I’m just back from a week in Silver Bay, Ontario where I had a great time with family and old friends. Silver Bay is a little bay on Lake Erie south of Toronto and west of Buffalo, NY. I grew up spending summers here and spent time in and around a number of little backyard cottages. There was the bunk house that we used to crash in after sneaking Labatt’s Blue past the parents, the mansion with a “gate house” that I rode past on my way to a summer camp, and the backyard cottage that a friend’s mother built for herself so her kids and grandkids could live in the main home.
While there I took a quick bike ride through some neighboring bays to see how many other small cottages might be tucked in corners or hidden back in wooded lots and hoped to find something worth sharing. I was shocked to see that there were tons of backyard cottages that came in all shapes and sizes.
The bays along Lake Erie’s north coast (yes, a lake can have a coast) has been a part of Canada’s cottage country for over 100 years. Trains used to cut across Canada to get from New York to Buffalo to Detriot, Chicago and beyond. A quick shot across the Canadian side of Lake Erie was the most direct route and since this was before cars were common, people would hop a train and ride 10, 20 or 30 miles, (just far enough to escape the city heat and get away from the belching smoke of the steel mills) then hop off at their stop and walk one mile from the tracks to their cottage. And then they’d stay there for months. It was a summer we’d all dream of: truly off the grid and literally unplugged.
Here are a bunch of the backyard cottages, guest houses and in-law cottages that are tucked away on dirt roads and little firelane’s around Silver Bay, Ontario.
A few old friends enjoying a martini (or two or four) on the deck of their main home.
And the backyard cottage behind where their children currently live.
This mansion was build over 100 years ago… and came with two great little gate houses that are now perfect little homes.
One of two gate houses to that accompany that mega mansion.
The second gate house. This is just across from the blue one.
Here’s a second stone mansion on acres of land. The little house on the left was truly a carriage house when the original home was built approximately 100 years ago. The carriage house is now it’s own nice little second unit.
A close up of the carriage house…
Another mega “cottage” in the back right that came with a carriage house that is now a perfect little beach front home.
That little cottage on the right is an old garage that has grown and evolved overtime. It hosts a small business part time and family the rest of the time.
This guest house was a big surprise. It’s tucked away in the woods but it’s an architectural gem and frankly, way nicer than you’d expect in a little bay outside of Buffalo, NY.
The side of the Cedar Bay guest house.
The front of the Cedar Bay guest house. This is the front deck that looks out over Lake Erie.
There’s the main house on the left and the little guest house on the right.
This is standing on the beach looking back. You can see a bit of the guest house hidden in the trees on the left.
This cute little cottage is not all that little, but the red is inspiring.
If I was a gambling man, I’d bet that everyone who has stayed here enjoyed profound clarity of thought, deep soul filling happiness and they wrote a novel while there.
This was once a garage but is now a serving a much more important role in this universe… it hosts poker nights, sleepovers, and rowdy games of eucher.
I’m really not sure if this is just storage or if it’s a working cottage. It looks like it has some history to it and hopefully it will have a colorful future too.
People are often looking for barn doors. It’s not necessarily an expensive project that has $2,000 custom doors and $700 hardware… there are countless sheds and barns with simple hardware like this shed has… It’s not all mansions with carriage houses around here. There are a number of smaller homes with us regular folk living there. This little guest house made of reclaimed windows is a great little backyard cottage.
This is neither tiny, nor small, nor a backyard cottage, but it’s such great design that it’s worthy of inclusion here.
Technically the little detached guest room does qualify as a second unit…
When a growing family needed more space they added a second cottage just slightly behind the first one. It looks quite separate from the street now and they feel like two totally separate homes while only being about eight feet apart.
Lastly, this little guy has been hanging around for a while and there never seems to be a summer weekend when it isn’t put to use.