Want to Learn About Muskoka?

March 20th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
Nestled in the heart of Ontario, less than two hours north of Toronto is the natural paradise of Muskoka: a stunning landscape of sublime waterfalls, staggering granite cliffs, wild forests of aromatic pine and iconic Canadian maple, and 1,600 pristine lakes which have led many to affectionately refer to the area as simply the Land of Lakes. The District Municipality of Muskoka, known generally as Muskoka, spans an area of 6,475 km2 (2,500 sq. mi.)—larger than the entire province of Prince Edward Island. Muskoka extends from the tip of Lake Couchiching in the south to the sublime untamed wilderness of Algonquin Provincial Park in the north; and from Haliburton County and Kawartha Lakes in the east, to the beautiful and rugged Georgian Bay in the west.

The District Municipality of Muskoka contains six municipalities: Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, and the townships of Georgian Bay, Lake of Bays (Dorset), and Muskoka Lakes (Port Carling, Bala); as well as Moose Point 79 (Moose Deer Point First Nation) and the Wahta Mohawk Territory. Its natural beauty is interspersed with historic villages and townships, scenic farming communities, lakeside resorts, beautiful marinas, and lush golf courses and country clubs. Muskoka is home to 60,000 permanent residents, as well as nearly 100,000 seasonal property owners, who also proudly consider themselves Muskokans—and rightfully so, when one considers that many family cottages were built during the original settlement of Muskoka. The pride they uphold is reflected in the upkeep of seasonal Muskokan properties, which are notoriously well maintained—and this is doubly true for those established long ago. Many Muskoka cottages have passed through eight generations, and are still maintained in picture perfect condition.

With a year-round population of 19, 056, Huntsville is the largest urban centre in Muskoka, followed by Bracebridge, which houses the regional government seat. However, the heart of the Muskoka, the quintessence of Ontario’s cottage country, is the Township of Muskoka Lakes. With a year-round population of only 6,707, the Township of Muskoka Lakes is home to almost 32,000 seasonal residents and contains some of the most desirable seasonal real estate in the area, including Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, and Lake Rosseau; three intricate, interconnected bodies of crystal clear lake water, with a maximum measured depth of 93.8 metres (Lake Joseph). As the grandest lakes in the area, these were the first explored, and the first to accommodate an array of settlers and tourists, as well as sportsmen looking for some of the best freshwater fishing available.

Many permanent residents were once seasonal property owners, who, after being drawn to the tranquility and sublime beauty of Muskoka, found it simply too hard to leave, and chose instead to establish year-round homes. Many newer permanent residents of Muskoka are active retirees; previous cottagers who chose to sell their homes elsewhere and move to Muskoka full-time rather than have to endure the pain of leaving at the end of cottage season. And who could blame them? Muskoka combines the rugged untamed beauty of the Canadian Shield, some of the cleanest and most beautiful lakes in the world, and all the amenities anyone could ever need. Whether you are interested in buying a cottage in Muskoka, or making a more permanent move; with so much to offer, is there really anywhere else you would rather be?

Sources: Travel to Muskoka & Our Own Knowledge




Are you considering selling your Muskoka cottage?

March 18th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
So you are considering selling your cottage. Here at The Hunt Team, we understand that this can be an emotional decision to make, and we’re here to help. If you have decided that it’s the right time to move on and have chosen to sell, there are a few things you must consider. First you should meet with a Muskoka real estate agent and discuss listing your property. A local REALTOR can help provide a wealth of knowledge regarding market trends, appropriate pricing strategy, presentation, and marketing to help your cottage gain the exposure necessary to ensure a successful sale. With a thorough understanding and years of experience working in the local cottage market, the value that a Muskoka realtor can bring to the table when selling your cottage is not something to be overlooked. If you are interested in selling your cottage, and would like some advice, or you would like to arrange a meeting, please don’t hesitate to contact us by Clicking Here. Once you have met with your real estate agent, developed a sales strategy, and determined an appropriate asking price, it’s time for the real work to begin.

