05 Jul
2012
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Woodies Galore

The 32nd annual Muskoka Antique and Classic Boat Show is on this Saturday July 7, 2012 at the Gravenhurst wharf. If you have a passion or even a mild interest in the old Muskoka boats I would highly recommend you attend this event. The show includes live music, a flea market, vintage cars and boat tours. Here is a 3:45 min. video of last years event showing some of the beautiful boats and festivities around the wharf. The show is put on by the ACBS Toronto (Antique & Classic Boat Society) and is very well organized. Please click on their link for further details.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water, tripin around towns

21 Jun
2012
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In Search of the Grouch in Port Sydney

I was in Port Sydney recently, the town with the cool welcoming sign that says “Home of 800 families & 1 old grouch.” Politician Tony Clement kicks back here except when hes not doubling as Superman and rescuing people from drowning in the Muskoka river.   The quiet little town is situated on the shores of Mary Lake where the North Muskoka River flows through. Like a lot of small towns in the Muskoka region, Mary Lake was known for its lumber industry bringing many settlers into the area around the 1860’s. At its peak there were over 25 lodges and Inns located in this area with quite an interesting history. I took this photo at the south end while standing on the town dock looking out to the lake.

Mary Lake Port Sydney, Ontario



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

14 Jun
2012
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Bent River School House

I took the long way around Lake Rosseau on Hwy #141 recently and discovered a little village by the name of Bent River. This is their old school house now called the Historical Hall . When researching Bent River I discovered they are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the old school house on June 30th, 2012. Info below.

100th Anniversary Celebration of Bent River School. The event is from 10am to 4pm Saturday June 30th 2012 at 1120 Rosseau Lake Rd 1, off Hwy 141 in Bent River. Bring any copies of family or school photos that you may have to share. Let anyone you know who attended or taught at the school of the festivities. For more information contact June at: 705-769-3515. Map Here

 



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario

21 May
2012
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The Historic S.S. Bigwin Steamship

It was one of those murky days as I made my way through the town of Dorset and noticing the S.S. Bigwin steamship moored at the town docks with not a soul around.

A little history – In 1910 James Kuhn a Pittsburgh, PA industrialist launched a steamship on Lake Muskoka named after his wife Ella Marie. They spent their summers on Belle Isle (recently destroyed) just north of Beaumaris on Lake Muskoka. After experiencing financial difficulty the Ella Marie was sold some 15 years later and relocated to the Lake of Bays where she served as the ferry boat for Bigwin Island for the next 45 years.

At 66ft in length and a registered 25 tons the S.S. Bigwin would carry guests such as Clark Gable, Louis Armstrong, Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo and many other famous people out to the world-class Bigwin Inn on Bigwin island. Around 1970 the Bigwin Inn went out of business and the steamship was left to rot in her slip. In 1991 the Dwight Fire Department floated her to a local dock and then hauled  her onto a property in Port Cunnington where restoration started in 2002.

The S. S. Bigwin was relaunched again on July 10, 2010.
The Bigwin Floats Again

 



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03 May
2012
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High Falls Hike

I went for a little adventure up to High Falls near Bracebridge hoping the water would be rushing over like a mini Niagara. High Falls is fed by the north branch of the Muskoka River and is one of the steepest falls in Ontario. The area is actually a park with washrooms, picnic tables and BBQ’s setup. The gates were closed when I arrived so I had to perform some rudimentary ninja navigation techniques to get in, Shush! Here is a Map

FYI – There are quite a few other falls around Muskoka that I have been to including; Bala Falls, Rosseau Falls, Bracebridge Falls and the Wilson Falls. All worthy of a visit.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water

16 Apr
2012
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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

13 Nov
2011
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Muskoka Lakes 100 Mile Cruise

I was contacted by the folks crew at Woody Boater recently, a very cool website that is dedicated to classic boating and watercraft. I was honored that they asked if they could use some of my Muskoka Blog photos for a story they were working on.

