Many Peterborough snowbirds wary of heading south during pandemic

·4 min read

Some snowbirds in Peterborough County are choosing to stay put this winter.

Currently residing on Lake Kasshabog north of Havelock, Les Morris and Lois Galbraith have been heading south for the past six year.

“We have gone to Florida in the past, but the last few years we’ve gone to an island in Honduras called Roatán,” Galbraith said

Although they’d love to go away, the numbers in both the U.S. and Honduras are staggering, she said.

“I can’t believe people are actually going to go away in this,” Galbraith said.

As for Honduras, Morris noted it’s a Third World country and while the island is modern with many activities for tourists, it’s not really equipped to handle the COVID-19 virus.

“Our contacts down there say that they’re not even paying much attention; they’re still having big parties and not wearing masks and there’s lots of COVID cases. I’m 88 and Lois has a bit of a chest problem, she has a puffer, and we just can’t take the chance,” Morris said.

She said even if they could, they wouldn’t go to the U.S. anyway.

“They’re crazy. They’re paying no attention to anything. Maybe when Biden takes over, things will change,” he said.

Norwood resident Bonnie Davidson said she and her husband normally flock south for a month during the wintertime, but decided it would be better to stay home this year.

“I mean, we’re both in our 70s and my husband, his mother is also with us and she’s 102, and so we just decided it’s better to stay home for a lot of reasons,” she said. “We have no cases in Norwood and we’ve only ever had two in nine months, so we’re safe here.”

Linda Black, a Buckhorn resident who has gone to Estero, Fla. for five months during the winter season for the past seven years with her husband, said they’ve decided to stay in Canada this year for two reasons.

“The atmosphere is not good anymore, with Trump and the election and everything being divided. And who wants to go where everybody’s sick. It costs too much for us to get sick down there. Your insurance only covers so much,” she said.

Morris said he and Galbraith have heard that a lot of people are turning their cottages into winter homes so they can stay.

Asphodel-Norwood Mayor Rodger Bonneau said he has several friends that are snowbirds who are doing this.

“I’ve actually had to run out and do some work on some of furnaces for them just to make sure they can actually stay home now. We are going to see an impact, but a lot of the residents are the people that stay here all summer long and are Canadian citizens anyways,” Bonneau said.

However, Black said she knows a couple of people from Buckhorn that are still heading south.

“They’re flying down and then they’re going to rent a car because they’re one of these trailer people that have really nowhere to live in the wintertime, so it makes it difficult for them,” she said.

Black said she believes a lot of snowbirds don’t want to go south this year because of the health and safety of themselves and others.

“Our community that we go to in Florida has a mixture of people both young and old, so you don’t want to go down there and catch something from them, or give something to them, because you can also be asymptomatic. Especially some of the older people there. They just couldn’t handle it,” she said.

Because where they live is so isolated, Morris and Galbraith said it’s good COVID-wise, but not good in an emergency with the winter weather on its way.

“It’s a bit of a worry, but we’ll survive it,” Galbraith said.

Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email:

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner