23 Sep
2021
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Chasing Down the Wenonah II Ship

I had a tip that the Wenonah II ship was going to be on Lake Joe and Rosseau this evening. With the torrential downpours it was unfortunate that I missed her navigating through the swing bridge at Port Sandfield. Eventually the rain slowed down and I headed out to see if I could find her. She was taking passengers to the JW Marriott Hotel when I spotted her on Lake Rosseau. These ships are such a treat to see on the lakes and tonight’s dramatic skies added to her majesty.



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

15 Jun
2021
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Remembering the Joe River Marina

The Joseph River Marina was originally named Waters Marina and it was purchased by Joerg Rosenthal and his new bride Marilyn in 1972. They operated the marina, were active in the community and raised four beautiful daughters at this location. Unfortunately, it was a sad ending for the daughters. Their father Joerg was involved in an accident on Lake Joe and perished in 2007. A short time later their mother Marilyn passed away from cancer in 2009. The girls auctioned everything off in July 2010 and the Marina and home was sold. The girls left Muskoka.

Last summer I posted a photo and painting of one of the daughters named Jenny on my Instagram.  I took the photo in the summer of 2008 and renowned local artist DA Dunford released the painting of it. I thought the girls really need to see it. I tried texting a phone number I had from over a decade ago. Sure enough it was one of the daughters and they were absolutely delighted to see the photo. They innocently asked me about the Marina and if anything’s changed. I went over and took a few photos for them. The property was sold to islanders who rebuilt the boathouse and fixed up the house.  You don’t see many families operating a business on the waterfront of the big lakes anymore. Joerg and Marilyn left quite a legacy.

Joerg also appears in the documentary, An American in Muskoka.  Here is a nice story about Joerg: https://bit.ly/3xhEpHk



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

02 Jun
2021
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Governors Island on Lake Joseph

I was passing by this beautiful property on Governors Island just as the sun lit it up. Governors Island was once owned by the late Chauncey Jerome Hamlin (1881-1963) who shared many boat racing trophy’s with the Forman family of Eagle Island. I noticed Grandson Harry Hamlin and family have been selling off pieces of the large Governors island the past few years. It is likely due to the increasing property taxes for waterfront properties. I occasionally see the very friendly Lisa and Harry around but not in recent times since Covid-19 has restricted Americans from travelling into Canada. Hopefully this summer we will be able to get back into some level of normalcy.



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

18 May
2021
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Formosa Island a Presidents Place in Muskoka

Formosa Island on Lake Rosseau, Canada was once the beloved summer home of United States President Woodrow Wilson. He began visiting Muskoka in the 1890s with his family. In 1901 he purchased 100 acres near the Royal Muskoka Hotel that included Formosa Island. He was very protective of the land and would send out warnings not to light fires or cut any trees down. He had big plans for the property that included a camp, boathouse, wharf, ice and bath house. He served as the President of Princeton University, became the 34th Governor of NJ and then elected as the 28th US President from 1913-1921. He got a little busy and apparently never set foot in Muskoka after that. There is a curious story that in August of 1914 he signed the guest register of the Bala Bay Inn however there was no official record of him being in Canada as WWI was breaking out. One year before his death in 1924 at age 67 he would reminisce about Muskoka with his wife Eleanor, “ do you remember our picnics there and your mother reading poetry under the pines?” Muskoka continues to be an enchanting place and has touched many people for well over a century.



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

06 May
2021
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Cliff Island, Lake Joseph Muskoka Canada

I have been passing by Cliff Island on Lake Joseph for over 15 years and it is easily one of my favorite properties to take in. The property is owned by Americans that have been summering here for well over 100 years. The documentary An American in Muskoka is based on the family and the changes they witness as Muskoka is quickly being transformed into (for lack of better words), a different place. Here are a few current photos of the property. I hope it remains this way for a very long time. To learn a bit more about Cliff Island and the documentary please click on the link for a PDF  Cliff Island

 

 




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

28 Apr
2021
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The Movie – An American in Muskoka

I’m happy to announce that I have received special permission from the filmmaker to share this outstanding documentary about Muskoka. The 76 min movie was shot in Muskoka in the mid 2000’s or about 15 years ago. It takes a very serious look at the changes that are occurring in Muskoka. The film features interviews with notable people such as actor Harry Hamlin, businessman Kevin O’Leary and many other well known lovers/supporters of Muskoka. After nearly two decades of driving by and photographing Cliff Island on Lake Joseph I discovered there was a movie about the American owners who have summered here for well over 100 years. Some of the changes that are occurring on the Muskoka Lakes were taken from the families perspective however some 15 years later it’s not hard to see the changes. I encourage you to watch this film and share it with others. – thank you!