Maybe you bought your cottage a decade ago, or maybe it’s been in your family for generations. Either way, chances are that it has come to feel like a home to you. While this is exactly what one wants from their cottage, it can make it easier to ignore things when preparing to sell it. For instance, you may have become used to the little areas of your cottage that require some attention—that piece of wood missing from the deck, the stain on the living room carpet, the weeds threatening to take over your garden, or that cracked bathroom tile. While for you, these imperfections may add a rustic feel to the place—they add character!—it is doubtful that a potential buyer will share your feelings. When preparing your cottage for sale, it is important to look at things as objectively as possible. Imagine you are surveying the area for the first time, as if you are considering the purchase yourself. What do you notice? If your eyes are drawn to little problems, like those mentioned above, they should be the first things repaired. It does not need to take a long time, or cost a lot of money, but a few minor repairs can go a long way in getting your cottage the attention it deserves, and fetching the highest price possible. Consider repainting anywhere the paint has begun to chip or fade; fixing leaky faucets; repairing loose of broken tiles, patching any holes in walls, repairing doors and drawers that don’t close properly, and so on. The same goes for the property outside the cottage. Re-stain wooden decks, clear pathways, pull the weeds from your garden, replace loose flagstones, mow the lawn, and trim the trees to clear the view of the water. When preparing to sell, you want to put your best cottage forward, and every little thing helps.

This brings us to a final point: things. We all have them, a lot of them end up at the cottage, and a great deal of them are often sold with the cottage. A few personal items, tastefully displayed, can lend a warm lived-in feel to a cottage. Too many, and the place begins to look like a storage locker that’s been lived-out-of. So it’s time for some triage. If it adds to the appearance and feel of the cottage, like a rustic wooden rocking chair and an antique map of Muskoka, present it along with the cottage. If it takes away from the feel of the cottage, like an antique television set circa 1980 and replete with bunny ear antennae, get rid of it. The same goes for outdoors. Clean the area around the cottage and waterfront, and discard any unsightly items you may not have gotten around to clearing out beforehand. Buyers want to see a cottage in its natural setting; not a messy lot in need of overhaul. You should determine which items you would like to keep and pack them away before showings. This will help de-clutter the cottage and keep your prized possessions away from the prying eyes of potential buyers. You should also consider which items you intend to sell with the cottage and display them as tastefully as possible. Finally, collect what is left over and get rid of it. Whether you hold a yard sale or give it away; it is important to ensure that nothing is left in your cottage that takes away from its perceived potential for buyers. Again, try to see things as they would, arrange things accordingly, and put your best cottage forward!





Have you ever thought about The Muskoka Life?

March 16th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Imagine waking early to watch the first rays of sunlight break over the horizon, warming the still waters of the lake; pushing off in your canoe through the glowing, billowy mists for a quick paddle in the first light of day. You have your rod and tackle box, the smallmouth bass are hungry, and there’s plenty of time for a few casts in the bay before you need to head back and start frying pancakes for the kids. Imagine them racing to the beach screaming, “Last one in is a rotten egg!”; teaching them to swim, paddle, and water ski in the clear Muskokan waters. Imagine flinging your moody teenager off the raft after a triumphant wrestling match; you haven’t seen him laugh like that in years. Imagine inviting the whole clan up for a long summer weekend: tours out on the lake; sunsets on the dock with a cold beer in hand; roasted marshmallows on the campfire. Your brother-in-law has had a bit too much to drink and you’ve just taken some embarrassing pictures of him that are sure to be a talking point of the next day when you tell him that they’ll become a central part of the cottage photo album. Imagine walking hand-in-hand along the coastline with the person you love most: you stop, you look into each others’ eyes, you kiss for what feels like the first time, and you can’t remember ever feeling more in love.

If you have ever found yourself daydreaming in this way, you are not alone. Buying a cottage in Muskoka is a dream that many people have, and here at The Hunt Team we want to help you realize your dream. More than that, we want to help you find perfect cottage for you so that when you sign the deed, your dream comes true.

The perfect cottage is hard to come by, and what might be ideal for one person, is not so for another. When looking to buy a cottage, it is important to consider how you aim to use it. Will this be a family cottage? Will it be a quiet lover’s getaway for you and a significant other? Is it going to be a summer escape for you, your close friends, and extended family? Or is it somewhere you plan to retire? Considering these questions will help you determine which cottage is the right one for you.

