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2020 Spring - Issue 22

The tradition of building
Muskoka’s wooden boats
Shaped Muskoka
Life Experiences
are Artist’s Muse
Seeking Answers
to the Complexities
of the Watershed
(Port Carling) Limited
(705) 765-5700
Port Carling
Richard Scully
www.M uskokaC ottagesF orS
Life Experiences are the Muse of Artist Lynda Lynn
Article by Meghan Smith / Photography by Kelly Holinshead
Lynda Lynns body of artistic work is as varied as her own life experiences.
From lab technician to retail shop co-owner to real estate agent, every role
continues to kindle Lynns talent for innovation. And now, childhood
memories are the inspiration for her latest project – a childrens book.
Frank Micklethwaite – Shaping Muskoka’s Identity
Article by J. Patrick Boyer
Over a century ago, Frank Micklethwaites talent covered the full
range of photographic skills. Micklethwaite had a
love aair with the districts blue lakes and
rocky shorelines. ese
natural features
formed the
for his
photographs that not
only captured life in
Muskoka but also
shaped its future.
Designs and Dreams
Made from Wood
Article and Photography
by Tim Du Vernet
Muskokas lakes and rivers
have oered opportunities
for generations of local boat
builders. When internal
combustion engines became
commonplace and eective in
dierent sizes and power, the
design of wooden boats really
took o. Turning dreams into
ne designs has become a
tradition for Muskoka boat
Muskoka Calendar
It’s spring and Muskoka is
awakening with lots of events.
Seasonal favourites like the Muskoka
Maple Festival are a must addition
to any calendar. For an extra taste of
the maple spring tonic, travel
Muskoka on the Maple Trail. From
lm and music festivals to
motivating speakers and outdoor
activities, there are lots of events to
add to your calendar.
Cottage Country Cuisine
e rst meal of the day is arguably
the most important, getting you
started o nutritionally and
emotionally. Contributor Karen
Wehrstein takes readers on a tour of
Muskoka and three dierent choices
to get you going in the morning.
What’s Happened
Lots has happened in Muskoka in
the past several months: with
funding from the province secured,
Andys House, a residential hospice,
is aiming at a May 4 opening; the
Minett Joint Policy Review Steering
Committee has submitted its nal
report; Huntsville is regulating
short-term rentals; a local group
seeks government support for
declaring a climate emergency and
after 99 years, Robinsons General
Store in Dorset is for sale.
2 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
...telling the Muskoka story
All About Kitchens
e possibilities are endless
3 Gray Road
4 Centre St. N.
Muskoka Insights
By Don Smith
Muskoka Moments
By Nancy Tapley
Taking a Gamble on Eggs
Article by Karen Wehrstein
Photography by Heather Douglas
When Alexandra and Dan Gamble were dreaming
of moving to Muskoka, opportunity came
knocking in the form of a humble breakfast staple
– eggs. In just three years, the young family has
turned a 10-acre plot of land into a supplier of
eggs to retailers and restaurants from Muskoka to
Author Connects Science and Art
Article by Matt Driscoll
Adam Dickinson has spent his career exploring the
intersection of the literary and scientic worlds. It's a place
few authors venture but it's one that's provided unexpected
dividends for the Bracebridge-born and raised Dickinson who is
a creative writing professor and author of four books.
Our Cover
by Tim Du Vernet
Maggie Marin is based on a
1920's Gold Cup hull design
that was modied by Peter Breen
to accommodate modern power.
She calls Lake Rosseau home and
is being driven by Bill Ringo, her
faithful owner.
The tradition of building
Muskoka’s wooden boats
Shaped Muskoka
Life Experiences
are Artist’s Muse
Seeking Answers
to the Complexities
of the Watershed
Seeking Answers to the Complexities
of the Watershed
Article by Dawn Huddlestone
One year after the ood of the century, it has
become increasingly clear the interplay
between humans and the natural world is
complex, particularly when it comes to
understanding the Muskoka
watershed. Digging into the
cause of the ooding
makes it clear the
isnt a
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 5
…telling the Muskoka story
Unique Muskoka is published
six times per year
by Unique Publishing Inc.
Donald Smith
Publisher and Editor
Donna Ansley
Lisa Brazier
Susan Smith
J. Patrick Boyer
Heather Douglas
Matt Driscoll
Tim Du Vernet
Kelly Holinshead
Dawn Huddlestone
Meghan Smith
Tomasz Szumski
Nancy Tapley
Karen Wehrstein
Andy Zeltkalns
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6 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
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Muskoka Insights
Its spring in Muskoka – a time for
As I write this column, the signs of the
changing seasons are everywhere. e
warming sun is pushing back the
snowbanks, the tapping of
sap can be heard in the
buckets hanging in maple
bushes and the waterways are
beginning to swirl and
bubble with the freshet.
Leaving winter behind, it’s
a time for moving forward
and anticipating the future.
Everyone will have their
own, very personal memories
of this past winter. For my
family and me, it was a particularly dicult
time. At 95, my mother – the family
matriarch – passed away. Mom loved and
was loved.
While living what some might consider
an ordinary life, she was extraordinary in
family circles. Caring but determined, it was
that sense of life and strength that enabled
her to live all of her days independently at
Much has been written about the measure
of ones life by writers who are much more
profound than me. Suce to say, the ones
who have touched me the most are those
who eschew wealth and materiality, in
favour of friendship, goodwill and caring.
My memories of Mom are all good ones.
Its funny how the little things bring life
into focus. As my brother and I have been
packing up items at Moms house, we have
stumbled across keepsakes that have brought
recollections ooding back. For me, one of
the more emotional moments came as I
noticed a set of juice glasses – happily
decorated but rather insignicant in their
appearance. ey were meaningful because
they symbolized good times – Christmas
dinners, birthdays, family get-togethers,
times lled with joy – those juice glasses
were always there. Family stories, the laughs,
the sharing; they heard it all. And yes,
theyre keepers.
Moms passing means one other thing –
I am now the oldest member of our family.
Its my hope I can leave memories with my
family that are keepers.
Interestingly in this issue, we have several
articles that focus on the past and the
making of great memories.
One family name that has
long been associated with
Muskoka is Micklethwaite.
Historian and regular
contributor Patrick Boyer
shares the interesting story of
the Micklethwaites, how they
photographically captured
Muskoka memories over a
century ago and their
inuence on the
development of the district.
With his authoritative understanding of
antique watercraft and his own photographic
images, contributor Tim Du Vernet tells of
the traditions and history of antique boat
designs in Muskoka.
Connecting with Muskoka in her own
personal way is guest columnist Nancy
Tapley, whose family has been introducing
guests to Muskoka and making memories
for several generations.
In Muskoka, we are blessed to be
associated with many creative and talented
people; some of who live here and others
who have roots in the community. We are
pleased to tell their stories.
Artist Lynda Lynn has created a following
with her visual interpretations of her life
experiences. Muskoka-raised author Adam
Dickinson combines science and writing,
and will be sharing his unique take on
creativity as a guest speaker, later this spring.
From exploring the complexity of the
Muskoka watershed system to the
entrepreneurial family that has hatched a
whole new opportunity with their egg farm,
you’ll nd lots of other great reading in this
issue of Unique Muskoka.
Happy reading, embrace the season and
make some great memories in the coming
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Muskoka Calendar
Experience the sweetest
golden treat
on the Muskoka Maple Trail
From now until April 24, you can travel
the Muskoka Maple Trail for maple syrup
experiences and delights to engage every
sense… especially taste. Use the event’s
website to get a map and nd out what’s
being oered, whether its sugarbush tours
at syrup producers, maple breakfasts,
gourmet maple dishes crafted by top-of-the-
line chefs, maple beer, maple desserts, hot
maple beverages or bottles of maple syrup
made fresh this spring. Sweeeeeet!
Muskoka Queer Film Festival
plans to bring positive visibility
to LGBTQI2S life
e inaugural celebration of this event is
a joint project of Muskoka Pride, Muskoka
Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Rene M.
Caisse Memorial eatre and Sanctuary
Studios Inc., building on mini-festivals
screened by Muskoka Pride during their
events. Focus is on uplifting lms on the
beauty and spirit and challenge of
LGBTQI2S life. Happening on March 21
at the Rene Caisse, it starts at 3 p.m. with a
series of shorts and one feature. e event
then heads to the Sportsplex at 6 p.m. for a
reception where you can sample beer and
hobnob with the directors and actors, then
returns to the theatre at 7 p.m. for more
Keep yourself young at the 55+
Adult Healthy & Active Living Expo
If youre in Muskoka on March 27, older
than 55, and looking for fun ways to stay in
shape and preserve your health and safety,
head to Huntsville’s Active Living Centre.
Festivities run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and
include presentations on nutrition, fall
prevention, long-term care planning, elder
abuse, avoiding scams, hearing loss, lifestyle
in Muskoka, nutrition, art, music, yoga,
NIA and much more. Healthy snacks will
be available. Admission is free.
Art show seasons kicks o
with MAC Spring Members’ show
Most of the best artists and craftspeople
in Muskoka are among the 340 members
of Muskoka Arts and Crafts, and they’ll
demonstrate their techniques and oer their
works at the Spring Members’ Art Show on
March 27-29 at the Bracebridge Sportsplex.
Friday night features a reception with
awards and live music by Moonglow.
Saturday and Sunday are all about
paintings, drawings, sculpture, jewelry,
clothes, photography, metalwork, carving,
pottery, bre arts, leatherwork and
everything else handmade in Muskoka that
you love.
Photograph: Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce
There’s no such thing as too much
maple syrup. You can experience it
for over a month by journeying
the Muskoka Maple Trail
from now until April 24.
Upliing lms will be the focus of the inaugural Muskoka Queer Film Festival when it launches on
March 21 at the Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre in Bracebridge.
Photograph: Aleksei Borovikov
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 11
12 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
The Huntsville Festival of Music
is an aspiring musician’s dream
On April 2 and 3, young and old budding
musicians alike will attend both competitive
and non-competitive classes for expert
coaching from qualied adjudicators and
teachers. ose who score highest will get the
chance of their dreams: to go onstage,
specically at the Algonquin eatre in
Huntsville on April 5, to perform in the gala
Concert of the Stars. Registration for
performers is closed but you can still see the
concert, which features every instrument
including the voice both in solos and
ensembles and every mode of music. Presented
by the Huntsville Festival of the Arts.
Get your bonnet on
at Gravenhurst’s rst
Easter Bunny Hop
To get you into the mood for Easter,
Gravenhurst invites you to its inaugural
downtown Easter Bunny Hop on April 4, 10
a.m. to noon. Expect the downtown
businesses to be dressed up in ne Easter
style as theyre competing for a $500
advertising gift certicate. From those same
businesses, you can get your Bunny Hop
passport stamped, and when it’s full, visit the
Opera House for fun Easter activities for the
whole family and maybe win an Easter gift
Huntsville’s Active Living Centre will host the 55+
Adult Healthy & Active Living Expo on March 27.
Festivities run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Photograph: Town of Huntsville
basket. ere’ll also be an Easter egg hunt.
Wear your most spectacularly-decorated
bonnet as there will be a prize for the best.
Yes, there is
a Muskoka architecture:
Dave Gillett describes it
As part of Muskoka Steamships/Discovery
Centres Speaker Series, architect Dave Gillett
will talk on April 5 about what Muskoka
architecture is. He’ll use examples from his
own work, that of others and historical
imagery. What are the historical inuences,
what are the key dening features of todays
Muskoka style, what works well in terms of
materials and techniques, what are todays
general architectural trends (good, bad and
ugly) and how do they aect lakefront
design? Come and learn from an expert.
Kids will be thrilled at Muskoka
Heritage Place egg hunt
If there is one store in all Huntsville youd
most want to sponsor an Easter egg hunt, it
would be the Nutty Chocolatier – and sure
enough, they do sponsor the Muskoka
Heritage Places Community Easter Egg
Hunt, happening on Easter Sunday, April
12. e gate opens at 12 noon sharp,
children are split into age groups including
the very young, and they’ll hunt for
thousands of chocolate eggs hidden all over
the Pioneer Village for one hour. If they nd
a golden egg, they win a prize from the
Nutty Chocolatier. Admission is, to quote
the website, “Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada.
Celibate nuns will shake their buns
at Huntsville Rotary’s
Sister Act
Based on the hit movie starring Whoopi
Goldberg, this musical is the feel-good,
laugh-lled story of a fame-seeking
Philadelphia nightclub singer who is forced
to hide in a convent after witnessing a
murder. Joining the nuns’ choir, she
transforms it into a crack disco ensemble,
saving the church from nancial disaster…
but will she blow her cover? Nominated on
Broadway for ve Tony Awards and
featuring music by Alan Menken, this show
by all-local talent will have you dancing in
the aisles. It runs from April 17-26 with a
three-day break at the Algonquin eatre.
5-km run leads
to the best destination
in brewery’s RunTOBeer
On April 18, you are invited to join
Muskoka Brewerys ve-kilometre run
through Bracebridge, with a lovely cold pint
at the end, plus brewery tour, games and
Muskoka artisans and craspeople will demonstrate their techniques and display their works at the
Muskoka Arts & Cras Spring Members’ Art Show, March 27-29, at the Bracebridge Sportsplex.
