There’s something special about food you can find on the street. Noshing on freshly cooked fare in the fresh Muskoka air is delightful, and food trucks have been popping up all over the region. In addition to preparing tasty dishes from often locally sourced ingredients, food truck owners can usually give you the down-low on other local fun while you wait. Here are five of them that also have a unique offering.
Location: 345 Ecclestone Dr in Bracebridge
On the menu: Local fresh ingredients with a gourmet twist – Sully’s Gourmet Burger, Ensenada Fish Tacos, Cauliflower Taco, Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich, Fish and Chips, Poutine, an ever changing featured item, plus lots of yummy sides
Fun fact: This food truck is on the move – you can always check and see where they are on their Facebook page.
Frenchie’s Crêpe Café
Location: Huntsville at the corner of Main Street East and Centre Street North
On the menu: Crêpes both sweet and savoury. Locals rave about the honey garlic chicken crêpe (seasoned chicken, spinach, roasted peppers and feta smothered in honey garlic sauce and served in a warm, freshly made crêpe). But there’s also La Marquise with brie, chicken, spinach, strawberries and toasted almonds, or the sweet Muskoka crêpe —Frenchie’s take on ‘smores—with Nutella, marshmallows, chocolate sauce, Graham crackers and whipped cream. Yum.
Fun fact: Chef Thibaut Bellenoue has adapted his grandmother’s crêpe recipe for this new venture.
Location: In the heart of Bala, just north of Bala Falls on Muskoka Rd 169
On the menu: Everything but the kitchen sink. The Mystery Diner offers a dizzying array of choices including Dam burgers (it’s just down the road from the dam at Bala Falls), Omeletacos, Cheezy Queso-dillas, Indonesian-style Fried Noodles, Deep-Fried Chicken Burgers, Poutine and fruit smoothies.
Fun fact: The ‘Bala bog monster’, the sculpture formerly called Koilos, guards the diner. It has been around: it sat on a dock on Lake Muskoka for a while, and before that was in Toronto’s Distillery District. It was originally created for the Burning Man festival held annually in the Nevada desert.
Cheesus Murphy and the Grateful Bread
Location: 2611 Muskoka Rd 117, Baysville
On the menu: Possibly the best grilled cheese sandwiches you’ll ever taste. This food truck elevates a kids’ classic to a whole new adult-appropriate level. (Although who ever said that cheesy goodness was just for kids?) And with offerings like the Lord Tunderin’ Cheesus with heaps of shaved ham, Swiss and mozzarella, the Weeping Cheesus, named for its crispy cheese ‘skirt’, the Sweet Cheesus with granny smith apples, Havarti, cream cheese and vanilla fruit dip, or the heart-stopping 4:20 burger which uses grilled cheese sandwiches in place of buns, you won’t go home hungry.
Fun fact: The truck’s name is a play on rock band the Grateful Dead—fans used to make grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot while waiting for the concert to start.
Grillicious Gourmet Food Truck
Location: Sawdust City Brewery (397 Muskoka Road N), Gravenhurst
On the menu: You really can’t go wrong with anything on this menu, but the smoked trout poutine or bulgogi beef poutine are to-die-for options that you’re not likely to find anywhere else.
Fun fact: The name of the adjacent craft brewery, Sawdust City, is a throwback to the late 1800s when lumber was big business in Gravenhurst.
The Frying Dutchman Co.
Location: 72 Main Street West, Huntsville
On the menu: All-vegan choices that everyone will love. The Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich is so much like meat, you’d swear it was pulled pork! Or try the Chunky Helper Monkey fries topped with BBQ jackfruit, gravy, fresh onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. The Frying Dutchman also has vegan baked goods to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fun fact: The Frying Dutchman is Muskoka’s first plant-based food truck serving a traditional chip truck menu.
There are other food trucks across Muskoka, too, of course. Summer is the perfect time to get out and explore them all and decide for yourself which one is best. (But maybe not all in one day. Your waistline will thank you.)
Okay, maybe that’s not quite how summer is spelled but it certainly is the season for festivals. In Muskoka they come in an incredible variety, and if you wanted to you could spend just about every weekend festival hopping around the region.
Some are brand new, like the Muskoka Veg Fest (a vegan festival) and the Macaroni Festival (in homage to Huntsville’s one-time Macaroni Factory). Some are back for the second or third time, like Dog Fest and Love Fest. Others, like the vintage boat shows, have been around for decades.