The most important part of finding the perfect cottage is how it feels to you. When you are looking at cottages, go down to the waterfront, survey the land, wade into the water; see it not only as it is now, but try to imagine it as it could be. See which direction it faces; will you have a clear view of the morning sunrise or the evening sunset? Spend time there and remember how you have dreamed of buying a cottage. Picture yourself there with your family, imagine all the things you wish to do there with all the people you care about, and ask yourself: does this feel like it did in my dreams?

The Evolution of Muskoka

March 14th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
From humble beginnings, Muskoka has evolved into a diverse and thriving vacation destination, small business centre, and early retirement community in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country. As beautiful as ever, Muskoka has become a welcome escape for naturalists, adventurers, sportsmen, golfers, boaters, and any outdoor enthusiast looking to get away from the pressures of city life. Muskoka’s well established recreation and tourism industry continues to expand, and plans are underway to develop the area into the Golf Capital of Ontario.

In addition to the numerous events available during Muskoka’s summer vacation and cottage season, Muskoka Tourism and the local Chamber of Commerce, are expanding horizons and evolving Muskoka into an area of year-round recreation, with activities including cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding; all in one of the most naturally beautiful settings in the world.  On top of that, Muskoka offers an endless array of music and arts festivals throughout the area all year long; and just a short 20-minute drive south of Muskoka is the renowned Casino Rama that features first class gaming, as well as spectacular concerts featuring world famous musicians. If instead you would prefer to slow things down and connect with the natural world free from distractions, Algonquin Provincial Park lies just north of Muskoka, in all its unspoiled, rugged beauty.

Muskoka has a long history of tourism, stretching back to the days of steam-powered navigation. With an influx of tourists travelling to Muskoka on steamships operated by the Muskoka Navigation Company; such as the Segwun, the Wenonah, and the Sagamo; local residents recognized the business potential in providing tourist accomodations. Around this time lavish hotels and resorts, such as the Royal Muskoka, Elgin House, and Bigwin Inn were being established in the area. One such resort, Windermere House, established in 1870 and rebuilt in 1997 after a devastating fire, is still in operation today; and is one of the most popular vacation resorts and wedding destinations in Ontario.

Many historic figures spent their summers in Muskoka, including Orville Wright, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, and Lord and Lady Eaton who built a majestic estate which has since been converted into an exclusive private school, now known as Rosseau College. In fact, Lady Eaton’s historic steamship, The Wanda III, built in 1915, has been restored and used for private cruises of the Muskoka lakes. In addition, the RMS Segwun, built in 1887 as a mail and passenger ship, has also been lovingly restored and allows passengers to witness the majesty of Muskoka from the water, offering a unique and breathtaking experience. There is no better place to buy a cottage than in Muskoka.

With so much to do year-round, and so much more being developed, it comes as no surprise that many early retirees are choosing to move to Muskoka and unburden themselves of the demands of city living, or that many seasonal property owners are choosing to winterize their cottages in order to take advantage of the unique events and stunning beauty of Muskoka all year long. For, as Muskoka’s permanent residents already know, life in Muskoka does not exist only during the peak summer season, but through all seasons: all breathtaking, all unique, and all begging to be experienced to the fullest.

Muskoka Event Guide 2016

March 7th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
Muskoka Maple Trail
March 14 – April 23, 2016
Open for Maple Season, syrup producers from across Muskoka invite you to tour the sugarbush to see the magic happen for yourselves.
Details available at http://www.discovermuskoka.ca/muskoka-maple-trail.html

Muskoka Maple Festival
April 23, 2016

Wrapping up Maple Season in style! Hosted in downtown Huntsville, you can enjoy an all day pancake breakfast, chainsaw carving, live fiddling music, and lots more fun for the entire family.
Details available at http://www.discovermuskoka.ca/muskoka-maple-festival

Home & Cottage Show
April 22-24, 2016
Hosted by the Muskoka Builders’ Association at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre, 2016 will mark the show’s 25th anniversary.
Details available at http://www.muskokabuilders.com/home-show/

Band on the Run
June 11, 2016

A morning run (half marathon, 10 km, 5 km, and children’s run) followed by a live outdoor music festival headlined by The Jim Cuddy Band.
Details available at http://bandontherun.ca/

Canada Day Fireworks
July 1, 2016
Hosted by the Town of Bracebridge, events run all day and feature Watercross and Cardboard Boat Races.
Details available at http://www.bracebridgefireworks.com/

