Muskoka - Ontario's Playground for the Most Discerning Cottager
Muskoka Infographic created by Carmen Suter @carmensuter_artist on Instagram
About Lake Muskoka
Lake Muskoka is the largest of the big three lakes with 269 km's of shoreline. This lake is fed by Lake Joseph, Lake Rosseau and the Indian River through the locks in Port Carling, and the Muskoka River through the falls at Bracebridge. It then flows into Moon River at Bala, emptying into Georgian Bay. Located between Port Carling and Gravenhurst it lies primarily within the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
Many islands can be found on the lake with a total island shoreline of 209 km's. Lake Muskoka has a maximum depth of 75 metres and is home to Millionaires Row which can be seen in Beaumaris located just outside of Milford Bay. This area grew rapidly when the railroad reached Gravenhurst in 1875. Still today, there are many famous people who call Muskoka home for the summer.
A Short Drive to Lake Muskoka
Only an hour and a half from the GTA and easily accessible from every direction because of its size, Lake Muskoka is a well sought after summer destination. In fact, National Geographic rated the Muskoka area as the number 1 summer destination in 2011. This year, Muskoka made the top 20 list of must travel destinations in the world.
Lake Muskoka - Something for Everyone
Lake Muskoka boasts public beaches, boat launches and sailing camp, plus much, much more. Taboo Resort has numerous facilities including golf, spa, swimming pool, fitness, tennis, dining, a sandy beach and accommodations. The Wharf in Gravenhurst, accessible by auto or boat hosts restaurants and a public boat launch. From here you can catch a steam ship ride on the Wenonah or check out the antique boat show happening on July 7th this summer.
About Lake Joseph
Lake Joseph is situated west of and flows into Lake Rosseau where the two connect at the narrows of Port Sandfield and the Joseph River. It is deepest at 93 metres in the north end. Smallest of the three lakes, Lake Joseph has a total of 140 km's of perimeter shoreline and 91 km's of island shoreline. Out of approximately 1,500 lakeshore properties, I estimate the average property has 467' of frontage. Lake Joseph lies within two townships, Muskoka Lakes and Sequin Township which is in the district of Parry Sound.
Crystal Clear Lake Joseph, Muskoka
The waters of Lake Joseph are crystal clear as it is mostly spring fed. The clarity level is 6.7 metres, the best of the big three lakes. This makes for great snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and fishing. It is known for its Northern Pike, Lake Trout, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Muskellunge and Lake Whitefish.
Lake Joseph - An Artist's Inspiration
A specialized summer camp is offered at the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre and the Lake Joseph Yacht Club offers sailing lessons. Home to two Club Link golf courses, Rocky Crest and the Lake Joe Club, can be accessed by boat and have waterfront and clubhouse dining. The Sherwood Inn offers accommodation, fine dining, Beginnings Spa and a great game of shuffle board. You can access several marinas and churches from this lake. Tie up your boat at Port Sandfield and grab an ice cream or any other necessities at Silver Streams and check out the shops and marina.
Lake Joseph is the epitome of Muskoka. The most discerning cottagers spend their summers here. Heading toward Lake Joseph via auto or boat you will marvel at the scenery of twisted pine and rock faces reminiscent of the Group of Seven paintings.
About Lake Rosseau
The middle lake of the big three, Lake Rosseau is connected to Lake Joseph through the narrows at Port Sandfield and also through the Joseph River. At the south end of the lake it is connected to Lake Muskoka through Indian River and the locks at Port Carling. The deepest spot on this lake is 89 metres. There are approximately 1,800 properties on Lake Rosseau with the average Lake frontage being 370'. The total perimeter of shoreline of the lake is 151 km's with 80 km's of island shoreline.
Famous Lake Rosseau
Former President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, holidayed on Lake Rosseau and later purchased Formosa Island. There are many other famous people who vacation here including movie stars and sports figures. Lake Rosseau is where I live for about seven months of the year before heading to my next adventure.
