Category Archives: client activities

Reminder: The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience is this Saturday!

Even if you aren’t paddling in the event, it’s an … ahem… Great Experience to watch.
This Saturday, at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge, come out and see why The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience has become an epic one in Ontario paddling and beyond.

https://vimeo.com/76351898

The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience generously supports the work of the Muskoka Watershed Council. Past cottageinmuskoka.ca post, and here are some additional links to published articles on the event:

– Muskoka Watershed Council media release: story
– Town of Bracebridge media release: story
– What’s Up Muskoka : story
– Muskoka Magazine: story  (scroll down a page).
– Bracebridge Weekender: story

Timber harvesting and the health of our lakes: The Calcium Story

©www.cottageinmuskoka.ca
©www.cottageinmuskoka.ca

Mentioned in a number of Muskoka Watershed Council lectures over the past few years, calcium decline in Muskoka Lakes and in particular, the consequences of timber harvesting on lake calcium levels have been hinted at as a potential direct cause of declining health of our lakes in Muskoka. Here’s a past primer news story from the Huntsville Forester (Cottage Country News).
This week, we have an opportunity to discover more.

Dr. Shaun Watmough, an Associate Professor in the Environmental Resource Science Program at Trent University in Peterborough will present.
Here is a synopsis of the lecture:
Decades of acid deposition have depleted soil calcium reserves and, when combined with timber harvesting, predicted losses of calcium from soil are considerable and may ultimately threaten long-term forest health and productivity and lead to negative impacts on lakes.
In this talk, Dr. Watmough will provide an overview of our current understanding of calcium biogeochemistry and describe the reasons for the widespread decline in calcium levels in lakes and the implications of calcium losses on soil fertility and forest health in addition to impacts on lake ecosystems.
With an emphasis on south central Ontario, Dr. Watmough will document a nutrient budget for a selection harvesting regime in central Ontario hardwood forests. This work is then extrapolated to regional harvesting activities and management issues are discussed.

The lecture is this Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Nipissing University – Muskoka Campus, 125 Wellington Street, Bracebridge, P1L 1E2. As always, admission is by donation

The link for this lecture and registration is here.

Stevenson Plumbing and Electric. “Working in the cold and dark to fix the problem.”

To have your customers recognize the lengths that you will go to, to take care of them – isn’t that the kind of testimonial we would all love to get, as thanks for what we do? An acknowledgement that our product or service accomplished exactly what was needed or desired, and performed under conditions and with such skill, that the customer couldn’t/wouldn’t take it on themselves.  Well, “Working in the cold and dark to fix the problem.” is one of Stevenson’s Plumbing and Electric client’s comment of thanks.

I love to recommend good people. And in this case, not just because they have done excellent work on huge and small jobs throughout Muskoka (I know – many, many of our cottage clients are big fans); everything from complete builds to emergency repairs and the annual closing and opening of the cottage in Muskoka. But because they contribute to our quality of life in countless other ways. I couldn’t begin to list the ways and the events that the Stevenson’s have contributed to the Muskoka community; it wouldn’t do them justice. It is quite simply countless. They invest, and are invested in our community.

This is a family owned and operated business with trucks full of good people and gizmos all over Muskoka.

Today, Stevenson Plumbing and Electric opened their doors with a BBQ to thank the community and celebrate their 20th year.

From left: Brent, Susan, Terry and Blake
The Stevenson’s. From left: Brent, Susan, Terry and Blake

In addition to the BBQ there was a “20 Year” cake and tours of their facility in Gravenhurst.

This was better than ANY aisle at Home Depot. I was amazed at what Stevenson's have at hand, and ready to deploy on that nasty problem.
This was better than ANY aisle at Home Depot. I was amazed at what was on hand, and ready to deploy on those nasty problems.

 

Relationships matter. What makes selling cottages in Muskoka worthwhile.

We received some kind words of praise yesterday from a couple who bought a cottage we had listed.

I am not surprised because I know how much Catharine cares about doing the right thing for all customers, but it is really wonderful when people stop and take the time to let us know!

