And there goes summer...

September 2017

Closing up the cabin, trailer, camp, cottage or whatever you call that lovely place where you spend the halcyon days of summer is a bittersweet time. How do we know when that time arrives? There are those obvious signs like Labour Day weekend has come, and we wonder how that happened. The kids are heading back to school and have to get to town to see friends and buy new clothes and supplies. Then there is the air change…cooler mornings and chilly nights, and the leaves are changing colour here and there. Some folks talk about the lake flipping…yes, the bottom water comes to the top. Not sure about the scientific details concerning that change, but the end result for most campers is that it is time to prepare the summer place for winter.

I sat down with some neighbours to get the lowdown on just what they do to close up their camps for the season. The first folks I talked with have been at their summer place at West Loon Lake for 31 years. They have their closing process down to an art. Of course, every place has its idiosyncrasies which all become part of the closing ritual. This particular cottage has two water systems: one that draws from the lake and the other from a drilled well. With the lake system, the hose is disconnected and drained. The pump’s drain plugs are opened up and also drained. Then the lines and pump are stored in the shed.
One point that was repeated a number of times was that a shed and/or garage is a must. The dock, which is brought in, can be stored here, along with any or all boats. The lawn furniture and various toys can be secured and protected in the shed as well.

Getting back to the second water system which draws from the drilled well, we get into some more complicated procedures. Again the water lines are drained and blown out using an air compressor. This is a step that gives some extra insurance and peace of mind. The hot water tank inside the cottage is drained and all inside taps are turned on and left that way for the winter. The drilled well line to the pressure tank is also drained and blown out.

After hearing this much, I was tempted to say that I might just call a professional to do the job! But I could see that these closing steps have been learned over the years and are all a part of owning and taking care of the place. However, I still might make that call!

If you have an inside flush toilet, a dishwasher and/or a clothes washer, not a drop of water can be left in any of them. Use a wet/dry shopvac to suck the water out of the toilet and the tank. Pour plumbers’ anti-freeze, known as the pink stuff to many of us, into the toilet bowl and all sinks. This will prevent sewer gas from coming back into the camp. Put the clothes washer on spin cycle and the dishwasher on rinse cycle for five seconds so the anti-freeze will get into the pump. Then finally, leave a puddle of anti- freeze in the washer and the dishwasher.

With each place, there will be those unique differences that I referred to before. I have to say that I was amazed by all these details. But, hold on, there is more!

If you have a screened in porch, it is a good idea to put up tarps so the snow doesn’t get blown in and do some damage. Take your electronics to town! Those flat screen televisions will actually freeze! Also either take other valuables to town or store them out of sight.

Put sticks in sliding windows and patio doors. Unplug the fridge that you have completely cleared of food and cleaned out. Leave the fridge door open to prevent the growth of mold.

On top of this physical work, there is the emotion associated with closing up the camp. As my neighbour said, “The cottage is a break from reality. Now you’re going back to the nuts and bolts of living.” The summer days are gone, and that lovely “change of pace at camp” is over for another year.

Of course, there will be day trips through the autumn and winter to check on the place. There has to be some vigilance to make sure it is all secure. A chain with a lock across the road serves to help deter curious people.

The second interview was with people who had spent 65 years at a cottage at Oliver Lake. They both remarked on how short the season is even though they head out to the lake as soon as weather permits. The summer is then spent doing upgrading projects, improvements and repairs. When the water is too chilly for swimming, it is time to put those boats away. In this case, the boats are kayaks and a sailboat. They are safely stored under the camp. The dock is wheeled up onto the shore and pulled away from the water’s edge and any potential ice damage. All the other toys and equipment are tucked away in the inside loft or wrapped in tarps in the gazebo. Lots of out buildings seem to be almost essential!

The bedding is put into rubber tubs and brought into town. Traps are set for mice and chipmunks. All the appliances are cleaned, unplugged and all food is transported to town.

The water procedures are much the same as the previous cottage. The pump is unplugged and drained along with the water intake line and the hot water tank. These folks also use an air compressor to blow out the lines.

Because they have always had dogs, these owners have a fair number of fences on their property. This has turned out to be a security feature in the winter because it deters skidoos and any other explorers.

I grew up at Amethyst and loved every minute of it. I realize now that when I was saying my tearful, adolescent end of summer goodbye to the beach and that stunning view of Caribou, my mom and dad were toiling through all this work of closing up the camp! Who knew?

Camp, cottage, cabin or trailer, they are all magical summer places, but with electricity bills and taxes, they can be quite an expensive adventure. It is important to take good care of the them’ securing them well before the snow flies. And then, the cycle of seasons brings us to the end of April again, and the process of opening these happy places can begin once more. My neighbour described it perfectly when she said, “Opening up the camp is a lovely lift out of winter.”

Karen Christie is a retired high school teacher and a regular contributor to Bayview. She can be reached at

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.