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Help Exchange

Parry Sound
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 1.3 acres
Persons: 1 or 2
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 24085
Region: Ontario

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Last Updated: March 1, 2020


BC is not the only place with Great Scenery and there is a lot less rain here. Hope you will give us a chance to show you what we are talking about.

We live on an unspoiled pristine lake in a wilderness forest area in northern Ontario Canada and are looking for a guy who is a motivated "Volunteer Visitor" who is an easy-going self starter and does not smoke and eats regular food.

The opportunity we offer would be ideal for someone who loves the tranquil setting of a lakeside home surrounded by hundreds of square miles of protected forest and enjoys being in and on the water (or would like to experience "the land of ice and snow" in winter).

For continuity, we prefer long term visitors. (We plan to keep hosting here forever)

HOWEVER, If you are planning to visit Toronto, any time you can speak to us about staying at our Toronto home for about half the price of a hostel.

We do not run a farm but rather make our living by renting out a second cottage that we own on the same lake which is available year round.

After developing our properties for 31 years working on weekends and holidays, my wife and I started living here full time and running our little business starting in 2001.

I need to find someone who would enjoy the easy pace of country living for free, in exchange for being the "extra pair of hands" that we need from time to time - helping in the kitchen, bailing boats (or clearing snow off the stairs in winter), helping with the reservation desk, moving firewood, holding the other end of the board for some little building project etc.

Sharing our home is not new to us. We have been hiring very exceptional high school students to help out every summer for 37 years (and they are all still part of our ever growing extended family Ė once family Ė always family).

Now we have had back-to-back HelpX visitors year round since October 2013 and have very much enjoyed the experience.

We offer a private room and sharing of all other facilities including natural wood-fired sauna, hot tub, boats, free wi-fi, satellite TV etc.

Reading the testimonials below will give you a very good idea of what it is like to be a visitor here.

Although we live in the middle of several hundred square miles of protected forest, we do have all modern conveniences (new forced air gas furnace etc.) and great roads and the lake is totally awesome.

Some of our visitors have come here because they are related to or are friends of former HelpX people and we didn't want them to have to buy a membership just to be able to leave their comments so I am posting them here.

To my friend Bob,

Thanks you so much for everything! Every day I was here was great. I will always remember our many different building projects like the wood shed or the TV stand. I learned a lot during my stay and I had a wonderful time. Thanks for showing me so many things and being so helpful.

See you next time when I will come up to the lake.

Mqaximilian Huhn

(Janni's younger brother - from Germany) - 4 month visit at Lake starting July 1, 2020 + 3 months stay in Toronto last visit to the lake on February 3, 2020


From Thibaut Nardin (France) July 12, 2019

To my friend, Bob,

I'm in the train for 1 hour, after what I will be back home, so I thought it was a judicious time to write an email.

First of all, I forgot to tell you, my mother put some presents ( food ) in my suitcase from France, I put them on the little table in the living-room =)

Then, a huge huge thanks again for every extra things we did ( Niagara falls, CN tower, buffet restaurants, cinema, French River, water-skiing), I really appreciated a lot doing that, I keep excellent memories !

And again a special thanks for the motivation letter and the lovely stuff you put inside, which will be really useful.

Thibaut Nardin (June 3 - July 12, 2019)


What living at Bobís place is like - June 2, 2019

Hi, my name is Max Berndt, Iím 19 years old and originally from Germany. I stayed at Bobís place for more than three months and Iíd like to share my experiences with his potential future helpers.

When the first settlers came here a couple of hundred years ago they literally had nothing but the equipment they brought from Europe to explore the new continent. Nowadays Canada is an economically successful country many people immigrate to because they hope for better chances. From my point of view the Northern American continent as a whole stands for the idea of the American/Canadian dream which means that you can make it from rags to riches with a lot of hard work.

Bob bought his property at Lake Kawigamog for $600.00 when he was 22. There was nothing on it but a lot of trees and bushes and no road or electricity. In order to get here he had to cross the lake by boat. Today he owns a separate rental cottage property, a big house with a waterfront view, a garage, a barn, another rental cabin, a sauna and a lot more. He lives what Iíd call the Canadian dream and I had the unique opportunity to become a part of it.

Iíd describe Bobís lifestyle as quite different to what I have experienced in Europe and Vancouver.

Bob has the skills and equipment to repair most everything he owns to keep things running smoothly.

As I already said Bob runs a rental business which means that heís mostly busy looking after the needs of his tenants.

All your chores can be summarized as ďsupporting him at doing whatever he doesĒ. Since heís busy keeping his rental business running he needs someone who makes the kitchen and the living room look nice again after breakfast, lunch & dinner.

