Dee Phillips lived for 22 years in Cambridge, where she still works, until she, partner Chris Euale and their six children, ages four to 20, moved to Shelburne, Ont., after finding the property of their dreams in 2021.
On a whim one day in August 2022, she posted the property up for rent. Since then, Cedar & Bough, as Phillips and Euale named the property, has been fully booked, with reservations throughout 2023.
MAKING THE CANADIAN DREAM A REALITY TOOK DECADES FOR PHILLIPS
The Canadian dream is perhaps most synonymous with a cottage — a cabin in the woods, away from the bustling city. But, “it’s hard for the average person to achieve that in this country,” said Phillips.
Fulfilling their Canadian dream was a labor of love. For many years, as a single mother who had children while young, Phillips’ sole objective was to work really hard to give the best life she could to her children.
In 2021, she and Euale began looking for a place outside the city that reminded Phillips and Euale of their upbringing, when they felt connected to nature. Phillips grew up on a farm in South Africa, and Euale spent his childhood by the water in Owen Sound.
Their search led them to a 34-acre property with two ponds and a stream running through it in Shelburne, Ont. Home to friendly local wildlife, Cedar & Bough is surrounded by plenty of mixed bush that affords the property some privacy while remaining accessible to stores a five-minute drive away.
“From the moment we drove down its driveway, we were in awe,” recounted Phillips of the property’s expansive driveway flanked by beautiful evergreen cedars, which inspired the name Cedar & Bough.
Looking back, she wishes she could have offered a slower paced country life to her children when they were younger. Yet, these days, her wish is to facilitate that experience for other families through Cedar & Bough.
THE ORIGINS OF CEDAR & BOUGH — SOUGHT AFTER BY FAMILIES AND ENTERTAINERS
In July 2022, the Phillips and Euale’s large blended family spruced up one of the ponds of the property. “We brought in some beautiful soft beach sand while ensuring the pond remained a fresh swimming hole to keep the ecosystem intact,” explained Phillips.
Stumbling upon a site called Swimply where people rent out their pools or water areas, Phillips decided to draft a post of their beach, but she accidentally left the post “live.” Shortly after, her phone started buzzing with bookings.
Phillips said the overwhelming positive response encouraged the family to start renting the property through Hipcamp, a company catering to nature lovers since 2013.
“August and September were insanely busy; November and December have been steady,” Phillips shared, emphasizing that the business has been taken off thanks to the entire family. Euale is the site co-ordinator, and Phillips’ daughter, Jaeda Wipp, is the operations manager.
A variety of guests, from families celebrating important milestones to a film crew shooting a commercial, have stayed at the cozy, pet-friendly resort, according to Phillips. In late October, actor, dancer and wellness influencer Bree Wasylenko also booked a stay, during which she recorded a promotional reel at the cabin’s bespoke beach.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR PHILLIPS AND CEDAR & BOUGH
Phillips hopes the cabin will be a source of respect from busy lives all year round. “In the colder months, the pond transforms into a winter wonderland,” noted Phillips of the pond freezing, resulting in a private ice-skating rink.
The Phillips and Euale family have many ideas to entice even more folks to love Cedar & Bough as much as they do. From a boat house by the second pond to a hobbit house with skylight ceilings near the cabin, the family is enjoying making plans for Cedar & Bough.
“It’s the very, very beginning of what I know is and will be a beautiful thing,” Phillips mused.
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When Dee Phillips wrote to The Cambridge Times about Cedar & Bough, reporter María Rosales Gerpe wanted to hear more about Phillips’ dreams-turned-reality. You can find out more about Cedar & Bough through the following links: Hipcamp Booking, Instagram and Facebook.