Lifestyle & Amenities
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Muskoka's History and Natural Beauty
Muskoka is a beautiful, unspoiled region of central Ontario Canada less than two hours from Toronto. Most visitors appreciate the drive too, where they feel they’re getting away from the noise and smog of the city to a natural paradise filled with unusual geography and wildlife. Recreation and leisure is the number one focus and the attitude is much more laid back than you’ll find in Toronto. People come to Muskoka to commune with nature and relax. Hollywood movie stars and millionaires make their homes here.
The history of the region of central Ontario called Muskoka goes back much further than anyone one would suspect. The area was frequented by rich Americans during the later part of the 19th century. The Muskoka region is a geographical area bounded by Parry Sound to the West, Huntsville to the east, Severn Bridge to the south and Rosseau to the North. The region actually touches the edge of Algonquin Park and the Georgian Bay region.
The natural beauty of Muskoka comes from the fact that land is covered with Canadian shield rock. The Canadian Shield is a layer of rock granite that covers a good portion of Canada, but is most noticeable in the Northern Ontario region. The unusual features of the land, lakes and waterways of the area were the inspiration of many famous Canadian artists. It is the works of these artists including Tom Thompson and JEH McDonald that brought awareness of Muskoka and the north to mainstream populations near Toronto. That increased the migration of tourists northward, many of whom wanted cottage properties of their own.
Popular Destination with quaint, small towns
Today tourists from all over the US and Canada visit Muskoka to view beautiful waterfalls, granite cliffs, colourful foliage (especially in fall) and to fish, golf, or do water sports in the unusual clear and warm lakes here. There are an estimated 1600 lakes in the Muskoka area. A number of large hotel resorts offer a luxurious accommodation for families and other tourists. The largest towns in the region are Parry Sound, Huntsville, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Honey Harbour and Port Carling. Although Parry Sound and Huntsville aren’t formally included as Muskoka towns, most people consider them part of Muskoka cottage country.
With the increase in population, local governments have raised land taxes and adopted zoning bylaws that have made it difficult and expensive for people to move here. That doesn’t stop the hoards from the south from venturing up here every weekend. Even during winter when snow is deeper and temperatures cold, people still want to come to Muskoka and play and live here. In the dead of winter you’ll see thousands of people snowmobiling, cross country skiing and ice fishing.
Muskoka Boat Tours
Several well known steamships provide tours of the Lakes and waterways. From Gravenhurst, you can ride on the RMS Seguin, Wenona II or Wanda III steamships and see millionaires row or take the dinner and lunch cruises.
Other attractions in the area are the Muskoka Wildlife Centre in Severn Bridge, The Gravenhurst Classic Boat Show in Gravenhurst, and the new Muskoka Wharf with its restaurants, shopping and boardwalk. The waterfront at Gravenhurst has been improved significantly to appeal to a growing numbers of tourists.
Visitors will a variety of bed and breakfast inns which you can explore further by visiting the web site of the Muskoka Bed & Breakfast Association. Several large hotel resorts serve the region. The Deerhurst is perhaps the oldest and most well known and offers two 18 hole golf courses, a spa, and conference centre. The newly renamed Taboo resort (formerly the Muskoka Sands) is located in Gravenhurst and offers 2 golf courses, tennis courts, health club and spa. Some country Inns of note are the Windermere House resort (redesigned in 1997 after fire destroyed the original), The Inn at the Falls in Bracebridge and the Severn River Inn in Severn Bridge (popular with boaters using the Severn canal).
Muskoka is one of the most visited tourist regions in Canada and although most visitors are from Southern Ontario, you will enjoy it as a vacation getaway!