Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Whether to stay in or get outside is a question Muskokans are going to ask themselves throughout the winter as we await a fix for this pandemic. Fortunately we’re in an area blessed with vast outdoor spaces in which physical distancing is doable. And while safety protocols must be followed, experts are indicating it’s possible to ski and skate safely this winter. I’ve gathered some suggestions on how and where to make it happen in Muskoka.

XC Skiing

Stay six feet apart. That’s the guideline stipulated by XC Ski Ontario, and it’s an easy measure thanks to the equipment on your feet. The organization states the average length of XC skis is about six feet, giving recreational skiers a simple reference.

Cross-Country ski trails in Muskoka are open this winter, including the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre, where there are more than 16 km of trail for all levels and there’s no fee. Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near Huntsville is also free. Its trails feature fun and informative titles—Turtle Lake Trail and Ski Hill Trail—all lined with varieties of larch, hemlock and massive basswoods.  Offering the motherlode of XC trails near Muskoka, however, is Algonquin Park: 85 km of groomed trails plus 32 kilometres more of ungroomed, wilderness skiing.

Skating Trails

Outdoor ice skating, especially along trails, is widely supported by health officials this season, who cite its benefits and its natural open areas. “There’s a lot of space and a lot of movement, which is good,” says one of Canada’s top epidemiologists. “It means you’re not being exposed to the same people for prolonged periods, and the ventilation is, of course, second to none.”

Listed among the Top 50 Canadian Winter Experiences, the Arrowhead Ice Skating Trail in Arrowhead Park is 1.3 km of fairytale goodness, especially at night when the trailside torches are lit. Winding through dense Muskoka forest, this is a true bucket-list experience. Standard Covid protocols apply, including mask wearing and social distancing. Ontario provincial parks may restrict the number of daily visitors to their parks to ensure safety. Visitors are encouraged to check park rules and limits before arrival.

Alpine Skiing

There are 236 ski areas in Canada and most of them plan to be open this season by adopting the Ski Well, Be Well slogan. Ski resort associations across the country have created Covid safety standards for all resorts, including those situated in or near Muskoka: Hidden Valley, Horseshoe Resort, and Mount St. Louis.

There’s little doubt your favourite ski area will operate much differently than in previous seasons, but don’t let that stop you. Among the protocols: wearing face coverings at all times, changing your boots in the car instead of the lodge, and physical distancing of at least two metres in lift lines. Fortunately, due to lengths of skis and snowboards, distancing within liftlines is achievable.

Singles lines will be eliminated at most resorts; only those within the same party will be permitted to load onto a chairlift. Most chairs are spaced at least 15 metres apart and travel at speeds between eight and 27 km/h, which authorities say ensures directional air flow. At the top of the lifts, skiers will be encouraged to move away from unloading areas as quickly as possible, and will not be permitted to gather.

Again, skiers will be directed to use their cars as baselodges this winter: lunches, snacks, boot changing, and equipment storing will all take place in the parking lot.

And yes, as with all of the above activities, remember to bring your own hot chocolate!

The Women of Winter

Winter has always been a favourite of mine, especially in Muskoka. Snow has a special way of lighting cottage country landscapes by blanketing the evergreens, sparkling the fields, and rendering frozen lakes in smooth, contemplative whites. I’ve been admiring the way Muskoka’s women artists are able to capture this beauty on canvas. Painter Lynda Lynn, for example, a colleague of mine in real estate, is especially talented in catching the feel and colour of a Muskoka winter. Joining her are fellow mixed media artists Wendie Donabie and Janice Feist. This month I’m profiling their winter works. Join me in celebrating these remarkable women.

Lynda Lynn

Perhaps the most recognizable painting by Lynda Lynn is a depiction of downtown Bracebridge during the annual festival titled Fire and Ice. Lynn uses soft watercolours, oils and acrylics in her representationals to put you right there in the scene. In the Fire and Ice painting, you’re walking the store-lined hill on Manitoba Street alongside the artist, sensing the cold and the wind, but also the joy of children as they slide on snow. A profile of the artist in Unique Muskoka explained it this way: “Using this style captures the overall picture but allows the artist to manipulate specific parts to create a more balanced composition for the art piece.” Lynn is a fifth generation Muskokan, her family first arriving to homestead in the 1800s. The place is in her soul. “I love the feel of the soft breezes on my face,” she explains, “the rainbows in the dewdrops, the smell of the land after a summer rain, (and the) softly falling snowflakes as big as feathers.” You can view more of Lynda Lynn’s work at www.muskokaartist-lyndalynn.com

Wendie Donabie

Paintings by Wendie Donabie start with a walk and a camera. Alongside her husband Hugh Nichols, a commercial realtor, Donabie hikes the trails of Muskoka in both winter and summer, seeking what she calls her next muse. “When I witness a scene that causes my heart to flutter and goose pimples to rise on my skin,” she says, “I’m moved to capture the moment with a photo.” Back in her Bracebridge studio, a light sketch comes next, then the painting begins. “I know a painting is finished,” she says, “when I experience the same emotional response that inspired its creation.” In her Heron’s Nest Gallery (95 Muskoka Road), Donabie exhibits a range of her work, from realistic to abstract and impressionistic. Many feature creatures of Muskoka’s streams and woodlands—birds, deer, fish—and many are mystical. Among my favourites: Winter Solstice, an acrylic that captures the sun as it lights a snowy trail in the heart of a Muskoka forest. Wendie Donabie’s work can be seen at www.wendiedonabie.com