“We can’t thank you enough for all you have done for us in our search for the perfect cottage. You have gone above and beyond what is expected of an agent.  You were extremely patient with us and not pushy at all when we were scared and undecided about purchasing our cottage.  After spending hours in the freezing cold during the lengthy building inspection you still remained up beat, positive and always had a smile on your face…..You always responded to our e-mails and phone calls (and there were many) within hours.  Answered all of our questions, and when you didn’t have the answer hopped in your car drove to the township office to get the answers.  You gave us many valuable reference for the best trades people.
 
My mother always told me, to be successful in business you need a good lawyer and accountant. I now believe that a good real estate agent is on that list of people required to be successful.  And you are the best in the business!
 
Thanks”

Thank you so much for your kind comments. Some other client comments are here.

Lake Joseph. Out on the April ice.

We were taken by snowmobile today so we could determine a listing price for a very nice Lake Joseph island property.

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45 mph makes for a good wind chill when you’re holding a camera!

We’ve been asked a few times actually, just in the past three or four days: “How thick(thin) is the ice on the big three?” Well we can tell you, as of today it is still very solid. Visibly on Lake Jo, there are no signs of open water except around bubblers and moving water. We have a way to go in Muskoka before break-up.
Below, even right beside the boathouse, the ice is very sound.

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Catharine; either waving, or trying to stop the process altogether!

We can’t show you the boathouse, the cottage, or anything identifiable on the property yet, as it’s not listed. But, here’s an image I made of the point while waiting for the snowmobile to return to pick me up.

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In Muskoka, better late than never; skating rink on the lake.

Most are anticipating spring now, but it seems to still be about a week away before any sort of warmup. Some folks though, are having way too much fun, still enjoying beautiful winter weather.

We were out yesterday, delivering Cottage Life Show tickets to some of our clients (now all friends actually) along with Catharine’s “Welcome Spring” cookies – this year they’re canoe and paddles.

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Among others, we found two by the fire on Pine Lake, two about to go snowshoeing on Lake Muskoka, two just getting back to Lake Joseph from lunch, and … two clearing the snow for a skating rink. That’s right, just days from when the fish huts have to be off Muskoka lakes because of ice break-up, they were making a rink! And having a wonderful time doing it!

The newest rink in Muskoka.
The newest rink in Muskoka.

There’s nothing quite like skating on the lake, at the cottage. Heading inside to relax by the fire afterward is pretty good too.

In 2003, there was virtually no snow in Muskoka until about a week into January. It was quite cold though, so I had a chance to enjoy a very large rink – really cool!

Winter 2003. Took up long distance skate training.
Winter 2003. Took up long distance skate training.

These sort of conditions don’t occur very often, so lake rinks are more a product of dedication and some degree of work(fun). If you want to get started right away, or want to file this away until December-ish 2013, here’s some good, mostly Muskoka stuff:
From Huntsville, someone really into rinks.
Some rink and safety info from a Muskoka cottage products web-retailer.
Keeping the rink smooth from Cottage Life magazine.
And one of many home grown methods to improvise a bodger Zamboni for the ultimate surface.

Signs of spring, or the health of your lake. What are you watching?

pussy willows

Many years ago my Grandmother won a contest with Toronto radio station CKEY (now long gone). I think you had to write in, and the best story about signs of spring won. The prize was a ride in the radio station’s traffic helicopter during a weekday rush hour.  Grannie’s story was something about the pussy willows growing up right out of the snow in front of the Sundial restaurant on the way up to Muskoka (also long gone). Anyway, she gave me the helicopter ride – that was cool!!!

Whether: “is the ice-out”, other signs of spring, habits of wildlife or indicators of a healthy lake, we are often asked about key things cottagers need to know – or go by, and we are happy to help!
But here’s an opportunity to get all the scoops on what to look for: plan to attend the Muskoka Stewardship Conference, put on by the Muskoka Watershed Council. This conference is titled What Are You Watching?