In between those three meals you might help him to fix, repair or upgrade things. For instance we did plumbing jobs, welded a broken snow scoop, and fixed his garage door and an endless amount of other things around the two properties. I was also in charge of posting ads on Kijiji daily.

Besides the work, which has never been a burden for me, Bobís main goal is to enchant you with the lakeís beauty. In the summer for instance he takes you out on boat rides, water skiing, tubing, fishing, cliff jumping, hiking and portaging and a lot of other stuff thatís so much fun. Being here in the winter isnít less interesting in my opinion since you can go snowmobiling, ice skating or you can take a walk on the frozen lake that is a winter wonderland. Against the cold temperatures I highly recommend having saunas and hot tubs everyday because they make you feel incredibly good and relaxed. Ask for Bobís sauna introduction if you want to brighten up your life! Itís kind of like being ďhighĒ but without the downsides of feeling crummy the next morning.

Another thing Iíve discovered here when I didnít feel like being outside is my enthusiasm for books that make you smarter. Leaders are readers folks and you can catch up to a lot of it here!

Iíd like to finish my testimonial with a few words about my host Robert Laing. Bob is probably the easiest person ever to get along with. Iíve never seen him upset about or angry about something. He sees mistakes as learning experiences. By doing that he never criticizes anyone for making them but shows you how to improve it next time which steadily makes you a better person.

He never makes you do things you donít want to do and he doesnít consider you as a helper with a minimum work time of 25 hours but as a teammate and a friend he runs his place with. He creates a comfy environment to live in and he gives people a place that never had one before (Listen to all the stories he has to tell).

Just by listening to someone who has 73 years of life experience Iíve learned a lot that made me see the bigger picture. His wisdom and handiness make him a great teacher.

Talking about his age I can just add that people donít stop playing because they grow old. They grow old because they stop playing. Bobís never stopped and I donít think he ever will. Hanging out with him is a lot of fun and the age difference has never been perceptible for me.

Some people have stayed here for more than six months and I can definitely understand that. This guy has built his own little kingdom on a lot he bought for $600.00 50 years ago. You have the opportunity to see it and I highly recommend taking the chance.

Please donít stop doing what youíre doing Bob. Youíve been shaping lives for decades and I want you to keep up to that. Youíve found your place in this world and I hope for you that you donít have to leave it anymore. In three months you havenít just become a great teacher and a person that has changed how I see and interpret things but youíve become a trustworthy, fun and close friend Iíll keep forever if you let me.

I wish you a lot of saunas and a long and healthy life.

Your friend Max

Joel's second stay
(September 1, 2019 - February 13, 2019)

Well, another 5.5 months at the lake. I think I can safely say that I learn something new here each day, whether it is about something practical or about myself.

Thanks to Bob for being flexible and putting the needs of others before his as well as supporting me in my endeavours. Many thanks for his patience and calm demeanour.

I enjoyed cleaning and organizing things around the property. I can think back to all the things we've accomplished and all the problems we've solved to keep things running smoothly.

I encourage Bob to keep up his exercise routine. Healthy body = healthy mind.

Back in April for a while too.

Joel MacDougall


This next one is from Hans-Michel (German) who signed on for two weeks back in November 2017 and ended up staying for 105 days before setting out on his trip across the USA. When he got back to Ontario in May, he stayed at our Toronto home for a while and then came back to the lake for a few more weeks before heading back to Germany to start university there.

"I stayed at Bob's place for a total of about three months.

Because I came to the lake in October, I had the opportunity to enjoy the lake while it was still *somewhat* warmish.

When winter came, it transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland.

If I had to pick one single word to describe the setting and the feeling the lake has to it, it would be 'calm'. Really helps you relax and unwind.

All in all, I enjoyed my stay.

Food is plenty, work is not too hard (but there will always be something to work on) and the lake is beautiful (in winter as well as in summer).

November 2017 - January 2018

We are posting this "letter of recommendation from our first ever HelpX visitor here on our profile. - October 12, 2013 to January 6, 2014

"I spent three months at Bob's place on Kawigamog lake, I had a wonderful time. I got the chance to see the lake before and after it freezes, allowing me to enjoy both the boats and the snowmobile.

Bob is really nice and we had a lot of laughs. I learned a lot working with him, as there are new challenges everyday. He also introduced me to the art of sauna, and there is no better place to enjoy it, when the sauna temperature is high enough, you just have a few meters to go to jump in the lake and then run back to the sauna!

I spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas at the lake, and Bob's family made me feel like home, it was amazing.

If you are travelling to Ontario, you must pay a visit to Bob, you won't regret it, Kawigamog is a beautiful lake and the people living around it are lovely.

I will never forget the time I spent at your place Bob, I miss you all and will be sure to keep in touch.