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

19 Apr
2021
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1939 Photo of a Dippy

This is a photo from 1939 taken right in front of our cottage. The previous owners were kind enough to share a treasure-trove of old photos. The Dippy or Dispro boat was originally manufactured right here in Muskoka. Dispro is short for the Disappearing Propeller Company. They have a 1-cylinder engine mounted in the middle but you cannot see it in this photo.  The inventor had a very innovative way of tucking the prop up inside the boat preventing it from hitting rocks in shallow water. There are still lots of Dippy’s cruising the Muskoka Lakes. It is always cool when you see a flotilla of them on the lakes.



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08 Apr
2021
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The Start of a Brand New Season

As the ice melts off the lake I look forward to another great season stumbling in around Muskoka, Canada. I have been a bit remiss in updating the blog as I find that it really doesn’t get much interest until the warmer weather starts and everyone returns to one of the best kept secrets on earth. I do far more updates on my Instagram with at least a photo a day. You can always follow me on IG by clicking here.

Most of you that have found this Blog have probably done so by searching a place that you visited or had a lifelong or childhood memory in Muskoka. There’s been hundreds of comments,  lost connections made and wonderful shared memories within the pages of this site. I find it quite amazing actually that by posting photos that all these magical things happen.

I guess I should mention at least for the time capsule that the world is still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have endeared a year without travel and a sense of normalcy. I’m sure hoping that my American and International friends will be able to return to their beautiful piece of Muskoka paradise this summer. In the meantime, please stay positive, healthy and safe. I’ll do my best and bring you some Muskoka magic with the clock starting now …



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

05 Sep
2020
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Sailboat Houses

There are certainly some unique and interesting boathouses located on the Muskoka Lakes. These four boathouses are designed for sailboats and are found on Lake Rosseau in various locations. There may be others on Lake Muskoka and Joseph but these are the ones I have discovered running around by myself.

Located near the old Eatons property near Windermere on Lake Rosseau

Located on Ouno Island Lake Rosseau in Muskoka

Located at the top end of Lake Rosseau not far from the lighthouse



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

30 Aug
2020
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The Joseph River Bridge 1965 to 2020

The Joseph River Bridge, 1965-2020 – the original owner of our cottage dropped off a treasure trove of old photographs and slides they’ve had in their family. I found these two vintage photos of the Joe River Bridge going back to 1965 and made a comparison to today’s view. Apparently the old bridge design was called a Baileys Bridge and it was installed just after WWII. Previous to that there was a wooden bridge here. Peninsula Rd was designated as Provincial Highway #632 between Port Carling and Rosseau in 1961. It looks like there was a bridge replacement in 1966 so I am assuming its the one that is there today. Also part of the road was relocated in 66/67. as a result of the bridge replacement.
More interesting details and photos on this link.
http://www.thekingshighway.ca/PHOTOS/Hwy632photos.htm

 



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

25 Aug
2020
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Fairy Island Revisited

This is the boathouse and cottage on Fairy Island. Avern Pardoe the Parlimentry Librarian in Ottawa purchased 50 acres on Lake Joseph for $5 per acre in 1895. It included Fairy Island. It would become the Pardoe family summer residence for over 100 years. The family eventually could not keep up with the costs of upkeep, property taxes and sold the island to the late Richard Ivy somewhere around 2005. There were many interested purchasers but the family decided on Richard Ivys offer as he had no interest in tearing it down. The Ivy family property is near by and looks over to Fairy Island. Please see my recent post about Loon Island.

I’ve been keeping a watch on this magical little island for over 10 years now. Unfortunately it’s slowly deteriorating and I suspect some day I’ll come by and it will be gone for ever. The boathouse and docks shown here in an earlier photo were severely damaged by the high water and ice a few years ago. They are both gone now and only the cottage remains tucked into the trees.

I made a Blog post about Fairy Island back in 2014 and much to my surprise I received quite a few interesting comments including ones from the Pardoe family. You can see how endearing a place it was and the beautiful memories shared at Fairy Island here.

 

 

 



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

18 Aug
2020
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Loon Island on Lake Joe

Loon Island, Lake Joseph was the summer home for the late Richard Ivy. He was a lawyer, businessman and great Canadian philanthropist. The Richard Ivy school of business at Western University in London, Ontario is named in his honour. Over the years his foundation provided grants in support of energy efficiency and environmental research. He also purchased the adjacent Fairy Island in order to stop development and preserve the 1895 architecture. He was 94 when he passed in December 2019.



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

09 Aug
2020
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Vintage Boat Day in Muskoka

Yesterday morning we witnessed the magnificent antique and classic boats on the water here in Muskoka. There are no boat shows this year with Covid-19 so they decided to join together and do a little tour of the lakes. I made this short video on Lake Rosseau as we navigated around Tobin Island bouncing in their wake. Many of these boats were designed and built right here in Muskoka up to 100 years ago. They are a glorious sight to behold as they cut through the water. I hope you enjoy and feel free to share.
Thank you to the Antique and Classic Boat Society Toronto branch.



