Here in Canada, a summer home is never just a summer home. Whether you call it a "cottage" or a "cabin", it's your favourite place in the world.
It’s where you meet once a year with the cousins you love, where you live out the day in your bathing suit, play in the puddles when it rains and race off to the beach whenever you want. As a kid at the cottage, you’re free.
These memories of a happy childhood is what the Muskoka Lakes mean to many people who spend their summers there. They're an iconic piece of the Canadian geography, just as they are an essential part of the nation's soul. And that's why they were an essential part of the FlyOver Canada shoot that takes in the most iconic and unforgettable places in this giant of a country.
Lake Rosseau, Lake Joseph, Lake Muskoka, these are the three major resort areas within the beautiful municipality of Muskoka Lakes, covering about 800 square kilometres of southern Ontario. The area is especially adored by visitors from Toronto—just over two hours south by car.
The resorts that developed around the three lakes help define the area as a beloved summer destination, and home to some of southern Ontario’s most spectacular waterfront cottages.
Muskoka Lakes is a township of 6,588 permanent residents, but in the warmer months, the waters and shores swell with happy kids and families in party mode. This is an idyllic summer escape from the city.
It's the kind of place that gets into your bones, that becomes just part of who you are. For Sarah, a Toronto resident who spent her summers as a kid on Lake Rosseau, no year felt complete without an annual trip up north.
“My memories are of epic sunsets on sunset rock, star gazing on the dock, waterskiing for hours, corn roasts and bonfires, hide and seek in the dark, dinners that were caught by my dad that day in the bay,” she recalls.
Sometimes her family would go to Windermere House—the majestic Victorian hotel and resort on Lake Rosseau—in the evenings for “deep fried pickles, nachos and a live band playing cottage classics.” They would always pick a day to see live theatre in Port Carling, the main hub of Muskoka Lakes, and one night at the drive-in movie.
The only good thing about heading back home was the stop at Webers, the locals’ favourite burger joint in Orillia on Highway 11. That famous final stop at the end of summer, on the way home to Toronto.
“My family stopped going to Muskoka years ago, but it holds a special place in our hearts,” Sarah adds. “We still describe certain things as ‘Muskoka Blue’ because we’re convinced that the sky is its own shade of blue up north.”
Lovers of the area should be pleased to know the municipality of Muskoka Lakes has focused on protecting the character and natural beauty of the area. The Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve and Hardy Lake Provincial Park are treasures of the Muskoka area.
Muskoka Lakes has a proud history in wooden boat building and in the preservation of historical buildings as well. The White’s Road schoolhouse, built in 1890, and the original Windermere Village Hall have been carefully restored for public use.
Anchored by the larger communities of Bala, Port Carling, Bracebridge and Gravenhurt, Muskoka Lakes offers the sophistication of a popular tourism haven with the bonus of wholesome country living. The character of the area is reflected in its historic cottages and pristine landscape—and in the sunny faces of the summer visitors who call it home.
Equally famous are the classic antique wooden boats still tucked in some of the most swish boathouses in Muskoka and on display in the scene in FlyOver Canada. Many are as well-preserved as the family traditions at the heart of cottage country and tucked preciously in historic boat houses.
To experience Muskoka in person, fly from downtown Toronto to the Muskoka airport in just 35 minutes. Or pack the car with all your summer necessities in Toronto and head north for 235 km, from Toronto straight to Lake Rosseau. To experience Muskoka in the fall from above, head to FlyOver Canada in downtown Vancouver!