Photograph: Muskoka Arts & Crafts
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Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 13
14 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
rae. e “TO” in “RunTOBeer” has a
special meaning: the brewery has arranged a
bus to run from a central location in
Toronto to transport tness-minded but
suds-loving Torontonians to this event and
back, same day, for a ridiculously-
reasonable price. Pre-ordered food will be
Muskoka Maple Festival
celebrates Canada’s
favourite sweetener
e Muskoka Maple Trail culminates on
April 25 with the Muskoka Maple Festival
on Huntsville’s main street.
ere will be fun and deliciousness for
the whole family to enjoy in the form of:
pancake breakfast all day, maple-syrup
producers oering their wares, maple-baked
goodies, arts and crafts vendors, unique
maple gifts, live music, a beer garden, street
performers and much more.
Muskoka Chautauqua presents
Po Cholly, Beverlie Robertson
and Julian Fauth
Muskoka Chautauqua at its forest-
surrounded headquarters near Port Carling
is oering a spring coeehouse with blues
musicians Po Cholly (vocals and guitar),
Beverlie Robertson (vocals and guitar) and
Julian Fauth (vocals and piano) on April 25
at 8 p.m. It’s bound to be an intimate and
riveting show. Admission is $10,
refreshments by donation.
Muskoka Rock Choir pursues
happiness in rockin’ harmony
e Bracebridge and Huntsville choruses
of the Muskoka Rock Choir present their
16th season show, In Pursuit of Happiness,
on April 29 at the Algonquin eatre in
Photograph: Muskoka Brewery
RunTOBeer is Muskoka Brewery’s ve-kilometre run through Bracebridge on April 18 that concludes
with a brewery tour, games and rae.
Huntsville and April 30 at the Rene Caisse
Memorial eatre in Bracebridge.
Accompanied by a professional band, the
choir presents its harmonious take on songs
by the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Billy Joel,
Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Pharrell
Williams and many more.
Huntsville tickets: calendar.
Bracebridge tickets:
Conference oers learning,
camaraderie and new ideas
to bre artists
e Weavers And Spinners Of Ontario
North (WASOON) will host a conference
themed Vision at Hidden Valley Resort and
Ski Area, May 1-3, drawing local bre artists
but also ones from North Bay, Timmins,
Kapuskasing,Val Rita,Sault Ste. Marie,
Elliot Lake and Sudbury. ey will enjoy
workshops on a variety of bre arts as well as
a welcome reception in the chalet, guest
speaker William Hodge, a fashion show and
silent auction. e public is welcome to visit
the vendors and pick up bre arts supplies.
May Marche is back
to tease your taste buds
e annual Huntsville Festival of the Arts’
May Marche at the Mark O’Meara
Grandview Golf Club happens May 2 at 7
p.m. e list of restaurants and beverage
producers, who will be there to let you sip
and nibble, has not been nalized but a look
at the list of previous participants on the
event website will give you an idea. Here are
just a few: Deerhurst Resort, Tall Trees, 3
Guys And A Stove, Bartlett Lodge, Hidden
Valley Resort, Muskoka Brewery, Georgian
Bay Spirits, Lake of Bays Brewery and
Portevino Wine Bar. Look for great silent
auction opportunities as well. Dress code:
business casual.
Local producers will have bottled lots of delicious
Muskoka maple syrup when the Muskoka Maple
Festival is hosted April 25 on the main street in
downtown Huntsville.
Photograph: Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 15
MMuusskkookkaass CCuullttuurraall HHuubb
MMuusskkookkaa DDiissccoovveerryy CCeennttrree
Daily Sightseeing and Dining Cruises aboard historic RMS Segwun & Wenonah II
Kid’s Pirate Cruises, Specialty Cruises, Weddings, and Private Charters Available
Book online at or call 1-866-687-6667
Featuring The Water Gallery, KidZone, North America’s Largest Collection of
In-Water Antique & Classic Boats, Exhibits on Muskoka History, and Much More!
Our new exhibit, , will challenge you to re-examine your
relationship with water.
Water is Life
MAY 28, 2020 AT
Baysville Community Yard Sale
oers thousands of bargains
To the delight of yard sale fans, more
than a decade ago, the citizens of Baysville
with extra used-but-still-good items lying
around wondered why have yard sales on
dierent days when they could have them
all at once. Organized by the Baysville
Community Group, this years mega-sale
happens on May 2. Get your yard-sale map
from one of several Baysville businesses or at
one of the sales, and you’ll know exactly
where to go to not miss amazing deals.
Landscapers oer tips
that protect the environment
Working with Nature to Create Your
Perfect Landscape is another great
presentation in Muskoka Steamboats/
Discovery Centres Speaker Series, featuring
Lindsay Fetterley and Northway Gardeners,
taking place on May 3 at the centre. e
presenters will talk about how to plan your
landscaping and gardening, taking into
account shoreline conservation and
restoration, how to use native plants and
fringe planting. Your landscaping and
gardening questions on all topics are
Muskoka spinners and weavers will be joining bre artists from across northern Ontario when they
meet May 1-3 at Hidden Valley Resort and Ski Area.
Photograph: Mary-Lyn Tebby
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 17
18 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Strap on your quiver for Dwight’s
3D-Target Archery Tournament
Trek through the woods and shoot “3D
targets,” meaning realistic-looking foam
animals, in this competitive adventure,
happening May 3 at 2845 Highway 60, near
Dwight. Its open to all ages and archery
types, but you must bring your own
equipment. Lunch will be provided at a
reasonable price, you get a T-shirt and if you
win, you’ll get a cool prize donated by a local
business, such as a restaurant gift certicate,
golf pass or piece of archery equipment.
For more information and to reserve spaces,
contact Tanya Grainger at 705 380-1835 or
“T By Daniel” Lewis oers
dynamic business presentations
Renowned entrepreneur Daniel Lewis,
proprietor of T By Daniel, will be visiting
Gravenhurst to give two presentations on
May 5: e Disney World Eect! – How to
Master the Customer Service Experience at
1 p.m. and Entrepreneurship Survival Kit
– e Fundamental Must-Haves To Be
Successful In Business Today at 7 p.m.
ese high-energy talks, presented by the
Bracebridge, Muskoka Lakes and
Gravenhurst Chambers of Commerce, oer
Lewis’ characteristic unique perspective on
life, in hopes to inspire purpose,
productivity and excellence in others.
what_s-on.aspx (scroll down)
Great Spring Shows and Concerts
Around Muskoka
ey are far too many to list, so visit the
venue websites for acts, artists and dates:
Algonquin eatre (Huntsville):
Rene Caisse eatre (Bracebridge):
Gravenhurst Opera House:
Peter’s Players (Gravenhurst):
- Coordinated by Karen Wehrstein
Photograph: Daniel Speaks
Bracebridge, Muskoka Lakes and Gravenhurst
Chambers of Commerce will host entrepreneur
Daniel Lewis on May 5 when he shares his
secrets to success.
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20 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Lynda Lynn’s mastery of colour and colour
theory has led her to teach classes across
Ontario for colleges, universities, high
schools and to individuals.
Article by Meghan Smith / Photography by Kelly Holinshead
nspiration can come from anywhere at any time.
e view from a window, the notes of a song, the
words from a radio broadcast or even viewing the
organisms living in Muskokas lakes under a microscope.
For Lynda Lynn, her curiosity and a lifelong dedication to
learning new things and embracing ideas has helped her
forge her own path through multiple careers.
“Its curiosity,” shares Lynn. “Painting teaches you so
much, or it can, about all kinds of things.
Lynns body of artistic work is as varied as her own
experiences. From circuit layout and design to lab
technician to retail shop co-
owner to real estate agent,
every role continues to
kindle Lynns talent for
One of Lynns rst
jobs in Toronto as an
adult was completing
circuit layout and
design for special
services engineering
with Bell Canada.
She was in
charge of
equipment for radio and television broadcasting and ship-
to-shore communication.
“is was before all of the broadcasting was by air,
explains Lynn. “ere would be a broadcast at 7 p.m. and
everything had to plug in. You had to have all of the wires
and everything connected to the telephone system in order
to broadcast, so you had to design what they needed and
get the order to them in time. It was hectic.
Lynn also worked for Corning Glass when it was located
in Bracebridge, starting o in their engineering department,
completing the lab setup, including the mechanical
drawings of parts and pieces of equipment, and then
becoming a lab technician.
As a chemical lab technician in a state-
of-the-art laboratory, double the size
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 21
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22 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
of her current home studio, Lynn would run
tests on raw materials to ensure the integrity
of the crystal structure and that there were no
contaminants. However, while the tests were
running, Lynn had little to do, other than
“You couldnt leave but you couldnt do
anything else,” recalls Lynn. “But I had an
electron microscope there, so I looked at
everything – spit, dust, bug wings, whatever I
could nd.
As she made the most of her time in the
lab, she began bringing her sketchbook to
work with her. Sketching the magnied
images helped Lynn engage her creativity
during an otherwise uneventful day at work.
“I’ve done some interesting things,” laughs
Lynn. “It’s interesting when I look back at it.
Art relates to almost everything.
Some of her early artistic endeavours
focussed on sketching and using oil-based
paints, as she studied at the Ontario College of
Art. As she had a family, when and how she
could create had to change. In a small
apartment with young children, oils took
much longer to dry and Lynn didnt want to
expose her children to
the fumes. Rather than give up her
creative pursuits, Lynn switched to watercolour
paints. Watercolours dry faster, with little to
no odour, allowing her to clean up quickly
and focus on her family when necessary.
“I really like watercolour. I like oils. I work
a lot in acrylic and mixed media. Pastels,” says
Lynn. “I really enjoy the back and forth with
the dierent medias. I think one medium
gives ideas for the other. I like the switch up.
Whatever I’m doing at the time is my
favourite, really.
Raising her family, Lynn continued to
pursue art in whatever form she could. Lynn
took on freelance work, completing sketches
for businesses that could be taken in to a
printer for oset printing. She designed
brochures, calendar and Christmas cards, as it
was relatively easy to nd a sitter when she
had short meetings or needed to complete a
rough sketch and could then do the rest of the
work at home. Depictions of local churches,
peoples homes and cottages and many of the
large resorts, such as Paignton House and
Tamwood Lodge, are among Lynns portfolio.
Much of Lynda Lynn’s work is representational, like her depiction of Manitoba Street in Bracebridge
during the annual Fire and Ice Festival.
“is was before you could really print
photographs, because it was so expensive,
says Lynn. “ose sketches captured an
essence of the places at a moment in time.
Much of Lynns work is representational,
like her depiction of Manitoba Street in
Bracebridge during the annual Fire and Ice
Festival. Using this style captures the overall
picture but allows the artist to manipulate
specic parts to create a more balanced
composition for the art piece.
“eres no ne detail,” explains Lynn.
“You notice the buildings. You have the shape
and the major components of the scene but
not all of the details. People dont notice all of
those small details when theyre walking
around anyway.
However, Lynns work varies across styles,
from representational to non-representational
to abstract. Non-representational art can start
with nothing more than a mark on the page
and develop from that into a piece interpreted
dierently by every individual who views it,
based on their own life experiences.
“I like to start with a sense of place, or a
sense of feeling about a place,” explains Lynn.
From incorporating the words of a CBC
broadcast to remembering a feeling while
visiting her aunt in California, Lynns ability
to utilize the principles of colour and design
allows her to shift between artistic styles,
using the techniques that best capture the feel
of the subject matter.
Lynda Lynn’s works are oen places or
landscapes. A seasonal waterfall (le), just
north of Bracebridge, felt like a “fairy land”
to Lynn. Signal Hill in Newfoundland
(right) is a recognizable mass, oen
shrouded in fog that sits solid
and unchanging.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 23
24 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Commissions she receives are often places
or landscapes, similar to the rst prints she did
for cards. While she can work from
photographs, her process and her ability to
truly capture the feeling of a place is best when
she visits in person and can complete her own
sketch, from various vantage points.
“I prefer to see the place myself, because
when you look at something real versus a
photograph, it changes the perspective totally,
says Lynn.
Over her artistic journey, Lynn has attended
courses at the Ontario College of Art, Nipissing
University, University of Waterloo, Fleming
College, Haliburton School of the Arts and
spent countless hours working with and
among other artists, collaborating and sharing.
Her mastery of colour and colour theory
has led Lynn to teach classes across Ontario,
for colleges, universities, high schools and to
individuals. In 1995, Lynn was a founding
member, and a driving force, in the creation of
Muskoka Arts and Crafts’ Muskoka School of
In 1997, during a painting exhibition held
at Scott’s of Muskoka, Lynn paired up with
artist Pam Wong of Windsor to complete a
piece of artwork. e work inspired Lynn and
Wong to “paint in tandem,” working together
on one canvas at the same time. Not an easy
task for many artists. e resulting paintings
are unique, completely dierent in style from
Lynn or Wong’s individual work.
Her fearless pursuit of new ideas and
In her painting Release, Lynda Lynn was capturing
the feeling of letting go and falling into a lake in
the moonlight, listening to the sound of the
water, the bubbles breaking, then the quiet.