Here is another post from a more recent visitor. He is the younger brother of a HelpX visitor from the previous summer in 2014 so he does not have a HelpX account and we don't want him to pay for a membership just to leave his message.
- - -
My name is Edmond Buchart. I spent a month and half with Bob, during the summer 2015. I am a 16 year old Frenchman. My older brother, visited Bob the previous summer - also for 6 weeks through HelpX.

What I did

We first met in Toronto when Bob picked me up at the airport and we spent a few days in the city staying at his Toronto home where his adult kids live. We had a private back-stage tour of two theatres, The Historic Royal Alex and The Modern Princess of Whales as ďspecial guestsĒ of the manager. There were just the 3 of us: Bob, Luke (another HelpX student who was leaving for home that same week) and me. That was very interesting. We did some other things in Toronto, met some other of Bob's friends in a restaurant, and we also went to Niagara Falls, for a boat ride right up to the base of the falls. We all enjoyed it. On the way to Niagara, we stopped at Hutches, a famous 50's Hamburger place and ate our lunch overlooking huge Lake Ontario, and on the way back to Toronto we stopped at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and helped Bob's friend who volunteers in an "Able Sailing Program" and we helped some disabled people to get out of their boats and we helped to put the boats away and then we went out for dinner after with his friend. That was basically my first week, sightseeing, restaurants, visiting, funÖ and no work to do!

After letting Luke off at the airport, Bob and I came to his cottage where there was another HelpX visitor "holding the fort". A job that I did every evening was to go by boat to collect the trash from the tenants on the other side of the cove and I enjoyed this. This gave me the chance to chat with the tenants and sometimes have a beverage with them around their campfire.

Otherwise, each day was different. If Bob needed to repair some stuff, I would help him. Most every night we would drive to the dump and Bob gave me driving lessons on his standard gearshift car on the way there and back. If Bob needed to go somewhere and buy some stuff I would go with him if I wanted to, it was up to me of course. (Bob let us do what we want to do, but staying with Bob is pretty cool, knowing that Bob is a nice guy, very funny, and my friend now). Some examples of what I did: cleaning pine needles off the roofs with a leaf blower, cleaning the cottages (about once or twice a week), assembling a new barbecue, helping to prepare meals for ourselves etc.

But my trip cannot be measured in the amount of work, there is no set schedule for that.

Bob has a lot of friends that we met; some would invite us for dinner and we would invite them back. The food is always good, there is plenty of it and there is lots of variety. (Ask him about the Taco Salad - yummy!!) We also attended fund-raiser dinners in town and visited other restaurants. I walked on the world's longest snowmobile bridge over the French River and visited the French River Trading Post.

As a Frenchman I loved meeting lots of Canadian people. We water-skied a lot. Four or five times a week we used to water-ski (except for the last 10 days, when we water-skied 7 times a week), and having some water-skiing lessons was a lot of fun. I had goals: water skiing with only one ski, starting with only one ski, and I attempted skiing on one ski and holding the tow rope with my other foot. I also did cliff jumping from the 20 foot and 30 foot cliffs. Thanks to Bob, I achieved those goals.

We also enjoyed the wood fired sauna which is beside the lake so you can jump in to cool down and also the hot tub, which were fun. It is very hard to sum up my fun and my enthusiasm during this month and a half.

Bob is unique and very open minded: I had at the beginning some trouble with my English; Bob is very patient, and very sincere. This place is very quiet, and calm. You will find no stress but only fun.

I miss Bob and I am surely going to come back



Just as Edmond was sent here in 2015 by his older brother Armand, (who visited in 2014) the two of them, sent their friend Pierrick in 2016 and this is what Pierrick wrote about his visit. Again, Pierrick is not a HelpX member so we are writing his message with our profile so he doesn't have to pay the HelpX fee just to leave his testimonial.

I spent one month with Bob during the summer of 2016. I had a wonderful time. Bob is really nice.
There are different things to do every day. For example one day we installed some wood lattice to enhance the look of one of the buildings and sometimes we would take campfire wood to the tenants. Things that we did on a regular basis were to help to prepare meals, keep the kitchen tidy and on Fridays we would clean one cottage and on Saturdays we would clean another.
I enjoyed the lake, water-skiing, the sauna and hot tub.
Every morning we swam out to the point and back and that was awesome.
Every evening the other HelpX guys and myself would visit the tenants to collect their garbage.
Bob showed me the French River and we had lunch there.
Life with Bob is awesome. He has lots of jokes and stories. (Ask bob about the chewing gum joke).