Vintage Boat Show
July 9, 2016
Hosted by the Antique and Classic Boat Society-Toronto at Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst, and featuring over 100 antique and classic boats, a vintage car display, fashion show, youth activities, and more…
Details available at https://www.acbs.ca/index.php/boat-show/boat-show-registration-link

Muskoka In-Water Boat & Cottage Show together with Muskoka Ribfest
July 22-24, 2016
Held at Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst, these combined events offer over 100 boat and cottage displays, prizes and giveaways, and mouth-watering ribs! Vegetarians are also welcome.
Details available at http://muskokashows.com/

Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival
July 30, 2016

Held in the Bracebridge, this festival includes live music, gourmet food, and of course plenty of good beer.
Details available at http://muskokabeerfestival.ca/

Dockside Festival of the Arts
August 19-21, 2016

Come to Gravenhurst Wharf to enjoy the work of over 100 artisans and craftspeople, along with gourmet food, craft beer, helicopter rides, and more…
Details available at http://docksidefestival.com/

Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour
September 24-25 & October 1-2, 2016
Featuring numerous artists, this tour allows patrons the opportunity to witness the magic of artistic creation firsthand.
Details available at http://www.muskokaautumnstudiotour.com/

Bala Cranberry Festival
October 14-16, 2016
The Bala Cranberry Festival offers something for everyone, with snowmobile watercross, cranberry marsh tour, live music, and tons of great food. Oh yeah, and cranberries.
Details available at http://www.balacranberryfestival.on.ca/

Santa Claus Parade
December 4, 2016
Held in downtown Bracebridge, the Santa Claus Parade gives children a chance to see Santa himself. If that weren`t enough, the parade will also feature numerous exciting floats, prizes, and lots of hot chocolate.

A Brief History of Muskoka: Part 5 – Milford Bay & Beaumaris

February 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment

Did you miss Part 4? Read it Here

Milford Bay

Milford Bay is a small town on the northeastern coast of Lake Muskoka, built on a section of lake named (you guessed it!) Milford Bay; an inlet sheltered from the rest of Lake Muskoka by Tondern Island. Established along with the rest of Muskoka in the second half of the 19th century, thanks largely to The Free Grants and Homestead Act of 1868—which allowed settlers to claim up to 100 acres of land, provided they met certain conditions regarding the development of the land; 200 acres in extenuating circumstances—Milford Bay grew alongside Tondern Island, to which it has been connected by bridge since the 1870s. Capitalizing on Muskoka’s growing tourism industry, Robert Stroud; an early settler of Milford Bay who moved to the area in 1873; built the Milford Bay House in 1887, on a plot of land known as Huckleberry Rock. While a popular destination for new settlers and tourists alike, Milford Bay House was unfortunately burned to the ground in a terrible fire in 1933. Today, still a popular spot among tourists and cottagers, Milford Bay provides an important link to Tondern Island.

Beaumaris

Beaumaris is a small settlement located on Tondern Island in Lake Muskoka; which, as mentioned above, is strategically linked to the mainland by a bridge at Milford Bay as it has been since the 1870s. Tondern Island, with a total area of 338 acres, was originally purchased from the crown by Paul Dane, an Irish immigrant, in 1868 for a total price of $101. Upon his death in 1871, ownership of the island passed to his nephew Maurice John McCarthy, who sold the island to brothers-in-law John Willmott and Edward Prowse in 1873. Prowse and Willmott are attributed with developing the settlement on Tondern Island, which they named Beaumaris. This included the construction of a bridge, connecting Tondern Island to the mainland at Milford Bay; the clearing of a section of forest to be converted to pasture; and the installation of a dock, which led to Beaumaris becoming an important transit point during the steamship era. As Muskoka became an increasingly popular tourist destination and word spread of Beaumaris’ natural beauty and excellent fishing, Willmott and Prowse profited through further calculated developments: Willmott opened an eponymous general store; and Prowse established the Beaumaris Hotel, which saw great success thanks its location midway between Port Carling and Bracebridge, and the rapid increase in steamship travel coupled with the majestic pier he built near the hotel. As many patrons of the hotel were known to spend entire seasons there, and demand for purchasable land increased, Willmott and Prowse began parceling and selling lots to vacationers seeking permanent residence. Thus the first cottages on Tondern Island were developed. As for the Beaumaris Hotel, it remained a popular getaway among vacationers until July 21, 1945, when it was burned in an act of arson by Edward John Van Buren, who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 2 years in prison. The hotel was never rebuilt. Instead, the land on which it once stood is now part of the Beaumaris Golf Club. In addition to the golf club, Beaumaris is also home to the Beaumaris Yacht Club and the Beaumaris Marina. Tondern Island is one of the most desirable locations for vacation property in Muskoka, and certainly not one to be overlooked.