Lake Rosseau is home to Windermere House and the J.W. Marriott Rosseau Resort otherwise known as Red Leaves. Both establishments offer top of the line accommodations and dining as well as water and land activities.
Lake Rosseau falls into two districts, Muskoka and Parry Sound. There are many community based groups who help ensure the integrity of the Lakes. The largest being the MLA or Muskoka Lakes Association. It represents the interests of lakeshore residents and promotes responsible use, enjoyment and conservation of the Muskoka area. Formed in 1894, the MLA is Canada's oldest cottage association.
More Fun on Lake Rosseau
Family resort, Clevelands House, offers golf, tennis, ski school, water park, C.J. Minett's Kitchen and Tavern and Pie, a boat house rooftop restaurant. Muskoka Woods is a well respected residential camp for children ages 7 - 17. Communities found on Lake Rosseau include Port Carling, Port Sandfield, Minett, Windermere and the Village of Rosseau home to the Rosseau Farmer's Market. Check out Summer Water Sports aka SWS for a schedule of shows and events or to learn various water sports.
Islands of Muskoka
Islands by the hundreds can be found on Lakes Muskoka, Rosseau, Joseph and the perimeter lakes. Regardless of their shape and size all are unique in their natural beauty. Steep rock faces perfect for cliff jumping, natural granite ranging from smooth boulders and ledges to sheer, jagged points as well as soft bottomed sandy beaches all surrounded by shallow and deep, clean, clear, crisp Muskoka water are typical of islands here. Exterior decorating included, they come adorned with the infamous Muskoka twisted pine, various coniferous and deciduous trees which make for magnificent scenery in any season adding a symphony of colour in Autumn. Island properties make for fantastic exploring with their rugged terrain, distinguishing features of nooks and crannies, inlets, bays, canoe cuts and drop offs. What child or child in us does not like a fresh-air outdoor adventure? Cottaging on an island is a special experience that can be rewarding, fun and peaceful.
Island Properties Have Many Benefits
Benefits of owning an island property are plentiful. A prime piece of island property will cost less than a mainland property of the same stature. There are no roads therefore lower property taxes. Lower demand for islands than mainland means more bang for your buck. If you are planning on building or renovating on your island you may consider doing this during the winter. Most importantly if you are someone who values your privacy this is the option for you. Most island properties will have more frontage than what you could find on the mainland making your privacy all that more affordable. Still not convinced? Consider this, any visitor you may receive will have to plan ahead to be picked up at a specific access point and time, making unexpected guests almost unheard of.
My family has vacationed on islands my whole life. Growing up as a child I learned the value of preparedness. Organization is key. Making sure you have safety and first aid kits, flashlights, fresh batteries and enough food and supplies for your stay make island living not only enjoyable but gratifying. At the beginning of every cottage season, islanders will do a major haul bringing in the staples and essentials including favourite beverages, bottled water, condiments, freezer, dried and canned goods, matches, books and any new family games to be played on rainy days. You won't want to jump in the boat and head to the marina for that forgotten bag of marshmallows for making s'mores by the campfire once you have settled in, so a list is essential before leaving home.
Consider Your Muskoka Waterfront Property Carefully
Confidence in your day and night time boating abilities and knowledge of the lakes is another key factor. Islanders boat everywhere; visiting friends, coming back from a dinner party, trips to the marina for more gas because you were out wakeboarding, tubing and skiing all day or in case of an emergency, it is important to know what you are dealing with.
A side note on island living, as there is no waste management facility you will have to remember to take your garbage and recycling with you when you leave. Most marinas and access points have municipal refuse facilities.
Choosing your property and the lake is the most important factor, even more so than the structure. More convenient than in the past, most bigger islands have hydro and phone services and there are many access points for your convenience.
Photos on this page courtesy of Taylor Nullmeyer @tnully on Instagram