Tag Archives: Cottage Life

Digging for more Canadian history on Backroad Bounty

You never know what will be uncovered during an episode of Backroad Bounty. Will hosts Marty Gebel and Peter “Bam Bam” Bamford procure a cool neon sign hidden in a disused storage room, a box full of collectible Matchbox cars aching to see the light of day, or an old stand used to hold cans for a long-forgotten brand of car oil?

What these guys find, what they pay for them with plans to re-sell—and the stories behind those items—are at the heart of the Cottage Life series as it heads into its sophomore season. I hopped in the car and drove two hours outside of Toronto to Ingersoll, Ont., where Gebel and Bamford were busy searching for buried treasure. I found the pair climbing around the cluttered, humid third floor of E. W. McKim Quality Home Hardware in Ingersoll’s downtown, calling out to one another—and to store owner Bob Mott—when they discovered something cool. There was plenty to chat about. Among the items the fellows were interested in? Old ice skates, wooden boxes, vintage hardware store displays and a sign that once hung in front of the store. And while the items the boys found had interesting stories attached to them, the future episode’s setting did too: Mott recalls how the hardware store was a buggy shop during the 1800s.

“Searching for items is in their blood,” Joe Houlihan, president of Our House Media, Backroad Bounty‘s production company, tells me during a break in shooting. “They’d be doing this whether there was a TV show or not.” Season 1 of Backroad Bounty saw Gebel and Bamford tooling around cottage country, poking around decrepit hotels, barns, overflowing basements and garages in search of finds they could fix up and re-sell; this go-round has expanded its boundaries.


“This season feels more like a buddy road trip,” series producer and director Marshall Kaplan says. “It’s about the characters they meet along the way. It’s always about the amazing stuff that they find, but there’s humour and more of a story, more meat to the bone this year.”

Houlihan points out Backroad Bounty “sneaks history” into each episode through the tales told and items purchased; he himself has learned an incredible amount of Ontario history from his program. Among the areas the duo visit in Season 2 are Grand Bend, Quinte West, Harcourt, Port Dover, Walkerton, Wiarton and Owen Sound where the pair entertain each other as much as they do viewers.

“Marty is Bam’s best audience,” Kaplan says with a laugh. “Bam is a really good entertainer and Marty laughs at every one of his jokes. They may be interested in different things, but at the end of the day they both love the hunt.”

Season 2 of Backroad Bounty will air on Cottage Life.


Preview: Brojects returns with out-there outdoor projects

I’ve never owned a cottage, but I can certainly understand the allure of going to one to relax. Of course, after a few days of that, I can imagine getting a little antsy. But where I’d go for a walk, hike, swim or read a book, guys like Kevin and Andrew Buckles quaff some suds and come up with outlandish things to build.

Like a dock that can be turned into a bowling alley, for instance. Yup, that’s the first project tackled by the boys in Thursday’s Season 2 return of Brojects on Cottage Life. A warning before each new segment of Brojects warns viewers that the siblings aren’t professional builders and the program is purely for entertainment and it is certainly that, especially when the pair are taking verbal and physical swipes at each other on the road to project completion.

With just three days to replace their rotting, rusting, too-short old deck with a sweet, bowl-worthy new one is a tall task and thing start off shakily for what they dub The Browling Alley. A trip to the local alley gives the pair the measurements, information and inspiration to start, but initial trials aren’t that promising, especially when it comes to an effective ball return system. Several soaks in the hot tub, even more Solo cups full of beer and a call to Andrew’s buddy leads the pair on the path to success and—I have to say it—a pretty darned cool dock/bowling alley.

They may not be experts but Andrew and Kevin are able to get the job done. And it’s definitely a fun trip along the way.

Brojects airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life.


Colin & Justin back with more Cabin Pressure

The bonny boys of home renovation and decoration are back. Yes, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan—better known to their legions of fans as Colin and Justin—return for Season 2 of the pair’s primetime Cabin Pressure project where they take turn a dilapidated cottage into a dream getaway starting Sunday night on Cottage Life.

In Season 1, the duo partnered with friends and purchased a run-down outpost and converted it into something magnificent, complete with massive bunkhouse, outdoor hot tub and a bank of windows in the main house overlooking a lake. But it didn’t take long for McAllister and Ryan to yearn for a property of their own. So they sold it and went hunting for another piece of paradise.

That hunt—and the subsequent adventures involved in transforming “chicken poo into chicken pie,” as McAllister so colourfully describes in Sunday’s first instalment—is the show’s focus. There is plenty of poo, thanks to the wild animals who took up residence in the cottage, and … nastier things.

“We find a dead beaver, dead raccoons, dead pigeons and dead squirrels,” McAllister describes while Ryan makes a face. “The worst was, we removed some drywall and found the corpses of several hundred dead mice. We found what we thought was black insulating foam and it was actually the fur from several hundred dead mice. The stench was unbelievable.”

“There was a damp spot on the ceiling that we thought was just a little bit of water damage,” Ryan recalls. “And we uncovered a huge wasp’s nest and a highway of rodents.” McAllister figures they got rid of 80 per cent of the original cottage, keeping some character intact while meeting their needs in a prime lakeside location in Ontario’s cottage country. That involved lifting the building up off its foundation so that a basement could be dug out, adding extra space in a mud room, TV room, laundry and storage and over $100,000 to the value of the property.