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23 Jul
2020
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Vintage Muskoka Postcards

Last year a gentleman showed up at the cottage and told us he grew up on the property. Apparently his Grandfather had purchased the land in the 1920 and built a cabin. He promised to send me lots of photos of the old cabin and surroundings. He dropped them off a few weeks ago and these post cards were included.



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

19 Jul
2020
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Social Distancing at Muskoka Resorts. The New World

Social Distancing resort style. I was out on the Seadoo for the first time this season and thought I would drop by the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau to see what was happening, if anything. I was surprised to see many people in the bay kayaking and canoeing. It appears the hotel is open unlike Cleveland’s House which won’t open this season at all. As I approached the beach area I noticed these isolation pods setup across the property. It’s a new world we are living.

 



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

15 Jun
2020
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COVID-19 Casualty

It is exciting to be back in cottage country and out on the water. I drove by Clevelands House recently to see if anything was going on. Cleves has been my litmus test to get an idea on how busy things are in Muskoka.  I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment when I approached the 150 year old resort. The docks looked dirty with debris, the iconic Muskoka chairs were not lined up and it looked completely abandoned. A bit surreal to actually see this. Shortly after my visit I received the following notice.

It is with a heavy heart that we will not be opening Clevelands House Resort accommodations this season. However, we are excited to plan for the future, and look forward to unveiling the long-term vision soon. Please be advised that the Rock Golf Course and SWS Boatworks Marine at Clevelands House are now open for the season. The opening dates Pie Wood Fired Pizza, Abbey’s Bake House and the Marine Yoga Studio will be announced shortly. Stay safe & healthy.

In my opinion Clevelands House has not been the same since the Cornell family sold it. It became part of the late Ken Fowlers big vision to establish a village in Minett that included the Red Leaves Resort, (JW Marriott Hotel) Wallace Marine (now SWS), Clevelands House, Lakeside Lodge and the Rock Golf Course. Unfortunately the vision wasn’t successful with many of the properties falling into  receivership. In recent times successful Canadian businessman Mitchell Goldhar has purchased the 1200 acre properties with much optimism. Many cottagers are looking forward to seeing how things go in the future. You know its definitely strange times when Cleves won’t be open for the summer of 2020




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

12 Sep
2019
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1899 Map and Chart of the Muskoka Lakes

There used to be an old log cabin on our cottage property that was built in 1924 by the Davidson family. The old cabin was dismantled around 2002 and taken somewhere else for future reconstruction. One day a contractor visited and gifted me this map that he found inside a wall of the old cabin on the property. I’ve since researched it and found it was published in 1899 by G. W. Marshall of Toronto. It includes an index of summer cottages, owners, hotels and boarding houses on the lakes. The map I have is a copy from 1975 by the Reverend Hugh G Carmichael of Bala, Ontario. Many of these old maps were made to show the railway lines and this one says, “Map showing the route of the Parry Sound Railway, Crane and Blackstone Lakes, Blackstone Harbor, Georgian Bay. I now have the map framed and mounted behind glass for the cottage wall. A nice little keepsake.

 



In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario

02 Sep
2019
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The Peerless II

Ahoy Captain Randy Potts.! I was out on Lake Rosseau recently and crossed paths with the Peerless II boat. Always a pleasure to see her on the beautiful Muskoka waters.  The Peerless II ship was built in 1946 in Bronte, Ontario and operated for over 50 years as a gas and oil delivery vessel on the Musk0ka Lakes.  Captain Randy purchased the boat in 2003 restoring it and turning it into a popular tourist experience that leaves from the locks in Port Carling.  I highly recommend this intimate tour with interesting  historical commentary by Captain Randy. They do a tour of Millionaires Row on Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau and private tours for weddings or other social occasions.



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

13 Aug
2019
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A sure Sign of Cottage Life

S I G N S – A typical navigational aid in cottage country. Sorry GPS or an App won’t help you on this one. Strictly analog living 🙂



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

23 Jul
2019
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Rest Harbour Barn

This is the inside of an old barn that was on a property dating back to about 140 years. It was once owned by the Judd family who were well known in the Minett area of Muskoka. The barn and an old boathouse were for sale back when I photographed them in 2010. I was a little careful not to go prowling inside the barn as it didn’t look very safe. A year or so after my visit I heard the barn had collapsed to the ground. I noticed this little detail of a cross or shamrock at the peak of the roof. It is my last memory of the barn and I had hoped that whomever the new owners would be that they would save this as a momento. I was recently invited back to this property where the owners have built a architecturally beautiful cottage and boathouse. Unfortunately they were not aware of the carved detail and it was lost in the ruble. I was able to provide them with my photos of the boathouse and beautiful acreage they now enjoy.



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