This concludes our brief history of Muskoka series. We hope you enjoyed it!

A Brief History of Muskoka: Part 4 – Three Mile Lake & Skeleton Lake

February 22nd, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment
Did you miss Part 3? Read it Here
 
Three Mile Lake

Settlers began moving to the Three Mile Lake area in the mid-19th century assisted through the promotion of the Government of Canada’s Free Land Grant: a system awarding property as an incentive to encourage development of sparsely populated areas; and one that led directly to the Muskoka Settlement era of the mid-1800s. Jake’s Point was the first developed section of land surrounding Three Mile Lake, and was first settled by only a few families: the Morleys, Pickerings, Sheas, Sufferns, and Gotts. In 1866, Gotts Lodge No.229 was built; a bright orange structure that drew the attention of onlookers and became an iconic part of the landscape; later being renamed Three Mile Lake 229. Dee Bank was the next area surrounding Three Mile Lake to be developed; with the construction of a general store, hotel, sawmill, and Presbyterian Church. As the Presbyterians settled in Dee Bank, the Methodists built their own church in the Ufford area. In addition to the aforementioned developments, John Shannon built one of the largest flour mills in the area, on the banks of Three Mile Lake in 1871, which added to the local industry, and boosted development of the area, evidenced by the construction of a schoolhouse at the end of the 19th century. With a 31.2 km of shoreline perimeter, and 8.8 sq. km of surface area, Three Mile Lake is significantly smaller than any of the Muskoka Lakes, which is an appreciable feature for anyone interested in a quieter cottage experience. With roughly 620 waterfront properties, Three Mile Lake is nevertheless a prime destination for cottage living, water skiing, tubing, and fishing; yet it offers a more relaxed atmosphere than the larger lakes in Muskoka.

Skeleton Lake
 
Skeleton Lake is a crystal clear spring-fed lake 17 km west of Huntsville, with a rich history rooted in aboriginal folklore. While surveying the north shore, workers happened upon two human skeletons lying on the rocks. Local inquiry into the origin of the skeletons led settlers to an Ojibwe tribe, whose chief recounted the story of how his people had camped on the north shore of the lake one particularly harsh winter. Food was scarce, and the tribe had to move on or suffer continued starvation and death. An adolescent boy, too weak and ill from starvation, was unable to make the journey and needed to be left behind. His mother, unwilling to abandon her son, remained with him while the tribe left in search of food. Both died and Skeleton Lake was named in their honour, as a reminder of a mother’s undying love for her son, and of the ultimate sacrifice she made for him.
 
The lake is thought to have been formed when a meteorite struck the area over 800-million years ago. Altered by several glacial periods, what now remains as Skeleton Lake is a gorgeous, limestone-bedded lake, with clear shining waters; and—with fewer and less distinct bays and peninsulas—the largest body of truly open water in the Muskoka area, making it ideal for water sports such as windsurfing and sailing.
 
Continue to Part 5

 

A Brief History of Muskoka: Part 3 – Port Sandfield & Port Carling

February 15th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment
Did you miss Part 2? Read it Here

 

Port Sandfield
 
Formed in 1870 and named in honour of then Premier of Ontario John Sandfield MacDonald, Port Sandfield is a charming community between Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph, originally founded in conjunction with a canal constructed to connect the two lakes. First President and founder of the Muskoka Settlers’ Association, and a member of Ontario Provincial Parliament, Alexander Peter Cockburn was instrumental in developing plans for the canal, as well as securing funding to see the project through completion. With the Port Sandfield canal completed at roughly the same time as the locks at Port Carling, steamships were now able to carry cargo, timber, mail, and passengers unhindered over the three largest lakes in Muskoka. This led ultimately to an influx of both tourists and settlers, which in turn revealed the need for a bridge over the new canal. In 1876, the first bridge across the Port Sandfield canal was completed. Eight years later, in response to Muskoka’s growing tourist industry, Enoch Cox founded the Prospect House, a posh summer resort. Following an economic downturn, the canal fell into disuse and neglect, yet it was restored to its former glory in 1999.  Built in 1924 and impeccably maintained to this day, the historic swing bridge over the Port Sandfield canal is the oldest of its kind in Ontario, and a proud landmark of Muskoka’s rich history.