There’s bathtub races and beer, arts and crafts, fringe performances, yoga and more! General admission to many of the events is free or has a nominal cost.
If you want to check them out, mark your calendar with the dates below. Have a fantastic summer!
38th Annual Vintage Boat Show
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Rotary Dockfest and ArtSplash
Town Dock and River Mill Park, Huntsville
Muskoka Yoga Festival
Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge
See the website for workshop and pass pricing
34th annual Muskoka Pioneer Power Show
J.D. Lang Activity Park (Fairgrounds), Bracebridge
Admission: $5 (Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult)
Muskoka Buttertart Festival
Muskoka Lakes Museum, Port Carling
Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show
Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge
Admission by donation
Dog Fest Muskoka
Morrison Meadows, Bracebridge
Everything Anne of Green Gables Day
Bala’s Museum, Bala
Admission: $5.99/person or $19.99/family of four
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Free general admission
Muskoka In-Water Boat and Cottage Show
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Muskoka Antique and Vintage Show
Port Carling Community Centre, Port Carling
Admission: $6 (Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult)
Baysville Walkabout Festival
Admission by donation
Nuit Blanche North
Free general admission
Sawdust City Music Festival
Ticket prices available on the website
Griffin Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival
Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge
Admission: $30 in advance or $40 at the gate; must be legal drinking age
Baysville Arts and Craft Festival
Admission by donatio
MLA Antique Boat Show
Muskoka Veg Fest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Dockside Festival of the Arts
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission by donation
Love Fest Street Festival
Admission by donation
Artists of Limberlost Open Studio Weekend
Lake of Bays Antique and Classic Boat and Car Show
Admission by donation with proceeds to the Baysville and Dorset Winter Pantry Food Program
35th annual Bracebridge Antique Show and Sale
JD Lang Activity Park (Fairgrounds), Bracebridge
Muskoka Craft Beerfest
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Ticket prices available on the website, must be legal drinking age
World Waterski Show Tournament
Deerhurst Resort, Huntsville
Tickets: $10 in advance or $20 at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free.
(From The Globe and Mail)
People from the Toronto area who are looking to buy a lakeside retreat north of the city are finding relatively few sellers in cottage country this year.
The scarcity is in turn pushing up cottage prices on some of the most sought-after lakes.
“It’s kind of the classic squeeze that the supply is going down but the demand is static or going up,” says real estate agent Paul Crammond of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
The trend which spreads from Orillia up to Muskoka, Lake of Bays, Parry Sound and Haliburton, mirrors the Toronto market, where the number of listings has also shrunk from this time last year and the increased competition is boosting prices in key neighbourhoods.
Across that swath of cottage country, there were 117 sales of waterfront properties in April, compared with 238 a year earlier, Mr. Crammond says .
That marks a 51-per-cent drop. At the same time, the median price jumped 39 per cent to $600,000 in April from $432,000 in April, 2017.
Mr. Crammond adds that not every property saw such a dramatic surge in price: the mix of cottages sold tilted towards the high-end segment this year. “Prices did go up but there more expensive properties sold in April this year than April last year.”.
On the waterfront in Muskoka and Lake of Bays, 43 properties changed hands in April to mark a 43-per-cent drop from April of 2017.
The median price for those areas spiked 30 per cent to $770,000 from $590,000.
Mr. Crammond says listings have been shrinking for the past four years. The Ontario economy is strong so people are less likely to need to sell because of financial hardship, he points out. Also, more neighbours are buying out neighbours without the cottage ever coming to market. And a large inter-generational transfer of wealth from older parents to their baby boomer kids has taken place.
Real estate firm Royal LePage is forecasting that prices for recreational properties in Ontario will rise 10.4 per cent in 2018 to an average of $535,885. Royal LePage, which surveyed agents across the country, looked at all types of vacation homes – with mountaintop chalets and forest cabins mixed in with waterfront cottages.
Real estate markets in the city and the country have been delayed by a long, cool, damp, spring, agents say.
Anita Latner of Anita Latner Realty Inc. says everything in cottage country is behind by about six weeks, including the painting, repairing docks and putting boats into the water. “The weather took its toll on everything. I was chopping ice here in April – thick ice.”
Ms. Latner believes that stock market gyrations caused by geopolitical tensions also add to the air of anxiety.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Quebec and his outbursts against the North American free-trade agreement will not dissuade serious cottage buyers, in her opinion, but the stock market volatility may slow down some sales.
