I am lucky in my career. I live in a gorgeous place, spend much of my time with people I admire, and tour incredible cottages on the regular. I am also lucky to live in a place with a bustling summer season, and a real estate partner I can take turns covering in-person business with during the slower winter season.
I decided to take advantage of that this year, and take a trip to visit a friend in England. I booked my trip for four months down the road (in the end of October), crossed my fingers, and waited. When the time finally came there were no travel advisories. I had been double jabbed, and I was all set to go. After six amazing weeks of exploring England, driving the North Coast 500 in Scotland, visiting endless castles, and taking my first trip to Ireland (Dublin), it was time to come home.
There was only one problem… Omicron! My return was originally scheduled for December 15th, in time for me to be home for Christmas. By a week before my planned return the new variant had started to become a major news story. By a few days before? Cases were surging, and travel advisories were being issued. The UK was ahead of Canada in cases – Omicron was set to be the dominant variant in London (where I’d be flying out of) by December 16th – just one day after my flight. I didn’t want to risk flying home & potentially being part of the spread, so I hopped online and booked a new flight – for March! Thank goodness I did. Cases continued to surge, and I was able to book a booster shot here sooner than I would have been able to at home.
Anyway, remote work it is! And there’s another way I’m lucky – aside from a few in person meetings like showings and listing appointments, I’m able to do the majority of my work online. I will have to post another blog about that… it’s amazing how much we are able to do remotely these days! And I have my partner Catharine Inniss on the ground in Muskoka to cover the rest.
If you want some information on the market, or if you’re looking to buy or sell, please don’t hesitate to contact Catharine at 705-801-2304, or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next time, when I talk about some differences between Christmas in Canada and Christmas in the United Kingdom! Merry Christmas everyone – I’m off to eat some pigs in blankets!
As the leaves turn colour and slowly fall to the ground, Muskoka turns to the fourth quarter of the year and embraces a strong real estate market. This fall we are comparing statistics from last September to this September and analyzing the activity from July to July, September to September. Despite the traditional slowing of the market as we face the end of the year, average prices are up (over one million), and the real estate market remains strong in Muskoka. The market has made a slight shift to normal, but still leans heavily in the seller camp.
Median sale price overall is up! This is across The Lakelands, which includes Muskoka, Parry Sound, Haliburton and Orillia.
The Gateway to Muskoka is a popular destination for cottaging and year round living.
The Bracebridge median price is slightly lower than Gravenhurst, but up from last year, which set records.
Huntsville median price is close to $700,000.00. Huntsville has a good combination of non waterfront and waterfront properties.
The median sales price in Muskoka Lakes is over one million dollars. There are plenty of lovely homes and cottages here.
RESIDENTIAL SALES IN MUSKOKA
Today’s snapshot –
There are 278 active listings for a total asking price of $406,536,876.00 The average price is $1,462,363.00. Average days on the market is 59, which is longer than we have recently seen.
There are 67 closed listings for a total price of $70,490,210.00. The average price here is $1.052,093.00. Days on market – 24.
Conditional sales total 29 for a total price of $22,346,700.00. The average price is $770,576.00. Days on market – 56.
Pending sales 237 for a total price of $257,328,494.00 with an average price of $1,085,774.00. Days on market – 33
Overall lack of inventory in Muskoka and the Greater Golden Horseshoe is keeping prices strong. There is a shortage of single family homes, cottages and rental properties. Muskoka continues to be a much sought after destination.
Fall has arrived in Muskoka. The days are getting cool, the colours are changing, and our cottaging friends are preparing to close up for the winter. But the fun isn’t over yet – every year Muskoka has more and more events that that extend the tourist season. We’re grateful for that, because we aren’t ready to say goodbye just yet.
So, what’s there to do in Cottage Country this Autumn?
Cranberry Festival & Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh
The Bala Cranberry Festival is a Muskoka tradition. This Festivals and Events Ontario Top 100 Event has been running for 35 years now, with a mission of extending Muskoka’s tourist season and providing financial assistance to organizations and individuals in need.