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Two of Lynda Lynn’s styles are evident in these works. Foreground, McMurray Morning is the
entrancing image Lynn saw one morning while walking in her neighborhood. Background, Daphnia’s
Prom Party is the result of collaboration with Dr. Norman Yan and features their mutual interest in
the health of the local watershed.
techniques led Lynn, along with fellow artists
Janice Feist, Wendie Donabie and Pat Whittle,
to work with acrylic skins, taking home the
most innovative award at the spring Muskoka
Arts and Crafts show that year.
Most recently, in collaboration with Dr.
Norman Yan, also from Bracebridge, Lynn has
learned the science of the local lakes and
waterways. Below the Surface is Lynns artistic
exploration of the many creatures within
Muskokas watershed, keeping the lakes and
rivers healthy. Daphnia, diatoms, glass worms,
hydra and jellysh all play a role in Muskokas
aquatic ecosystems.
“I dont think that people will pay much
attention to keeping the water healthy unless
they have some idea of what the issue is or why
they should do something about it,” explains
Lynn. “ere is a general lack of respect for the
environment by a lot of people.
Growing up in Muskoka, living in the area
for most of her adult life, and working as a real
estate agent, Lynn has observed the signicant
changes in Muskokas lakes. e way the lakes
are used and the shift in the cottages being
built on the lakes, including the mandatory
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26 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Receiving her inspiration from life experiences, Lynda Lynn used the words from a CBC broadcast on the war in the Middle East and the images they
implied in this painting, The Second Seal.
changes from the building code, created a
visible dierence in the local environment
that drove Lynn to want to know more.
As I was growing up, the way people
cottaged changed,” shares Lynn. “I was seeing
the changes, how quickly and how much it’s
changed, not just a little bit. at’s what got
me started on water.
Being an avid reader, which Lynn credits to
her mother, has led her to her next adventure
– becoming an author and illustrator.
Growing up on the prairies, the only book
Lynns mother owned was an Encyclopedia
Britannica, which she read from cover to
cover. A gifted writer and poet, her mother
always made sure Lynn and her siblings had
many books to read growing up.
“My mother could think up these poems
while at the kitchen sink doing dishes,” says
Lynn. “She had such a way with words. I
would love to illustrate poems that she wrote.
Having wanted to write a book or illustrate a
story for years, Lynn is currently working with
a writer to develop a childrens book, using her
newfound knowledge of daphnia and other
aquatic life.
“Every time I do something, I learn more,
says Lynn, of her artistic journey. It’s an
exploration of colour and composition that
has many admiring followers.
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28 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
rank Micklethwaite was not the only person taking photographs in
Muskoka a century ago but the alignment of three factors catapulted
his work into a class of its own.
For openers, Micklethwaites talent covered the full range of photographic
skills. He so mastered artistic composition – including a person to provide
scale in landscape shots, showing enthralled spectators following a sports
competition at a Muskoka resort and guests artfully arranged across a
lakeside hotel’s front steps – that his distinctive work can be identied even
when not signed.
In the technical department, Micklethwaite dominated competitors by
employing the latest in processing, chemistry and innovative techniques,
repeatedly winning honours for his exquisitely ne-grained images of
people. Another plus was the mans physical stamina which enabled him to
carry his hundred pounds of camera, tripod and heavy glass negative plates
to nearly inaccessible Muskoka venues.
And, like other photographers of his era, Micklethwaite worked with
speed. Hed hand-make glass plates in the morning, keep them dark by
carrying them in fabric sleeves, expose them, again keep them in darkness
while carrying everything back to the studio, then develop, wash and dry
them that same night.
Article by J. Patrick Boyer
All photos are from the F.W. Micklethwaite Collection, courtesy William F. Micklethwaite,
On this Muskoka summer day, the man behind the camera
is himself photographed while setting up a portrait shot
in a picturesque location. Frank Micklethwaite’s air
included the easy elegance of a white summer jacket.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 29
30 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Creating ve or 10 negatives for a day’s
outing was the upper limit, given the weight,
eort and time required. e glass plates on
which the negative had been recorded would
be reused if the photograph turned out
poorly – someone moving during a 30-second
exposure was all too common. e emulsion
was washed o and replenished, then the
plate taken to the next shoot. Micklethwaites
log of images in Muskoka for 1892-1904
suggests he made (or at least kept) about 200
images a summer.
In addition to his natural aptitudes,
Micklethwaite had mastered specic
photography skills under the watchful eye of
his father. William Barton Micklethwaite
was a printer, stationer and brass founder
during his career but photography was his
greatest interest and most noteworthy
vocation. His wife, Mary, gave birth to their
son Frank William on March 13, 1849, at
Ashton-under-Lyne in England. ey then
moved to Ireland and, as a boy, Frank
unavoidably apprenticed in both the science
and business of photography. Franks younger
sister Emily also married a photographer.
In addition to a xed studio, Franks
parents ingeniously put a Micklethwaite
studio on wheels to develop their new
business. Rather than waiting for customers
to come, the itinerant photographer explored
the countryside capturing scenery and folks
at their convenience. Frank happily enlisted
in his parents enterprising and start-to-nish
entrepreneurial ways. When their wagon
paused in a locale, fascinating prints of local
scenes were displayed, for sale, on its sides.
In addition to skill and experience, and
because of it, the second factor was that
Frank Micklethwaite became famous. After
completing his schooling, hed worked in an
architect’s oce, then studied art and worked
in photography for six years. In 1875, having
met and married Torontonian Ruth Hill,
he headed to the New World with her,
identied on the ships manifest as a
Micklethwaite quickly became
familiar with Toronto, both through
his wifes society circles and by
working at the Mail newspaper.
After three years, he went into
business for himself, opening his
own Micklethwaite Studio in
downtown Toronto. Frank and Ruths
three sons – John, Fred, and Percy –
would each engage in the family
business, bringing to ve the number of
Micklethwaite photographers in three
Jovial and progressive, Frank Micklethwaite
was easy for Torontonians to embrace.
Cherishing photography, he became a pioneer
in its Canadian development, constantly
adopting new methods that kept him at the
forefront in creating high-calibre images. For
three years running, in the mid-1880s, he
won rst prize in photography at Torontos
Industrial Exposition for his bromide
enlargement portraits. From 1891 to 1895,
he was City of Toronto Ocial Photographer.
Now as Torontos best-known photo-
grapher, his fame enhanced public interest in
being photographed by him. Inuential
Torontonians, who had summer places in
Muskoka, urged him to make photographs of
them up north. Hed like it. So in 1887,
Micklethwaite arrived in Muskoka to take
“Muskoka, once discovered, is never
forgotten” became true for Micklethwaite –
and for the countless thousands who would
now begin discovering it through his
hundreds of compelling images. His love
aair with the district’s blue lakes and rocky
shorelines would last the rest of his life.
Micklethwaite journeyed every summer to
his Port Sandeld photography shop, base
for Muskoka operations.
Inspired by memories of the family’s
mobile studio in Ireland, Micklethwaite
eectively replicated his boyhood life as
Before a day’s work was done, the paper prints had to be washed. Performing this essential chore in
Lake Rosseau, at the front of the Micklethwaite Studio amidst washed up logging remnants, are
Percy Micklethwaite (foreground) and an assistant.
Frank William Micklethwaite
Muskokas itinerant photographer. He
explored the lakes and communities, lugging
the cumbersome camera equipment and
heavy glass plates, shooting scenery and
events as he came upon them: towns, resorts,
cottages, regattas, steamboats, swimmers,
workers and settlers. Micklethwaites records
include a receipt for 23 cents, the going-rate
for a water taxi from Port Sandeld to the
top of Lake Joseph and back. Hed paddle
and drive boats on his own, as well.
Micklethwaites exquisite attention to
detail, sense of classy style and artistic whimsy
were all being captured on his hundreds of
glass plate negatives. He portrayed summer
regattas, families in formal dress gathering
for dinner, guests arrayed on patios of
renowned resorts, a hunting partys trophy
display of deer carcasses or a shing group
getting a boasting-rights image of their days
is upward-spiral celebrity phenomenon
not only made Muskoka more famous than it
already was, but gave a much clearer
impression of the place to a wider audience
than had ever been the case before. Proud
people displayed compelling photographic
evidence of their Muskoka experience.
Distinctive “Micklethwaites” adorned oak-
panelled boardrooms from Chicago to New
York, replace mantles of plutocrats in
Torontos Rosedale and Forest Hill mansions,
drawing room walls in hundreds of estate
homes and, for hundreds of thousands, the
pages of North American magazines.
In addition to Micklethwaites remarkable
skill and widespread fame, the third element
was Muskoka, itself. Photographs of
Muskoka had a special caché. e venues for
Micklethwaites extensive Muskoka portfolio
dened, with impressive new clarity, an
Ontario district already enjoying a magnetic
Micklethwaite photographs from the late
1800s and early 1900s came to epitomize
“Muskoka” because they crystallized the
romantic yet vague notions people had of the
Canadian north. Muskoka was convenient to
the south, but hinged into the vast pre-
Cambrian hinterland.
Savvy about business, Micklethwaite took
hundreds of photographs of every major
hotel, resort, marina and community in
Top: People in Muskoka knew a photograph by Micklethwaite was important
so made great eorts to get one. At Port Keewaydin captain and crew hold
S.S. Nipissing
alongside the island’s short wharf while passengers
in full summer dress pose on deck and dock. Middle: Women and an older man
see “The Boys” o from Port Sandeld, as Frank Micklethwaite, son Percy and
four others head down lakes Rosseau and Muskoka to Bala to the Moon River.
Bottom: Frank Micklethwaite discovered early that most people do whatever
someone with a camera directs. He evidently instructed this shing party on
the Port Sandeld wharf for this photo-study, which he entitled “Disciples of
the Gentle Sport.”
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 31 | 705-765-5565 |
Muskoka. At the time and ever since, these
hallmark images have visually supported the
publicity needs of those Muskoka heritage
“It was never just about the architecture,
observes great-grandson William Mickle-
thwaite. “At Summit House, smiling guests
are in groupings of 20 to 50 people lounging
in sunshine, on the steps or patios, having a
happy time.” ese became great souvenirs
with prints available for purchase. Frank
Micklethwaite, the Summit House owner
and the guests were all happy because it was
Micklethwaite also photographed some
individuals who commissioned his work.
Together, these photographs provided
revenue for the Micklethwaite Studio but
they also promoted Muskoka in two
signicant ways. Families dispatched prints
all over the continent, boosting the districts
aura to well-connected and inuential circles.
To prominent and powerful folk, self-
promotion was generally second-nature. And
second, Micklethwaite sent his top picks to
Britain to be printed as commercial postcards.
ese images spread his fame and Muskokas
atmosphere in superb Micklethwaite-style to
audiences in Britain and throughout the
Entwined with those images, naturally, are
the Muskoka adventures of the Micklethwaite
family through four generations. When
automobiles and road travel became part of
the scene, just before the Great War,
Micklethwaite not only photographed them,
but travelled from Toronto to Muskoka in
them – a two-day journey with rest stops,
repairing at tires and taking photographs.
Frank and Ruth, with sons John, Fred and
Percy, tented at Port Sandeld, beside the
Micklethwaite Muskoka Studio. ey
enjoyed this so much that when they
couldnt get up to Muskoka, theyd tent on
the Toronto Islands.
In 1915, in the developing early 20th
century trend, they built a cottage beside the
Moon River, west of Bala, where Fred’s
grandson William Micklethwaite and his
wife Kathie Droy reside today. eir west
Muskoka century residence, resplendent
with heritage, has ttingly become centre
for Bill’s all-important project of creating a
complete record of Micklethwaite photos.
An electronic materials engineer and avid
photographer himself, one of the sparks of
his project was reading the 1993 coee table
book Micklethwaites Muskoka.
anks to John Denisons prized work, a
great many people became aware of Frank
Micklethwaite and his Muskoka
photography. Denisons large format
Micklethwaites Muskoka, sadly now out of
print, portrayed Micklethwaite and how his
photographs dramatically evoke the sense of
Muskoka in late 1800s and early 1900s eras.
Above: It took some work but Frank Micklethwaite got these nine men, eight women, two boys and 19 smallish sh on a line to arrange themselves and
their gear, so he could capture the Columbus Camp shing party at very rugged “Comfort Point” in 1887. Below: Muskoka, the “Picturesque Playground
of Canada,” was initially represented by artists’ renditions. These assembled sketches of Round Island on Lake Joseph, a camp on Lake Muskoka and
activity on Lake Rosseau are an example. | 705-765-5565 |
Inspired Nature
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 33
From Gravenhurst, the Micklethwaites became steamship passengers to
Bala, then aboard Captain Frank Tooke’s steam launch continued down the
Moon River to their cottage. Built by Fred on the rocky promontory during
the Great War, he used glass photography plates as windowpanes. Fred’s
grandson Bill Micklethwaite and wife Kathie Droy reside here today.
34 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Today these “FWM” black-and-white images
endure as the single best photographic
resource for what Muskoka was like. e
inimitable Micklethwaite-style that rst
catapulted him to fame is seen in every
photograph. ey clearly and artistically
capture the reality, elegance and adventure of
a bygone Muskoka era.
