A Cottage Owner’s Weekend Checklist


Remember any and all keys you’ll need at the cottage, whether it’s the front door, back door or boat keys – you don’t want to be stuck without them. Consider putting all your cottage keys on one keychain to avoid forgetting or misplacing them, and don’t forget to make duplicates. 


Games are key to a successful weekend at the cottage. Whether it’s board games, lawn games or card games, this is the kind of entertainment that will bring the family together for hours of fun. 

A Cozy Blanket and a Good Book

Nothing says relaxation like curling up under a cozy blanket and reading a good book. Find a comfortable throw that works for you, whether it’s lightweight cotton, super-soft cashmere or warm wool; there’s something for every kind of napper. Now, just make sure to stop by the library before you go to pick up a few good reads for the weekend. 

First Aid Kit

Although most people don’t want to think about something bad happening when they’re at the cottage, it’s important to always be prepared. Make sure you have a first aid kit in the cabin with everything you need in case of an accident. It’s also wise to have a first aid kit in your vehicle. 

Drinking Water

This item is probably one of the most important items on the list, yet it’s often missed or forgotten about when it’s time to pack for the lake. Stop by the store in the city to fill up your water jugs and make sure you have enough to last you for your entire stay. 


The cottage is the perfect place to disconnect from technology, but your phone should still be on and fully charged in case someone needs to get a hold of you or vice versa. It’s easy to forget your charger when packing, which is why we suggest purchasing one that you can leave at the cottage full time. 

Campfire Goodies 

A weekend at the cottage isn’t complete without all the ingredients for a campfire. Be sure to pick up firewood on the way out and all the ingredients for s’mores – because what’s a campfire without s’mores?! 

These are some of our essentials for a weekend at the cabin, we’d love to hear yours! Let us know in the comments below. 

5 Steps to the Perfect Timber Home

1. Start with your land

They always say, “location, location, location” and this especially rings true for timber frame homes. Our team can help you evaluate your property to capitalize on its strong points. If you have a gorgeous view of the lake, we can orient your floorplan to take advantage of it. If you’re surrounded by thick forest, consider arranging your spaces inward to create a good line of sight from room to room. Your site will help determine your floorplan. 

2. Decide how you want your home to feel

Do you want your home to be cozy and rustic or cottage chic? Create an idea board on Houzz.com with design elements that appeal to you. From there, our experienced design team will help you bring all those ideas to life in a way that suits your taste and lifestyle.  

3. Bigger isn’t always better

Don’t waste space on the square footage you don’t really need, the number, type and size of rooms should reflect what will take place in them. Think of your rooms in terms of the activities that will take place in them, instead of “kitchen” think “cooking” and instead of “living room” think “family time”.  

4. Account for extras

Don’t forget to account architectural elements into your budget, for example, large windows, massive trusses and hipped or gabled roofs – all of these can be integral to your home but they also cost money. An honest and experienced builder will disclose these added costs early in the design process so that you’re not surprised later down the road. 

5. Enlist the right professionals

You’ve heard it before, building a home can be stressful and time-consuming – we don’t believe it should be that way. Building your dream home or cottage should be an exciting experience, which is why it’s important to find builders you can trust. We work alongside our clients every step of the way, keeping an open line of communication and ensuring a seamless process from start to finish. 

This list may seem overwhelming to begin with but rest assured, our team of dedicated professionals is here to walk you through every step to make sure your home building experience is a positive one.

Home Away from Home

A good case in point is a new build recently completed at Falcon Lake, Manitoba, about 150 kilometres east of Winnipeg near the Ontario border. This retreat is a 2800 squarefoot hybrid timber frame beauty on two levels.

“The Falcon Lake build is more contemporary than traditional,” says Jason Fehr, who together with partner Gerrilyn, operates the Mitchell, Manitoba-based business that has become a go-to company for design and construction of timber frame homes and cottages over the past 16 years. He reports that the Falcon Lake clients had viewed their show cottage at Caddy Lake in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park.

“The Caddy Lake property wowed them and helped them decide to come to us for advice and construction,” he says, adding that the clients had found a property in the Muskoka region in Ontario cottage country as a template. “We were able to take their dream and turn it into a reality,” he remarks.

The Falcon Lake home away from home is an open and airy design that features 10-foot ceilings on the main floor. “We were able to achieve much thanks to our use of a truss system that permitted a complex roofline with no interior impediments. We used I beams, LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), and other techniques in this approach,” explains Jason, remarking that LVL is stronger than solid timber and is manufactured by bonding together peeled or thin wood veneers under heat and pressure.

The high ceilings also provided the right setting for the massive tall fireplace that is a central focus of the great room. Here, stacked ledge stone reaches to the ceiling and marries well with the timber accents to create an interior design that complements the white of the contemporary colour palette.