Janice Feist

Being surrounded by the lush landscape of Muskoka is Janice Feist’s “idea of heaven”. Living and working here for more than 30 years, the painter and sculptor is inspired by the beauty and ruggedness of the Canadian Shield. “It’s a magical place,” she says, “an artist’s treasure.” Feist has always been drawn to colour and texture. Her paintings capture what it’s like to view a stormy sky in winter, or encounter a wolf or a bear as he roams the leafless woodlands. In sculpture, Feist holds a place in her heart for horses. Hand-built in papier mache, these silent beauties are stoic and majestic, some with snow blanketing their backs and faces. To view Janice Feist’s work, see www.janicefeist.com

Turkeys and Cranberries: Happy Thanksgiving!

There are some sure signs that Thanksgiving is just around the corner: wild turkeys are on the move, often visible at roadside (or on the road) at this time of year; the cranberry harvest has begun; and fall colours are almost at their peak.

In honour of that belly-busting holiday, here are a few fun facts that you might not know about Muskoka’s turkeys or its cranberries.

Gobble, gobble

Did you know that turkeys were extirpated from Ontario in the early 1900s thanks to unregulated hunting and forests that were cleared for agriculture? You wouldn’t know it today—a reintroduction program that began in 1984 was hugely successful and the 4,400 wild turkeys released then has grown into a population of more than 70,000 birds across the province.

Turkeys can run at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour, although you’re more likely to find them sauntering. They seem to particularly enjoy a leisurely stroll when they are in front of your car.

Turkeys sleep in trees…

…which means that despite their large size they can fly short distances.

Some people do still hunt turkeys, although most of us buy ready-to-cook domesticated birds from the grocery store, or maybe some tofurkey for the vegetarians and vegans among us.

Hello, sweet-tart

Cranberries are a classic side dish for roast turkey, loved by some, reviled by others. (If you’re in the latter category, ditch the gelatinous canned stuff and try the recipe below. If it doesn’t convert you, nothing will!)

Did you know that Muskoka has its very own cranberry bog, or that cranberries are native only to North America?

In commercial cranberry operations, the berries are harvested in water to make picking easier: cranberries float.

Indigenous peoples used cranberries not only for food—pemmican is a mixture of dried meat and mashed cranberries—but they also used its juice as a natural dye.

Muskoka’s cranberries are celebrated every year during the Bala Cranberry Festival, which is held on the weekend following Thanksgiving.

And if you want to include some fresh, local cranberries in your Thanksgiving feast, try this recipe. It’s super easy and delicious, with just the right balance of sweet and tart. (Add more sugar to taste if you like it on the sweeter side.)

Killer Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 1 navel orange
  • ½ tsp. grated ginger
  • 4 c. cranberries
  • ½ c. toasted pecans (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the orange peel and add to a pot with the sugar and ginger. Squeeze the juice from the orange and add that to the pot, too. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the cranberries and cook until most of them have popped (about five minutes).
  3. Add the pecans if desired.
  4. Cool sauce and serve. Can be made the night before and refrigerated.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The Golden Encore: Autumn’s Second Act

Summer has come and gone and the cooler weather has prompted a bit of magic: the bright greens of summer trees have become a blazing expanse of reds, oranges and yellows.

It’s not magic, of course (hello, science!), and it’s short-lived, lasting just a few short weeks. But following that initial burst of colour, after the red and orange leaves of the sugar maples and red maples have dropped to the ground, a warm yellow glow remains—the golden encore.

This second act can persist into November and is courtesy of trees like the yellow and white birches, trembling aspen, balsam poplars and tamaracks, the only local coniferous tree to turn yellow and drop its needles in the fall.

The stunning colours are a side effect of a tree’s preparations for the cold winter months. Chlorophyll, the chemical in leaves that gives them their green colour and produces nutrients for the tree, starts to break down in the fall as those nutrients are moved into the trunk. The bright colours of the leaves, which had been masked by the chlorophyll, were there all along.

You can enjoy the golden encore just about anywhere in Muskoka, as well as its adjacent provincial parks, Algonquin and Arrowhead. Go for a drive, take a hike, or head out onto the water for a different vantage point. Find suggestions for driving tours at Muskoka Tourism and Explorers’ Edge.

While we’re talking leaves, and now that there are lots of them on the ground, it raises the question: to rake or not to rake?

The answer is somewhere in the middle. You can definitely forgo the rake, but that doesn’t mean leaving a thick layer of leaves on your lawn either unless you want dead grass in the spring. The best solution is to mulch it: run it all over with a lawnmower and either leave the bits where they lay or you can then get the rake out and drag some of it into your garden.

More tedious, but an equally good option, is to compost it, either yourself or through a green bin program in your municipality if one exists.

What you should never, ever do is rake them, bag them and toss them. Organic matter in landfills doesn’t have adequate oxygen to decompose properly and ends up releasing methane, a greenhouse gas.

Fall means Thanksgiving, too. Here’s to plenty for you to be thankful for this month and beyond. Happy fall!

This Summer, