Long line of cars
A long line of cars made its way down Highway 35 on Monday, to 48 and the 400, to the GTA and areas beyond.
Some vehicles were topped with roof racks, others had boats in tow.
It was a sunny, warm weekend in the Haliburton Highlands, as summery as any this season, but on its lakes, annual rituals were unfolding, rituals typically tinged with a degree of melancholy.
Lawn furniture put into storage. Docks taken in. Boats taken out.
Labour Day marks the unofficial end of summer and for many of the area’s seasonal families, with the kids heading back to school and regular routine kicking back in, the last cottage weekend of the year.
Some will return for weekends here and there. Others will come back for Thanksgiving.
In some cases, dear old dad, that poor schmuck, will make the last pilgrimage alone to take out the water line and lock things up for the winter.
While the county continues its efforts to elongate the busy time, to bring in visitors during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, the Haliburton Highlands is still undeniably a summer spot. It’s at its best during the summertime, its natural beauty on full display, its communities alive with a buzz they don’t see throughout the rest of the year.
As I write this, on the first day back to school, the first day of fall, some would call it, the community is already markedly different, slowed back down to its post-summer pace.
The summer of 2016 was a booming one. Perhaps enticed by the warm, dry weather, “weekend” traffic was evident as early as Wednesday most weeks. The peak of the season – second half of July, first half of August – saw Minden and Haliburton villages crammed with cars on a daily basis, long lineups at gas stations and grocery stores.
A number of business owners have said they had one of the busiest seasons in recent years, others their busiest season ever.
And it’s still that season – the time between Victoria Day and Labour Day weekends, the cottage season – that is of paramount importance for so many local businesses.
The Haliburton Highlands could not, would not, exist without its seasonal residents, who continue to be its economic engine.