According to Jason, they had to remove some of the veranda roof to accommodate the overall square footage of the building and have it fit into the allowable coverage of the property. They then installed timbers to create a pergolastyle roof over this portion of the veranda.

“We offer design advice starting at the front end to help our clients achieve the most from their properties. People tell us what they want to achieve in the design and we show them how this can be done,” he says.

Comfort is essential in a well-considered lake home. Helping Timber Ridge achieve this goal at the Falcon Lake residence was Durabuil
Windows & Doors, a supplier that provided the triple-pane glazing that opens the design and brings the beauty of the outside indoors. They also turned to WeatherMaster for solutions in the multi-season sunroom where a combination of glass and screen elements work to deliver a room that is comfortable from March through to November.

“The sunroom at the Falcon Lake home not only adds months to the use of this area but adds visually to the design. A porch is great, but a sunroom provides longer enjoyment of the exterior environment. And isn’t that what living at the lake is all about?”

Jason suggests the quality of their suppliers is certainly one reason for the growing success of Timber Ridge Homes. “We have a wide range of leading companies we do business with, and they help us stay on the cutting edge. For example, Falcon Lake-based Lumber One was the supplier of the building materials. They were able to deliver quality material on time and at a competitive price, and they are in the area so they understand how to get product to the site in the best possible manner.”

Relationships with local government agencies are another key element to how Timber Ridge was able to get this Falcon Lake property into the hands of the client as quickly as possible. “We have done 15 to 20 new builds in Whiteshell Provincial Park and have established a strong working relationship with Manitoba Parks & Recreation. We understand the regulations and the mission of the agency. Together, we work as a team to make the build as seamless as possible given the pristine nature of the environment in this beautiful area.”

Jason reports that for new clients it all starts with an initial meeting to establish the big picture. “Then we get together at the design stage and invite interaction as we move forward. All along the way, we encourage clients to be on-site as often as they can. This helps to ensure we are meeting all expectations. This was certainly the case with the recent Falcon Lake project, where we saw the client frequently. Our goal is to have the new home achieve its full potential, and when clients input and ask questions, this helps us get to a place of total satisfaction for them,” he says, remarking that as they build these cottage residences, they see how the new lake homes take on lives of their own, becoming just like a new member of the family.

Check out www.timberridgehomes.ca to discover how you can start making lasting lakeside memories.

Timber Tours Now a Permanent Fixture at Timber Ridge Homes

There is no better way to imagine the cottage of your dreams than by seeing it in real life and our Timber Tour will offer you a glimpse into your future lake life. 

falcon lake
falcon lake interior

It is our mission to build more than just a home, but a gathering place for your family’s memories. We are committed to creating unique, custom cottages that exhibit grand beauty, strength and energy efficiency throughout. 

Experience design inspiration as you get an exclusive tour of some of our beautiful properties located in Manitoba’s Whiteshell and decide what features you would like incorporated into your future home or cottage. Our team will take you and your family on a personalized journey through our homes, sharing highlights from each project and answering any questions you may have. 

caddy lake interior

“Our Timber Tour was designed to give you a sense of what you can expect when you choose to build your dream home with us,” says Timber Ridge Homes founder, Jason Fehr. “We look forward to showing future clients the intricate craftsmanship and precise attention to detail they can expect from us.” 

If you’ve been thinking about taking the next step towards a new home or cottage, contact us to schedule a Timber Tour and see first hand why you should allow us to build your dream home.

A Glimpse Into Life at the Lake: The Timber Ridge Photo Challenge

We posted a photo prompt every day from June 17 to July 1 asking our audience to share a photo that coincided with the theme that day. The themes ranged from wildlife to a view of the lake to what’s grilling on the barbecue. 

We were thrilled to see such amazing engagement from our audience. People sharing photo’s of their families, animals and cottages, all while using the hashtag #TimberRidgePhotoChallenge.

Each post that included our designated hashtag was counted as on entrance, there were 14 prompts in total, which means that someone could essentially enter for the giveaway 14 times. 

You may be asking, “what exactly does a Timber Ridge prize pack include?” We put together a number of items that will help elevate your lake life including a s’more kit, kitchen oils and spices and fishing gear. 

The winner of our contest was Jessica Wall (@jesss.wall on Instagram) who posted five photos with the Timber Photo Challenge hashtag.

Jessica’s photos were a great representation of the many memories that are made at the cottage, from playing games with the family to kayaking with friends – these really are memories that will last a lifetime. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Timber Ridge Photo Challenge and stay tuned for another giveaway soon. 

A Cabin Builder Succumbs to the Lure of Cottage Life

Less common is an article about new cottage owners; a refreshing reminder about the value of family life spent in communion with nature.

