16 Apr

Thorel House, Lake Rosseau, then and now

I headed out in the early morning determined to get a photo of this cool boathouse that I knew about on Lake Rosseau. I was aware there were a few cottages around the bay and was very careful not to disturb anyone. Who wants to see and hear the boathouse papparzi while awakening to fresh morning coffee.


I discovered that this is the original site of the Thorel House Hotel. Details are sketchy however I did find someone that passed me an old photo from years gone by. (see below) When I took this shot I was standing just to the left of the old car. The house on the left is still there and it has been beautifully restored. In fact when doing research I discovered it was available for rent.


In: boathouses of muskoka, historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario

18 Responses
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  1. Jenn Jilks says:

    I love it! Then and now!

  2. GIL GRANT says:

    have not been in Muskoka, since the 70,s brings back great memories would love to get our 60 Chris cruiser up this summer from FL

  3. Great shots, really enjoy the now/then comparison set up. Love historic photos!

  4. George Rettger says:

    My mother first stayed at Thorel House when she was 16 and I took my first steps on there main dock. We summered there until they closed the resort. Really miss that, it was a great place to grow up.

  5. S. Thorel says:

    Thanks for posting this. I am a Thorel, and spent many Christmas mornings, summer vacations, and other visits in that very house. I am happy that other people are getting to see it, as it is a big part of my heritage. If anyone is interested in any more information on the hotel, the house(before it’s recent sale and renovation), or the property, post here, and I will get you an answer.

  6. Drew Clarke says:

    Happened on this site by chance. Went to Thorel House with my parents every summer it seemed and have great childhood memories. This was back in the 50’s and 60’s. We stayed in the hotel, the house and the boathouse. Always brought an outboard motor and cruised the lake in the cedar lapstrake rowboats every day. Would love to see any pictures you might have.

  7. Anna Kerr says:

    I was a waitress at Thorel House in 1955. 3 1/2 years later married one of the fellows (Ron Kerr) whom I served on my first weekend along with several of his friends. He had been going to Thorel House since he was a child with his parents, Bill and Barbara Kerr. We continued going there every summer with our three children until it closed. Many of the people that vacationed at Thorel House went there year after year.

    George Rettger: You may recall my in-laws or Ron.

  8. Rhonda Lorch says:

    My grandmother, Ida Paisley, worked at Thorel House as a maid/waitress when she was about 15 years old – 1914 or so. She spoke very kindly of Mrs Thorel who taught her to polish glasses and serve at table in the dining room. Lovely to see these photos.

  9. George Rettger says:

    Ann Kerr, The name is very familiar, but I’m not sure if it was because of my parents talking of the Kerr’s or a vague memory of mine. Ron or your in-laws would probably remember my parents as well as S. Thorel. My parents were Kay and Whitey(George) Rettger. My mother is now 87, but started going to Thorel with her Aunt Ruth, when she was in her teens. I took my first steps at 11 months, that would have been in 1953, and went there until they closed. Have great memories of palying with the Thorel kids, Lynn, Glen, Ray, Eric. All great memories.

  10. Ross McEachern says:

    George and Florence Thorel were my aunt and uncle. I spent many Summers and Holidays at Thorel House.
    I stumbled on this site as a result of a discussion I had with another Uncle Robert McMaster this past weekend. We had been talking about the Heather Belle and the fact it was still in existence and in the possession of a gentleman on Lake od Bays. Many fond memories.

    Ross McEachern

  11. John Fortune says:

    Our family used to go to Thorel House 1953 – 54 – 55 ………. I have many wonderful memories of our holidays there !! What do I remember the most? The smell of pine trees, the clinking of dishes in the dining room (and sometimes the odd CRASH too, smiling), the chippies as they scurried about and the Thorel’s used to have a dog at that time – I think his name was Duffer.

    I remember swimming in the little bay down from the boathouse and washing off the ‘tea’ when we came out of the water and often getting leaches on my legs if I went swimming by the ladder part-way down from the boathouse. I always wanted to go down the slide on the dock but wasn’t allowed because I was too young – I was 6 or 7 years old at the time.

    I once dangled a fishing line between the boards in the boathouse and caught a fish (probably a sunfish) but it was too big to pull back between the boards so I had to cut the line and let it go.

    My brother almost drowned in that swimming area (well we thought so at the time)! We had blow-up toys that we were floating around on, I had a green speckled frog and he had a red and white duck, and my brother’s flipped over and he was caught up-side-down !! There was an older girl standing close to him (I think she was a Thorel) and she flipped him back over. He came up spluttering and coughing and that was the end of our blow-up toys, mom took them away.

    A year or so ago I was able to track down Eric Thorel and he actually came to my house one Sunday afternoon. I was VERY honoured to have him sit in my dining room that day with his boxes of pictures and listen to the fascinating stories he told with those pictures. He gave me a plate from the hotel dining room that I proudly have hanging in a frame in my dining room now.

    Thorel House was an incredible place to go and still is in my mind !!!

  12. Nancy Givan Bose says:

    My family and I vacationed in the old Thorel House in the 50’s and 60’s. A lot of very happy memories So glad to see it alive and well again

  13. alan greenberg says:

    Darcia and I are the proud owners of part of the property that was known as Thorel House.

    We purchased the property in June 2010 and have done extensive renovations to the home of the previous owner, Gord Lang, whom we understand purchased the property in the late ’60’s. We also built the new boathouse which you have shown. You did a great job with that shot.

    The views from the property are fabulous.

    We have heard some stories of the history of Thorel House and George’s granddaughter Kim gave us a few pictures. We would be thrilled to hear from others. We hope our family and friends make their own magic memories in the years to come.

  14. BLAINE MacGruther says:

    I think my grandfather owned the proparty many years ago. His name was G. A. Mortimer and think he tried to farm it. I remember my mother telling me that he once owned property on Lake Rousseau and sold it and it became a resort that later burned down. She had a brother named Ross that she said was named after the lake, another brother had Lake as a middle name. Today I found old family photos of a trip my mother took to Lake Rousseau in the 1960,so with notes on the back showing parts of this story including what looks like Shorel House.
    If this fits the history of the thorel House I would like to know what you could add to my story
    BLaine MacGruther

  15. Drew Clarke says:

    Blaine: The most famous resort on Lake Rosseau that burned down was the Royal Muskoka. I may be wrong, but I don’t recall Thorel House burning down.
    This site references the fires on Lake Rosseau:

  16. BLAINE MacGruther says:

    DREW: Thanks for your response. To add to my story I found that my grandfather George Mortimer (age 10) was in the 1881 census of Simcoe East, (Medora and Wood) and his father James Lake Mortimer was listed as being a clergyman. I now think it was my great grandfather who must have been the land holder in that area.

    I will continue looking for more info and look forward to visiting Lake Rousseau this spring.


  17. John fortune says:

    Is there a way to post photos to this blog? I’m sure we all have pictures that we could share. And as Alan Greenberg stated at the end of his post ” the magic memories” we all have …….. it truly was a magical place

  18. Krista says:

    I am going to view the property tomorrow – so nice to read everyone’s messages – we are considering it as it is for sale – looks like a wonderful place for a family

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