Category Archives: Muskoka Lakes

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.

20130320-600_0455-Edit
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.

Protect Your Muskoka Cottage Investment. Muskoka Lakes Association seedling sale; re-naturalize your shoreline this spring

The single most important thing you can do to protect the value of your Muskoka cottage waterfront property investment is to protect the water quality of your lake. One of the best ways to help sustain/improve water quality in your lake is to ensure you have a natural shoreline and a buffer zone; an area of natural vegetation running along your shoreline.

20130308-113558.jpg

The function of the buffer zone is to act as a filter for water flowing to your lake, and studies show that they greatly reduce water pollution. The plants and soil absorb runoff water laden with sediments, nutrients and pollutants harmful to the lake. Turf grass does not do an adequate job filtering water runoff, and is very attractive to geese and other nuisance species.

Native Plants … and lots of them!       “Ideally the buffer area is thickly covered with native vegetation. The higher the percentage of the ground that is covered, the better your buffer can work. A landscape made up of native plants is low maintenance. Once established, they can survive without extra watering, and without application of pesticides and fertilizers. Native plants are adapted to deal with local bugs and diseases and can get all the nutrients they need from existing soil.”

On the Living Edge Sarah Kipp, Clive Callaway
 

You can pre-order native plants from the Muskoka Lakes Association.

MLA

“The Annual MLA Seeding Day is scheduled for Saturday May 18, 2013 at the Port Carling Community Centre from 9 am to 12Noon. The emphasis this year will be on Muskoka native species. An order form (with pricing) is available from the MLA website here. We have a lot of seedlings available in some of the most wanted species including White Birch, Balsam Fir, White Spruce, Dogwood and Nannyberry among others.”

Order soon as quantities are limited.  Orders can be emailed to info@mla.on.ca, faxed to (705) 765-3203 or mailed to Box 298, Port Carling, ON, P0B 1J0

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.

Afternoon sail on Lake Muskoka

Now, 10 days or so into fall, we are still completely busy with real estate, almost. I was able to get out sailing today from 3 till dusk.
With the sun setting before seven now, and me still used to long summer evenings, dusk seemed to come quickly along with cold winds. Three in the afternoon was t-shirt weather, then a sweatshirt on top by five, and a foul weather jacket by six.

Sailing south on Lake Muskoka between Browning Island and the mainland.
Flying the colours of the catboat Swell: the Ontario flag and the Catboat Association burgee.

The winds were our prevailing northwesterlies, and in the afternoon at 15 knots with gusts required a reefed sail. By evening they were a nice steady 8 or so so the reef was blown out and I sailed back north.
The evening sail was wonderful; once set, the boat stayed on track without any input from me. I was able sit back and take in the beautiful evening colours as the setting sun accompanied the boat back to Pine Island.

Once I rounded Pine Island, the wind, blocked by the mainland, slackened and I dropped the sail and watched the following sun set to the west.

Goodbye to a beautiful fall day.

 

Skeleton Lake Fish Hatchery

We had a number of meetings of the Muskoka Watershed Council today. Lots of great projects underway intended to benefit our environment, and all of us who reside here or visit. Included in the full council meeting was a presentation of the Skeleton Lake, Lake Plan in development by the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization; wonderful to see the inclusive plan to preserve this, still quite pristine and unique Muskoka lake. Information specific to Skeleton Lake, or any other of the lakes in Muskoka is available on the Muskoka Water Web in the lake data sheets link. Please be aware, if you are not linked-out already, there is an important page to explain how you interpret the water quality data.

Our meeting were held in the Raymond Community Centre, hosted by the Township of Muskoka Lakes. After the meetings we visited Fish Hatchery Park at Skeleton Lake.

Entrance to Fish Hatchery Park

Located just in from 141 of Fish Hatchery Road, the park has an entrance on either side. To the left follow the trails along the river to the falls. To the right the entrance leads to Skeleton Lake and the dam. Although not used as a fish hatchery for a number of years, the park is a great place to take a hike.

The falls at Fish Hatchery Park

I only had a BlackBerry with me for the photo, so imagine what you can do with a bit more control. Bring your camera along and go for a hike to the falls!