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.