Planning trips ahead of schedule this summer has been next to impossible, with the unpredictable weather systems and temperature changes. So when we woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful sunny sky ,we decided to take our boat down to Lake Joseph for a much-needed last salute to summer in Ontario.
We picked up my brother Chris in Parry Sound and continued on our way to the Clear Lake Road boat launch. This is one of the nicest little boat launches and beaches in the area. The only downside is not having a dock, but if you're out in a boat, getting your feet wet usually isn’t an issue.
Muskoka has a very unique look and feel to it. Everything from the landscape to the houses and cottages that line the lakeshores have a special characteristic that I’ve only ever seen in Muskoka. Or duplicated elsewhere to looklike Muskoka on purpose. This specialness is what draws people to the area time and time again.
The very first tourists began arriving in Muskoka in 1860, and by the 1880s the tourist industry was the up-and-coming moneymaker for locals. Many farmers, who were struggling to survive on the beautiful but harsh land, quickly converted their homes and properties to boarding houses and hotels. Over 130 years later, Muskoka is now one of Ontario's most popular travel destinations, with an average of 2.1 million visitors annually.
From Clear Lake Boat Launch, we headed out on the beautifully calm waters. We toured around the majestic islands and rocky shorelines that make up most of the beautiful landscape. The odd sandy beach was spotted, but they felt so out of place in the area. We also admired the beautiful cottages, homes and boathouses that dot the lake. This is probably one of my favourite parts! All of the buildings on these lakes, new and old, have that Muskoka vibe to them. If you’ve ever been there, you know exactly what I’m saying.
We also had the opportunity to park the boat and explore one of the beautiful cottages being built by the company that my dad co-owns, Tamarack North Ltd. Granite steps, fine detailed wood work and gorgeous views abound on this stunning property. I feel like you cannot truly appreciate the beauty of Muskoka without appreciating the beauty of the cottages and houses that sit on its shores. These buildings are almost always just as breathtaking as the landscapes around them.
After seeing my dad’s handiwork in person, something I rarely get to do but always love seeing, we continued on our adventure towards Port Sandfield Marina. My mom always comes prepared with food and drinks for our trips, so along the tour we dined on a delicious mix of cheese, meat and crackers. Mmm, nothing beats cheese and a boat ride! The bridge at Port Sandfield connects Lake Joseph to Lake Rosseau. It is also, for some reason unknown to me, a very popular place to go fishing. I have yet to see anyone catch anything as we cruise by on the water, but that many people just can’t be wrong!
From the Port Sandfield bridge, we toured more cottages and scenic shorelines until we hit Port Carling. That’s the other great thing about Muskoka: you can travel incredibly far just by boat! Originally, steamships were used to take tourists around the lake and to get from point A to point B, as roads were still very rare and rough in the late 1800s and early 1900s. With the steamship era over, the lake is now traversed by PWCs, speedboats, fishing boats, bow riders, and even the odd antique wood boat can be spotted cruising around.
Once back to the boat launch we sadly unpacked, loaded the boat and waved goodbye to this wonderful place. Hungry from our day's adventures, we quickly discussed our best options for dinner. This was an easy decision, as just down Lake Joseph road sits Blake’s Memories of Muskoka, one of my favourite local restaurants. Memories was the perfect place to stop, have dinner and recall some of our favourite moments and places from the day. Great conversation, paired with delicious food and a rustic interior made for the perfect end to the perfect day in Muskoka.