On Saturday August 18th, 2012 departing from Gravenhurst the 100 Mile Cruise will be recreated on the RMS Segwun tracing the original route of the SS Sagamo steamship. There will be over 100 other wooden boats accompanying the 1887 built Segwun on her journey. The proceeds of this event are being donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

For additional details Click Here for the Woody Boater article.

Vintage 1950 brochure of the 100 Mile Cruise

 



In: historic muskoka, on the water

09 Nov
2011
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Vivienne II

Most of the boats are now put away for the season. Sometimes when you prolong the inevitable you get lucky and catch a nice day with the opportunity to squeeze in one last boat ride. I caught the Vivienne II out for what was probably her last cruise of the season. I was on the leeward side of Tobin Island on Lake Rosseau and noticed the 31ft Minett-Shields built in the 1920’s gracefully gliding towards us like a dream.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water

03 Nov
2011
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Steamship Makeovers

If you happen to pass through Port Carling you will notice the RMS Segwun Steamship is in for a pedicure and manicure. The locks have been drained creating a drydock while they perform the work. The Wenonah II is right behind her and will be taking her turn next.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

12 Oct
2011
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Hiking Huckleberry Rock

The weather was absolutely phenomenal this past Thanksgiving weekend so I decided to take advantage of it and hike up Huckleberry Rock.  I was inspired to go back up the rock after I picked up a new book called The Hidden World of Huckleberry Rock, a collaboration between photographer Bev McMullen and writer Andrew Wagner-Chazalon. I had the pleasure of meeting both Bev and Andrew at their book launch last month. I highly recommend their book for the stunning pics and great stories on one of Muskoka’s best places to visit. If you have not made it up to Huckleberry Rock please put it on your Muskoka bucket list.



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21 Sep
2011
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The Islands of Muskoka

Most islands on the Big 3 lakes in Muskoka have unique names such as Sunbeam, Monyca or Lookout  and have long and interesting histories associated with them. And then there are these numerous  small  insignificant islands that are basically rocks jutting out of the lake. We like to make up our own names for them – LOL. Some are completely barren with few trees or they can be occupied by flocks of weird birds. You need to be careful navigating around these chunks of granite as they are usually located in shallow waters. Captain – red marker port side!



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water

10 Sep
2011
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Travelling Down the Joseph River

Another scene from a Jestski –  I left Lake Joseph and found my way into the Joseph River headed towards Lake Rosseau with the sun sinking on my back. I did a little spin-o-rama to try and catch the sunset at the top end of the river.  There is an interesting boathouse here and I think maybe I will return on another day to capture it in more detail.

I have always wondered if the Joe River is a real river? It seems to be a rock cut that connects Lake Joseph to Lake Rosseau. I have  heard Lady Eaton had the rocks blasted out many moons ago so she could have her steamship navigate through the rocks instead of traveling down to Port Sandfield. If you know the story please set me straight.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water

28 Aug
2011
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Best Buns!

Have you ever tried the Cinnamon Buns from Silver Stream Farms located in the Port Sandfield General Store? They are to die for!  I recommend you get there early because they sell out fast.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

25 Aug
2011
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Bala Falls Power Struggle

This is a shot from the south side of the Bala Falls on Lake Muskoka. There is a lot of controversy with regards to turning the falls into a new hydro electric dam site. Swift River Energy, a power company has been fighting to develop this site and many of the long term cottagers and locals are not too happy about it. Its been a war.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

22 Aug
2011
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Windermere Buzz

I had dinner over at Windermere House just recently.  No, not  in the pub or on the patio but in the main dining room.  Yup, they let me in, I couldn’t believe it either – LOL.
The food services are now managed by Oliver & Bonacini this season and I have to say the food quality, ambiance and service was just superb. I don’t normally go plugging places on here but I do have to say after experiencing every resort and restaurant around Muskoka and area I have yet to find something that compares. It will be interesting to see how the off-season goes though.

