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A Brief History Of The Cottage

Posted On: 17.09.22

A Brief History Of The Cottage

According to Wikipedia "a cottage is, typically, a small house. It may carry the connotation of being an old or old-fashioned building. In modern usage, a cottage is usually a modest, often cosy dwelling, typically in a rural or semi-rural location. The word comes from the architecture of England, where it originally referred to a house with ground floor living space and an upper floor of one or more bedrooms fitting under the eaves. In British English the term now denotes a small dwelling of traditional build, although it can also be applied to modern construction designed to resemble traditional houses ("mock cottages"). Cottages may be detached houses, or terraced, such as those built to house workers in mining villages. The tied accommodation provided to farm workers was usually a cottage.  Peasant farmers were once known as cotters".

Also according to Wikipedia, if we look back to the Middle Ages, "cottages housed agricultural workers and their friends and families. The term cottage denoted the dwelling of a cotter. Thus, cottages were smaller peasant units (larger peasant units being called messuages). In that early period, a documentary reference to a cottage would most often mean, not a small stand-alone dwelling as today, but a complete farmhouse and yard (albeit a small one). Thus, in the Middle Ages, the word cottage (MLa cotagium) denoted not just a dwelling, but included at least a dwelling (domus) and a barn (grangia), as well as, usually, a fenced yard or piece of land enclosed by a gate (portum). The word is probably a blend of Old English cot, cote "hut" and Old French cot "hut, cottage", from Old Norse kot "hut" and related to Middle Low German kotten (cottage, hut)".

So how did Cottages get started in Canada? Ryan McLaren writer for Brojects, says "cottages aren’t uniquely Canadian, but they do hold a special place in our national identity. Like hockey and poutine, it’s uniquely Canadian to "spend the long weekend at the lake". 

McLaren goes on to say, "in Canada, “cottage” has come to mean a home away from home. The creation of railways throughout Canada towards the end of the 19th century and the increased popularity and affordability of the car meant cottages became more accessible. A person could live where there was work, and head to their cottage in their free time, having the best of both worlds. By the 1950’s, cottaging had become a part of Canadian culture. These were rustic getaways, a chance to get back to nature and away from society". 

McLaren also says that, "Canadians have always appreciated the value of getting off the grid into the wilderness, and cottaging was a mental break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In other parts of the world people refer to “summer homes” or “vacation homes” but in Canada it’s either “the cottage”, “the cabin”, or “the chalet.”

Speaking of cottage history, did you know that CottageClub Ghost Lake, is named for the Ghost River, which flows into the east end of the reservoir. It is said that the name is derived from native tales of a ghost that prowled the river valley collecting the skulls of Blackfoot Indians felled by Cree warriors in battle. In 1873, the area was settled by Reverend John McDougall, who established a mission and cattle ranch near present-day Morley. The Hudson’s Bay Company also established a trading post near Ghost Lake in 1874.

Today, Ghost Lake has become a popular recreational cottage and sporting destination for Albertans. The water is clear and inviting and encourages boating, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, waterskiing and so much more in the warmer months. In the winter, Ghost Lake accommodates both skaters, ice boarders and fishing enthusiasts. 

* Credits Wikipedia

** Credits Ryan McLaren for Projects

If you're interested in learning more about the history of CottageClub, Ghost Lake, private tours are available by booking online or by phone. Or simply drop by for a visit and a community guide will take you on a private excursion of the community - we are located on 35 west of Calgary. 

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