My city folk neighbour was over for a BBQ recently and asked me this question. His family comes from Sri Lanka and they had migrated to Canada through the United States in the pizza business about ten years ago. He was listening to some statistics on the radio recently about the cottage rentals market and paid close attention to what they were saying about the Muskokas. “So where is this place, the Muskokas? And why is it so popular?” I chuckled because although we have only been neighbours for a few short months, my husband and I have spent a good portion of that time answering his and his wife’s questions about Canadian culture and hobbies. Being an immigrant, he really wanted to become more aware of his local options to having fun. They are a young couple and have young children, and travel options for vacation for him and the family are limited as one of their children has a severe case of Autism, so crowded resorts and hotels are not really a viable option.
“Well, for starters it is famous for its forests and million year old rock formations. It has over 1600 lakes and water ways, which makes it popular to boaters and anglers from all over. Those lakes are filled with fish.” My neighbour still did not seem impressed. “I suppose if you lived in a country your whole life where the winters were long and filled with cold winds and lots of snow, you’d have a better appreciation and understanding for what I am about to explain to you….”
I went on to relay to him much of the common Canadian childhood from city folk to country bumpkins. We all get wrapped up in busy lives during the winter, and with the rare exception of the snowmobilers, ski culture and avid ice fish anglers, most people shut in for the majority of the winter season. When the good weather comes, Canadians take it seriously. They fix up their yards, go camping, head out of the city for the weekends and live outside as much as they can, to enjoy the good weather. It’s so short.
The name of the region, coming from the largest lake it was named after, was created from a chief from the First Nations in the 1850’s, Chief Yellowhead or Mesqua Ukie. The government respected him so much; they built him a home in Orillia where he lived a long and popular existence until he passed away at the age of 95.
The Muskokas boast some of the best lakes and rivers memories have to offer. And because they are only about an hour and thirty minutes away from the country’s largest city, Muskoka cottage rentals in those parts has become a huge business. It’s often cheaper to rent a nice place for a week and drive, then take the whole family south for a week in the tropics. The hassle of a bit of traffic is a far less pain in the neck than having to contend with so much of the crowded resorts that really do not provide the relaxing vacation and nature experience many Canadians are looking for. The region sees over 2.1 million visitors annually. It has developed its tourist appeal with lots of golf clubs, lakeside villages, artisan shops, upscale and casual dining spots, multitude of marinas, and lots of different museums and galleries to explore.
There are actually only around 50,000 permanent residents that live in the region, with an additional 100,000 that are seasonal owners, and come and go during the summer months, which have started and taken the trend of cottaging to another level. The rave of cottage ownership and cottage rental has become so popular, that it has attracted the rich and celebrity personalities from all over. Some of the most spectacular estates and island summer homes can be seen in the Muskoka region on Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, and Lake Rosseau. The popular Hollywood personalities lead the stampede of popularity in the hopes that the common man could possibly get a glimpse of a celebrity having a beer on their dock. In boat tours of “Millionaire’s Run” from Gravenhurst, you are directed by a guide who will show you Steven Spielberg’s “cottage”, a multi-million dollar estate property.
So my neighbour gets it now and has started to bug me to use my cottage for his family sometime this summer. I laugh because we are already booked solid with our own family time; we are not in a position of vacancy at all. “Book early my friend, so you are not disappointed. The Muskokas are super popular.”Author: SweetMarie
March 21, 2013