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

February 22nd, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
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