What also makes these photographs rare,
and hence Micklethwaites Muskoka such a
treasure, is that virtually all his Toronto
photography plates were destroyed, reused or
made into greenhouse glass roofs or even
used as the 8 x 10 inch windowpanes in the
1915 Moon River cottage, one with traces of
somebodys image still on it to this day.
irty years ago when Denison investigated
National Archives holdings in Ottawa, he
discovered to his astonished delight dozens of
wooden boxes loaded with the heavy glass
plates of Micklethwaite Muskoka negatives,
generally untouched since they arrived. More
sleuthing in Toronto and Muskoka newspaper
morgues and other archival records lled out
the story for Denisons landmark book. e
realism and documentary-like authenticity of
its photographs blend with excerpts from
contemporary published accounts and
Denisons breezy direct writing style.
“eres something magical about holding
a slice of history in your hands,” he says of his
love for old photographs. Gazing at people
frozen in time in a black-and-white
Micklethwaite regatta scene at Port Sandeld
made him at one with “ladies in big owery
hats and long white muslin dresses that
whispered in the summer breeze, and men in
blue blazers and cream trousers on the
emerald-green grass.” He savoured a scene
clear, artistic and brimming with presence.
As a boy, in the basement of his widowed
grandmother Ellen Micklethwaites Toronto
home, Bill Micklethwaite had studied with
rapt interest hundreds of these glass plates of
Muskoka images, taken by his great-
grandfather Frank and grandfather Fred.
John Denison obtained 240 prints from these
glass plates at the National Archives, from
which he selected 144 appearing in his book.
He also got another 16 photo-prints and a
photocopy of the 55-page alphabetic log of
photos Frank Micklethwaite, himself,
prepared around 1905. Knowing the
importance of these heritage materials,
Denison has contributed them all to Bill
Micklethwaites invaluable project.
Bill hopes publicity about his centralized
scanning and cataloguing project will alert
other people to contact him at micklethwaite. about “other unknown
Micklethwaite photographs” in hopes they
too can be recaptured. He now has over one
thousand Micklethwaite images digitized
and transcribed into his digital archive. Some
3,600 Micklethwaite photos are catalogued
in the National Archives, accompanied by
66,000 descriptive items – most being a page
entry from Frank Micklethwaite’s notebook.
e project is as vast as it is vital to Canadian
heritage, and nobody else could bring to it
such background knowledge as William
Barton Micklethwaites great-great-grandson
and photographer.
e inuence Micklethwaite photos have
had on peoples’ image of Muskoka is greater
than imagined. First, it gave such a
pronounced denition to the district that
disciples have followed it ever since. Secondly,
folks frequently see photographs in books
and magazine articles, on walls and mantles,
without realizing they are Micklethwaite
images reproduced without credit to their
originator because publishers and website
content providers no longer know the
provenance of the compelling image they’re
keen to use as an illustration.
Public perceptions of Muskoka today are
thus still being dened, directly and indirectly,
by photographs of F.W. Micklethwaite. ere
are plenty. Frank William Micklethwaite and
his middle son, Frederick William
Micklethwaite, worked together for three
busy decades from the turn of the last century
to 1929 when Frank died. Each signed their
photographs using their same rst initials
“F.W.” ose whod posed before their camera
knew which Micklethwaite took it, but to
others, Micklethwaite is legendary as a prolic
worker blessed with longevity.
Micklethwaite photographs speak to us so
poignantly because, for decades, theyve been
prized images uniquely portraying what
Muskoka is like. Choice of subject, how it is
framed within its surroundings, developed
and presented, all separate the artist from the
mere technician. It was to Muskokas
enduring benet that the Micklethwaite
family were not technicians but master artists
of their craft.
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36 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Article and Photographs by Tim Du Vernet
ince the days of the Egyptians and
Vikings, boat design has challenged
builders for over 4,000 years.
In Muskoka, lakes and rivers have oered
recreational and commercial opportunities
for generations of boat builders. e
rowboats of Muskoka werent quite the
longboats of the Vikings but they were
certainly essential in the early days of water
travel. Ditchburns earliest rowboats came
out the top oor window of their rst facility
in Rosseau. All the boat builders of Port
Carling built rowboats that were fairly
similar. ey were ribbed with lapstrake
construction, and the seats further supported
the hull.
A 14-foot rowboat is easily rowed by one
person while the 16-foot or 18-foot length
could be rowed by two people. ey are very
seaworthy and could be rowed quite
comfortably at a moderate speed across the
lake. Installing a small single or two-cylinder
engine into a rowboat created a Dispro, of
which several thousand were eventually built,
beginning in 1915, in Port Carling.
It is certainly more comfortable and
usually convenient to travel in shelter and
with a power source. e rst engines were
external combustion steam or naphtha
powered. is technology evolved to
common use and there are many examples of
the early steam launches still operating on
the lakes.
Rainbow I
is the remarkable recreation of the 1920 Ditchburn design
by George Crouch, a famous naval architect responsible for many winning
race boats. It proved that race-worthy designs can also make great
pleasurecra. Top: Unlike furniture, restoring wooden boats involves
dealing with curves in all directions. Above: A restoration shop has
to be able to rotate boats to easily work on the hull or the decks.
Many were converted to gasoline and now
electric engines are becoming a popular
alternative for cabin launches. From a modern
context, these boats look quaint, slow and
primitive. Before there was much of a boat
building industry in Muskoka, the earliest
cabin launches were brought to the region via
rail. is is why so many of them are very
narrow for their length. ey were limited by
the width of the tunnels and rail system.
Early launches were pointed at both ends
and often mirrored hull designs of sailboats.
ey look ever so dramatic with a transom
that seems to disappear into the water. ere
is a period elegance and uidity to design that
is ever appealing.
Lightning, a custom-built race boat based
on turn-of-the-century styles, is a particularly
good example of this. She was built by
Greavette Boats for Cameron Peck, whose
summer cottage was on Lake of Bays. She is
now in a private collection in the United
States. is hull was a replica built specically
to be powered by an early Standard Engine.
Water transportation was critical to the
development of Muskoka and served as the
earliest highways of the region. When internal
combustion engines became commonplace
and eective in dierent sizes and power, the
design of wooden boats really took o. Hotel
livery boats, service launches and the Muskoka
steamships were the working vessels of the
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 37
38 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
There is a lot of structural woodwork under the skin of a boat that is designed to
keep it sti under punishing pounding from waves.
Many of the livery boats continue to run in private collections, now.
ey were relatively simple craft, built with steamed ribs, moderate
horsepower and lots of seating. With knife-edged cutwaters, they oered
a smooth and elegant ride. ese early displacement hulls travelled
through the water and depended on hull length for speed and stability.
Engine power matured to the point where boats could travel at
entertaining speeds, enough for racing and competition. Motorboat
racing in Muskoka became quite competitive and circuit races were
established in Foot’s Bay, Port Carling and Gravenhurst, in
particular. Some of the biggest names in Canadian motorboat
racing history got their start in Muskoka. Greavette Boats,
Minett-Shields and Ditchburn built sport runabouts and
internationally competitive challengers. Harry Greening,
Harold Wilson and Chas. Wheaton are names that have
been well documented on race ledgers.
At one point in Muskoka, well before the days of
personal watercraft, the little sea ea was a common
sight. Easily made by a father and son team from a
sheet of plywood, this little craft could skim across the
water with a mere 10 horsepower engine on the
transom. If sponsons were added, they became a three-
point hydroplane. Add a racing version of a 35
horsepower Mercury outboard and youve got some
real speed. ese little boats would go well over 60
mph. Hit a decent wave and youd have even more fun.
e sea ea is still well loved in Muskoka, especially
by the Muskoka Sea Flea Club that continues the
passion with an annual gathering and an active website.
Check out their website for more details about the
It takes a great hull design and a powerful engine to
make a boat go fast. Nautical engineers and boat builders
quickly discovered strategies that reduced the wetted
surface of the hull allowing a boat to go faster over the water,
rather than having to plow through it.
e Americans John Hacker and George Crouch were
considered to be the best naval engineers of the 1920s and into
the 1930s, when boat racing was gathering speed. Many of the
designs of the sport runabouts in Muskoka followed the themes of
these American engineers. Rainbow 1, designed by Crouch and built
by Ditchburn in the early 1920s, was considered the ultimate gentlemans
sport boat. It could win races one day and be cruising the next.
A few years later, Ditchburn used steps in their “Viking” hulled boats to
increase speed. Harry Greening pushed the concept of steps in another direction,
by constructing a “lap strake” boat, with the laps running horizontally, rather than
lengthwise. His race winning Rainbow IV was disqualied, because the rules prohibited
steps” and the laps were seen as a variation of a stepped hull.
By the 1930s, boats were designed that could rise up on the water by planing and running
on sponsons or similar strategies. Minett-Shields was licensed to build Ventnor sponson
racers. ese competed at the Duke of York races in England among other venues. e famous
Canadian bandleader, Guy
Lombardo, drove a U.S. built
Ventnor hull to the checkered
ag. Shadow II, a Minett-Shields
built Ventnor, originally owned
by Chas Wheaton is still on Lake
Joseph and powered by a big
Hispano-Suiza aircraft engine.
e Miss Canada III, considered
one of the best handling race
boats of her era, lifted up on
“knuckles” that ared from the
hull to gain her speed.
Not everything was about
speed. For everyday boaters,
who needed space and comfort
more than speed, the boat
builders of Port Carling and
Gravenhurst built utility boats
up until the mid 1950s. It was
only until the last versions of the
V-8 powered Duke utilities of
the early 1960s that frames were used. Steam
bent ribbed construction was still going
strong in the Playmate, the Sea Bird and
Greavette utilities. Boats with ribbed
construction tend to ex more and provide a
more compliant ride.
is design cannot handle much power as
a result and the utilities were quickly
outmatched by breglass boats of the 1960s.
e Duke Playmate is like the VW Bug of the
water. e design was little more than a
squared-o rowboat with a small four-cycle
engine installed. With some minor variations,
from centre drive to forward drive, this
design lasted many decades in construction.
Greavette transitioned to modern planing
hull designs with their plywood “Flash
inboard/outboards. ey are still considered
to be ne riding boats with good performance
and a bit of style from the wood materials.
In most industries, such as the automobile
industry, the lowest end of the spectrum will
benet from a trickle-down of technology
from the most sophisticated models. In
Muskoka, where numbers of boats built was
quite small by comparison, design features
were quite uniform. Again,
due to the small numbers,
many of the boats in Muskoka
were custom orders, with
features specically requested
by the intended owners.
Greavette attempted to
build and market a “production
boat in the early 1930s by
partnering with Dart boats
from the U.S. A few examples
exist but the concept wouldnt
e custom nature of many
boats of Muskoka also meant
they were not necessarily better
designed than their U.S.
counterparts, but were better
built and nished. e
outstanding craftsmanship of
Minett and Ditchburn boats,
that was consistently superior
to the U.S. built counterparts, was a key
characteristic that helped maintain their
While many Muskoka designs, such as the
18 to 21 foot sport runabouts, can be
attributed to John Hacker, others were
created from the hands of Muskoka boat
builders by more ancient methods. A half-
hull model is shaped according to the eye of
the builder. Based on little or no science and
instead coming from experience and
experimentation, the full-scale version would
be built. A few of these half-hull models still
Clark Wooden Boats is one of many shops in Muskoka that specialize in
restoring wooden boats in Gravenhurst, Port Carling, Bracebridge and Milford
Bay areas.
The 18 foot and 21 foot sports runabouts designed by John Hacker
were built by Minett-Shields and Greavette Boats in the early 1930's.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 39
40 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
exist. e Port Carling library
has a half hull of Miss
Muskoka, built by John
Matheson and a half-hull
model served Gary Clark as a
starting point in the
reconstruction of Rainbow I.
e boat building industry
did benet hugely from
developments in automobiles
and even aircraft power.
Stylistic trends in wooden
and breglass boats followed
those of the auto industry
and many of the chrome
ttings mimicked auto-
mobiles. When breglass
boats really took hold in the
1960s, streamlining was all
the rage. Automobiles with ns and jet
taillights were in vogue. is carried over to
boats as well. Looking cute and dated, these
features have a nostalgic charm from a
modern eye.
Many of the engines powering boats were
nautical conversions of auto-based engines.
Race boats benetted from progress in aircraft
power, when large numbers of light and
powerful engines were needed for airplanes in
the First World War and Second World War.
A surplus of these engines was available at the
end of the wars and they were modied for
use in race boats. In fact, when these boats
start up, they sound like vintage aircraft, with
the clatter of valves and drumming pistons.
By the 1940s, the Allison V1710, a favourite
racing engine, was designed to generate 1,000
e history of wooden boating in Muskoka
connects developments in technology,
commerce and culture. is lakeland paradise
transitioned from a landlocked hinterland
where human powered craft and simple
launches were the only option to
a summer recreation experience
with booming shoreline industries
involved in building boats and
summer palaces.
e wooden boat industry in
Muskoka still thrives but at a
much reduced scale. New boats,
reconstructions and restorations
emerge from the shops in
Gravenhurst, Port Carling and
Bracebridge every year. Butson
Boats continues generations of
boat building tradition. Gary
Clark and Paul Brackley in
Gravenhurst restore all manner
of craft. Mike Windsor runs a
shop in Gravenhurst and he
specializes in computer designing
of boats. Stan Hunter in Milford Bay also
restores a variety of wooden boats, perhaps
specializing in cost-eective repairs of
So the craft is very much alive and, no, they
dont build them like they used to, just better.
