Here’s to short but sweet summers

Barbecues, family gatherings, reading in a comfy chair, comfortable clothing … it’s all about the magic of a Canadian summer.

by Vicky Sanderson

By the time the sun slips over the yard arm on Canada Day, summer seems to have arrived like a long-awaited, cherished relative. But while we’re all ready to welcome her, the day of the national fête – no matter how fun – is also a wistful reminder of how fleeting the hot, slow, blue-skied weeks of July and August can be in these parts.

Make the days count by seizing the season and celebrating its sizzle as often as you can. Don’t waste a drop of daylight – unless it’s to nap. And enjoy these hot tips – many with a Canadian connection – for making it a sweet summer, no matter the length.

A mix of sun and shade

Rule of thumb for outdoor design: exterior spaces should always have spots where you can soak up the sun or escape its punishing glare. For Canadian solutions, look to Jardin de Ville’s outdoor lounging furniture, which includes sleek daybeds, chaises and loungers designed in Quebec. Furniture cushions and custom-order shade pavilions are made with local partners. There’s also a load of tres chic European brands in their showrooms. Floating Collection pieces (as pictured) start at $2,298.

Rustic charm

Just in time for the restart to outdoor entertaining, comes an exclusive Studio line from one of Ontario’s prettiest decor shops, Stratford’s Wills and Prior. Graceful and understated bowls, candlesticks and vases — locally-made — are attractive and practical. They’d all be very much at home in casual country settings where small design gestures are given space to breathe. Vase $48, bowl $24.

Cotty comfy

Province of Canada makes cool, quirky casualwear that keeps its shape, including a super-comfy unisex-fit rugby shirt. Throw one on before heading down to the dock to greet the sunrise, or when dining outdoors on easy, but breezy, summer evenings. Made from 100 per cent American cotton and knit locally. $124.

Sustainable sunscreen

Make this the summer you ditch sunscreen in plastic packaging, which can take 1,000 years to decompose. Quebec-based Attitude Living’s sunscreen stick comes in a biodegradable cardboard tube. The hypoallergenic formula uses natural minerals to protect skin. There are delicate orange blossom and fruity tropical scents, as well as unscented/kids’ versions. For the days you overdo the rays, there’s cooling mint and cucumber after-sun gel, with soothing Calendula. $30.

Tick off the to-do list

Eager to repaint the spare room/kitchen/dock box but not enough that you want to drag yourself away from the lake to buy the paint? Consider Hamilton-based Digby Paints, which launched a 60-colour palette late in 2019 that’s sold exclusively online. Delivery across Canada. $69/gallon.

Lettuce take a break
(from food prep)

Sure, you can wow the gang with your extra-special, secret-recipe, home-made vinaigrette. Or you can give yourself a break (go for a swim!) if there’s a selection of LaPresserie’s cold-pressed, plant-based salad dressings at the ready in the fridge. Savvy chefs soon discover they’re also good for light and summery marinades and sauces. A fresh and tasty way to get your fruit and veg. $36.

Soft shoe summers

Hides in Hand is one of the few remaining leather manufacturers that creates 100 per cent Canadian products using regulated hides collected from local hunters and oversees their own tanning. Fans love their buttery, breathable leather slippers, especially the finely crafted line from artist Eric Parnell, a member of the Eagle clan of the Haida Nation. $125.

Sunshine and spice

Sunburst Spice is one of several sun-soaked colours from Suzanne Dimma’s modern boho collection for Au Lit Fine Linens. We love the cheerful geometric pattern on a pillow made from 100 per cent linen backed in Ecru cotton. Relaxed and refined, with just enough heat to add a zesty touch to a cottage bed or sofa. From $245.

A good grilling

Generations of Canadians know Barrie-based Napoleon as manufacturers of barbecues that combine solid performance and long-lasting value. These days, they also bring a touch of style to outdoor settings with a new Phantom series executed in silky matte-black finish. $1,449 and $1,899.

Kitchen help

Felt is a hardy, handsome material for the cottage, where its durability and versality make it a great choice for furniture, accessories and housewares. Serve it up on the table with Lorraine Tuson’s boldly graphic modular table runners, trivets and coasters. Tabel runner pictured $79.

Seaside attractions

Angela Worsley creates charming nautically-themed home and door decor and pet products at her All For Knot studio on Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy. Some are made from brand-new marine-grade rope; those crafted from reclaimed lobster rope, which would otherwise be burned or buried, are both pretty and planet-friendly. Starting from $15.

Vicky Sanderson has been writing about home and decor for over 20 years and has an exceptional grasp on everything from paint to pillows, tools to textiles, and gadgets to garden tools.