How to get rich quick: (a) find a cache of pirate booty buried underneath the shed, (b) discover a long-lost Picasso behind the camping gear in the attic, or (c) get in on the ground floor of the next social networking IPO.

Whether it be an uninsulated shack on the side of a distant mountain or a 10-bedroom mansion on the shore of a lake, the cottage is the ultimate escape —from noise, pollution, people, routine, responsibilities, the rat race, civilization itself—if only from Victoria Day to Labour Day. It can also be a darn fine investment.