And while Ryan describes Season 1’s final product as “European Colin and Justin,” he says this season’s project is all about connectivity. Bedrooms are enhanced to feel like guests are sleeping in the forest and the cottage’s main great room is modernized. But McAllister is quick to point out that chunks of money spent to update windows, septic systems and add the basement meant tighter design budgets and being creative with existing items. Case in point: they turned the top five feet of the television antenna into a fab lamp, resurrected the waterlogged deck into a headboard and made tables from discarded wood.

“I think last season was a walk in the park,” Ryan says. “This season is bigger build and we’re more boisterous. I like to think this is our Adele second album: better than the first!”

Colin & Justin’s Cabin Pressure airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life. Cottage Life is available for a free preview now.


Interview: Backroad Bounty boys sound off

When Canadian Pickers went off the air, it left a void. There was no one tooling around the country in a van, digging through barns and basements looking for hidden treasures while serving up a slice of Canadiana on TV. Now another pair of dudes have picked up where the Pickers left off. Meet Peter “Bambam” Bamford (he’s the one who looks like a Duck Dynasty guest star) and Marty Gebel, the stars of Backroad Bounty.

Debuting Monday on Cottage Life, Backroad Bounty follows the two friends from London, Ont., as they drive around the province looking for things they can re-sell for a profit. Among the items they discover in Episode 1? An old phone booth and motorized bike Gebel went gaga for and a vintage fishing pole Bamford just had to have.

Bambam, what is a “Bam-tique”? You mention that right off the top in Monday’s first episode.
Peter “Bambam” Bamford: A Bam-tique is an antique, but I don’t buy porcelain dolls and Limoge china. Bam-tiques are things that you could hang in a man cave or a living room above a mantel.

Marty, what’s your specialty? What are you always on the lookout for?
Marty Gebel: I stay on top of what is trending. The stuff you see in magazines and on designing shows. I mix a lot of styles, but I also stay away from Victorian antiques, saucers and china as well. I love mid-century Modern, old science and medical stuff. Those are my favourites.

I loved Canadian Pickers, and I feel like Backroad Bounty kind of picks up where it left off. How did you get involved in this?
PB: Marty was on Canadian Pickers a few times, so he had his foot in the door. The idea for the show came up and he got short-listed for it. He has a great TV presence and has a great knowledge. They called him up and he threw my name in the hat as a co-host for the show.

MG: There’s a big contrast between us, and we’re friends.

PB: We’ve known each other for about four years and they called me up and asked if I wanted to be on the show. They came down and filmed a pilot and now we’re on TV.

You guys are literally climbing over stuff to get at things. Is that an everyday part of being a picker?
PB: Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. If you are willing to climb things … there are times when we’re going into century-old burn piles and junk yards … we go into that stuff. That’s what sets us apart from everyone else. We’re willing to do that to find a treasure.

MG: We’ve had all of our shots. I’m sure we made the insurance people nervous with the way we were climbing all over stuff. That’s the way it is. We go to locations like that in real life. You’re on call, you don’t know what to expect when you get there and you may not be wearing the right clothes but you climb around and get filthy and dirty.

Backroad Bounty airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Cottage Life.


Cottage Life rejuvenates old resorts with culinary and design INN-vasion

Rebecca Wise is a wedding, event and party planner and stylist with over 10 years of experience under her belt. That background serves her well in Dining INNvasion, Cottage Life’s newest series that aims to update 14 stodgy inns and resorts in Canada.

While Splendido head chef Victor Barry heads to the kitchen to help chefs update their dusty menus, Wise is tasked with freshening dining rooms with a serious case of the drabs. Cottage country has become a hot television genre thanks to series like Colin & Justin’s Cabin Pressure and My Retreat, and Wise knows why.

“In terms of a market, I think it’s just being discovered,” Wise says. “People, whether they own a cottage or not, love to watch programs about cottages.” Friday’s first episode–at Pow Wow Point Lodge in Huntsville, Ont.–spotlights the challenges faced by Wise, who is presented with a large dining room devoid of any eye-catching items or style that embraces the beauty of the area. She takes care of that in a hurry by heading outside to gather rocks and driftwood she uses as table centrepieces accented with candles to bring warmth and intimacy to the dining hall. The update took minimal effort and next to no cash, but the payoff was huge.

“My challenge is to make sure that whatever I did to the resort not only spoke to the resort–I didn’t want to go in and paint walls purple because that doesn’t make sense–but so that the clientele would like it and the resort owners would like it too,” she says. Wise is quick to add that Dining INNvasion isn’t like other programs that go in and change things to what the designer and chef want; too much change could affect the resort owner’s bottom line because of lost customers.

“One of my favourite episodes is one where I go and pick up a vintage bicycle from an antique place and I paint it bright yellow and we’re redoing the dining room in this yellow palette because we’re doing a brunch,” Wise recalls. “It’s not really about the budget and money. It’s about the people and the stories and why they need our help.”

Dining INNvasion airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life.