Getting your photo taken in Johnston Cranberry Marsh is one of the best fall photo opportunities (must be booked ahead). Don’t worry, they’ll provide the waders. Don’t forget to book a tasting, tour, or wagon ride at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery while you’re there.
These nine Muskoka chairs are a self-guided tour, meant to showcase the best views in Muskoka! The locations of the chairs are: the Bala Town Dock, James Bartleman Island, Hardy Lake Provincial Park, Huckleberry Rock lookout, Moon River Lookout, the Port Carling Wall, Walker’s Point Lookout, the Windermere Dock, and the Port Sandfield Swing Bridge.
September 17- October 31st. A free event, with donations encouraged in support of Hospice Huntsville. Over $15,000 was raised last year! Activities include: “Bat”sketball Toss, Tic-Tac-Toe, Beanbag Toss, Pie Pumpkin Bowling, Sand Put, Slide, Human Hamster Wheel, Mazes, Fall Scavenger Hunts, Pumpkin Slingshot, Trick or Treating “Witches Walk,” and a Food Truck.
Sandhill Nursery also offers a number of Fall-themed workshops – Wreath making, Pumpkin Centrepieces, Harvest Urns, succulent arrangements and more. Workshops fill up quickly – be sure to book ahead.
Or check out their concert series, running from October 8th – October 24th. This is a free, family-friendly event featuring live local talent. Food and beverages available on site from Merci Eh! (fries & poutine) and Canvas Brewery. Donations accepted in support of Hospice Huntsville.
Visit a Lookout Point for a Panoramic View of the Fall Colours
My favourites are Huckleberry Rock in Muskoka Lakes, and Lion’s Lookout in Huntsville.
Huckleberry Rock offers a beautiful view over Lake Muskoka, and is one of the best places in Muskoka to view a sunset! Lion’s Lookout offers an overlook of the town of Huntsville at one vantage point, and overlooks Fairy Lake at another.
A 4 day music, culinary, and beer festival taking place from October 20-23. Local breweries will provide tours and partner with local chefs and restaurants to pair their beer with traditional Oktoberfest fare like sausages, potato pancakes, spätzle, etc.
The breweries participating are: Canvas Brewing Co., Clear Lake Brewing Co., Katalyst Brewing Co., Lake of Bays Brewing Co., Muskoka Brewery, & Sawdust City Brewing Co.
A collection of over 90 murals celebrating the work of renowned Canadian artist Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. Take a self-guided tour beginning in front of the Algonquin Theatre (37 Main St. E., Huntsville), and follow the walking map on their website to view the majority of the murals. Then hop in your car if you’d like to visit the rest of the murals, located in surrounding communities & Algonquin Park.
If you do make a road trip out of it, make sure to download a Tom Thomson/ Group of Seven podcast to listen to while you drive. For history buffs, I’d recommend going with one of the many available that go over the history of the group and their influence on Canada’s art scene. For true crime buffs I’d recommend Haunted Talks Ep. 13 – The Many Deaths of Tom Thomson, featuring Gregory Klages, a Tom Thomson researcher.
Experience the Fall Colours with a Cruise Around the Lakes
This is my favourite time of year to enjoy the beauty of the lakes – especially on a cruise, so you can access the areas with larger groups of deciduous trees – hot spots of bright colour around the lakes! We recommend Sunset Cruises in Port Carling – offering cruises of Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, and Lake Rosseau. They will be running cruises until October 17th. Here is a link to their schedule.
Muskoka Discovery Centre
Over 20,000 sq. ft. of exhibits highlighting the glory of the Muskoka experience, exploring the rich history of steamships, wooden boats, and luxury hotels that helped define our region. Make sure to check out their Watershed Wonders exhibit – an interactive exhibit that teaches you all about Muskoka’s watershed. Build your own watershed, explore and learn how they operate, and meet the creatures that call Muskoka’s shorelines home. Book tickets here.
Take a Flight to See the Fall Colours
See Fall in Muskoka from the most impressive vantage point – way up in the sky on board a sightseeing airplane or helicopter!