“They’ll find a way – it might just take a little longer,” Ms. Latner says of potential buyers who might be planning to sell stock in order to invest in a cottage.
She says sunny skies and warm temperatures are a bigger factor than politics and financial markets. “The weather trumps Trump at the end of the day.”
Mr. Crammond says people in the city don’t even think of venturing north when it’s cold and wet. “We need good weather for people to get revved up about cottaging. April was a disaster and parts of May we’re not much better.”
Mr. Crammond, who is selling a place of his own on Lake Rosseau this year as he moves to another cottage around the bay, says more listings have appeared with the warmer weather in the past 10 days or so.
Some real estate agents in Muskoka are setting offer dates when they think they might be able to entice multiple bids, he says. The practice is most common on the “Big Three” lakes of Joseph, Rosseau and Muskoka. “Before this shortage of property, we never did that.”
In areas outside of the Big Three, multiple offers are not common but a buyer might find less room to negotiate down from the asking price.
In another echo of the city market, there’s a divergence of trends. The most coveted properties sell quickly and even draw rival bids while others languish.
Mr. Crammond thinks that buyers have been slow off the mark because of the uncertainty surrounding the Ontario election. He has a sense that some potential buyers – especially at the upper end – we’re hesitating to make any big financial bets.
“People have been looking at properties but maybe haven’t been acting on them as much as they normally would.”
Now that a new provincial government has been elected, buyers may be willing to move.
He explains that cottage buyers are more sensitive to price hikes than city house hunters. While the Toronto market saw double-digit house price increases for several years leading up to 2017, cottage prices since 2009 have been creeping up at, or slightly above, the level of inflation.
“There’s a limit to what people can afford and will do. A cottage is a discretionary purchase,” he says.
“You can’t take buyers for granted that they’re going to pay any amount for your property.”
Prices in some segments have risen 25 per cent over the past four years. But some sellers try to aim for 15 to 20 per cent about that level when they list a property.
“Guaranteed it will sit there,” Mr. Crammond says. Buyers are very educated about market values. “They will knowingly overpay for a place in the city because they need a place to live. That’s not going to happen here.”
Ready for a party? Celebrate Canada Day at these local events!
Oh, Canada―we do love you. And we love a good party, so Canada Day is the perfect excuse to live it up a little. While this year’s celebrations will be a little more subdued―who can beat a 150th birthday party?―there’s still plenty of fun to be had around Muskoka. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy the occasion, check out these local events:
Muskoka Heritage Place in Huntsville will celebrate ‘Dominion Day’ with some old-time fun. Admission to the Pioneer Village is free until 11:00 a.m. and there will be free strawberry scones, tattoos and stickers while supplies last. July 1 is also the day that MHP’s historic Portage Flyer train gets “steamed up” for the summer season.
Later in the day, take in the fireworks over Hunters Bay at dusk. The best vantage points are at Avery Beach or the old train station.
The Port Sydney Beach at Mary Lake comes alive with Canada Fun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There are activities for all ages including live music, a BBQ, sand castle building (BYOT), wearable crafts, games & more! Follow @psparksandrec on Facebook for information.
Join the BIA along Manitoba Street starting at 4 p.m. to celebrate everything that is Canadian! Enjoy the BBQ, fun inflatables and live music and stay for the Rotary Club Fireworks Spectacular.
Lake of Bays
On June 30, the Baysville Station 40 Fire Fighters fireworks show will take place at dusk (9:30 p.m.) at the dam in Baysville. Come by boat, car or on foot. Donations accepted to help offset the cost of the fireworks so they can continue next year. (Rain date: July 1.)
Also on June 30, celebrate Heritage Day at the Dorset Heritage Museum on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Take part in interactive heritage exhibits indoors or on the museum lawn where you will also find a Unique Market Place featuring local artists, crafts and food delectable.
Also watch for a unique event in Dorset on July 1. Local resident Glenn Vickery began a swim around Lake of Bays―almost 200 kilometres!―in May to raise awareness for shoreline preservation and water quality. He’s swimming in stages of five to eight kilometres each time and he’s planning to land in Dorset July 1, where he hopes to have a swim-related events. Follow Glenn’s journey and watch for details on Instagram @glenn.vickery.
Visit the Muskoka Lakes Museum for a Canada Day open house and check out their ‘Winter in Muskoka’ interactive display and exhibit. There will be refreshments and free birthday cake. (Yay, cake!)