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Port Carling
 
Situated on the Indian River between Lake Rosseau and Lake Muskoka, the area that is now Port Carling was originally settled by the Ojibwe (or Chippewa) in the 1850s, who called the land Obogawanung (or Obajewanung). By the 1860s, with increasing development in the Muskoka area, and an onslaught of European settlers arriving, the Ojibwe moved to Parry Sound and the area was developed as part of Medora Township. The first post office was established in 1869 by Benjamin Hardcastle Johnston, at which point he named the community Port Carling in honour of Ontario Minister of Public Works, John Carling, who was instrumental in the development of the locks between Lake Rosseau and Lake Muskoka. With Carling’s support, the locks were completed in 1871 which, coupled with the Port Sandfield canal between Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph, linked the three Muskoka Lakes together, and led to an economic boom with a staggering increase in logging and tourism. Development moved quickly in this era, with the construction of many summer homes, resorts, and sawmills resulting from the optimistic economic situation. Port Carling’s location in the Muskoka Lakes system and the connection it provides between Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau has earned it the moniker Hub of the Lakes. In 1896, Port Carling gained independence from the Township of Medora, becoming an incorporated village; which it remained until 1971, when it merged with the Township of Muskoka Lakes. In addition to its ease of access via water, Port Carling, located on Muskoka Road 118, is more quickly and easily accessible by road than ever. With recent improvements to Highway 69, now linking it to Highway 400 as well as Highway 11, Port Carling has become a popular destination for tourists from Southern Ontario, and a desirable location for anyone looking to buy a cottage in Muskoka.

Continue to Part 4

A Brief History of Muskoka: Part 2 – Bala, Torrance, & Windermere

February 8th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 2 comments

Did you miss Part 1? Read it Here.

Bala

Located on Bala Bay, on the western coast of Lake Muskoka, and marked by many bare outcroppings of the Canadian Shield as well as the famous Bala Falls, lies the town of Bala; settled by Thomas Burgess in 1868, who opened a sawmill and general store to serve the settlers scattered among the area. Burgess named it after the town of Bala, in the Bala Lake area of Wales. Bala’s first post office opened in 1872, with Burgess as postmaster. Unsuitable for farming given its rocky Canadian Shield geography, Bala’s economy began to decline with a downturn in the logging industry. However, with the expansion of the railway bringing rail service to the area in 1907, Bala was reinvigorated as a tourist destination, and a popular location for summer resorts and cottages. The town incorporated in 1914, and A.M. Burgess, son of Thomas Burgess, became the first mayor of Bala, which was, at the time, the smallest incorporated town in Canada. It remained so until it amalgamated with the Muskoka Lakes Township in 1971. Known as the Cranberry Capital of Ontario; with cranberries being the one crop that really thrived in the area; the town hosts the Bala Cranberry Festival during harvest season each autumn.


Torrance

The community now known as Torrance was settled in 1870 by three men; William Torrance, Joseph Coulter, and George Jestin; and their families—all originally from Eramosa, a small community near Guelph, Ontario. Torrance, Coulter, and Jestin traveled to Muskoka in 1869 to investigate a Free Land Grant offer made by the Government of Canada. After realizing the sheer beauty and boundless potential of the area, they relocated their families to start life anew in Muskoka; each purchasing 100 acres of land for $0.75 apiece. William Torrance, as the first postmaster of the community, was honoured when the town was given his name. By 1906, the railway had reached Torrance, expanding its potential as a tourist destination and summer resort community. Torrance is proud of its history; and as the only stop in West Muskoka on Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Canada in 1959; the community named Queen’s Walk Road in her honour.


