[Video below.] With over a quarter of a million fresh-water lakes, Ontario is one of the most popular cottage destinations in North America. Throughout the summer months, there is a mass exodus from the confines of the city to the scenic beauty of Ontario vacationland.
For the Torah-observant family though, summering in the great outdoors can be a tricky proposition. Beyond a few clusters of religious cottages on Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, vacation options in Ontario are limited.
That situation is changing thanks to a new vacation community situated just 95 minutes north of Toronto. Victoria Lake Vacation Homes, named after the body of water within its boundaries, is a community of 75 summer homes. It boasts a range of amenities that rival the finest resorts.
Getting there is the beginning of the relaxation.
If you’ve ever battled traffic on Hwy 400, before or after a summer weekend, you’ll appreciate the lack of congestion on Hwy 404. The highway has an HOV lane and plans are underway for its extension further north. The second leg of the journey through Hwy 48 is so scenic that I feel like the vacation has already begun. My Ontario map also indicates numerous alternative local routes in case of heavier traffic.
When I arrive at the front entrance of Victoria Lake, a keypad code opens the gate to reveal a breathtaking view of the 400-acre property. The newly developed area occupies only thirty eight of those acres, leaving the rest of the site as a natural habitat filled with a dizzying range of biodiversity; from numerous wildflowers to massive poplars, oak, and maple trees. Because of zoning restrictions, no new development can take place on the land, thus permanently protecting its pristine beauty.
Looking across, my eyes are drawn to the homes that are carefully placed along a peninsula that juts out into the clear-blue lake. Almost all of the houses enjoy a waterfront view as a result of this design. It also allows for completely separate beaches for men and women.
The magnificent spring-fed lake is approximately 40 feet deep in the centre with pike and bass to entice the fishermen. Besides the sandy beaches that are ideal for swimming, the lake is available for canoeing, rowing, and kayaking.
Standing on the sandy beach, it’s impossible not to appreciate the unique serenity of the environment. That quiet comes courtesy of the Condominium bylaws, which only allow for non-motorized watercraft on the lake. This has the enviable result of eliminating the noisy, disruptive, and sometimes dangerous presence of motor boats.
One of the most unique aspects of Victoria Lake was the input from purchasers that its founder, Motti Fuerst sought before building it. “When I first started I went around asking people what they were looking for and how we should set things up,” he says. “The feedback was really important and is definitely reflected in the final product.”
One result of his discussions is the noticeable absence of cars from the facility. As I trek through the cottage area, I see children playing with an exhilarating level of freedom, unimaginable anywhere but a summer camp. Motti had consulted with cottagers and an overwhelming majority felt that the site should be as child-friendly as possible.
Roads exist in Victoria Lake to accommodate emergency service vehicles such as fire and ambulance and they’re opened up to cars at the beginning and end of the main cottage season to allow cottagers to transport large items.
The absence of cars does not mean there is no transportation option. I spot the occasional vacationer whizzing around the facility in a golf cart transporting themselves and their belongings. In fact, each home is built with a small parking pad for a golf cart.
The summer homes themselves are impressively designed structures. Each one contains up to eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a kitchen fully equipped with modern appliances. Even with eight different designs to choose from, owners are encouraged to further customize houses to their personal needs. All homes come fully winterized, allowing for winter getaways as well.
The central jewel of Victoria Lake is the Bais Hamedrash. With its high ceilings, chandeliers, and large windows affording a spectacular view of the water, it offers an essential focus for the community.
Sports enthusiasts have an impressive array of choices to keep them on the go. Aside from the beaches and swimming pools, the property includes lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, paddle ball courts, and a scenic baseball field. Two state of the art playgrounds, a kiddie pool, and a camp house, will keep your children entertained throughout the day.
Victoria Lake Vacation Homes is a condominium community where cottagers actually own the property their homes are sitting on. Condominium rules were established to provide stability and long term continuity in terms of both the physical and spiritual structure of the development. Motti says “People want to know that what they purchase today will be secure tomorrow.”
When asked “Who are your ideal clients?” Motti replies “Victoria Lake was designed with all ages and stages in mind.” Couples with children of all ages, grandparents who want to relax and spend quality time with their children and grandchildren, or out of town family enjoying their own mini vacation, will all revel in the warmth and beauty of Victoria Lake.
With all these carefully thought out plans and beautifully executed designs, there’s no question that these homes, still available as low as $259,999, offer tremendous value. Providing amenities for frum families virtually unavailable anywhere else in Ontario.
But beyond the lovely houses, the stunning scenery, the pristine lake, the beautiful Bais Hamedresh, and all the activities, there’s one thing even more unique about Victoria Lake that’s impossible for me to miss. It’s a palpable sense of community in the development. Whether it’s the men learning in the Bais Hamdresh or playing a game of basketball, the women swimming or relaxing at the pool, or the children roaming freely, there’s an inclusiveness that’s truly unique. “As time goes on, the existing residents continuously comment, and are thankful to be part of this special community.”.
Victoria Lake …Creating lifetime memories.
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