As the type of properties I list, sell and represent Buyers for are on waterfront, I know a great deal about Shore Road Allowance (SRA).
The Government retained shoreline on many of our lakes and rivers. They determined the size of such portion of land by measuring 66' (the length of a chain) from the high water mark, following the contour of the land. These shore road allowances were developed in the 1800's to create access to and from the water for a number of reasons. Logging companies were famous for clear cutting back then and this great idea by the Government (yes, same sentence) to retain this 66' of land forced such companies to start cutting that far back from the shore which prevented clear cutting of our beautiful shorelines. Commercial fishing and guided fishing excursions were also very popular and the SRA allowed fishermen to go ashore, clean their catch and lunch on shore with their staff or patrons. Back in the day there were not many, if any, roads and travel around the lakes was mainly via water.
Believe it or not the Government actually considered building roads along the lake shores. When they eventually figured out that shore roads were not feasible the Ontario Government gave these SRA strips of land to the Municipalities so they could put them up for sale, potentially creating profit for that Municipal Government.
Many SRA's have been purchased by the abutting land owner (the only one who can purchase that SRA) which then makes that SRA "closed". The SRA would have been surveyed and described as a part of a plan in the legal description of the subject property. An "open" SRA has not been purchased and still belongs to the Crown.
Most people don't pull up their kayak, plunk down and picnic on your property, however, if your SRA is open this is a possibility! While a cottager's privacy is typically respected there is some comfort in owning your SRA. If you would like advice on whether or not to purchase your SRA give me a call at 705-646-4693 or email me: email@example.com.
In the north end of Lake Rosseau and Joseph where properties lie in the District of Parry Sound and Sequin Township you cannot build a boathouse with living quarters unless you own the shore road allowance and have enough by-law frontage. This is not an issue in Muskoka Lakes Township.
Many land owners in the past have built on their unowned (open) SRA making their dwelling difficult to mortgage. This is due to the fact that technically speaking, all or part of the structure may be on Crown land. As for cottages, the rules are such that a new build must be at least 66' from the shoreline, in most cases. The exception is "grandfathering".
If you would like more information, clarification or the costs involved in purchasing your SRA please do not hesitate to contact me. I love talking about this stuff!