New materials for bonding, better machinery,
computerization, extensive experience and
history to draw from, the skills and techniques
have never been better. As long as the passion
for wooden boats continues, the skills are
there to support it.
Top: Restorations in one of Muskoka's boat shops can include anything from
the wheel housing of a big lakes cruiser to a canvas covered canoe.
Above: Jack Law and Lorraine Human discovered
, a turn-of-the-century
canopy launch, at the bottom of the lake. Law carefully restored her to
spectacular beauty.
ECRA/ESA Licence#7001083
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 41
42 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Photograph: Tomasz Szumski
Article by Dawn Huddlestone
t’s complicated.
e interplay between humans and
the natural world is complex – the subtle
(and not-so-subtle) actions of one can have
far-reaching implications for the other in
ways sometimes unanticipated.
One need look no further than the ooding
events of recent years in Muskoka – oods of
the century in both 2013 and 2019 – to see
just how complex that
dynamic can be.
On the surface, it appears
simple: water levels rise in
the spring as snow melts
and rain falls, ooding
sometimes occurs due to
that excess ow, and then
the water recedes once again
until the next year, save for
weather anomalies like a
heavy deluge in a summer
But start to dig into the
cause of the ooding, and
you very quickly nd the
answer isnt a simple one.
eres the complexity of
the Muskoka watershed for
starters: its drainage basin
comprises about 5,100
square kilometres, several
hundred lakes and
tributaries, and contains
constriction points – both natural and
manmade – that restrict the volume of water
that can pass through those areas.
Add in human developments built over
the years – parking lots and roads,
subdivisions and commercial areas – that
reduce the available ground surface for
absorbing meltwater and rainwater. Often
wetlands, which are known for their capacity
to retain water, are being lost to the desire for
buildable land. And then theres the eect of
climate change, which can cause greater
precipitation and a faster melt during the
spring freshet, as well as increasingly extreme
weather events.
Governments at all levels have taken
ere have been funding announcements:
in August 2018, the province committed to a
$5 million Muskoka Watershed Conservation
and Management Initiative to look at risks to
the watershed, ooding among them. A $1
million pilot project announced in 2019 will
provide municipalities that qualify for
Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance
(MDRA) funding with up to an additional
15 per cent beyond the estimated cost of
rebuilding damaged public infrastructure in
an eort to make it more resilient in extreme
weather events. One example is raising roads
to improve overland ow of water, as might
have helped Beaumont Drive in Bracebridge
which had to be built up, in the middle of
the 2019 ood, to allow stranded residents to
Reviews have been initiated: following the
most recent round of severe ooding across
the province in 2019, Ontarios Minister of
Natural Resources and Forestry, John
Yakabuski, named Doug McNeil as special
advisor on ooding, with the task of
conducting an independent review of the
ood events and ood management in the
province. And less than a month later, the
Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group was
appointed – its members will provide advice
and recommendations to help protect and
conserve the Muskoka Watershed and
support economic growth in the region. is
advisory group will deliver its report this
McNeil’s report was released in October
2019. In his review, he noted weather played
a signicant part in the ooding: colder-
than-average temperatures throughout the
preceding winter and early spring, limited
winter thaw, a deeper-than-average
snowpack, and both rapid snow melt and
signicant rain in the
He also determined that
nothing points to human
error or the negligent
operation of water control
structures as the cause of
the ooding… Measures
taken by water managers
everywhere were eective
in reducing the magnitude
of ooding and associated
damages throughout the
drainage basins.
McNeil reiterated what
may have come as a surprise
to some residents: that
dams operated both by
the Ministry of
Natural Resources
and Forestry
(MNRF) and
private operators
throughout the system
do not help to prevent ooding. “...
(D)ams are not ood control structures and
have very limited capacity to store or hold
back ood waters, as they have little to no
lake or reservoir capacity,” he wrote. “As a
result, in a large volume, rapid runo ood,
the dams have limited capacity to reduce
peak water levels. e greater the ood event,
the less ability the MNRF/dam operators
have to mitigate the impacts.
His recommendations for the Muskoka
region included a call for the Ministry of
Environment, Conservation and Parks
(MECP) to “consider whether to encourage
the municipalities to establish a conservation
authority or request the Ministry of
Municipal Aairs and Housing to restrict
development in the oodplains,” as well as
use the results of the Muskoka Watershed
Conservation and Management Initiative to
Le: When water levels hit record levels in 2019, upstream waters ooded over
the top of the dam at Bracebridge Falls. Above: A ood of the century in 2013,
followed by another in 2019, resulted in many roads being closed to vehicular
trac throughout Muskoka but didn’t stop paddlers from checking their mailbox
from a canoe.
Article by Dawn Huddlestone
Photograph: Andy Zeltkalns
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 43
44 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Reservists from the Canadian Armed Forces were called into action in
Muskoka during the ood of 2019. Among others things they helped with
clean up.
inform any potential future amendments to
the Muskoka River Water Management
MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, Norm
Miller, said that given the circumstances in
2019, “I’m not sure that anything last year
would have made a dierence.” He says he
has heard from the Township of Muskoka
Lakes, in particular, about the need for
changes to the Muskoka River Water
Management Plan (MRWMP). On behalf of
the Township, Miller had requested a
meeting with the ministers of both the
MNRF and the MECP about their concerns,
a meeting that had not yet taken place at
time of publication.
On the subject of climate change, Kevin
Boyle, climate change co-ordinator, District
of Muskoka, says, “if you look at the
Muskoka Watershed Council’s 2016
Planning for Climate Change Report, the
indications are that basically it follows similar
patterns to most of Ontario which is warmer,
wetter, wilder.
“(By 2050) we will have about 10 per cent
more precipitation on average, but that
precipitation wont fall evenly so it’ll probably
be an increase of 17 per cent more
precipitation in the months between
November and April, when we already have
challenges managing water, of course, and
then we’ll have a bit of a drier sort of July/
August period,” says Boyle.
Photographs: Town of Bracebridge
When volunteers became overwhelmed, Reservists from the Canadian
Armed Forces assisted with sandbagging operations in south Muskoka in
Several ooding events in the past 10 years throughout the Muskoka
watershed have le property owners stranded for extended periods of
279 Manitoba Street, Bracebridge
Muskoka’s Bath & Plumbing Centre
An analysis would indicate that were
likely to slowly have more and more
challenges dealing with precipitation in the
freshet,” he continues. “We could potentially
see an increase in ooding moving forward,
but of course it’s extremely hard to predict
ooding on a year-to-year basis. Basically its
controlled by three factors: amount of
precipitation, water equivalent in snow pack,
and temperature. We can measure water
equivalent in snow pack; the other two are
sort of wild cards just because were really not
great at predicting weather.
From a standpoint of mitigation, one of
the most important things to do is to not
build in a ood plain in the rst place,
observes Boyle, who points to the recent
ood plain mapping as an important tool in
identifying areas that are vulnerable t
He also encourages property owners to
clean up their property in the fall and remove
things like chairs or paddleboards, especially
on a river that would have current that could
carry it away.
“Whenever we do have a ood event,
theres all sorts of stu that ends up in the
river that can lead to jams at the dams, in
addition to losing your material,” Boyle says.
“If you think that your house or your
cottage might ood, remove valuables from
your basement or your main oor, or at least
stack them up. Look at turning o your
Photographs: Andy Zeltkalns
Extensive damage to property with items carried o by rising oodwaters
posed major challenges during ooding events in 2013 and 2019.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 45
705-454-1574 219 8th Line, Norland, ON
Call the People Your Township Trusts.
Urban areas were not le unscathed when oodwaters peaked during the 100-year ood in 2019. Many businesses in the downtown core of Huntsville
were inundated when the North Muskoka River crested above its banks.
Photograph: Town of Huntsville
power before the freshet. And consider not
leaving your boat in your boathouse over the
Individual property owners can take
actions that will help he big picture.
“On a larger scale,” says Boyle, “protecting
our wetlands, naturalizing your shorelines to
increase the lag time for runo to try to
sequester as much water as possible, and
planting trees, those are things that are long-
term but easier things that we can do to slow
or control some of the ooding. But we’re
not at the point now where we have one
project we can do that would prevent
ooding in Muskoka.
e Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC)
also believes that changes need to be made to
the way the watershed is managed but that
the MRWMP isnt enough.
In a Feb. 18, 2020 letter to the Muskoka
Watershed Advisory Group, MWC chair
Geo Ross wrote that “revising the Provinces
Muskoka River Water Management Plan
alone will not assist in mitigating the causes
of ooding and identifying innovative,
comprehensive watershed management
options. More specically, a watershed
hydrology initiative, in the context of a
comprehensive watershed strategy, will
provide broad insight and potential solutions
for greater ood resiliency.
e organization prepared a white paper,
“e Case for Integrated Watershed
Management in Muskoka” – authored by
Peter Sale, Kevin Trimble, Richard Lammers,
Christy Doyle, Geo Ross, Norman Yan and
Patricia Arney – that outlines how such a
strategy could be implemented.
“e Muskoka River Water Management
Plan is restricted in scope and responds
primarily to river ows, snow pack and lake
levels,” Ross wrote in his letter, “while a
broader watershed strategy should include
assessing our built and natural infrastructure
(including but not limited to wetlands,
headwater tributaries, and forest resources)
to fully understand and, in turn, to eectively
manage the impacts of ooding and to
identify necessary actions to ensure the
ecological and economic health of Muskoka,
and beyond, for years to come.
An integrated management program
would be built on the most current watershed
data available, including the ood plain
mapping recently completed by the District
of Muskoka and consultants from Hatch
Ltd. and funded, in part, through the
Despite the force of the spring run-o, otsam carried from ooded upstream properties on the
Muskoka River is trapped at the snowmobile bridge above High Falls.
Photograph: Andy Zeltkalns
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 47
705.645.4294 TF: 866.645.4294
48 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
When the call went out for assistance with sandbagging, countless from across Muskoka and beyond
step forward to ll bags and deliver them to ooded waterfront properties.
National Disaster Mitigation Program
e ood plain mapping project aimed to
identify areas across Muskoka that are at risk
of seasonal ooding. According to the
District of Muskoka website, “the goal is to
have more information to assist with
emergency management plans and help
inform planning policies… Flood plain
mapping is also critical to support informed
decisions and investments to reduce the
impacts of ooding in our communities.
Development in these areas can result in
damage to properties if ooding or erosion
occurs, and in extreme cases could result in
loss of life.
Integrated watershed management would
also consider the impact of climate change,
the extent of which is a somewhat unknown
“One consequence is that over future
decades, climate change will exacerbate the
seasonality and extent of water ow by
directly altering patterns of precipitation,
evaporation and transpiration, as well as by
radically altering soil moisture, and water-
holding capacity of wetlands,” note the
MWC whitepapers authors. “We should
seek ways to maximize our use of available
natural capital in managing the ow of water
through the watershed. ese issues reveal an
immediate problem. We lack a suciently
detailed understanding of how natural capital
aects ow from place to place across this
watershed, and how climate change may
modify these regulating processes.
Which makes measures to address climate
change all the more important. MPP Miller
says his government is working on it.
“e government has started the rst-ever
province-wide evaluation of preparedness for
climate change,” he said. “And, of course, we
do have a made-in-Ontario environment
plan, which has a number of dierent actions
with the goal of reducing our emissions and
Ontario is doing pretty well. And thats
mainly the result of one decision, and that
was this decision started by a Conservative
government and followed up by the Liberal
government to shut down all the coal-red
Photograph: Susan Smith
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electricity-generating stations. So Ontario has
reduced greenhouse gases by 22 per cent at
this point in time.
At the municipal level, lessons have been
learned that will make a dierence for the
“(Last year) we had sand bags when
required, we closed appropriate roads when
required, we sent our volunteer re
department in to see who was in jeopardy and
who wasnt in jeopardy,” says Township of
Muskoka Lakes Mayor Phil Harding. “We’ve
never had a ood of this magnitude, so theres
always a little bit of new learning every time
you go through a new situation. I truly believe
that in Muskoka Lakes we managed it
eciently and eectively for the public.
Nobody likes their road being closed, but we
did what we could. Where possible on a
couple of the roads we added some aggregate
to raise the road surface a little bit – even six
inches helped.
“e bottom line is, youre never stopping
water,” says Harding. “If it rains, if it snows,
that water is coming through the system and
nothing’s going to stop it. Our own sta are
now better versed at looking further north in
the system versus just in the south. ats a
better predictive model and generally
speaking, it takes eight to 10 days for that
water (that originates in Algonquin Park) to
clear through the entire watershed.
As with most things, there is a need for
balance in the Muskoka Watershed, taking
into consideration what are at times
competing interests. Perhaps Sale et al. say it
As development increases in the coming
years, it will be vital that land use planning
take full account of natural capital if we wish
to sustain our environment, quality of life,
and vibrant tourist and recreational economy.
It has long been recognized that Muskokas
rich natural environment is a major driver of
our economy, providing opportunities for
healthful outdoor recreation and tourism
throughout the year, so wishing to retain that
is the obvious correct way forward.
“Our challenge over the next several decades
will be to provide for needed development and
enable population growth, while retaining this
amazing natural environment and the quality
of life we all enjoy.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 49
Article by Karen Wehrstein / Photography by Heather Douglas
During the summer months, Gamble Farm sells eggs and
other products right at the farm store, Wednesday
through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
50 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
aking a chance on raising farm fresh
eggs has paid o for Alexandra and
Dan Gamble.