Windermere

With a name almost as unequivocally English as “The Shire”, it comes as no surprise that Windermere was named after a lake in England—situated in Lake District National Park, it is in fact the largest natural lake in all of England. Windermere, Ontario, on the other hand is a small, scenic village on the eastern coast of Lake Rosseau, originally settled during the Muskoka Settlement in the latter half of the 19th century. The development of Windermere was headed primarily by three men: Francis Forge, a successful farmer and employee of business magnate Timothy Eaton; David Fife, a businessman working in the resort and tourism industry, and founder of Fife House (unfortunately demolished in 1970); and Thomas Aitkens, community postmaster and founder of Windermere House, once a prestigious boarding house, now a popular four-star resort and vacation destination. Unfortunately, in 1996, at 127 years old, the original Windermere House burned to the ground during the filming of The Long Kiss Goodnight. It was faithfully rebuilt in the original Victorian style in 1997. Windermere is also home to the stunning and beautifully maintained Windermere Golf & Country Club. Forge, Fife, and Aitkens are honoured in a memorial window mounted in the local Windermere United Church, for their contributions made toward the development of the area.


Continue to Part 3

A Brief History of Muskoka: Part 1 – The Muskoka Lakes

February 1st, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 3 comments
Most Ontarians have, more than likely, at least heard of the Muskoka Lakes. While the use of these two words back-to-back has been known to cause some confusion for certain people in the past—(i.e. “Does that mean all lakes in Muskoka?”)—the term “Muskoka Lakes” typically refers to either the three largest interconnected bodies of water in the Muskoka area; Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph; or the township that houses all three, aptly named the Township of Muskoka Lakes and often referred to as both the jewel of Muskoka and the heart of cottage country. In 1870, the area now known as the Township of Muskoka Lakes was opened for settlement. At this time, it was divided into several geographic and municipal townships: Cardwell, Christie, Humphrey, Medora, and Wood. It was not until 101 years later, in 1971, that Bala, Port Carling, Windermere, and the townships of Cardwell, Medora, Watt, Wood, (and part of Monck Township) were merged to create the municipal structure that exists to this day.

 

 With poor, rocky soil compliments of the rugged Canadian Shield, Muskoka has never been particularly suited to agriculture (although with dedication and care many gardeners have created and maintained some truly stunning and artistic gardens throughout the area). Instead, with its surplus of lush forests, it was timber that proved the greatest economic attractant, driving the initial Muskoka settlement in the latter half of the 19th century. Later, after a decline in the resource industries, and with a fast-growing urbanized Southern Ontario population in close proximity, tourism became Muskoka’s chief industry. Many visitors to the area, after experiencing its natural wonder, could not bear the thought of leaving and so purchased land and built summer homes in Muskoka, and thus cottage country was born. As the largest lakes in the area; Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph are home to the greatest number, and some of the most desirable cottages in all of Muskoka.

 

 The Muskoka Lakes were named by the Honourable William Robinson, Commissioner for Indian Affairs and member of the House of Assembly. Lake Muskoka was named, as was the area as a whole, after Mesqua Ukie or Chief Yellowhead, a Chippewa chief whose tribe used the forest surrounding the lake as their hunting grounds into the mid-19thcentury. Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau were both named in honour of Joseph Rousseau—Robinson’s close personal friend and trading partner. The westernmost of the Muskoka Lakes, Lake Joseph has the deepest recorded water in all of Muskoka—measured at 93.8 m. Lake Joseph drains through the Joseph River east to Lake Rosseau, arguably one of the most popular recreation lakes in Ontario; with an intricate array of islands, bays, peninsulas, and other various shoreline features, Lake Rosseau’s summers come alive with water sports from swimming, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, wakeboarding and water skiing, to lazy-pontoon-party-boating (it’s a sport too!). Finally, the largest and southernmost of the three, and fed by both Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau—the eponymous Lake Muskoka; a crystal clear lake enjoyed by cottagers, year-round residents, and tourists alike; and bordered by the scenic towns of Bala on the southwest shore, and Gravenhurst on the southeast. Like both Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau, Lake Muskoka offers premier fishing, with varieties ranging from muskellunge to largemouth and smallmouth bass, lake trout and walleye. Whether you have a particular interest in one lake, or are simply trying to familiarize yourself with the area; whether you are an angler, swimmer, or semi-pro lazy-pontoon-party-boater (again, it’s a sport!); whether you choose to vacation in the Muskoka Lakes for the first time, or are considering buying your first cottage; with something for everyong, when you choose the Muskoka Lakes, you can’t go wrong.

 

Continue to Part 2