An invitation that involves a river, friends, and free lodging makes all the details about the accommodations seem irrelevant. So when my friend Kristen McClement invited me and ten friends to her cottage in 1,000 Islands, Canada, we didn’t ask questions; we said yes. This water-covered area along the New York border is so gorgeous we would have been happy staying in tents, but I have to say, her property made the trip that much more spectacular.
Located on Treemont Island, a 15-house neighborhood in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, the McClements’ 1903 home is pure storybook material. The original hardwoods, stone fireplaces, wraparound porch, blooming window boxes, and two gables had me swooning but the use of outdoor space and landscape design made me never want to leave.
Their home is surrounded by flowers and sprinkled with herbs and vegetables. Mrs. McClement is a big gardener and plants seedlings in her greenhouse for all the window boxes, patio pots, and hanging flowers. The neighbors always know when they’ve arrived for the summer when their new annuals are hanging from the porch.
When the McClement family purchased the property in 1990 it came with a front deck but nothing this conducive to lazing and entertaining in the sun. The circular configuration gives views to all sides of the river and the wraparound benches hug its formation. For a dining surface, limestone slabs from a local quarry (as the story goes, they nearly sunk the boat) were turned into two outdoor tables. Mr. McClement used a diamond-tipped drill to create a hole for the umbrellas and now the deck is a perfect balance of sun and shade.
To capitalize on their island location, the McClement’s built an inlet for easy entrance into the lake. It’s the only “beach” on the island and the hot spot for the island’s little swimmers.
The hot tub (like the whole property) has a view of the river but because it’s adjacent to the inlet and obscured by lush foliage, there is a bit more privacy.
The yard extends to another entertaining area, equipped with a barbecue, tire swing, fire pit, and Adirondack chairs.
(Fun fact apart from the landscape design: The boathouse was formerly one of the island’s ice houses; the residents used to store ice from the winter season by covering them with sawdust and using the space as a massive fridge for the summer.)
And to complete the outdoor experience, there is the fire pit. Because after a day of swimming, boating, and barbecuing, there is really nothing better than friends around a fire.