Four years ago, the couple was operating a
printing and display business in Queensville.
ey recognized they were in a declining
industry and, as outdoors-loving people,
they dreamed of moving to Muskoka. When
she was a child, Alexandras family had
owned a cottage on Harp Lake near
Opportunity knocked in the form of a
humble breakfast staple in every Canadian
“We had some chickens at our old place,
started selling the eggs, and they went really
well,” Alexandra recalls. “We realized theres a
market for farm fresh eggs.” Being experienced
entrepreneurs, they did their research, wrote a
business plan and carefully chose a 10-acre,
mostly-forested lot on South Mary Lake Road
in the village of Port Sydney.
“Its at, had two cleared acres, had the
house and all the outbuildings that we needed
to get started, and was within good proximity
to schools,” says the mother of one son,
Jackson, aged eight. One outbuilding was
perfect for a chicken coop, the other for a
packaging shop.
So, three years ago, the family made its
move and the Gamble Farm was born.
All wasnt easy at rst, especially since part
of the plan was to grow vegetables.
“We soon realized it’s very dicult, with
the short season, bugs and poor soil,
Alexandra explains. However, when the
Gambles introduced their eggs into a couple
of local stores, they started to sell very well. “It
just kind of took o.
Now the family has 100 heritage-breed
laying hens on-site as well as satellite ocks at
other farms in Muskoka, and Gamble Farm
eggs are sold all the way along the Highway
11/400 corridor from Novar to Toronto,
including larger communities such as Orillia,
Barrie, Bradford and Newmarket. e
Toronto business originated with Torontonian
cottagers who, after becoming familiar with
the Gamble brand during their Muskoka
sojourns, asked where they could get them in
the big city.
Muskoka stores that stock them are too
many to list – check the farms website – but
include both health-food stores and
supermarkets. Gamble eggs are also used by
chefs at Riverwalk in Bracebridge, Bartlett
Lodge in Algonquin Park, Muskoka Lakes
Golf Course and Windermere House.
During the summer, you can buy eggs and
other products right at the farm store,
Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6
p.m., from June (check the website for the
exact date) until Labour Day. You can also get
the vegetables that the Gambles have managed
to grow by enriching their veggie gardens soil:
tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, beets, carrots,
onions, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, hot and
sweet peppers, sweet corn, squash, kale,
spinach, peas, beans, and various herbs. You
can get meat theyve raised. You can also
purchase goods from other local farms such as
ice cream, honey, maple syrup, berries in
season, preserves, and more. As well as regular
eggs, the Gambles sell duck and quail eggs.
Eggs are collected from the chicken coop
daily, then sorted by size, handled for
abnormalities and washed. ey are shipped
to all stores weekly in rented refrigerated
trucks, though that will change when the
Gambles purchase their own refrigerated
truck in the near future, saving money and
expanding their market geographically.
Doing all this work are Alexandra and Dan,
themselves, plus two part-time employees in
winter and three in summer. “One of the
employees is my mother,” Alexandra says,
appreciatively. “Shes been a massive help to
this business. She came and worked for us for
free until I could aord to pay her. When
family steps up and does that because they
believe in you and your business, its pretty
Another family member who steps up is
eight-year-old Jackson.
“If theres something he wants to do, we
set it up for him,” says his proud mom. “He
had a pet duck over the summer, and he
collects eggs.
e Gambles’ farming philosophy is
natural permaculture: avoiding chemicals
and going sustainable by making the farm its
Alexandra and Dan Gamble wrote a business plan and carefully chose a 10-acre plot of land in Port
Sydney when they decided to launch their egg-producing enterprise.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 51
52 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
own micro-ecosystem, as farmers have done
since time immemorial.
“We’re not certied organic as it’s so much
red tape,” Alexandra notes. “For instance, to
be certied, I couldnt feed the birds the left-
over vegetable matter. Weve opted out at this
point. But we dont use pesticides or fertilizers,
and our feed is non-GMO and certied
Soil is enriched with composted manure
from the chickens and other farm animals.
Leftover vegetable matter and garden waste is
fed to the birds, which also aid in garden pest
control during the growing season. e forest
surrounding the farm provides habitat for
birds, bats, bees and other insects that benet
both crops and livestock.
Chickens are raised free-run, giving the
eggs that free-run colour and avour, and the
Gambles plan soon to add hogs. “ey root
up old gardens and their manure helps in the
Gamble Farm now has 100 heritage-breed laying hens on-site as well as satellite ocks at other farms in Muskoka to sustain its expanding customer list.
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soil,” Alexandra explains. “If you can create
this system where everything feeds o each
other, especially on a small scale, that’s how
you can make it aordable and sustainable.
Yes, they plan to sell pork.
e fact that husband and wife both have
strong business backgrounds has been
invaluable to their success, she says.
“We knew how to market our product,
about retail and prot margins and all of that
stu. Small-scale farming is sustainable but, as
well as understanding farming, you have to be
business-minded. We keep really tight records,
which give us a big picture of which aspect of
the farm makes money and which is about
feeding back into it, so we can evaluate what
we want to do and what we dont want to do.
Without really intricate record-keeping, it’s a
bit of a crapshoot.
e Gambles support local food security
charities by donating portions of their sales
proceeds on a quarterly basis. “eres a special
label on the eggs,” Alexandra explains. “We’ve
had a huge amount of support in Muskoka, as
the stores will buy extra and make them more
visible, and media coverage helps.” e
In addition to eggs, Gamble Farm has added
farm-grown vegetables, enriched with the
natural fertilizers from its property,
to the products sold at the store.
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54 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
beneciaries are e Table soup kitchen and
food bank in Huntsville, and the Manna Food
Bank in Bracebridge. Future charitable plans
include designating part of their property a
community garden, where food can be grown
and donated to people in need.
What else is next for the Gamble clan?
“We are looking at continuing to grow our
business, work with other farms with our
satellite ocks,” Alexandra says. “e more we
can grow the brand and work with other local
farms, the more people we can employ. Its
building the business in Muskoka.
Once used to indoor work environments,
how do she and Dan like their new lifestyle?
“Its very labour intensive. It’s not a 9 to 5
type of job,” Alexandra muses. “ere are ebbs
and ows to it. During the slower months, you
have time to reect and plan, but from April
to September, I cant even formulate a sentence.
Youre working from sun up to sun down
during busy season.” at includes a lot of
time doing management and planning.
But overall they are happy. “We love it
and wouldnt have it any other way,” she
During the slower months,
Alexandra Gamble says she
has time to reect and
plan, but from April to
September, she is working
from sun up to sun down.
“We love it and wouldn’t
have it any other way,”
she enthuses.
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56 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Article by Matt Driscoll
dam Dickinson has spent his career
exploring the intersection of the
literary and scientic worlds.
Its a place few authors venture but its one
that’s provided unexpected dividends for the
Bracebridge born and raised Dickinson.
e author of four books of poetry,
Dickinson is also a creative writing professor
at Brock University. His work has been
nominated for multiple awards including the
Governor General’s Award for Poetry. He’s
also been a nalist for the CBC Poetry Prize
and his work has been translated into
Chinese, Dutch, Norwegian and Polish.
On May 1 Dickinson will be back in
Bracebridge to take part in the Canadian
Federation of University Women (CFUW)
Authors Night at the Rene Caisse eatre. In
addition to elding questions from the
audience, Dickinson will be discussing his
latest book Anatomic.
e poems of Anatomic emerged from
biomonitoring and microbiome testing
Dickinson conducted on himself in a
laboratory. Dickinson drew blood, collected
urine and swabbed bacteria to measure the
precise chemical and microbial diversity of his
“We write our environment but our
environment also writes us,” says Dickinson.
“I’m interested in my metabolism but I’m also
interested in global metabolism.
I n formation & reservat ions
Dickinsons work led him to discover that
the “petro-culture” has become a part of our
being in the form of pesticides, ame
retardants and other substances. Structured
like the hormones some of these synthetic
chemicals mimic in our bodies, the poems in
Anatomic link aspects of Dickinsons life like
diet, lifestyle and geography with historical
details such as spills, poisonings and military
applications to show how permeable our
bodies are to the environment.
For his next work, Dickinson has been
studying the eects of heat on the human
body and its ability to create art.
“I wanted to nd out what you can do with
heat and how to write with heat,” he says. “To
do that, we did lab work which heated up my
body temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To raise his temperature, Dickinson
conducted a series of experiments. Monitored
in a laboratory, Dickinson wore a suit with
piped in hot water and covered himself with a
thermal blanket heating
himself up slowly over ve
hours. In another experiment
Dickinson would ride a
stationary bike for an hour
in high heat and humidity
while his heart rate and
blood pressure were
Although the testing was
not dangerous due to the
controlled environment,
Dickinson says it was rather
Thermal imaging done on himself was part of the testing author
Adam Dickinson did as he researched for his latest book.
Bracebridge born and raised author Adam Dickinson’s latest book,
, emerged from biomonitoring and microbiome testing.
Photograph: Erin Knight
Photograph: Gary Hodges
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 57
58 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
“I couldnt wait for it to be over,” he says.
“eres a feeling of connement and panic
that comes with it.
Dickinson says it took him a full day to
recover from the experiments, during which
time he worked on his poetry as he had also
done during the study.
“When I was on the bike I would exercise
for 20 minutes and then write for 15 minutes.
en I wrote immediately after and I’m still
writing,” he says. “I wanted to see what
physiological and cognitive changes would
Dickinson says the results were fascinating
and he was actually quite pleased with the
material he produced during the experiment.
He says his work is also a study of the
eects of climate change on the world’s
population generally.
“We are now living in a warmer world and
I’m interested in what eect that will have on
us,” says Dickinson. “ere is a limit to the
temperature that humans can live in and were
already reaching it in some places.
Dickinson comes by his love of all things
scientic naturally. Both of his parents were
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Author Adam Dickinson, wife
Erin Knight, children
Millicent and Marigold
Dickinson, along with family
pet April, are regular
visitors to Muskoka.
Dickinson will be the guest
speaker at the Canadian
Federation of University
Women (CFUW) Author’s
Night on May 1.
Photograph: Bill Dickinson
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teachers at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes
Secondary School, and his father helped with
environmental research for the University of
“He was involved in the early tracking of
Monarch butteries and some of my earliest
memories are of catching the butteries for
his research,” says Dickinson. “We did a lot of
camping and canoeing growing up in
Muskoka. We would actually travel through
central Ontario as a family, teaching canoe
safety lessons. We would tip the canoe and my
parents would come out and save us. I think
we were essentially paid in free camping but
we had a lot of fun.
Wendee Cameron of the CFUW has
known Adam Dickinson and his family since
he was about ve years old.
“Hes very passionate about Muskoka and
his research is fascinating,” says Cameron. “I
think it’s very interesting that hes ipped this
whole idea around. Hes not so much looking
at what were doing to our environment as
what our environment is doing to us.
is will be the 22nd year that the CFUW
has hosted an Authors Night in Muskoka and
theyre encouraging all members of the general
public to come out and join them.
“I’m not really a big poetry reader but the
way he puts it is so fascinating,” says Cameron.
“He takes science and art and hes able to
approach them from a completely dierent
Tickets are available at the Renee Caisse
box oce and online.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 59
e rst meal of the day is arguably the
most important, getting you started
o nutritionally and emotionally.
And, oh, there are some ne
ones available in Muskoka,
from the sublimely simple
to the exquisite haute
cuisine. Swig your
coee and o we go,
from south to north.
We’ll start at
Bethunes Bistro in
Gravenhurst, a
modest and homey
but historic
establishment. Locals
say it was a restaurant
at the start of the 20th
century. According to its
current owners, in the 40s, it
was Vincents and Muskoka
Coee Shop, in the 50s and 60s it
was the Steak & Pasta House, then
Basil’s, then Uptown. Current owners Bei
Bei and her son, Zan Xu, gave it its current
name, in honour of the Gravenhurst native
revered by the Chinese, Dr. Norman
Bethune. ey celebrated their rst
anniversary by oering all dishes at 1940s
prices, such as Salisbury steak for 65 cents.
Originally from Shanghai, the family
moved to Canada 30 years ago, when Zan
Xu was seven. Bei owned a series of
restaurants in and around Toronto, and
cooked multiple cuisines including Greek as
well as her native recipes. In 2014, mother
and son were tipped o by a meat supplier
about the amount of bacon ordered by a
small restaurant in Gravenhurst, and, seeing
the potential, they bought it.
“We didnt know why such a
little town was so busy in the
summer,” says Xu. “We opened
right after Labour Day, thinking
wed pace things.” ey
received their baptism
of re from the
crowds coming
to enjoy the
fall colours.
“I’m in
Canada for
30 years,
says Bei, “And it was rst time I feel I’m
home. In Mississauga, no one says ‘hi.
Here, everybody knows everybody.
Once, when her aged mother
wandered onto the railway tracks,
an anonymous saviour, who
clearly knew who she was,
steered her back to the
restaurant, requiring no
Beis cooking
philosophy is simple: keep
it simple and keep the
price down. People who
dont own 3,000-square-
foot cottages will be able to
aord breakfast here, and
can have it all day. e Bistro
opens 7:30 a.m. all year and
closes at 8 p.m. for the summer,
closing times varying in winter.
