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Manitobans relish cottage getaways

Summer-vacation survey tells the tale

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Tom Thomson / Winnipeg Free Press Archives
Dockside at a cottage on Red Rock Lake. More Manitobans are using cottages in winter too.

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Tom Thomson / Winnipeg Free Press Archives Dockside at a cottage on Red Rock Lake. More Manitobans are using cottages in winter too.

WE know what Winnipeggers and Manitobans did last summer.

Summertime living was easy for a large minority of Winnipeggers because 41 per cent of them headed to a cottage, as did 37 per cent of Manitobans overall.

Whether they own a cottage or not, eight in 10 Winnipeggers and Manitobans took a vacation this past summer.

These are just two findings in a random telephone survey of vacation behaviours of Winnipeggers and Manitobans by Prairie Research Associates from Sept. 9 to Oct. 7. The survey firm called 466 Winnipeggers and 800 Manitobans in total, asking what they did this summer and whether they went to a cottage.

Jenneke Le Moullec, a research associate at Prairie Research Associates, said the numbers show cottage use "is huge in Manitoba."

Le Moullec said of the 41 per cent of Winnipeggers who went to a cottage, one in four own it, five per cent rented and 11 per cent spent time at a cottage owned by others.

She said Winnipeggers spent an average of 12 days at a cottage, with 11 per cent spending 30 days or more there and 58 per cent spending a week or less. Cottage owners spent an average of 17 days at their cottages. The numbers for Manitobans overall are similar -- an average of 13 days at the cottage, 12 per cent spending 30 days or more and 59 per cent spending a week or less. Cottage owners stayed an average of 18 days at their cottages.

Glenn Halgren, publisher of The Cottager magazine, said the numbers don't surprise him.

"There are 42,000 cottages in Manitoba and northwest Ontario," Halgren said.

"And there are a lot of them spread across northern Manitoba and other parts of southern Manitoba. Most people in Winnipeg think of Lake Winnipeg and the Whiteshell, but there are pockets of cottages in other areas right across the province."

Halgren said he sees many cottagers spending time at their cottages even in colder weather.

"More and more people are using their cottage during the winter," he said. "A lot of cottages are being torn down and being used as year-round homes. It's a trend growing every year."

The most popular summer vacation destinations for Winnipeggers and Manitobans aren't too far from home.

The survey found 25 per cent of Winnipeggers went to Ontario, 22 per cent to North Dakota, 18 per cent to Minnesota and 14 per cent to Alberta. Twenty-four per cent of Manitobans went to both Ontario and North Dakota, 16 per cent went to Alberta and 15 per cent to Minnesota.

Sara Otte-Coleman, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota tourism branch, said she was glad to see so many Winnipeggers and Manitobans head to her state. "We love our Canadian visitors," Otte-Coleman said.

"It's great to see those numbers strong. We see a lot of people who come down for the shopping, but we also see people coming for entertainment.

"But whether it's to see hockey games or blues festivals, they also do shopping."

Otte-Coleman said the most recent numbers show $266 million was spent by Canadians in North Dakota in 2012, up nine per cent from the year before.

Liz Peters, of CAA Manitoba, said the destinations Manitobans go to in summer don't surprise her because she says we save our money to go to warm spots during winter.

"When you think of summer vacations, you think of families driving together to other provinces or Minneapolis," she said.

"Even charter companies know this. Transat and other charters stop flying (from) here between April and September. That's not the same as Calgary, where they go throughout the year."

Linda Whitfield, of Travel Manitoba, said Manitobans are the province's best tourists, representing 85 per cent of the 10 million visitors here.

"We certainly see our province," she said.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 B6

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Updated on Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 7:22 PM CST: Corrects typo in headline.

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