In 2023, we are celebrating 60 years since the creation of FOCA as a province-wide organization dedicated to waterfront property owners, and dedicated to thriving and sustainable waterfronts.
For 60 years, FOCA has been the voice of waterfront Ontario. We are accountable to you: our members, and have worked hard throughout the decades to represent your interests. Learn more about our past, below.
Come celebrate with us at FOCA’s 60th Anniversary event being held on Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm at the Market Hall, in Peterborough.
The theme of the event is “Connections”: to community, to each other, and to the water, and you’re invited! The event will include a special access cocktail reception with the current Board of Directors, networking with fellow members, shared stories of the past and future of FOCA, speakers, music, art, and a Silent Auction in support of FOCA.
Join us for the FULL EXPERIENCE starting at 3:00pm, including a cocktail & hors d’oeuvres reception with the Board of Directors and one free drink ticket per registrant ($75 +HST);
Or purchase a REGULAR ACCESS TICKET ($40 +HST), and join us at 3:45pm just in time for remarks, music and the silent auction in support of the next 60 years of FOCA! We’re looking forward to celebrating with you, and your participation supports FOCA’s future.
Space is limited, particularly for the cocktail reception, so register early to avoid disappointment.
More about this event:
Check out the amazing Silent Auction items that will be available for bidding during the event! This is a fundraiser for FOCA’s work on behalf of waterfront Ontario, so please bring your generosity (and the big car, if you have a choice). Volunteers will be on hand to help you carry out your items at the end of the event.
Consider making it a weekend, and bring a friend. Download a 2-page info sheet (PDF) with directions to the event, and some suggestions from your friends at FOCA about where to stay, and some great places to dine in Peterborough.
This organization started with 40 associations who met in Toronto 60 years ago.
The issues that brought FOCA together in the first place aren’t that different from the topics that consume us today: water quality and other environmental concerns, development and planning, taxation, safety and rural services.
Today, FOCA represents 525 member associations which adds up to 50,000 member families all across Ontario.
FOCA's Accomplishments - some historical highlights:
FOCA began with 125 people representing 40 cottage associations1963
FOCA fought against Acid Rain1970s
FOCA lobbied to stop use of toxic "Dombind" as a road-dust suppressant1980s
FOCA secured the municipal voting rights of seasonal owners in their cottage ridings1980s
FOCA lobbied on Property Taxation to MPAC1980s
this resulted in the MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) decision to implement a 4-year cycle to phase-in property tax increases, saving property owners thousands in the interim.
FOCA's Lake Stewards became the volunteer water samplers of the province-wide Lake Partner Program, still underway today!1990s
FOCA developed a boating hazard marker program approved by Transport Canada2010
and assembled the most comprehensive risk-management program for volunteers in Ontario environmental groups, through the FOCA Insurance Program.
FOCA's Cottage Succession Seminar series started, still ongoing today!began in 2011
FOCA has been on the road with estate lawyer Peter Lillico, helping thousands of families learn how to plan for the intergenerational transfer of the cottage
FOCA lobbied against the elimination of the Seasonal Rate Class of hydro customersculminating in 2019-20
This advocacy effort saved 84,000 affected seasonal families thousands of dollars when the Ontario Energy Board agreed to phased in the changes over 10 years to prevent bill impacts of more than 10% per year.
Sheltering at the Waterfront During the Pandemic2020
FOCA asserted seasonal property owners' rights to shelter at their waterfront residences during the pandemic
Clarifying Taxation Rules2023
FOCA demanded clarity from the Federal Government about their implementation of the new Underused Housing Tax to ensure it does not unfairly affect seasonal property owners
FOCA celebrates 60 years, with over 525 member Associations representing 50,000 families!2023
There are many ways YOU can contribute to FOCA’s 60th anniversary celebrations:
- Make a donation today to support the future of FOCA’s work on behalf of waterfront Ontario.
- Plan to join us for our 60th anniversary celebration event on Saturday, September 23rd in Peterborough, Ontario.
- PSSST! Pass it on. Be part of our campaign to refer a friend or an association to become a new FOCA Member! (see details, immediately below)
- Submit pictures to our archival photo project (see examples below, and in the Elert throughout 2023!)
PSSST! Pass it on...
January – December 2023: Know of an individual committed to waterfront sustainability, or an Ontario Lake or Road Association that’s not yet a FOCA member?
Share the good news about FOCA.
If you refer a new Friend of FOCA (annual supporter) or a new Member Association that joins in 2023, you’ll be entered into a draw for a $50 Home Hardware gift card!