Muskoka has a network of trails covering more than 4000 square kilometres of terrain. After thanksgiving is one of the best times to hit the trails – the colours are gorgeous, the crowds are gone, and the wildlife comes out of hiding. Make sure to bring your camera.
Located less than 10 minutes from downtown Huntsville, Steve is a former bus shelter converted to a free community library. I’ve visited Steve a few times now and the selection is fantastic – and always changing. Bring along some books to donate if it suits your fancy.
Steve can be found at 2835 Muskoka District Road 10, or found on instagram @littlefreelibrary_steve
Told you there was lots to do in Muskoka this Autumn! Looking for more? Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Muskoka is a unique, highly sought after and magical place. There are many different kinds of buyers and sellers here. Some merely want a little piece of paradise to escape and camp out in the woods. Others want a mansion on one of the ‘Big Three’, or one of the 2200+ lakes in the district.
And the rest of us are somewhere in between. Waterfront or not, permanent residence or not, we all appreciate being surrounded by water and granite and pine and to do a little swimming, boating, hiking and star gazing.
The privilege can be costly, especially since the pandemic.
Overall prices are up year over year, and have gone up a median value of about $350,000 for waterfront properties since the beginning of 2020.
There were 499 new listings in July and 377 sales. The average DOM (days on market from listing to sale) is 14. Last year the average DOM for July was 23. July 2019 24. July 2018 was 30. We are seeing a trend here.
In terms of dollar volume:
There were 44 sales in Muskoka Lakes. 37 were waterfront and 7 non waterfront. The total dollar volume was $95,220,518.
There were 57 sales in Huntsville. 19 were waterfront and 38 non waterfront. The total dollar volume was $41,870,436.
There were 31 sales in Bracebridge. 10 were waterfront and 21 non waterfront. The total dollar volume was $21,252,027.00.
There were 29 sales in Gravenhurst. 7 were waterfront and 22 non waterfront. The total dollar volume was $19,314,650.00.
There is only a 2.5 month supply of residential properties available currently. The definition of supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes or cottages on the market to sell. Historically, six months of supply is associated with a balanced market between buyers and sellers and a lower level of months’ supply is considered a seller’s market and therefore they can expect to sell faster at a better price. In any market a substantially overpriced property will linger. The key to proper pricing is listing at a reasonable price and encouraging competition. Buyers will only compete when a property is appealing both in terms of features and price.
The trend has been toward less inventory for the last few years – with the exception of a small spike this year due to sellers wanting to cash in on this crazy market.
We do not see the ‘bubble’ bursting. We do not think that there is a bubble. It is a case of supply and demand. And those demanding having a lot of liquidity right now, due to many months of not spending in restaurants, on travel, services like spas, house cleaners, clothing, commuting etc. Interest rates remain low. Cottage buyers for the most part have not been negatively impacted financially by the pandemic.
Inventory has been relatively low for the past several years and we can see why when we look at the relatively low total number of cottages versus the potential buying pool. The Golden Horseshoe has a population of over 7.8 million. Say you considered just one percent of that number – that is 78,000 people in the market for a cottage. And that doesn’t count international buyers or buyers in the rest of Canada.
Some buyers are interested in purchasing to rent their places out. There is a lot of money to be made, but buyers should beware. For those who are perking up their ears, these purchases tighten off an already limited supply. Carefully vet your renters. Property damage is a real risk, as is annoying the neighbours with loud and boisterous behaviour. Enough of that, and the townships may decide to ban rentals.
Congratulations to our winners Anna Bortolus (The Muskojito), Maria D. (Canoe Hoo), and Kinsie Kean of Blooming Muskoka (Blooming in Muskoka).
Did you miss the cocktail judging? Fear not, you can check out some of our judging videos on our instagram highlights here.
Missed this year’s contest?
We had so much fun that we’re making this contest an annual event – with the winners from this year invited to guest judge in 2022! Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next year!
The shoreline is an extremely valuable and important area – not only for personal enjoyment and property values, but for the health of our Muskoka Lakes, and the critters we share them with.
Did you know a natural shoreline can:
Protect against erosion?
