Friday, July 25, 2014


We weren't hunting for Indian Pipe when we happened upon some, including this cluster with its pink variation. Often mistaken for a fungus due to its colour, it is a plant that lacks chlorophyll, the green pigment responsible for photosynthesis. It instead receives its nutrition from parasitizing fungus that are in turn connected to trees, an unique and interesting arrangement.

Friday, July 18, 2014


The Summer Cottage Tour, a Muskoka Conservancy fund-raising event, started and ended at Touchstone on Lake Muskoka, with the Wenonah II delivering the tour group to a pair of cottages, a contrast of old and new Muskoka. Willardby, named after its original owner, Dr. Lewis Willard, is one of the oldest and most original Beaumaris cottages found on the famous Millionaires' Row. A chapter and photographs of its boathouses can be found in the coffeetable classic, Shelter at the Shore. The other is a modern log mansion and boathouse at Montcalm Point, the name inherited from a former hotel that once occupied this location. Its boathouse is also featured in print however to truly appreciate the whole property and its latest renovations a virtual tour is available online. It is currently listed on the market and can be yours for $8 million.
[Program front cover images by Nicole Lee Photography]

Thursday, July 17, 2014


It was a beautiful day for cruising Lake Muskoka, where I joined Muskoka Conservancy staff and other volunteers in visiting the two cottages that will be featured on the Summer Cottage Tour. Several boats were needed to shuttle us all between locations, where we were given an orientation of both properties and learned our roles for the following day, when the sold-out tour takes place and the destinations are revealed, with the Wenonah II delivering the visitors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


As part of their 50th anniversary season the Muskoka Lakes Museum is offering a series of free lectures, held most Wednesday evenings. Tonight's feature was "Cottaging 50 Years Ago" and was presented by Susan Daglish, who regaled the audience with her experiences of cottage life then and before. Their cottage, on Lake Rosseau, is one of Muskoka's oldest, originally a squared log cabin and is called "Subha", an East Indian name meaning "place of peace and healing."

Monday, July 14, 2014


Today we hiked the first section of the Devil's Gap Trail, originally the colonization road between Gravenhurst and Bala. It was still very muddy in places with several pools of water to negotiate around. We encountered several species of mushrooms flanking the trail, such as this Fly Agaric crowned with a colourful leaf. Local folklore claims an early pioneer, after getting his wagon and team of oxen stuck in the mud, went for help but when he returned there was no trace of them. If the bugs were as bad as today I'm sure the team managed to extricate themselves and hightailed it out of there!

Monday, July 7, 2014


Our first discs were directed at the camera and professional photographer Scott Turnbull, who happened to arrive at the same time and volunteered to take this photograph on my behalf. He was also one of the people responsible for building this disc golf course, which recently opened at the end of June and is a fun way to spend some time!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Following a tour aboard the Peerless II and in anticipation of it locking through, my boys found a great place to catch the action.


Captain Randy Potts of Sunset Cruises, pilots the Peerless II down the Indian River and past Sunset cottage. The Peerless II was built in 1946 and for 49 years it plied the three bigger Muskoka lakes, making deliveries of gasoline and home heating oil. It was then retired from active duty and later sold privately in 2003, where after being restored it now makes rounds of the same lakes again, this time as a tour boat offering scenic and sunset cruises.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


A major attraction of the second annual Rotary DockFest was the revived bathtub derby, where racers competed in a series of heats, completing an obstacle course on the river waterfront. Along the course racers were forced to pass beneath a column of spray, supplied by a nearby fire truck. Funds raised from this year's event will help support Top Hat, a local youth charity, and also towards River Mill Park improvements.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Rain and thunder did little to discourage people from attending the Buttertart Festival, sponsored by Muskoka Life and held at the Muskoka Lakes Museum. Several local bakeries were on hand, busy promoting their versions and vying for the coveted People's Choice Award. The sun eventually made an appearance and everybody left happy, their cravings satisfied and umbrellas stowed, and for some, like us, with a door prize of more buttertarts to enjoy afterwards.