Join the Town of Gravenhurst and music on the barge for a day-long celebration, including concerts by the Bi-Focals Concert Band, the Orillia Silver Band, and The Little White Lies.
As the date draws closer, more event details will likely be added. Watch the links above for updates. Happy Canada Day!
With warmer weather finally arriving in Muskoka (go, spring!), the lakes are opening up and it’s time to start thinking about getting in and out on the water.
There are plenty of ways to do that―swimming, of course (though you might want to hold on that for just a little bit longer…brrrrr), canoeing, kayaking, boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding and just lazing around on the dock or the beach.
But there are some unique ways to enjoy the water, too, both as a participant and as a spectator. Here are a few suggestions to check out this year:
If you’ve never taken a tour of local lakes by boat, you can visit almost all of Muskoka’s largest lakes in style even if you don’t own a boat yourself. Most people are familiar with the iconic Muskoka Steamships―the RMS Segwun and the Winonah II―both of which will set sail for the season in May at the Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst. If you stop in to check them out, be sure to head to the nearby Discovery Centre to see the new Watershed Wonders exhibit, opening in July, that includes interactive displays and a virtual aquarium. Also in Muskoka Lakes, Sunset Cruises out of Port Carling and the Lady Muskoka in Bracebridge offer a variety of tours. Over on Lake of Bays, you can take a cruise on the SS Bigwin. And watch for the new Algonquin II tour boat in Huntsville, launching mid-June, following in the path of the steamer Algonquin that plied local waters from 1905 to 1952.
If you love the quiet of an early morning paddle in your canoe or kayak, get a different perspective on the water from a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). They’ve been gaining in popularity and can be rented from local outfitters if you don’t have your own. You can even try SUP Yoga through some of the local yoga studios. (It’s not as difficult as it sounds!)
If you want to challenge your paddling skills, check out the Big East River X in Huntsville on May 26. With a 9-km family/recreational course and a 40-km marathon paddling course, the event offers canoeists, kayakers and SUPers the opportunity to test their mettle over longer distances. But if that’s not enough of a challenge for you, the 24 Hours of River X in June and the Muskoka River X in September are marathon events that attract paddlers from around the world. Spectators are welcome, too.
Finally, have you ever wished you could fly? You can come close on a flyboard. Propelled by a high-pressure stream of water, a flyboard lets you soar up to 50 feet above the lake. And once you’ve got that mastered, you can even do flips and other tricks. SWS Watersports can teach you how. They also host weekly ski shows across Muskoka that are free to watch.
Muskoka’s lakes are its gems. Here’s hoping you have abundant opportunity to enjoy them this summer!
The weather is warming, the snow is melting (later than usual this year), the trees are still waking from their long winter slumber, and the small but mighty human nemesis – the black fly – has not yet emerged. All of these things make April one of the best times to check out local trails. You’ll see a different landscape than you’ll experience in the summer or fall, with some increased opportunities for spotting wildlife that might otherwise be hidden by foliage. Break out your waterproof footwear, though. Shady spots might still be mucky or snow-covered.
You might already have some favourite hikes in Muskoka. If these ones aren’t among them, I highly recommend checking them out.
In recent years, word has been getting out about the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve. It’s a privately owned, 10,000-acre forest that has maintained trails open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year. There are 10 main trails with a combined length of more than 70 kilometres. Among the highlights of this hidden gem are scenic lookouts, a quartz deposit, a bird sanctuary, lakeside boardwalks, charming rest cabins, and a trail dotted with wildlife statues. Be sure to check out the resident goats, too. Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve is located 22 kilometres east of Huntsville off Limberlost Road. The trails are free to use – you just have to sign in when you arrive.
Also of note in North Muskoka are Hunters Bay Trail with its new floating boardwalk and Lions Lookout, both in Huntsville; and the Echo Valley Nature and Bike Trails and the Oxtongue Rapids Hiking Trail near Dwight. There are beautiful trails in Arrowhead Park, too, which re-open for the summer on May 11, but a park permit is required.
The Bracebridge Resource Management Centre Trails are easily accessible off Highway 11. A favourite with hikers and mountain bikers alike (and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter), the BRMC trails offer 19 kilometres of woodland to explore along with some vistas of the Muskoka River. The trails are well groomed and there are options for all abilities.