A natural shoreline is perfectly engineered to protect against erosion. Native vegetation along the shoreline strengthens the structural integrity of the land and prevents it from falling apart. The roots of the plants grip the earth and provide structure, and the foliage and leaves of the plant reduce erosion caused by rainfall and winds. Aquatic plants and buffer plants right along the edge of the shoreline also lessen the effects of wake hitting the shore.
Maintain or improve water quality?
Buffer plants and shoreline gardens reduce incidences of soil erosion, which has the added benefit of protecting fish habitats.
“One could think of it this way: waterfront plant buffers are like eyelashes to our lakes: they keep the grit and goo out”
Filter overland pollutants and absorb extra nutrients?
Vegetation along the shoreline not only helps slow the movement of surface runoff, but the roots of this vegetation also help absorb surface water – trapping excess nutrients and pollutants in the soil.
An excess of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen is one of the factors that can cause an algal bloom – much like how fertilizing your lawn causes it to grow faster. Given that the other main factors are weather related, keeping these nutrients at a reasonable level are the best defence cottagers have against algal blooms. There are many types of algae – an excess of any of these can be harmful to the aquatic ecosystem, but some types (like blue-green algae) can have dire consequences when it comes to our health and the health of our pets. Most other common types of algae are at their most harmful once they’ve died – they sink to the bottom of the lake and decompose, reducing the amount of oxygen available to fish and other aquatic organisms.
Consuming toxins from a blue-green algae bloom can include headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and other more serious effects. It can also kill dogs and other animals. According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, “people not on public water supplies should not drink surface water during an algal bloom, even if it is treated. In-home treatments such as boiling and disinfecting water with chlorine or UV and water filtration units do not protect from blue-green algal toxins.”
Blue-green algae does more than just threaten our health though – it also threatens our property values. Of particular note is the 2005 toxic algal bloom in Three Mile Lake in Muskoka, a lake which has had more than it’s fair share of blue-green algae related woes. This toxic bloom resulted in property values on Three Mile Lake dropping by about 25%. I guess that’s not much of a surprise to anyone after hearing about the health risks… but we should also mention how repulsive it can look and smell. According to former Township of Muskoka Lakes Mayor Susan Pryke, the worst hit areas of Three Mile Lake “looked like pea soup, with bits of algae floating in the water, sort of like chunks washing up on shore,” and smelled like “garbage that had been left sitting out too long.” Lovely.
Protect wildlife habitats, while ALSO reducing the number of geese that come on your property?
Throughout their lifecycles, the majority of our native Muskoka species depend on a healthy shoreline. The riparian zone (the area that lines the border of the water, with rich moist soils where diverse plant communities can grow) is used for sources of food and shelter, breeding, migration, and for rearing young. This area is also essential when it comes to preventing geese – geese are attracted to open spaces with easy access to the water, and they like to feed on short grass. If you have a goose problem then I’m willing to bet you probably have a grass lawn. A shoreline barrier of native Muskoka shrubs and tall vegetation can help deter them from hanging out on your property.
Moving into the water from the riparian zone, we enter the littoral zone – the submerged area of shoreline where the sunlight still penetrates through to the lake bottom. According to Muskoka Watershed Council, the littoral zone is “the richest natural environment that most of us will ever come into contact with,” with as much of 90% of the species in the lake either living in or passing through this zone. This area (and the aquatic plants and downed trees that it consists of) is responsible for providing oxygen to the lake, spawning areas, shallow protected nursery areas (for fish and amphibians), foraging areas, and hiding spots.
Protect the economic benefits associated with tourism?
Nature is one of the major appeals of Muskoka! Wait to catch a sunset while you watch a Blue Heron fish nearby, a family of ducks float past, or any number of other native Muskoka species encounters. Or just enjoy floating in a lake that isn’t thick with potentially dangerous, smelly, pea-soup like blue-green algae… either way, if the health of our lakes isn’t protected it will result in major tourism-related economic losses down the line.
So, how do you naturalize your shoreline?
