Diary of an Inheritance
(This begins an account of inheriting a cottage in the Québec woods. Well, we call it a “cottage”... others would describe it as a very run-down “shack.”)
When my mother died, she left a large portion of cottage land to her four offspring. This is the cottage we had all enjoyed as children – and continued to enjoy as adults with familes of our own – but now responsibility for it has devolved to us. One of my sisters, Janice, has another property on the same lake, so she wanted to be bought out of her share of the inheritance. This being done, the three remaining siblings have each agreed upon a piece of the land to be held exclusively by our individual families.
The inheritance is on a small lake in the Province of Québec, about 2300 kilometers away from our Winnipeg home, so, for Heather and me, getting there has to be a just-once-a-year event. Worse, the part which I received has a cottage on it which has seen much better days.
My mother lived in it during the latter part of her life. She would go up to the lake in late Spring, and stay there until September or October every year. She never minded that it was extremely primitive, with electricity and a phone but no running water and an outdoor biffy. Several times a day Mom would carry water up from the lake for washing and drinking (boil before drinking, please). Mom was last here in 1994 or 1995, and her mind was failing. The place has not been occupied, or attended to, since.
Tim (my brother) and Dawn (my sister) have gone to the lake every year (using different buildings, not Mom’s), and had reported to me that the one I have now inherited was leaking, and that there are places where the foundation needs shoring up, so Heather and I knew when we decided to come here this year, that it would be a “working vacation.”
Day 1Saturday, July 7, 2001
We arrived about two o’clock this afternoon, loaded our stuff into the boat, and rowed across to see for the first time what awaited us.
It was almost worse than we had expected. It was dingy, and dark, with lots of evidence of mice (nests in the drawers, droppings on all shelves, and a smell!). The floor has buckles in it, and the roofing has curled, grown moss, and was covered in fallen branches.
Heather started in to clean.