Other trails to check out in South Muskoka are Wilson’s Falls in the heart of Bracebridge; Peninsula Trail beside the wharf in Gravenhurst; and the Torrance Barrens Trail near Bala, which is also a dark-sky preserve – a wonderful place for star-gazing.
For details on these trails and more, the Muskoka Trails Council is a great resource. You’ll find them at muskokatrailscouncil.com.
It’s a sweet time of year in Muskoka! With the arrival of warmer days but still cold nights, Muskoka’s maple trees have awoken from their long winter slumber to share with us that most wonderful of spring treats: sap.
On its own it’s a bit underwhelming – slightly sticky and subtlely sweet – but when boiled down into syrup it makes a delightful topping or sweetener for just about anything. (Who says maple syrup is just for pancakes?) If you want some culinary inspiration, you’ll find some maple-themed recipes courtesy of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association here.
Did you know that Ontario produces four million litres of maple syrup every year? Or that Canada produces 90 per cent of the world’s maple syrup? Or that it takes 40 litres of sap to make just one litre of maple syrup? That means our province’s maple trees give up 160 million litres of sap each year for us to enjoy!
A great way to learn more about how maple syrup is made – right from knowing when and how to tap the trees right through to bottling – is to take a sugar bush tour. Most maple farms offer them at this time of year, or you can check out the annual Muskoka Maple Trail which runs from March 9 until April 20.
In addition to six different sugar bush tours, the Muskoka Maple Trail also offers a variety of maple-inspired cuisine and activities to try. Like a maple bacon butter tart (just when you thought a butter tart couldn’t get any better!) or maple gelato. Or take a sleigh or wagon ride through a Muskoka maple bush.
If you’re a craft beer fan, you won’t want to miss the maple-licious result of a collaboration between Muskoka’s three craft breweries, Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge and Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst. Together they’ve created the Pancake Breakfast Specialty Maple Ale – a toasted golden brown ale with a doughy malt centre, aromas of cinnamon and vanilla, and a lingering sweet maple syrup finish. But it’s only available in complimentary sample sizes at the breweries – watch for it on tap after March 17 while supplies last.
Finally, you can wrap up the spring celebration of all things maple at the culmination of the Muskoka Maple Trail – the Muskoka Maple Festival in downtown Huntsville on April 21. This free, family-friendly event features an all-day pancake breakfast, maple syrup producers, live music, arts and crafts vendors, unique maple items and gifts, street performers, interactive events, a beer garden and more!
You’ll find a map of the Muskoka Maple Trail and details on the Muskoka Maple Festival at muskokamaple.ca.
We expect the introduction of tighter mortgage rules in effect in January 2018 to cool the housing market slightly, more urban buyers will look to Muskoka for a four-season cottage to live in year-round as they are priced out of GTA.
There is already a sizable market segment living here which works remotely, and with companies more open to flexible working solutions, it will continue to pave the way to a steadier migration from Toronto to Muskoka.
Buyers today are becoming savvier and understand the value of potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing here and not being hit with a double land transfer tax in Toronto. Why not? Especially when our region is viewed as a great investment because of the associated lifestyle. Dollar for dollar the value of people’s hard-earned money simply goes further here, the dream of detached home ownership is more attainable. Our members are very excited about The Muskoka Airport feasibility proposal, adding daily flights to and from Toronto would open a potential new residential market.
In 2018, many homeowners that once favoured super-low-rate variable mortgages, will likely return to the five-year closed mortgage in response to the rising interest rates of 1 per cent.
We are seeing more winter activity and earlier spring buying to snap up cottages for the first long weekend in May. Our market is expected to continue to be strong with brisk sales early in the season, adjusting to steady sales throughout the summer and fall. Multiple offers can be expected on properties that are in good condition and properly priced.
Buyers’ want lists are becoming more nuanced, with less expectation of the typical western exposure with gentle slope to water, and large frontage.
Parry Sound Muskoka Haliburton Orillia — The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® is a not-for-profit professional association representing over 770 local REALTOR® members. Our members serve both residential and commercial real estate in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country. The region, known worldwide for its lakes and forests, is home to both larger cities and smaller vibrant communities. It’s home to a thriving tourism industry and a growing telecommuter base for the Greater Toronto Area.
“Many clients are getting referrals from their favourite realtor in the city to a Muskoka realtor, and are understanding the value of using a local realtor who know cottage country firsthand,” said Mike Stahls president of The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®.