Welcome Newcomers – More families falling in love with the Kawarthas than ever

More families falling in love with the Kawarthas than ever. After years of living north of Toronto and commuting to their cottage near Huntsville, Marten and Melanie Collins now enjoy the short drive between their Peterborough home and Stony Lake cottage.

The couple moved to the Kawarthas four years ago, ahead of the current GTA exodus. Initially, they wanted to be close by as their son Daniel studied at Trent University but they have discovered many other bonuses of being here.

They are now happily settled into a 1908 house in Peterborough and the former cottage of Richard Birdsall Rogers, the genius behind the Peterborough Lift Lock. They love shopping and dining in Lakefield and don’t miss the traffic they used to face on long weekends.

“It’s relatively unspoiled,” Marten reflects, thinking of what he would say to former neighbours looking to move here. “Muskoka is a little showy; it’s all about how big it is.”

“Here, hardly anyone has painted their cottages bright yellow,” he adds with a laugh. “Instead, we all seem to want our cottages hidden in the forest or blending in,” he says contentedly.

Like the Collinses, more families are moving out of the GTA. Many have tired of condo life, particularly after COVID-19 lockdowns, while others are choosing to follow their dreams of lakeside living while working remotely. This has led to house sales shooting up 30.3 per cent in this area compared to a year ago, according to the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association REALTORS®.

With realtors running out of homes to sell, demand remains high, which drives up prices, says president Chiarina Payne. The average price of homes sold in September 2020 was a record $626,685.

Collins points out that these prices are reasonable compared to other markets, making it inviting for his former neighbors to move east as well.

He loves time spent at the couple’s log cabin. It was built in 1880 and used as the paymaster’s office during the logging boom before Rogers bought it in 1900. His ancestors kept it in the family for more than a century, donating 100 acres for the adjacent Heber Rogers Conservation Authority.

The Collinses have rebuilt the cabin’s bunkie, boathouse and garage.

“We like old stuff that is a challenge to renovate,” Collins says. “It’s very private and we have great neighbours.”

He also loves digging into the cottage’s background at Trent University’s archives.

“It’s nice to have all that history,” he says.

Current photos are courtesy of Marten Collins
Archival photos are courtesy of Trent University Archives

By Lois Tuffin