Planned, are talks on algae (identification and monitoring), loon surveying, water quality, landscaping for wildlife, NatureWatch programs and more. There’s even the opportunity to join naturalist Al Sinclair on an outdoor birdwatching session before the talks begin.

Taking place at Nipissing University in Bracebridge, the whole day is only $30 and includes lunch. Register, and get more info here.

Muldrew Lake Cottage Update

We are happy to say that there will be a new family on Muldrew Lake. Particularly exciting to us is that this family is new to Canada, has never cottaged before, but really want to live a “classic Canadian lifestyle,” and they decided, what better way than to cottage in Muskoka.

More details on their beautiful property here.

Catharine is always happy to add the SOLD sticker. Bentley sneaked in to the photo.

Spotted in a Muskoka Cottage: Bonnet Chest

I’m sure the Bonnet Chest isn’t only a Canadian phenomenon. But, if you Google it, you will get lots of Canadian, and only a few US links. Even Wikipedia doesn’t know about them; searching for bonnet chest there will get you nothing. They are not mentioned in the otherwise excellent: The Heritage of Upper Canadian Furniture by Howard Pain. It seems that they may have been a Mennonite piece designed, of course, to protect bonnets. The design made its way into Canada from Pennsylvania and seemed to have become more popular here.

I have always liked their shape. Especially the ones with the upper section projecting out a few inches (chest on chest), highlighting the oversize drawers; makes me want to pull one open and look inside. There’s just something about the lines and the substantial size. So, a bonnet chest has been on my list of things to make for a long time. Recently I saw a fairly good example of what was once a lovely chestnut piece at a cottage we sold. Unfortunately our seller was keeping it, and it moved away.

Now recently, in that case, was more than two years ago. I went out the same week and bought some 4/4 curly maple. It took a couple of weeks a bit at a time to process the rough sawn wood into useable boards. But, it took over a year to build it. Not just because furniture making is done in my spare time. It’s because I was designing my bonnet chest based on ones I liked, while looking at pieces for sale on the local Kijiji and Craigslist.
And while looking, I saw one that I had to buy in Beeton. Over the years it had been pretty much reduced to a pile of water-stained boards, it was 90% apart, had had some type of birds (chickens maybe) living in the lower drawers and all the upper drawers and backsplash were gone – years ago and nobody knew where. But, it was only a hundred bucks or so, what was left was all made of butternut, and the money went to support Beeton hockey so I bought the pile of parts, headed to a sawmill and bought some rough-sawn butternut to replace the missing pieces and took it all home.
It was winter so we weren’t too busy with cottages and within a week or so it was done.
I feel great about saving this one; it could go on for another century or more, rather than rotting away.

Original (mostly) Bonnet Chest

We are VERY busy in the summer, and pretty busy the rest of the year, so I got back to the new chest only from time to time. I am fairly slow with carcass pieces to begin with. In addition to turning some 8/4 maple on the lathe for the legs, which took some time to get around to, I knew I wanted to hand-cut dovetails, front and back in all the drawers. This turned out to be 100 dovetails in all, which makes the piece cool in the builders mind, but added a couple of months to the project in “eked out” time.

Anyway, the bonnet chest is complete now, just as the summer is drawing to a close. We don’t have any bonnets, so we keep dog-leashes in one of the bonnet drawers of the old one, and not much at all yet in the new one.

My take on the Bonnet Chest, in curly maple

100 hand-cut dovetails.

Muskoka Moments starts with a winner!

I posted a few videos today. One is the 1st of a Muskoka Moments collection.

The idea of Muskoka Moments is to show people and places in Muskoka, but more importantly, to try to show the connection between the two.

Our first video Backyard Swamp, Bracebridge, is a perfect example to lead off. The star of the video, shows off his knowledge of the natural world around him and his excellent backyard! The video was created by a newbie to Final Cut Pro -nice work!

If anyone has a 1 or 2 minute video (or aspires to shoot some) that shows the connection between people and our beautiful environment here in Muskoka, let me know.

We can even do the editing for you!