Getting started with naturalizing your shoreline doesn’t have to be some gargantuan effort – there are some very low effort ways you can get started on your journey to a healthier shoreline for your Muskoka cottage. Let’s look at a few ways you can help work towards a more natural Muskoka, in order of increasing difficulty…
Creating a no-mow zone near the shoreline to allow vegetation to re-establish
This one could not be easier – simply leave an area along your shoreline unmowed. It is recommended that you leave at least 10 feet, but any amount of shoreline buffer is better than nothing! Ideally you would also minimize the amount of entries you have into the water, leaving 75% of the length of your cottage shoreline to re-naturalize.
Bonus points if you follow this “no-mow” philosophy in the shallow water along your shoreline by using your dock as a bridge to get over the weedy shallow parts of the water rather than clearing the weeds to create a swimming area. That way you can still enjoy a clear area to enjoy the water, without harming this essential habitat.
Placing or allowing woody debris to accumulate along the shoreline
Unless a fallen tree is a hazard to boats or swimmers, consider leaving it be! Not a lot of shoreline trees fall around the lake during a year… and clearing a bunch of them away at once can have disastrous consequences to the habitat they were supporting. By the way, submerged wood not only creates hiding and spawning spots for fish, it’s also a major food source for crayfish, aquatic insects, and small fish.
Active planting of native species
So, you’ve already begun to leave the strip of land nearest to your shoreline alone to re-naturalize… but why not help it along even more by planting some native grasses, plants, shrubs, and/or trees? This is also beneficial in terms of appearance – Muskoka has so many beautiful native plant species, so there’s no need to sacrifice the aesthetics of your cottage. People are often surprised how much they love the look of a naturalized shoreline garden.
Removal or “softening” of existing hard structures like retaining walls
While these hard structures may provide a temporary solution to erosion, they can cause damage to neighbouring properties. They can also eventually fail and damage the shoreline they were originally placed to protect.
Instead of removing these structures entirely, there is also the option of protecting the wall (and your shoreline) with softer measures such as planting buffer vegetation. In the case of rip rap, planting can be done between the rocks – the roots of the plants will help with structural integrity, and the foliage of the plants will help to protect against erosion from waves.
I’ve been loving hobby photography lately, but I’d never thought to capture a lightning storm before. As a child I remember being told that lightning came up through the ground (which is only partially true), so I was surprised to check my pics and see the horizontal lightning bolts.
First: a short explanation of how lightning works, then I’ll explain what I learned about my horizontal lightning strikes!
Lightning is all about the charges – nature always wants to find equilibrium. It’s a natural static discharge where different areas of the atmosphere equalize in charge. Think of it like when you get a static shock from something – it’s the same process taking place.
The most common type of lightning is cloud-to-ground (CG). Generally CG is negatively charged. This channel of negative charge, called a stepped leader, is invisible to the human eye. When it approaches the ground, positively-charged “streamers” reach up to meet it – which explains the “lightning comes from the ground” misconception! These streamers tend to travel up through tall objects like trees, and when they reach the oppositely-charged leader electric current begins flowing – which is why you’re supposed to avoid standing near trees or tall objects during storms.
Occasionally, an exceptional amount of positive charge builds up in the upper levels of the cloud. This too must be balanced out, and since the lightning has a longer way to travel it is much more powerful. Usually these bolts travel vertically to the ground, but because of the high difference in electrical potential they can also travel horizontally before going to the ground. This means that these positive cloud-to-ground lightning bolts can strike from a blue sky many miles away from the storm – a “bolt from the blue.” Since positive lightning has higher peak currents and longer continuing currents, it is capable of heating surfaces to higher levels… which also makes it the type of lightning most likely to start a forest fire.
So anyway, onto our horizontal lightning strikes! The explanation for these bright horizontal strikes is actually pretty simple – differently-charged areas in the atmosphere are simply seeking equilibrium, this time it happens to be two clouds with opposing charges (cloud-to-cloud lightning). As we learned earlier, clouds can be either negatively or positively charged, and nature always seeks equilibrium.