I was at Windermere on a Friday night and the entire resort was just buzzing with everyone in such a great mood.  The veranda area was jam packed with a gentle breeze drifting off the lake. A small band was performing  with just the right jazzy rhythms.  I closed my eyes and imagined what it must have been like back in the day.  It felt like we were there. I’m going to have to swing by Windermere again just to see if I can capture that same feeling.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water

20 Jul
2011
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Muskoka Antique and Classic Boat Show Video

A short video for those of you that didn’t make the annual Muskoka Antique and Classic Boat Show in Gravenhurst on July 9, 2011. As always, lots of interesting boats and things to see at the show.  The boat show is put on each year by ACBS and it is a must visit for any boat enthusiast. This years feature boat was the Kittyhawk a 32-foot Gidley once owned by Orville Wright. Yup, the airplane guy who used to cottage on Georgian Bay. Thanks to CottageCountryNow.ca for the video.

MuskokaBlog Channel



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, on the water, tripin around towns

15 Jul
2011
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The Boat Guy

During the recent Doors Open Ontario event we had the opportunity to meet renowned Muskoka boat builder Stan Hunter, aka “BoatGuy”.  Stan has been restoring and servicing some of the most prized antique and classic boats in the Muskoka area for decades. I have been told he is one of the best there is.

If you are ever interested in taking a classic Muskoka boat for a cruise, Stan also operates a business called Muskoka Launch Livery. He has a fleet of  famous Muskoka built Duke Playmates each with their own unique history. You can rent these beauties at Stan’s location on Hwy #118 between Port Carling and Milford Bay right on Lake Muskoka. The photo is of an 18 ft Shepherd in for servicing. Please click on the image for a larger photo.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

09 Jul
2011
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Where Fairies Sleep

Another photo from the recent Fairyland visit during Doors Open Ontario event. This is the bedroom located upstairs in the cottage. Looks like it may have been a little chilly in the winter months.

Please click for a large photo.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario

04 Jul
2011
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Fairyland

On June 25th I had the opportunity to tour some of the interesting properties in this years Doors Open Ontario for the Muskoka area.  In 1929 twin sisters Marguerite Boyce and Violet Hobbs arrived in Bala, pitched a tent at what would become Jaspen Park on the Moon River near Bala and started to sell their paintings. A year later they put a $100 down payment on a nearby cottage called Hollyhock and started a love affair between themselves and Muskoka that would last for decades.

At first they sold their paintings, then expanded to a gift shop and eventually a tea room. One of the important features was the wishing well out front (still there) which was created at the beginning of WW II. Visitors were encouraged to throw coins in which helped send more than 1000 gift parcels to Canadian servicemen and prisoners-of-war during war time. They also developed children’s doll exhibits and several generations of kids regarded the Twins Studio as a very enchanting place. After Marguerite passed away in the 1950’s Violet renamed the studio Fairyland and would dress daily in organdy. Many children believed she was a real fairy.

While I was photographing the inside of the cottage two elderly ladies arrived and displayed gifts they had purchased as little girls. They were quite emotional as they described their Fairyland experiences and how magical it was for them to visit as children. It was the first time the doors of Fairyland had been open to the public since 1974.

For a more detailed story on Fairyland courtesy of Jack and Linda Hutton please Click Here



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

16 Jun
2011
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Benched

I enjoy wandering around discovering places that you normally wouldn’t get to see when visiting the Muskoka area.  I have been fortunate to meet a number of great people that have deep-rooted knowledge on the history of the area.

One of my connections brought me to this old secluded and abandoned place in the forest. I promised the owners I would not disclose the location as it is deeply cherished and private. Yup, secret Muskoka.  There appeared to be a tennis court here at one time which has long since been forgotten. This old bench is all that remains woven into the memories of Muskoka.



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, secret muskoka

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