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  • Writer's pictureThe Roving Route

How To Prepare for Isolation On An Island

The Adventures of The Roving Route #32

Over the last few newsletters, we have tried to introduce Lake of the Woods in general to give those who have never been here an idea of where we are and the uniqueness of the situation. As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the top question people have been asking is how we prepared for the freeze and isolation. Where do we even start as it took months to get everything in order. The cottage was built to operate in the winter but not do it with much style and grace! In addition, 25 years of pests and general wear and tear meant that the insulated crawlspace needed quite a bit of attention. While that was a great first step, there was a lot more to understand before we could raise the boats for the season. Everything from water to power to food and even septic had to be discussed as a quick trip to the hardware store would not be possible!

Derek's workspace for the day

During the summer we pull water from the lake for household use however, the cold Northern Ontario winter presents a whole new set of challenges as the ice gets several feet thick. Reaching over 100 feet from the closest exterior wall to the lake, a heated wire - called a heat trace - runs inside our water intake to keep it from freezing on its journey from the pump to our tap. While we know this system has worked for short periods of time in previous years, this year has some unique challenges. For a multitude of reasons, the lake is very low right now and is over 5 feet lower than the highest it has been in recent years. This change means our wire may not be reaching far enough into the water to get past the feet of ice that forms during the winter. Only time will tell if we will have an issue.

Last year while replacing our water pump

Anyone who lives in a semi-remote location has to consider power interruptions. With everything from our fridges, lights, and heat running on electricity, a power outage could quickly become a major issue. To help we now have a generator that can supply us with power for about a week in case something goes wrong. While it won't be able to power everything, we will be able to keep enough heat and water going until the issue can be fixed! We can't see Hydro One walking onto the island very quickly to find the issue and fix it.

The tree branch that caused our power outage at 4AM this year.

Now that we got all of that stuff out of the way, the thing that we know everyone is truly wondering about is food. Some may have a tough time meal planning for your next week, let alone the next 8-10! That was a concern of ours and something that was on our minds. While you can easily stock a freezer with meats and fish, stocking our fridge with fresh fruits, veggies, and milk that would last a long time is a lot more challenging. On our last day on mainland, we went to all the grocery stores in town to see if any milk products had later expiry dates than the end of November but sadly we will be stuck with milk substitutes pretty soon! To make up for the lack of fresh veggies and not sure what to do with our leftover garden, we brought them inside and set them in front of the window. With some support, tomatoes, peppers, celery, basil, green onions, and even lettuce are all doing great! We just had our first crop this week which is pretty awesome for what it currently looks like outside! We are also trying to propagate more tomatoes, onions, basil, and lavender from clippings and have successfully planted a seed from our pepper plant! We are excited to see what turns out! Who knew that veggies grow better without deer stopping for a quick salad buffet!

Well, we hope that gives you a better picture of how we set up for isolation. Please keep asking questions and telling us your funny stories! We would not be here if it wasn't for everything that our family and friends have done and all the support we feel. Special thanks go out to our grandparents who got the ball rolling 60 years ago when they bought this property and to Derek's parents who have been on board with all of our crazy ideas! Getting to this point took a lot of preparation but luckily Jacki is a master organizer and made sure everything was sorted out! Every morning when we wake up and stoke the fire to brew a cup of Vietnamese coffee, we reap the rewards of all those hours of hard work in ignorant bliss of the issues that may have arisen overnight!

Cheers from snowy Lake of the Woods, The Roving Route


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