Calling all Muskoka lovers! Submit your best Muskoka-inspired cocktail recipe, and a short paragraph on your inspiration. Our favourite submission will win all of the ingredients of our own custom Cottage in Muskoka cocktail (Muskoka Spirits Co. Legendary Oddity Gin*, Sugarbush Hill Farm Dark Maple Syrup, and Fever-Tree Premium Club Soda), plus an engraved Cottage in Muskoka Yeti Rambler Lowball! You must be at least 19 to enter.
Please tell us:
The name of your cocktail
The ingredients and recipe
The inspiration behind it
How you would like your name to appear (first & last or first name only)
Our favourite entries, based on creativity and “Muskoka-ness,” will be judged for taste by our family over the Canada Day long weekend (woohoo!). Please submit entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or fill out our google form. Entries are due by Friday, June 25th 2021 and the winner will be announced in the first week of July.
Subscribers to our brand new newsletter have been given a head start with their mixology, so if you’re not in on the fun yet make sure to go sign up here! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
*potentially in the form of a gift card – legal investigation pending ?
Looking for an edge to protecting your Muskoka property? We endorse this excellent program being delivered in Muskoka this summer. Please call us if you have any questions or need any help.
2021 Natural Edge Program
MWC has received funding through Watersheds Canada to deliver The Natural Edge Program in the Muskoka area this summer!
The Natural Edge Program guides landowners through every step of the shoreline re-naturalization process, from planning to planting. It empowers property owners to restore their shoreline, protect their water quality, and create habitat for wildlife and pollinators using native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.
Participants in The Natural Edge Program receive:A free site visit to discuss shoreline concerns, provide recommendations, and assess planting conditions; A personalized planting plan, including photos of selected planting areas and ideal plant species; Free resources to ensure that the newly planted vegetation thrives in the first few years of establishment and growth; and Follow-up and support with your new plants. And for landowners wanting to get a jump on planting their shoreline, there are a limited number of Shoreline Re-naturalization Starter Kits available for a low cost, which include:50 native plants including trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers Coconut fibre mats to deter grass from growing around new plantings Tree guards for all deciduous trees Mulch for the wildflowers and ferns Plant Care Guide with instructions on how to take care of your new plants Habitat Creation Guide Wildflower Garden Guide If you would like to receive a site visit this summer, you can sign up at https://www.muskokawatershed.org/programs/the-natural-edge/.
We all know the frustration. You’re trying to open an email attachment with a photo of your grandkids, look at a real estate listing, get some work done, or even just check the weather… and you’d like to not spend all day doing it! While newer internet technologies like fibre are trying to make that a thing of the past, the coverage is majorly lacking. In many areas the fastest high speed internet is just across the street from near-dial-up speeds, and due to the cost and difficulty of rewiring it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon.
Should we just give up and disconnect? No way! Enter SpaceX, with their new Starlink Satellite Internet service. This satellite service will operate via a satellite constellation of at least 12,000 satellites, with more pending approval. According to SpaceX, Starlink will offer speeds up to a gigabit per second – a far cry from rural cottages which often max out at a speed of up to 5Mpbs (a 995Mbps difference!). During the beta testing phase, customers are expected to experience speed variations from 50 – 150Mbps. Even places that currently have no internet availability at all will finally be brought into the 21st century.
This is not traditional satellite service – Starlink’s satellites are in low earth orbit, which will not only make the service more reliable, but will also help keep down space debris. Each satellite is fitted with an onboard propulsion system to deorbit at the end of its life, and in the unlikely event that system becomes inoperable the satellite will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere within 1-5 years. At the higher altitudes used by traditional satellite services, this could take hundreds or even thousands of years. Satellite service also means that unlike fibre, you won’t have to have anything wired to your home to receive the fastest speeds available.
Though it is not fully ready for consumers yet, it is operational! Check out this tweet from Elon Musk, sent in October 2019 via Starlink internet!
He followed up with a second Starlink tweet – “Whoa, it worked!!” According to SpaceX, “Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally, and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021.”
While we truly do look forward to being able to work online at less molasses-like speeds, I, for one, will be celebrating laser-fast internet with a good ol’ Netflix marathon in my PJs!