Lake House

Cabin or Cottage – How Do you Describe Your Lake House?

July 12, 2018
Lake Life: Cabin or Cottage
Cabin or Cottage - How Do you Describe Your Lake House?

Nearly a month since the summer solstice, we are well into lake season. Everything is green, the flowers are in full bloom, the smell of rain from a fresh thunderstorm is in the air.  

As we prepare for another weekend dash to serenity, it got us thinking. How is it that some people call their place a cabin, others a cottage and for that matter, all of the other terminology we Canadians love to use to describe our getaway destination? Somehow this collective understanding of the carefree escape has a curious ability to take on so many different terms. The cabin, the cottage, the chalet, the shack, the summer house, the lake house, or simply the lake, are all terms we’ve heard to describe our escapes from the daily grind.  

Going to the Lake

Lakestyle would say that while visiting Ontario’s cottage country, it was obvious that no one uses the term cabin.  While in Alberta or Saskatchewan, the vast majority do. Others certainly understand what you are referring to when you say cabin or cottage, and perhaps this is why we use “the lake” as a way to generically (so ironically Canadian) describe our lake properties without leaning one way or another.

Others may understand what you are referring to but that doesn’t mean they want to hear it. Certainly one could be poked fun at if the “wrong” term is used. “Oh, you are going to the cottage? Is that some fancy term you use to describe your castle in the woods?”  Is it like we pass judgment or somehow try to elevate or diminish our situation based on the use of these various terminology choices?

Cabin or cottage, are these words linked to history or does it involve regional dialect?  Perhaps the term cabin has stuck around as a way to describe a shack built in the woods by those who first inhabited remote territory. Whereas those in more established parts of the country settled on the term cottage, using a term well known to them from their cultural upbringing or the countries they themselves or their families originated from.

Cottage Life or Cabin Life?

Or maybe the difference between the terms cabin and cottage help describe the type of experience one might have when visiting. Going to the cabin may evoke a more rustic feel, where the typical services and amenities are lacking, the use of a water well versus connections to water treatment plants, or the need to chop wood to heat the place versus a forced air furnace, or simply put, “roughin’ it.”  Going to a cottage could then mean “less rustic”, essentially a house with all of the conveniences we normally enjoy in our urban lifestyle such as flushable toilets, showers, or forced air heating.

Is it the environment in which the dwelling sits? What comes to mind when you say cabin or cottage? Maybe when you think of the term cabin, you might picture a log home or a place patched together with scraps of wood, buried away in a grove of trees, with streams running through the property, squirrels chasing each other and moss growing on everything. When you think of the term cottage, you might envision an expansive abode, meticulously put together with the finest materials available, boat houses attached with suites above for when the guests arrive. The lawn may be perfectly manicured and every plant has been well taken care of. Perhaps there is an elevator to take you from the shore to your turret on top of a rocky cliff or a helicopter pad ready to whisk you back and forth from paradise. Is a cabin a more rustic, cozy space that evokes a sense of simple and unfussy character?  Is a cottage more luxurious, grandiose and able to entertain many guests with discernable tastes?

Loving Your Lake Life

Whatever you call your abode, we all have come to appreciate the fun and joy of spending time there, doing the things we love, whether it is boating, jumping off the dock, relaxing with a good book, reconnecting with friends and family or simply just being at peace. In the end, does it really matter? Cabin or cottage?  What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Lakestyle is a company founded on a desire to help people fulfill their lake lifestyle dreams. By utilizing easy to maintain dock systems and accessories, people are able to spend less time working and more time having fun!  Check us out at, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @LakestyleCA!

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