Category Archives: cottage life

Muskoka. Our environment is far more than our economy.

From the Muskoka Watershed Council Lecture Series I have just finished editing and have just posted this video on the Muskoka Watershed Council’s YouTube page.

All of us should be familiar with the fact that in Muskoka, our environment is our economy; over half our GDP comes from tourism and cottaging. In this lecture, Peter Sale attempts to convince us that our environment is far more than our economy.
sale

Every year some 5 billion cubic metres of water pass through Muskoka – that’s 3 1/2 times the entire volume of Lake Muskoka. Half is evaporated or transpired by Muskoka’s forests and plants, the other half – some 2.5 billion cubic metres flows into Georgian Bay. As climate change affects Muskoka – producing warmer and wetter winters, but dryer summers with more intense storms – we may be trying to find ways to hold on to that water, just a little longer; maybe the beaver has a solution for us.

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Peter, who describes himself as a strange, but harmless ecologist, talks about some of the many creatures in Muskoka including the beaver, the expected effects for Muskoka from climate change, an idea or two on solutions, and that there are other ways of valuing our environment other than simply to value it as a storehouse of resources to dig up and take away.

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.

 

Algae and Water Quality. Looking back to see the future

As mentioned in previous posts, cottage owners and cottage buyers want to know about water quality on lakes in Muskoka. Because water quality has a direct relationship to property value, and algae – particularly algal blooms – directly affect water quality, we all want to know as much as we can .

I just completed and uploaded a video here for the Muskoka Watershed Council YouTube page. The subject is a talk that was presented by Dr. Andrew Paterson of the Dorset Environmental Centre at the Muskoka Stewardship Conference at Nipissing University in Muskoka (Bracebridge). The event’s theme was What Are You Watching?

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This highly interesting talk looks at studying lake sediments deposited over hundreds – and even thousands of years. Sediments are archives of environmental change and within them are clues to possible triggers of algae outbreaks.

Dr. Paterson talks about sediment research done in Lake of the Woods in north-western Ontario and the Hudson Bay Lowlands which may help scientist understand occurrences in the lakes of Muskoka. There is discussion on the relationship between water quality and property value for cottagers. The seeming paradox of stable or even declining phosphorous levels – the usual algal bloom suspect- at the same time as blue-green outbreaks are increasing. And of course, the effect of climate change.

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Algal Bloom Three Mile Lake 2005

Of particular note is the 2005 toxic algal bloom in Three Mile Lake in 2005, where research may indicate the possible triggers of record high temperatures coupled with record low precipitation which occurred in the fall of 2005 in Muskoka.

Slide 1

There is significant evidence that a warming climate is related to the increase in algal blooms. Dr. Paterson suggests that if algae was the music that we hear from a radio: then phosphorous is the volume; other nutrients (particularly nitrogen), light, etc., influence what species are present – are the “tuning”; and climate is the antenna. The presentation concludes that blue-green algae likes it hot!

Slide 1

Click here for the link to the video on YouTube.

Sparrow Lake Fishing Derby & Picnic

We have hosted these two events in the past on behalf of the Sparrow Lake Association. I am glad to see it continue; also to see that the fishing derby continues to be catch & release.

We urge all Sparrow Lake and Severn River residents and visitors to join the SLA and enjoy these events as well as the annual Regatta. The SLA does important work to protect your investment in, and enjoyment of, this wonderful area.

Here’s a link to download the Sparrow Lake Association brochure.

Message from the SLA President

Please join us for the annual Sparrow Lake Association Fishing Derby and Picnic on July 6, 2013.

The fishing derby starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 11:30am–no fishing license is required as it is Free Fishing Week in Ontario. All ages are welcome to fish but only children 14 and younger are eligible to win prizes. You are required to hand in an entry form at the end of the Derby to be eligible for prizes. This is strictly a catch and release tournament and tracking of fish caught is on the honour system, as witnessed by an adult. Entry forms will be available at the Franklin Park Dock (adjacent to Silver Pines) prior to the start of the Derby or can be downloaded from our website http://www.sparrowlakeassn.com/fish.html

The Picnic starts at 12:00 Noon on the back lawn at the Silver Pines. The cost is $8 per person for: (1) the choice of a Hotdog or Hamburger; (2) a cold drink; and (3) ice cream. There will be activities  for the children afterwards. Please RSVP by July 3, 2013 and let us know your preference for a Hamburger or Hotdog. You can RSVP by phone 705-684-9241 or by completing the electronic form on our website http://www.sparrowlakeassn.com/fish.html  

We hope to see you all at the SLA Fishing Derby and Picnic.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Bob Corbett

President

Sparrow Lake Association

president@sparrowlakeassociation.com

Flooding on Lake Muskoka

Flooding on Lake Muskoka
Dock system completely submerged

These north Lake Muskoka clients are doing well so far, but holding their breath. They consider themselves very fortunate.

