020.

“It’s quite stunning when you’re there,” said Jen Fitzpatrick, the listing agent. Ms. Fitzpatrick shot a video with a tour of the lake in a see-through kayak. She says the lake is about a kilometre long and there’s not a soul on it. “There aren’t a lot of properties to compare it to, the way the Muskokas are so developed. You’re getting privacy you can’t get elsewhere.”

The house today

Top: The house is wired for electricity and plumbed for water, but the owner never got around to hooking it up to the electrical grid, or even getting running water. Bottom: The lights are all gas lights, there’s a fireplace and a barbecue, fridge and stove powered by propane, and a generator.

Rustic is the operative word. There are a couple sites on the land that are formerly inhabited cottages, but only one in use now that was updated in the 1990s. It’s wired for electricity and plumbed for water, but Ms. O’Dwyer never got around to hooking it up to the electrical grid, or even getting running water. The lights are all gas lights, there’s a fireplace and a barbecue, fridge and stove powered by propane, and a generator when you need it. Otherwise, Ms. O’Dwyer says she boils lake water when she needs some and that’s the way her family has always liked it.

There’s very limited cell service, no TV in the house and no Internet either.

The main house is a simple structure that perches on the edge of a slope leading down to the lake. Inside it’s basically one long barrow, with living room and kitchen in the centre, two of the three bedrooms just off the living room, and a third bedroom that was added on the other side of the house with huge windows looking into the forest.

A third bedroom was added that has huge windows looking into the forest.

Everything is white, and everything is simple and functional. Down the path to the lake is the dock, which detaches so you can power a floating dock out to the middle of the 80-foot-deep glacial lake for summertime fun.

Ultimately, you’re not buying this property for the cottage, unless you’re as into off-grid living as Ms. O’Dwyer is.

“You’re able to go there all year round, but for us it was more of a vacation and weekends place,” she said. “Being a glacial lake, it freezes over quite nicely. I’ve cross-country skied on the lake, we’ve skated. We have an American friend who played university hockey and he said this is “like having the world’s biggest ice rink all to yourself.

“There’s no comparison to sharing the lake with maybe thousands of people. We only ever ran a small fishing boat and canoes on the lake. We actually had a celebrity friend, he was used to the high-life but he loved it here because it’s very simple and you don’t have to worry about anyone finding you.”

Favourite thing

The house has a huge screened in porch, next to an equally large unscreened porch that sits just off the central living space.

What Ms. O’Dwyer will miss is the nature. She spent most of her time on the huge screened in porch, next to the equally large unscreened porch that sits just off the central living space. Once, walking with some Danish friends who called it “the pearl of the world” they were surprised by a big buck deer with a magnificent rack of antlers leaping into the lake and swimming across. The fishing is also excellent, with muskie, pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass and trout in the stream that feeds the lake. At night the loons keep you company with their haunting calls.

Ms. O’Dwyer said the land was assembled by a family friend of her husband starting in the 1950s, and they had been visiting since the 1980s. In 1990, they bought it from the previous owner’s estate in 1990. Now the sole owner, with grown children living in different parts of the country, Ms. O’Dwyer doesn’t want to sell the parcels piecemeal and would be happiest to find someone else looking for privacy and quiet and a place to create memories for their family.

“Let someone else be passionate about it, and really appreciate and value the privacy and uniqueness,” she said.

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