A Timeless Place
The Ontario Cottage
As Julia Harrison’s first summer living in Ontario approached, she became aware of the culture of the cottage. While friends and family talked of nothing but languid afternoons on the dock and bartered for as many lakeside days as possible, Harrison marveled at the less attractive components of cottage life: the clogged highways en route and the unrelenting investment of money and labour that the idyllic escapes demanded.
Curious about the rich and passionate meaning these places seemed to hold, Harrison studied cottagers in the Haliburton region over the course of seven years. Based on this trove of fascinating interviews, A Timeless Place is an exploration of a site of personal, social, cultural, and even moral significance.
Thoughtfully and engagingly written, A Timeless Place considers the cottage family as a place where memories are treasured, national identity is celebrated, spiritual balance is restored, and even a few dark secrets are kept.
A Timeless Place will interest scholars in cultural geography; tourism, leisure, and recreation studies; sociology and anthropology; cultural history; Canadian studies; and, of course, cottagers from Ontario and elsewhere.
“Cottaging” in Ontario is a much-discussed phenomenon, and Harrison has set out to shed light on why people are so passionate about this form of domestic tourism. There is surprisingly little written on this, and her excellent book is both compelling and novel.
An entertaining, well-written, accessible book that explores the iconic status “the cottage” holds in the imagination of many. Basing her work on extended interviews with cottagers, Julia Harrison finds the cottage to be an archive of memory as well as a project to recover idealized childhoods of innocence, health, and connection to imagined nature. A Timeless Place will be read widely.
1 An Introduction to the Cottage
2 The Cottage: A Special Place
3 Community, Nature, Modernity, and Nationalism at the Cottage
4 Time and Order at the Cottage
5 The Cottage Body
6 Family at the Cottage
7 Gender at the Cottage
8 Privilege at the Cottage
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