I was lucky enough to spend the Canada day long weekend at a friend's cottage "up north". We swam, canoed, boated, played frisbee, barbequed, roasted marshmallows, made s'mores, and sang songs around the campfire.
It was awesome - so much fun.
I do feel ambivalent about cottaging though. We all seem to feel entitled to own or inhabit not one, but two properties, each with its own impacts on the environment. At cottages, we like to have lakes and forest and extra space around us, so the development becomes even more spread out, and our impact on the environment broadens. There's the waste to get rid of, pesticides, oil spills, noise, and garbage. Some areas look to me like a spread-out suburbia, rather than any kind of wilderness - and we usually drive long distances to get to them, contributing to air pollution.
I know that most cottages have a much smaller footprint on the environment than most houses. The owners of the cottage we visited this weekend would like to get it completely off the grid someday. Going to the cottage also gives people a chance to learn to appreciate the natural environment - and I think it's important especially for children in the city to have a chance to discover nature. Then again, many cottage prices in Ontario are reaching levels you'd expect to pay for a home - and have as many amenities.
Is there a balance betteen access to wilderness and preservation of the wilderness?
I don't know.