Many have fared worse, we just finished a conversation with Walker’s Point, Lake Muskoka cottagers whose entire 2 dock system has lifted right off the cribwork. “We are hoping that it sets itself right back in place when the water recedes. At least it’s still there; we’ve seen a few float by.”

Lake Muskoka ice is gone!

Quick Update:

We are having some crazy weather here – like many other places. Strong winds with above-seasonal temperatures overnight. At 7:00 am this morning it was 16C, the expected high tomorrow only 1C.  It was all enough to make the ice on Lake Muskoka disappear!

Look at the two images below; essentially the same view separated by three weeks.

Lake Muskoka April 19 7:00 AM
Lake Muskoka April 19 7:00 AM
Mar 29 2013
Mar 29 2013

What do you really want to know? Muskoka Watershed Council wants to hear from you.

In cottage real estate we get asked a lot of questions: Is it weedy?; Eeeew! What’s that stuff?; Why don’t we see crayfish anymore?; My boathouse dock’s underwater – what’s with the water levels this year?; Is my water safe for swimming?; etc. It’s really a lot of fun to answer most of the time!
But here’s a chance to have some of what you want to know, perhaps monitored over time and have it reported on every 4 years!

As many readers of this weblog know, the Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) is a volunteer based non-profit organization with the mandate to champion watershed health in Muskoka; I am one of those volunteers.

MWC produces a Report Card every four years. The Report Card is a science-based evaluation of the health of the water, land, and wetlands in Muskoka and the municipalities that share Muskoka’s watersheds. Three Watershed Report Cards have been released to date (2004, 2007 & 2010)  We are also assisting the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve with the development of a State of the Bay Report for Georgian Bay, which will be released this year.

For the next Watershed Report Card due to be released in 2014, we want to hear from you, what you want to know about the health of our watersheds.
Click on the page below to ask your questions or find out more.

2014_RC_Request

Spring in Muskoka? Nice, but still waiting.

It got up to 8 degrees C today, and really quite lovely, but we have some work to do to get all this ice and snow out of here. Other than today, our high temps have been -2 or so with night temperatures 10 degrees below that.  Lake Muskoka is still totally ice-covered, so the cottage awaits.

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Lake Muskoka at Hoc Roc river.

It looks like temps will be above freezing for … well, after tomorrow.

But, the ice is still very thick; hope so – we have to go price an island property on Lake Jo tomorrow, and we have to go by snowmobile. I might wear a CO2 lifejacket I got as a sailboat gift at Xmas … just for warmth of course.

Walking the Dogs

There is a way to tell that it is spring in Muskoka. It is subtle, but encouraging because, you may know that we still have lots of snow here in Muskoka and we need encouragement. But we have light, more light, and I love light!

Steve and I walk the dogs late every afternoon. Until fairly recently we have had to outfit them with their special Muskoka walking lights. They fit on their collars and blink. Blinding for us, but safety for them. We march down by the cottages, leashes in hand. When we get to Chamberlain’s TimberMart, we can let them off their leashes. Chamberlain’s is gracious enough to let us walk our dogs offleash. And they have a wide dirt road, and a large forest. Good for everyone!

Peel out Boys!
Peel out Boys!

We are very proud of the fact that we walk our dogs daily. Caesar says that dogs need exercise first, discipline second and love third. So we are on it! Bentley is a little Muskoka boy through and through, and Askim is from Iqaluit. I will fill you in, in another post. Our dogs seem to love living in Muskoka and they look very fit and healthy. I, on the other hand, look a little less fit. Don’t worry about me, I am in good health, but my tummy just won’t budge from under my belt. It finally dawned on me why the dogs look so slim and fit and I don’t. They are constantly running in and out of the forest and playfighting all the way.

So – I am sure you can guess what is on the agenda for me. Steve???

Spring at the Cottage in Muskoka … not here, not yet.

Many times in the past, at work in Toronto, Chicago, Orlando, or Boston, I’d hear about spring equinox (night and day of approximately equal length) and begin to wonder how conditions were at our Muskoka cottage.

In case you are at work planning for spring at the cottage, I have an update for you. Depending on where you are, it may not be all that spring-like, and it isn’t here either.
On Lake Muskoka, I made this image less than 20 minutes after the spring equinox today (Mar 20th). It’s hard to tell, but it was snowing and the high today is expected to be -2C.

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Lake Muskoka from Muskoka Beach area. Mar 20, 2013, spring less than an hour old.

Here’s how the spring weather looks coming up this week:

forecast

If you are reading this a bit later here’s the current forecast.

And have a look below at the historic records for this date. Last year we hit 24.8C – much better than -18 in 2007!

records

We did have an “early” spring last year and cottage real estate, just took off for us.

Speaking of spring, we’re at the Cottage Life show on April 5th -7th, really getting the cottage season jump-started; actually we are there Sunday the 5th from 1-5pm, so come and say hello.

If you want tickets give us a call.