Cottage Country in winter

Making déjà vu cool again. The second time around is just as exciting
Making déjà vu cool again. The second time around is just as exciting

The Crime Traveller philosophy generally dictates that a traveller treat every opportunity as fresh and unique and therefore eschews travelling to the same destination twice. We’ve got a pretty big planet out there, so why not diversify? And yet, there are exceptions to every rule and many locations offer an entirely different experience if you’re willing to hit them up a second time in a different season.

And so it was that, fresh off a five-week trial, I found myself staring the Family Day Long weekend in the face without having planned a suitable adventure. With so little time to organize and a short work-free window, I restricted my thoughts to destinations within an easy drive of Toronto.

Almost immediately, I was reminded of my brief summer stay at The Rosseau in Muskoka. My mind faded back to lazy days at the sandy beach as the gentle waves of Lake Rosseau lapped at my bare feet. The image then clouded and reformed. Verdant forests of green and brown bleached into brilliant whites of snow and ice. Hmmm…maybe it was time for The Crime Traveller to return to the scene of the crime.

As we made the two hour drive north into Muskoka, I knew we were in for a treat. The distinctive striated rocks of the Canadian Shield protruding along the side of the highway were all blanketed by a fresh layer of angelic powder, and many were punctuated by massive fingers of ice — waterfalls that had been flowing over these stones, frozen in time.

We were greeted at the door of this opulent JW Marriott property by steaming cups of hot apple cider and a crackling fire roaring in the nearby lounge. After checking in to our waterfront family suite, we strapped on our skates for a bumpy spin on the resort’s outdoor rink, followed by some impromptu tobogganing utilizing an abandoned sled my eldest daughter dug out of a metre-high snow bank.

Our next day was almost entirely spent savouring the novelty of The Rosseau’s year-round indoor/outdoor pool. I earned a father-of-the-year nomination (and some mixed reactions from other hotel guests) after initiating an in-pool snowball fight, but all was forgiven as we raced across the frozen stone deck to slip into the steaming outdoor hot tub. After an excellent meal at the signature Teca restaurant, we closed out the day by taking in an Antarctic slideshow presented by one of the resort’s naturalists.

Early the next morning, we joined our new-found naturalist friend on a snowshoe trek through the back woods. Our guide proved to be a fascinating mashup of Dr. Doolittle and MacGyver. One moment he was mimicking bird calls attracting an airborne menagerie to a nearby tree, while the next he created a roaring fire in just seconds using nothing but a hunting knife, a flint and a single bulrush. As I packed the car for our reluctant return to city life, the kids gorged on s ‘mores roasted over an outdoor fire pit.

Often, vacationing is an exercise in thinking big with increasingly complex itineraries battling to outdo those trips that came before. The Crime Traveller’s wife regularly accuses me of travel overkill — a charge which this criminal defence lawyer would find challenging to defend against. An affordable winter weekend in cottage country is the perfect antidote to the Bay Street blahs.

When not jetting around the world as his alter ego, The Crime Traveller, Edward Prutschi is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer. Follow Ed’s criminal law commentary (@prutschi) and The Crime Traveller’s adventures (@crimetraveller) on Twitter, read his Crime Traveller blog, or email