Classic breakfasts like eggs and
bacon dominate the menu,
but it wanders a bit
with Eggs Florentine,
Hawaiian omelet and
Greek omelet, the
item for which Bei
gave us her recipe. It
grew, of course, out of the
Greek inuence on her
Good morning, Muskoka!
Here’s your delicious local breakfast
Article by Karen Wehrstein / Photography by Tomasz Szumski
Bei Bei of Gravenhurst’s
Bethune’s Bistro, who
owned a number of
Toronto restaurants
before arriving in
Muskoka, says her
omelet grew out of
the Greek inuence
on her cooking.
60 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
is is one of those dishes in which
seasoning is minimal, allowing the natural
avours of the ingredients to create a
mélange that is actually quite delicate. Dont
coat it with salt and/or pepper before you
dig in, even if that’s what you always do,
because you’ll want to taste how beautifully
eggs, tomatoes, Spanish onions and just a
few olive slices combine.
When cooking it, follow Bei Beis
example: “e best recipe for cooking is
passion. You cook for someone you love.
Next, we head up to downtown
Bracebridge and the Main St. Delicatessen,
founded in 2013 by Jovan and Paul
Milidoni. It opens at 9 a.m. on Saturdays
and Sundays for brunches with a menu that
goes well beyond the traditional. Weekdays,
the deli opens at 11 a.m.
e couple combines four ethnicities in
their immediate ancestries: Jovans father
was Israeli and her mother was Spanish,
while Paul’s parents were Italian and
Ukrainian. Husband and wife were both
classically trained, starting at George Brown
in Toronto.
“We met almost 13 years ago,” Jovan
reminisces. “I said ‘I want to open a
restaurant,’ but he was against, he’d owned
one previously. I said ‘Let’s open up a deli,
that’s all I want.’ He said ‘If it means I get to
marry you, ne’.
Exhausted mentally and physically by
working with a major Toronto catering
company, the couple was also searching for a
better life. “He said, ‘I know a real estate
agent in Bracebridge, lets go for a drive’,
Jovan recalls. “He took me to Bracebridge,
we circled the town and he asked me ‘Could
you live here?’”
Her answer was “yes,” so the Milidonis
made the move in 2013, gutting the
previous location with the help of her father,
a contractor. In April of last year, they
moved to their current Manitoba St.
location, an historic building they have
renovated in the spirit of the time, with a
modestly-elegant red and black colour
Since I’m writing about Muskoka
breakfasts, theyre sharing a key component
of their recipe for “e Muskokan,” a
popular breakfast item, building on Eggs
Benedict/Florentine. It uses a garlic/
onion-enhanced bagel as the base, smoked
salmon for the meat, and adds goat cheese
Greek Omelette
Bei Bei, Bethune’s Bistro
3 eggs
10 grams (2 Tbsp, measured sliced)
black olives, diced
30 grams (6 tsp) tomatoes, diced
20 grams (4 Tbsp) Spanish onions,
30 grams (6 tsp) feta cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
(enough to coat your frying pan)
• Beat eggs together with other
ingredients, except the feta cheese,
vigorously until mixture is light and
• Coat frying pan surface with oil, place
on medium heat.
• When it is hot, add mixture.
• When bottom is solid, ip. Add feta.
• When whole omelette is solid, fold in
half with cheese inside.
• Serve with home fries (diced potatoes
fried in bacon fat, sprinkled with
seasoning salt to taste) and toast.
Serves one.
Jovan and Paul Milidoni of Main St. Delicatessen
in Bracebridge were searching for a better
life when they moved to Muskoka.
The secret to their Eggs
Benedict/Florentine is
layering avours.
and caramelized onions to the traditional
poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce and
spinach. A garnish of orange slices
completes the presentation. “It’s a dish you
want to enjoy in Muskoka, because there’s
water all around, and that makes you crave
sh,” says Jovan; hence the name.
“Layering avours – thats what it’s all
about,” enthuses Jovan. I see what she
means when I take a bite. e multifarious
avours match brilliantly, creating a
delicious riot on your taste buds,
the super-rich Hollandaise adding
decadence without heaviness.
Cooking, she says, is a
business you have to love,
feel and be passionate
about. “You have to live
and breathe food. I love it. eres nothing
else I’d rather be doing than cooking.
Paul throws his ingredient into the
conversation: “It’s all art.
e nal leg of our breakfast tour brings
us to Eclipse, the most upscale restaurant at
Deerhurst Resort, near Huntsville. It oers
brunch every day, including a not-to-be-
missed enhanced one on Sundays. In charge
of it is Hayley Ness, the resort’s Chef de
Cuisine of Banquets.
Born in Toronto, Ness started
working in kitchens at the young
age of 16 – then attended
George Brown in her late
teens, heading to Humber
in her 20s. Now shes just
one nal exam away from
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62 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Hollandaise Sauce
Jovan Milidoni, Main St. Delicatessen
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
• Separate eggs and place yolks in a
medium mixing bowl. Be sure not to
include any egg whites.
• In a small saucepan, slowly melt
• While whisking the egg yolks rapidly,
slowly drizzle in butter, in a steady
stream (sauce should double in volume).
• Season with a pinch of salt.
Warning: yes, this recipe is
ridiculously simple, but dont try it
without reading the…
Chefs Tips
Its very tricky, Milidoni cautions, as
multiple things can go wrong.
Using a clean stainless steel bowl to
mix the sauce is ideal.
Even a drop of egg white will destroy
the sauce; it wont thicken.
For a full-avoured deep Hollandaise,
melt the butter until it starts to smell
nutty, and small bubbles and brown bits
start to appear. Take it a bit too far and
you have burnt Hollandaise, with a
bitter avour.
When adding the butter to the yolks,
it needs to be a nice steady stream, not
too fast, not too slow. Its a two-person
job, or you can use a cloth to grip the
bowl in your other arm. Whisk
vigorously: too fast or too slow will
make the mixture separate. Dont stop
until all the butter is in. e butter is
actually cooking the egg yolks.
Hollandaise is one of the ve “mother
sauces” in French cuisine, meaning you
can add any avour to it. Lemon juice is
standard, but also try: smoked paprika,
fresh dill, sriracha to ai it up, cilantro
to Mex it up, etc.
Adding tarragon, shallots and red
wine makes it into a Béarnaise sauce,
which goes well with roast beef, e.g. on
roast beef sandwich with arugula.
Try Hollandaise on: poached salmon
or trout; shrimp or other seafood; any
sh grilled; asparagus (add a little lemon
to the sauce and grate some Parmesan
on top)
Try it as a fondue: keep Hollandaise
nice and warm, and dip cooked veggies
into it: pearl onions, mini Yukon Gold
potatoes, braised Brussels sprouts,
cherry tomatoes, mini portabello or
cremini mussels… wine pairing,
ice-cold Riesling. (Note: Here Jovan was
ring…! You could be the rst to
actually try this.)
P a t t e r s o n K a y e
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earning her Culinary Chef du Cuisine
certication. Her resume is star-studded with
establishments such as the Royal York Hotel,
Toronto Congress Centre, International
Centre, e Four Seasons Centre for the
Arts, e Sony Centre, Evergreen Brickworks
and Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and the Plaza
Hotel in New York City.
Ness was drawn to Muskoka partly for the
love of her husband-to-be, Chad Beattie,
who she met here – and partly for having
always loved the area.
“Huntsville is such a beautiful, peaceful
place,” she says. Naturally, she felt Deerhurst
was the place to work, and landed her job
two and a half years ago. To give back to the
community, she donates her time and
expertise every month to local food banks.
Because we simply cannot do breakfasts as
a theme without including maple syrup
somewhere, Ness has shared her recipe for
Deerhurst Maple Glazed Cedar Planked
Salmon, which features prominently in the
aforementioned Sunday brunch.
Cedar-planked salmon is an Eclipse
tradition, she says.
“I just wanted to change the recipe to be
something that inspired me. I’m always
trying to develop recipes and make them
better.” She likes to marinate sh overnight,
and the triple-citrus marinade she uses
features maple
syrup tapped from
Deerhurst’s own sugarbush.
e lengthy marination lls the melt-in-
your-mouth salmon with the marinades
complex mix of avours. e whole
presentation is as Ness likes to make them,
colourful and beautiful” with the
multicoloured cherry tomatoes, red onions
and living green sprouts on top. Delicious
hardly begins to describe the full eect.
Why does she use pink peppercorns
instead of black? “I nd the pink to be a lot
brighter in avour,” Ness explains. “eyre
both very earthy but the black peppercorn is a
little bit sharper and a little bit more earthy. If
you crack black ones, it’s too strong.
P.S.: Cottage Country Cuisine acionados
might recall a recipe in the May 2017 Unique
Muskoka for Canada 150 Breakfast Poutine,
by then Deerhurst Executive Chef David
Bakker – a totally outside-the-box concoction
of “fries” made of slivers of French toast,
cheese” made of fresh berries and whipped
cream, and maple-cream “gravy”. Well, guess
what: three years later, this throw-your-diet-
right-out-the-window breakfast, lovingly
created for a national anniversary, is still on
the Eclipse menu. (And in our archive at if you want to make it
yourself.) Chefs tip from this one, for old
times’ sake: when tossing your French toast in
cinnamon sugar, add a soupçon of salt.
Ah, breakfast. Homey or gourmet, savoury
or sweet, it tastes best in Muskoka.
Cedar-planked salmon
is a tradition in the
Eclipse dining room
at Huntsville’s
Deerhurst Resort.
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 63
Deerhurst Maple
Glazed Cedar Planked
Hayley Ness, Eclipse, Deerhurst Resort
Preparation Time: 30 minutes day before,
1:20 on day of serving
1 side of Atlantic salmon: 3-4 lbs.
deboned, cut into 2.5 oz. portions
1 cup maple syrup
½ cup smooth Dijon mustard
¾ cup orange juice
¾ cup lemon juice
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp pink peppercorns cracked in
2 Tbsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 bulb fennel
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
¼ red onion
½ bunch (a little more than youd get
in a package from a store) chives, nely
1 container of pea tendrils trimmed
from soil (if unavailable, any other living
sprout can substitute; she gets hers from
Four Seasons Greens)
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
• Remove the skin from the side of
salmon, then cut the salmon straight
down the centre and then portion
horizontally into 2½ oz. portions and put
into a 2-inch deep baking dish.
• Put orange juice, ½ cup of the lemon
juice, lime juice, zest and pink
peppercorns into a pot and bring to a boil
and then lower heat to reduce marinade
by half. Once reduced by half, cool to
room temperature and then whisk in
maple syrup.
• Put Dijon mustard in a mixing bowl
and whisk in the maple and citrus
reduction. en using a pastry brush coat
the salmon with the marinade and
marinate overnight in the fridge.
• e next day soak the cedar planks for
one hour and pull the salmon in the
marinade out of the fridge. We soak it for
an hour so it absorbs water then treat it
with vegetable oil.
• Preheat the oven to 425 F and put the
salmon pieces on the cedar planks,
spacing them 1 inch apart from each
• Cut o the top of the fennel bulb and
then cut the bulb into quarters. Cut out
the core of each piece and then julienne
the bulb. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
and julienne the red onion.
• Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a frying pan on high
heat and then sauté fennel for 2 minutes
to soften slightly. Add red onion and
sauté another 2 minutes. Add cherry
tomatoes, the remaining ¼ cup of lemon
juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté 1
minute. Remove into a bowl and keep
• Place portions of salmon on planks onto
a baking sheet, season with kosher salt
and place into the centre of the oven for
9-10 minutes until fully cooked. (Know
your oven: if it’s not fully cooked in 10
minutes, put it back in for another four.)
Remove from oven and top with the
fennel salsa, then the cut chives, then the
trimmed pea tendrils. Serve and enjoy!
Serves 10-12.
Chefs Tips: Cedar Planking
So why bother placing a dish on a
cedar plank to bake it, rather than just a
“e cedar infuses the cedar avour
into the baked dish,” says Ness. “As it sits
in marinade, it absorbs, so some of the
cedar avour is absorbed into the dish.
Your plank should be about 6 inches
wide. You can just hit a lumber store
department and buy lengths of 1 x 6
cedar: just make sure its 100 per cent
natural, not pressure-treated or otherwise
chemically altered.
At home, sand the plank smooth, then
season it with olive oil.
Always soak the plank for an hour
before using it; that way the wood is
moist and so produces more of the cedar
After use, thoroughly wash and
disinfect the plank. Its dishwasher safe.
Treat it with oil occasionally. Cared for
properly, your plank will last for a couple
of years.
Hayley Ness is Deerhurst Resort’s
Chef de Cuisine of Banquets. The
triple-citrus marinade she
uses features maple syrup
tapped from Deerhurst’s
own sugarbush.
64 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
66 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
Whats Happened
Robinson’s General Store
in Dorset is for sale
For 99 years, Robinsons General Store
has been providing a range of goods to the
Dorset community. Several generations of
the same family and 14 additions later,
theyve decided it’s time to sell.
e sprawling store and its upstairs living
quarters, along with the adjacent plaza that
houses an LCBO, a bank and a real estate
oce as well as a nearby land lease – ve
acres in total – are on the market for $6
million. “We priced it to sell,” says Brad
Robinson, adding that they have about ve
interested potential buyers but nothing
rmed up yet.