For new Friends of FOCA (annual supporters):
Share the information above with potential new Friends of FOCA (right click to copy it, then paste it into a message to them) and remind them to mention your name when they join here:
For new Lake or Road Associations:
Share the information above with other Associations (right click to copy it, then paste it into a message to them) and remind them to mention your name when they join here:
The dedication of all our volunteers has helped to steer this organization, year after year, and decade after decade. Thank you all for your efforts on behalf of FOCA, and on behalf of waterfront Ontario.
FOCA 2023 Community Photo Project: Ontario Cottaging Through the Decades!
YOUR ROLE: Throughout 2023, please send us your images of Ontario cottage country through the decades, your Lake Association in action over the years, and other historic pictures. Submit images through the link above.
Each month, we’ll feature one of the submitted pictures in the Elert (our e-newsletter).
To be featured in an upcoming Elert, ensure you provide permission for FOCA to share your photo, indicate if you’d like to be credited by name, and include any details about when and where the picture was taken.
We look forward to sharing these images with you! Feel free to share this invitation link with others at your waterfront:
This photo, submitted by Jane Bunnett, is believed to show the first cottage built on Lake St. Peter (Hastings Highlands) in the1930s with pine logs cut from the property by Allan McCormack (pictured) who was Jane’s grandfather. Jane and her husband Larry still own the property today, and have kept the original cabin on the property.
More about the newspaper article (1985) at left, above:
“Begin self-help program” – The Manitouwabing Lake Community Association [MLCA] has formed a Pollution and Water Quality Committee. With the assistance of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the committee began a 5-year self-help water quality monitoring program on Tuesday, May 28th. The committee is shown at the Smith Pine Dock. (standing – from left): Wyn Ashwood, Jim Boyd, Boyce Jones, Committee Chairman Charles Scriver, (kneeling – from left): Association President Shirley Faryna and Clarence Hardie. At right, Environmental Officer Frank Driscoll demonstrates how members involved in the program should take samples. (Committee members absent from the photo are Barbara Booth, Linda Schofield, Sheila Hardie, Al Wright, Pat Wright and Len Pawlett.)
Yes, that’s a secchi disk Frank is holding!
Thanks to Jennifer Ghent-Fuller of MLCA for forwarding this image and others, from scrap books kept by Shirley Faryna, the founding President of the MLCA.
More About the History of Ontario Cottage Country
FOCA might be 60 years old, but the tradition of recharging in cottage country goes back well before that. It’s great to have some late 1800s and early 1900s photos from the Archives of Ontario (below), to remind us that we didn’t discover Ontario cottage country – we’re just the latest generation to enjoy it – the caretakers, as it were. And we want it to be around for generations yet to come.
Some things have changed over the years, but some have stayed the same. Our waterfront homes are still where we create memories with family, where we relax and recharge, where we spend time in nature.
We ALL have a role to play, to ensure waterfront Ontario will be around for future generations to enjoy! Find out more about YOUR ROLE today.
More About FOCA’s Roles Over the Decades:
During the 1980s FOCA fought for government action on the issue of acid rain, (were a large voice pushing for reductions in harmful acidic emissions) ndd lobbied to stop the use of toxic Dombind as a road-dust suppressant.
FOCA also secured the municipal voting rights of waterfront property owners in their cottage ridings, and brought the attention of the Provincial Auditor and Ombudsman to the shortcomings of Ontario’s property taxation system.
Over the years, FOCA has advocated on behalf of rural source water protection, fisheries habitat, landowners’ rights during mining and aggregates claim-staking as well as water management planning, forestry planning and land use including lake capacity assessments. We have lobbied to secure the ongoing funding for the Lake Partner Program of volunteer water monitoring of Ontario’s inland lakes, to protest MPAC assessments and the elimination of the seasonal rate class of electricity customers – each of which have resulted in multi-year phase-ins of legislated changes, to drastically limit the annual impacts on individual families’ bills.
FOCA developed a boating hazard marker program approved by Transport Canada, and has assembled the most comprehensive risk-management program for volunteers in rural environmental groups, through the FOCA Insurance Program. Almost 400 associations across Ontario now protect their volunteers through this cost-effective liability insurance program, a unique FOCA offering. And the CottageFirst group insurance program is available exclusively to FOCA member families, with coverage for cottages, homes, cars, boats and more.
In recent years FOCA has released reports on septic re-inspection programs, lake planning and short-term rental that are used by our member Associations as well as our municipal partners to chart the course in rural Ontario.
And, we have championed the importance of lake associations in rural communities throughout the past 3 pandemic years, advocating for inclusion and tolerance, and working to mitigate sentiments that divide permanent and seasonal populations.
Finally, we have served you – our member Associations – throughout the pandemic since 2020, by turning our own office operations on a dime to become seamlessly digital, and by supporting your need to keep local association business running by offering FOCA’s own Zoom platform to accommodate many of your annual meetings.
For more about FOCA’s ongoing work, visit our Issues & Programs webpage.