by Judy Ross
I still remember the first time I went to Muskoka as a child. Even then, the name “Muskoka” had a magical ring suggesting endless sunny days and crisp pine-scented air. I jumped into the silky soft lake and it was ‘love at first jump!’
It is, perhaps our most famous lake district spreading east of Georgian Bay in Ontario across vast tracts of forest, outcroppings of ancient pink granite and hundreds of the deepest, and clearest of blue lakes.
That alone would qualify it as a magnificent area, but its fame is based on the cottages that line those rocky shores. ‘Cottaging’ in this part of Canada, where loved ones come together to celebrate summer life on the lake, is a much treasured tradition.
On the three largest lakes, Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph, many lakefront homes have been in the same family for generations. Beginning in the late 1800s, before there were roads, they arrived by train at the southerly port of Gravenhurst and sailed on steamships to their summer homes. One of these ships, the Segwun, is still sailing, now taking tourists on lake cruises.
While the lovely old cottages, and newer, even more grandiose ones, give the region its glamorous aura, there are many more modest places perched on small swaths of shoreline where families have formed equally deep attachments.
No matter how big or small the cottage, there is a common goal for those who love Muskoka … to protect its natural beauty and keep it as unchanged as possible in a fast changing world.
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Winter/Spring 2017 issue.