Robinson took over the store from his
father, Harry, at just 20 years old. He had
been poised to take a job with the Hudsons
Bay Company, but his dad suggested he stay
and theyd expand the store. ey kept
expanding as the business demanded it,
going from a mere 75 feet by 25 feet, then
to about 15,000 square feet, today.
“I couldnt have had a better life,” he says.
He almost sold the store, once. at was
almost 25 years ago and now his daughter,
Joanne, who moved to Dorset in 1991 with
her family to take on running the store, is
ready to do the same.
Robinson laughs as he recounts the
conversation with his daughter and her
husband, Willie Hatton: “Joanne said,
‘Father, you phoned me when you were 58
years-old and you said that you were
thinking about selling the store because you
were working night and day.’ And then she
said, ‘I’m 58 years-old.’”
He has continued working in the store all
these years, but now says simply, “I’m
ready.” He plans to enjoy some time at the
cottage, something he hasnt had much
opportunity to do.
e Robinson family hopes whoever the
new owners are they will take good care of
the stores 10 year-round employees as well
as the seasonal sta that bring that total to
about 60 in the summer months, as well as
its many loyal customers.
Learn more about Robinsons General
Store at
Andy’s House - residential hospice
to open this spring
In 2005, OPP ocer Andy Potts was
killed while en route to a call when his
cruiser hit a moose. His partner, Matt
Hanes, was seriously injured in the same
accident. In Andys memory, the Andy Potts
Memorial Foundation was created to help
those in need in south and west Muskoka
communities and in 2012, the foundation
partnered with Hospice Muskoka with the
long-term goal of a residential hospice to
serve those communities.
at dream will become a reality this
Construction of Andy’s House began in
January 2019. It is part of the Brock and
Willa Wellness Centre, which overlooks the
Indian River in Port Carling.
e project has received support from the
District of Muskoka, the local community
and some “very generous donors,” says
Sandra Winspear, executive director at
Hospice Muskoka.
On February 5, Parry Sound-Muskoka
MPP Norm Miller also announced the
Ontario government will provide $315,000
in annual funding to open and help operate
the rst three hospice beds at the facility.
ose funds will cover 50 to 60 per cent of
the operating costs, so there is still a heavy
need for community support, says
Andys House is tentatively scheduled to
open its rst three end-of-life beds on May
“Over the years, we plan to expand on
that as funding becomes available,” says
Winspear. “We’re looking at a combination
of services. Andy’s House will not just be a
residential hospice for individualized care
but it will be a hospice palliative care hub of
Hospice Muskoka has been serving south
and west Muskoka with community-based
hospice services – visiting hospice volunteers
and grief and bereavement programs – since
Aer 99 years of being a family-run business, Robinson’s
General Store in Dorset is for sale. Brad Robinson took
over operation of the store when he was 20.
Photograph: Andy Zeltkalns
“We’re so excited because this will be a
comprehensive hospice palliative care
community hub,” says Winspear. “We want
to be recognized for how life continues until
you die. Andys House will belong to the
community and there will be programs for
children and youth and adults and seniors
and people who are dying – people at all
Hospice Muskoka and Andy’s House
welcome new volunteers, and Winspear also
wants the community to know that anyone
can drop in to the facility, no matter what
their need is. “We want it to be someplace
where people feel comfortable.
For more information, visit
Huntsville regulates
short-term rentals
Late last year, the Town of Huntsville
approved a bylaw to regulate short-term
rental accommodations within the
Short-term rental of residences wasnt
permitted within the municipality but that
didnt stop an increasing number of property
owners from renting rooms or homes for
short periods of time through online
platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Town
sta estimated that there are 375 short-term
rental listings in Huntsville.
Under the bylaw, property owners who
want to rent on a short-term basis will be
required to apply for a license. e licensing
fee for a primary residence is $250 for the
rst year, with a renewal fee of $125 per
year. For a secondary residence, those
amounts rise to $500 and $250,
In order to address past complaints
regarding the conduct of short-term renters,
the Town has also included a three-strike
system within the bylaw. Any property that
receives three complaints about issues like
noise, parking, garbage or an over-capacity
building within a six-month period risks
losing its short-term rental license. Property
owners have the ability to appeal a decision,
and measures are in place to ensure hosts
are not unfairly targeted.
Operators of short-term accommodation
rentals are also subject to Huntsville’s
relatively new municipal accommodation
tax, which requires them to charge an
additional fee of four per cent. Funds raised
through the tax are used to promote and
develop tourism within Huntsville.
Learn more at
Local group calling
for declaration
of climate emergency
Members of Climate Action Muskoka
(CAM), a non-partisan group of people
concerned about climate change in
Muskoka, believe the time is now for the
District and its municipalities to declare a
climate emergency.
CAM members Linda Mathers, Melinda
Zytaruk, Sue McKenzie and Len Ring have
developed a declaration of climate
emergency resolution. e group plans to
present it to the councils throughout the
region and is looking for community
groups, organizations, businesses and leaders
in the community to endorse the resolution.
Among the actions included in the
resolution are the immediate declaration of
a climate emergency; development of a
climate action plan “to reduce corporate and
community greenhouse gas emissions
(GHGs), which includes the identication
of rm, ambitious targets with a goal of
greater than 50 (per cent) reduction of
GHG emissions by 2030 and reaching zero
GHG emissions by 2050”; and
establishment of a community working
group to provide input to the climate action
plan as well as participate in its review and
updates as climate science evolves.
Learn more about Climate Action
Muskoka and the declaration at
Minett committee
releases nal report
e Minett Joint Policy Review Steering
Committee was appointed by the Township
of Muskoka Lakes and the District of
Muskoka to review and make
recommendations about ocial plan
policies related to the resort village of
Norm Miller, MPP, is joined by Sandra Winspear and Mary Grady of Hospice Muskoka, along with
other dignitaries, for the announcement of $315,000 in provincial funding to support the operation of
the new facility.
Continued on page 71
Photograph: Ofce of Norm Miller
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 67
LAKE ROSSEAU | $6,495,000
Distinguished, 6 bedroom estate
overlooking Lake Rosseau. Every inch of
this exceptional cottage has been skillfully
built and custom designed throughout.
Outside, the cottage is surrounded with tall
trees, stunning landscaping, and expansive
long lake views. Landscape includes 2
waterfalls, stone patios, forested pathways,
entertaining areas, night lighting and a fl ag
stone fi repit. At the water the 2-slip
boathouse matches the main cottage and
offers two more bedrooms, another living
area and plenty of outdoor space.
Georgian Bay $939,000
Lake Rosseau $2,495,000
Rosseau Retreat $789,000
Lake Muskoka $4,000,000
Lake Muskoka $2,795,000
Lake Joseph:
Rocky Crest Resort
Lake Rosseau:
Windermere Cottages
Lake Rosseau $2,849,000
Skeleton Lake:
Contact for Price
Lake Joseph $5,985,000
LAKE ROSSEAU | $6,495,000
Distinguished, 6 bedroom estate
overlooking Lake Rosseau. Every inch of
this exceptional cottage has been skillfully
built and custom designed throughout.
Outside, the cottage is surrounded with tall
trees, stunning landscaping, and expansive
long lake views. Landscape includes 2
waterfalls, stone patios, forested pathways,
entertaining areas, night lighting and a fl ag
stone fi repit. At the water the 2-slip
boathouse matches the main cottage and
offers two more bedrooms, another living
area and plenty of outdoor space.
Georgian Bay $939,000
Lake Rosseau $2,495,000
Rosseau Retreat $789,000
Lake Muskoka $4,000,000
Lake Muskoka $2,795,000
Lake Joseph:
Rocky Crest Resort
Lake Rosseau:
Windermere Cottages
Lake Rosseau $2,849,000
Skeleton Lake:
Contact for Price
Lake Joseph $5,985,000
70 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
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In January, the committee
presented its nal recommendations
to the Township of Muskoka Lakes
Committee of the Whole.
After acknowledging in his report
that both the District and Township
ocial plans provide an “eective
regulatory regime in Minett,
committee chair James Lewis wrote
that “members also feel strongly that
there does need to be a higher
standard expected of those interested
in developing in Minett…
"Any new development should
have a lighter environmental
footprint and be designed in a way
that is mindful of the impacts that
climate change will bring to
Muskoka over the coming decades.
Any new development must also
work with Minetts topography,
vegetation and within the capacity of
the environment to absorb any
e committee could not come to
a consensus in several areas, including
the level of residential development
and the degree of density.
“e committees majority
recommendation for Minett is that
any resort development should occur
with a minimal residential
component. ose that support a
limited residential approach to
development believe that limited
residential development is more in
keeping with the historic character of
the area,” Lewis wrote.
e committee recommended
density limits in specic areas of
Minett but Lewis noted some
members felt those recommendations
were too generous while others felt
they were too low to allow the viable,
long-term operation of resorts.
e report can be found at in the
agenda for the special Committee of
the Whole meeting on January 24,
– By Dawn Huddlestone
Continued from page 67
Spring 2020 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 71
72 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Spring 2020
My Muskoka moments are all tangled up
with place, sharing that space with the
animals that have lived here and introducing
people to this magic. We have lived on this
property, 600 acres of mostly wilderness
called Bondi, since my grandparents came in
1905. ey tried to pry a farm out of the
Canadian Shield rock, and celebrate musical
theatre on the front porch (grandpa was
with Gilbert & Sullivan in England and
Australia). My parents branched out more
into tourism than farming, but still
maintained the two. You have to diversify to
live here.
So, my Muskoka has always included the
happy voices of kids dock jumping, running
barefoot, learning. We learned to water-ski,
behind a 10 horsepower boat. We also
learned to nd the quiet places where the
creatures are. Hiking in the woods with
Dad, learning the trees – which were best for
winter fuel, which housed owls, raccoons,
which sheltered deer in winter.
Our back elds now home a Frisbee golf
course alongside the horses’ cross-country
fences, a wolf den and a spruce bog, rife with
pitcher plants and other treasures. You can
nd lots of blueberries here, along with wild
sage and tiny sweet strawberries. I take kids
hiking here, loving their reactions when they
nd such delights near the old apple tree
planted by a settler over a century past. It
still bears apples and attracts bears that
announce their presence with broken
branches and scat. eres a wonder on
peoples faces when we nd beech trees, the
base heavy with nuts, the trunks marked by
bear claws. ose trees are going now, falling
to beech blight. I wonder what the animals
will eat then?
Along the resort’s many ski and hiking
trails, we hunt for mushrooms, ferns that
grew when dinosaurs roamed, the remains of
fences that once marked open elds now
returned to forest. From our lookout trail,
you can see the Dorset tower across the
sweep of forest and lake. I try to bring
people to the wild but more softly than my
Dad, who once draped a bearskin over a
sawhorse outside the tent where the boys
were sleeping. I still recall the yell, and the
dash back to the cottage that would have
made an Olympian proud.
Now it is more about showing them who
else shared the space. e local wolf pack
will often honour me by answering my call,
out on the lawn with guests from around the
world, shivering with delight in the clear
night. I trace constellations with a laser
pointer, stars they can never see from the
over lit and over built cities. When the next
summer comes around, and they can
remember how to nd Draco, the
Andromeda Galaxy, it is a bigger thrill for
me than perhaps it should be. I teach about
owls and their calls – and the owls’ reply. e
temperature according to crickets. Where
loons nest and how vulnerable they are. is
is lore that should be for everyone, but is
increasingly rare. Like discovering that a
fresh laid hen egg is warm to the touch – you
would be surprised how many adults are
taken aback by that.
My Muskoka is about the silent places.
Deer in the morning mist. Kayaks on a river
nding waterlilies, otters, where the beaver is
building. Putting up birdhouses for the
swallows that return like clockwork but are
decreasing in number. Long may they y.
e rst loon of spring is a benediction.
Butteries, milkweed – the need for both.
Bees in the garden, so drunk with pollen you
can pet them. Water so clear you can see all
the way down to where the snapping turtle
rests. e tracks of fox.
Yes, people have always crowded to this
place, turning the lake into a playground but
my Muskoka is about teaching them to see,
love and appreciate the lives with whom we
share this land.
We are seeing and making many changes
to this fantastic place. My prayer is that we
always keep space and welcome for the wild
that also calls this place home.
As a lifelong Muskoka girl, Nancy Tapley shares
the management of Bondi Village Resort with
her brother, sis ter-in-law and the next
generation. Also sharing the property are horses,
chickens, two bad cats and one wonderful dog,
which alerts her to everything , including empty
bird feeders. As deputy mayor of the Township
of Lake of Bays, Nancy has worked hard to
bring in policies to protect the shorelines and
preserve the qualities that brought people to
Muskoka in the first place. Chair of the
heritage advisory committee, she is kept in
touch with the area’s unique history while her
brother’s innovations and solar arrays keep her
in touch with the future as she just tries to hold
a course that keeps the wild here.
Muskoka Moments
By Nancy Tapley
Sharing and protecting Muskoka
Photograph: Kelly Holinsheads
Innovative, inspired by nature, infused with tradition...
Village of Rosseau
1150 Hwy 141 - 705.732.4040