The lake is an amazing place and it was a really great experience that I would recommend to anybody.
Thank you so much for everything Bob , I hope I will come back soon.
Pierrick Couzon


Also, in 2016, we had Laurent and his friend Chris staying with us for 3 months. Below, is what he wrote so far.

Hi Bob,

I really enjoyed this time with you I had a great time and had a lot of fun. I made a lot of pictures which I am going to send to you once my computer works again (I don't know what happened during the time I was away but my computer at home is broken).

Laurent Robuste

Testimonial From Jordan Van Ooteghem :

I had the pleasure to help Bob for 3.5 months in the summer of 2017. His place is really nice, spacious and quiet. We were doing various things everyday. His rental cottage business requires a lot of attention towards the tenants. Like every business the most important thing is to look after the customers and make sure they are happy with the service and accommodation we provide. Our main goals were to make sure the cottages were clean and ready for the arrival of the next tenants. Throughout their stay we had to make sure they had everything they needed. Being friendly and welcoming play an important role too. This way they will be more likely to come back the year after.

Bob is a great host and you also learn a lot from him. I admire the fact that he is still really active and will do everything in his tenants' best interest.

We had time to explore this amazing place, we did some trips by kayak and motor boat to different places on the lake. We met some friends of his who are really nice! Everyone on the lake is welcoming and pleasant to be with. It's definitely something to experience at least once in your life.

We also had the opportunity to tube and water-ski! I didn't have any idea how to water-ski before and yet after practising several times with Bob, I got the hang of it and really enjoyed myself water-skiing, it is awesome!

Bob will do everything to accommodate you and help you with anything. I got really lucky to find him. I owe him big time and will be forever thankful for everything he has done for me. I'm actually really looking forward to going back to the cottage, and it is going to be soon as I have been invited back to share the Thanksgiving feast.

If you are looking for experiencing something different to living in a city, that is the perfect place to be. I really enjoyed discovering Bob's way of life in this amazing environment. As a newcomer to Canada I found it is an ideal place to experience the real Canadian way of life in the countryside.

I also met other helpers mainly from Germany. We got along very well and I'm still in contact with them. Bob's place has everything you need and he also is an excellent cook. He will teach you how to make delicious meals from scratch. We ate very well at his place, I actually put on weight big time during my stay at his place :) . You also get the opportunity to see wildlife such as bears, moose, foxes, squirrels and so on.

The tenants who come to Bob's place come from all over the world and you get the chance to talk to them, eat and drink with them. It is so interesting and enjoyable!!

I had an amazing time with Bob and the other helpers and all the people I had the chance to meet during my stay there, I strongly recommend that you spend some time at Bob's place - you will love it !.


Message from Linus -
December 4, 2015 - April 6, 2016

"I really enjoyed the time at the lake. Bob is a calming person, who's company is certainly enriching. The lake is an adventure and it took me a couple of days to get used to it, but once I developed some kind of a routine, I did not want to leave. If you get the chance to help Bob, take it. Bob became a friend and one day I will be back.

Linus Maximilian Hohendorff"


reviews (12)
Helper: Julian Marsal Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: January 3, 2020
Summary of my stay at Camelot and my time with Bob First off, Iíve already... view complete review

Helper: Tom Kostalas Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: July 30, 2018
I stayed with Bob from 23rd of May to 23rd of August, and it was my first Hel... view complete review

Helper: Joel MacDougall Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Canada Date: May 29, 2018
I accepted Bob's invite to work at his cottage property for the time frame of... view complete review

Helper: Friedemann Schestag Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: June 28, 2017
In February I had the privilege to spend 3 weeks at Bobís cottage at Lake Kaw... view complete review

Helper: Jan-Lukas Huhn Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: June 13, 2017
Bob was my first ever helpx host and I do not think that I could have found a... view complete review

Helper: Quentin Deregnaucourt Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: January 4, 2017
Bob is such a good guy, really helpful and generous. We have started to spea... view complete review

Helper: Moritz Vosteen Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: August 29, 2016
I stayed with Bob for 6 weeks at the end of spring. †He is a really nice and ... view complete review

Helper: Guillaume Arhant Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: November 15, 2015
I spent one month with Bob during the fall (October-November). Summer was gon... view complete review

Helper: Matthew Perkins Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Canada Date: November 1, 2015
I spent july and august at Bob's and it was an experience that I would recomm... view complete review

Helper: Fabian Hawer Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: October 20, 2015
This place is awesome!! I stayed with Bob and his daughter, Karen and some... view complete review

Helper: Rťmi Dosdat Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: September 29, 2015
I spent about 2 months at Bob's place and it was a great time ! The life at t... view complete review

Helper: Armand Buchart Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France, Metropolitan Date: February 28, 2015
I stayed 6 weeks with Bob and his daughter, and I had a wonderful time with t... view complete review

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