Jason and Gerrilyn Fehr have been building cottages and homes for 15 years from their business, Timber Ridge Homes, in Mitchell, Man., near Steinbach. The company slogan is “Cottage is Family,” but until 2016 the husband/wife duo hadn’t owned a cottage themselves. That’s when they bought a tear down on the northwest side of Caddy Lake, with the intention of building a new timberframe structure and selling it right away.

But like the thousands of their neighbours on the lakes in the Whiteshell, they’ve now been bitten by cabin fever.

“What’s really nice about it is get to come here and it’s just us. There’s no interference and that’s what I love about it,” says Gerrilyn. Their business, as well as activities for their four sons, aged 8, 9, 12 and 14 — usually involving motorized vehicles — keep her and Jason busy at home.

“Cottages bring families together and memories can be made. We didn’t know how powerful that was until we (got) our own.

“Even if it is just for a couple weekends here and there, we can just be a family.

They built a beautiful cottage to foster those family connections. It took nine months to construct the three bedroom, loft-style structure from Eastern White Pine their company sources from Northwestern Ontario. Finished wood was used in the main part of the house, but the sunroom is roughshod, to give it a rustic feel. 

The cottage is designed with maximum exposure to the lake. “We made it as light as we could and gained as much lake view as possible,” Jason says. Gerrilyn describes being enthralled by eagles soaring at great heights above the water in the mornings.

The Fehrs, who build between three and six cottages a year, as well as residential homes, use the cottage to showcase their business. It’s been really good for us to have something people can feel, see, touch, smell and enjoy the view.”

Before they began construction, Jason hauled in fill to raise the cottage four feet above lake level. They put in sod where their sons play catch or other games. But most often the boys head to the water, swimming, boating and kayaking from the moment they arrive. “The boys love the cottage,” Gerrilyn says. “They fish from the dock, sometimes catching five or six fish — smaller northern pike, black crappie — in only a few minutes. And they love the campfires in the evening.”

Because of other commitments, the family uses the cottage only on weekends in the summer, hoping to extend their stays in the future. But they’ve made good use of it during the past two Christmas holidays. Jason bulldozes the snow off the ice for the boys. “They’re out on the ice, skating and playing hockey,” Gerrilyn says.

The Fehrs, who build between three and six cottages a year, as well as residential homes, use the cottage to showcase their business. “We use it as a show home for our company, to give people a feel for what

timber frame is,” Jason says. “In cottage country no one has had open houses, but we do. It’s been really good for us to have something people can feel, see, touch, smell and enjoy the view.”

The open concept design provides a large family area, flanked by a comfortable kitchen. “I wanted something that was a little more modern. I wanted it to be warm and cozy and relaxing, airy without feeling too big,” Gerrilyn says of her vision for the cottage.

If the boys want some privacy, they can climb the ladder to the loft and veg out. They’re already looking ahead to when the boys are teenagers, when they’ll build a boathouse with a guest room above to give them the space they’ll need.

The design is low maintenance. To that end, they’ve used Eldarado stone and cedar shakes on the outside, and have included WiFi and air-to-air- geothermal air conditioning to make their time at the cottage comfortable and convenient.

“We’re here to chill,” Gerrilyn says. If the original idea was to flip the cottage quickly, the Fehrs are now experiencing the vision they sold to others for so long. “We exceeded our expectations,” Jason says. “We didn’t know how powerful that was until you have your own cottage. That is the truth. That is for real.”

Family Time at Flanders Lake

The Hieberts welcomed their third granddaughter last year, which also marked the third summer in their all-season dream cottage at Flanders Lake. Two more additions will be celebrated this year, as daughters-in-law Carla and Debbie are expecting in July and September, respectively.

Thankfully, the 3,200-square-foot, pine-frame two-storey is double the size of the three-bedroom A-frame cottage that once stood on the site, about 60 kilometres northeast of Lac du Bonnet in Nopiming Provincial Park.

With five bedrooms and three bathrooms, there’s plenty of room for the growing family. The Hieberts’ eldest son, David, 31, and wife Carla have two daughters, four-year-old Sara and two-year-old Isabelle, along with a young bulldog named Roxie. Younger son Jordan, 29, and wife Debbie are parents to one-year-old Emily.

But space wasn’t the only consideration when they planned their new lakefront getaway. Built by Timber Ridge Homes, the cottage is made to last, with heritage features the Hieberts’ great grandchildren will appreciate one day.

There are no nails in the pine frame or in the imposing staircase that leads to the second floor. Instead, they were handcrafted with fitted dowels. Polished beams criss-cross the vaulted ceilings and walls, and one beam acts as a mantlepiece for the tall natural stone fireplace in the family room.

Most of the floors are Brazilian hardwood, valued for its beauty and durability. It darkens and takes on a reddish tint as it ages, and the fact that it’s hardy enough for carefree family living was a strong selling point.

“Especially when you’ve got little grandkids that are dropping toys and bricks and whatnot all over on it and you don’t get a chip or a dent or anything in it,” Lynn says.

