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Puslinch Lake home tours return to provide an inside look at nearby cottage oasis

The beauty of Puslinch Lake will be on full display during the Lakeside Living Home Tour on June 15

Chirping birds and the calming sound of splashing ducks echo across the lake's tranquil water. 

This serene view of Puslich Lake is something Donna O'Krafka has had the privilege to wake up to every morning for the past 20 years. 

"We moved back here back in 2004, but it looked a lot different back then," Donna says on a summerlike afternoon in May. "It took a lot of work to make sure this lake didn't end up like a huge mud bowl." 

When O'Krafka and her husband, Larry, first moved next to the lake, they couldn't even pull their boat out of their dock without it getting stuck in the weeds. They tried to remove some on their own, but it proved too difficult without heavy machinery. 

The Puslinch Lake Conservation Association (PLCA) was created in the late 1990s to care for and clean up the lake.

It was the group's mission to dredge the water and make it a comfortable place for homeowners to fish, boat and swim. 

Through trial and error, the PLCA concluded that they would need to run a dredging machine on a boat at a cost of around $150,000 a season. 

They needed to find a way to pay for this machinery and thus, the Lakeside Living Home Tour was born. 

"I've been helping with setting up the home tour, printing out flyers and my husband is one of the captains taking people from house to house," Donna says. "Our goal is to raise money for the PLCA to continue cleaning up this lake." 

Each year the tour takes over 100 people to various houses along the lakeside that have either been recently constructed, renovated or are completely original. 

Some of the homes, like the O'Krafka's, are nearly 100 years old with very little having been changed other than a few modern amenities. 

This year is the first tour since 2019 when COVID shut them down.

Now, on June 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the boats will be on the water again to showcase the cottage lifestyle just beyond city limits. 

"Many people don't even know this is a thing or this lake even exists," Donna says. "What better way than to come out in nature and look at some beautiful houses than a tour on the water." 

Around 15 boats will all leave docks on opposite sides of the water and taxi them from house to house. Attendees can choose to get off the boats and tour the inside of the homes or stay on and enjoy the ride. 

O'Krafka notes that the entire tour could take around three hours, depending on how long visitors want to view each home. 

Puslich Lake has been closed off to the public since the pandemic when the owners, the McClintocks, shut down their boat ramp to those not living in the area. 

"The lake is only for people who live here, so it is a rare look into this beautiful landscape," Larry says. "Who knows if it will open again, but for now unless you know someone with their boat already in the water you can't get out there." 

When the tours were up and running, the PLCA would raise close to $20,000 in tickets. They would also get big donations from the association members who lived on the lake. 

The hope is the organization can continue to fundraise money for the preservation of the lake and allow future generations to enjoy the oasis that lies just a few minutes from Cambridge

"You look around here and it feels like you are somewhere just completely surrounded by nature. You wouldn't guess you are two minutes from one of the largest highways in Ontario and five minutes from a Walmart," Larry says. 

To learn more about the tour and to purchase tickets, please visit the PLCA website

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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