Slate floors in the bathrooms and entrance hall are easy to maintain. And a rugged natural stone backsplash lends a rustic, cosy air to the spacious kitchen, which was designed for easy socializing while Lynn is cooking.

There’s seating at the kitchen island and it’s open to the dining and family rooms.

“We wanted the open-air concept where it’s inviting for everybody to come in and sit and there’s lots of room for me to work and still talk,” Lynn says. “It’s a nice place for people to sit and congregate.”

The kitchen boasts oak cabinets, and plenty of them, along with a small pantry. “This cabin is not lacking in storage space, that’s for sure,” Lynn says.

She designed the cupboards in the main bathroom, which houses Randy’s “spaceship” – an oval combination bath and shower. Some cabinets have windows so the kids can see sunscreen or any other toiletries they might need at glance. And there’s lots of open and closet storage for towels, since the cottage doesn’t have a laundry room. The master suite on the main floor has an ensuite bathroom and the third bathroom is convenient to the four bedrooms on the second floor.

Three sets of doors – off the master bedroom, the family room and a three-season room – open on to the deck, which has builtin seating, a gas fireplace and a hot tub. There are several nooks and crannies indoors and out to let everyone enjoy a bit of solitude when they want it.

“If it was just for Lynn and myself, we could have kept the other cottage, but the whole concept is to have it large enough so that everybody feels comfortable,” Randy says.

“They have enough of their own space that they’re not tripping over one another.” The detached garage is a showpiece in itself.

A former owner of Richards-Wilcox Canada, which produces garage and overhead doors, Randy still works with the company and its dealers in 42 countries so he knew what he wanted for the cottage. The side-by-side garage doors are wood with antique-style double doors that swing outward rather than roll up, and there’s a decorative gable window above each door.

“I wanted something that was rustic looking, something that fit more in the environment,” Randy says.

“There’s a little bit of maintenance to them. You have to stain them, but I don’t mind doing that. To me that’s relaxing actually – it’s part of my therapy.”

The house and garage take up much of the half-acre lot, and since the lake is in the Canadian Shield the land doesn’t lend itself to gardening, which is a bit ironic since David and Jordan run the family-owned Lacoste Garden Centre in Winnipeg.

But natural landscaping with low-maintenance, slow-growing fescue grass fits the character of the home. Containers on the deck will be planted with flowers to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Landscaping projects started last fall with large stone steps laid from the deck to the dock and crushed black granite on the driveway.

While some cottagers like to head south in the winter, the Hieberts, again, bucked convention. “We’re probably the opposite,” Randy says. “I like ice-fishing, I like snowmobiling, I like working outside. And then you come in in the evening and you feel tired. You feel good.

And then you barbecue and you have some wine or something like that and to me there’s nothing more relaxing.”

Until the early ’90s, the family had a cottage on an island at Lake of the Woods, but winter access was too difficult. The last straw came one Friday night, when the Hieberts were driving to the cottage on a winter road for the weekend.

“All of a sudden we saw this snowmobile go whipping by us and we recognized he was one of our neighbours, and he turned around and his arms were waving at us,” Randy says.

“We tried to stop and kept sliding and sliding and skidded. He came up beside us and he said probably about half a mile up the road the ice road gave way. We would have driven right into the lake.”

After that experience, the Hieberts sold the cottage and took up camping, which led them to Flanders Lake about 19 years ago, when they discovered that A-frame during a trip to nearby Tulabi Falls.

Flanders Lake is about five kilometres long and just under one-kilometre wide at its broadest point. Boats are restricted to 9.9 horsepower engines, which meant the family’s cabin cruiser had to go. But they didn’t miss it.

“I like waking up in the morning to hear the birds singing and stuff like that instead of motor boats,” Lynn says.

They now have a pontoon boat, a 16-foot aluminum boat and a canoe. Popular fishing destinations Booster Lake and Davidson Lake are nearby. And they can tow a boat on a trailer behind their quad bikes to less well-known fishing spots.

“There’s a number of different lakes in the back that typically many people would consider fly-in lakes. We can put boats in some of these lakes that are accessible with quad trails,” Randy says.

When the Hieberts decided to expand, they considered renovating the old A-frame. But when contractors told them the roof and walls would have to come down, full demolition made more sense.

Of course, it would have been much easier and less expensive to sell the cottage and build elsewhere, but they didn’t want to leave close friends among the 44 cottagers on the lake.

“They’re like family almost,” Lynn says. “Their grandkids grew up with our kids, and my grandkids are growing up with their great grandkids.”

Besides, there’s no place like this home away from home. Randy’s work often took him away from the family while the boys were growing up, but the cottage was, and remains, a haven for one on- one bonding time.

“I’ve always found that the cottage, when we’re here together as a family, that’s basically what’s held us together,” Randy says. “To us the cottage is family – family and friends.”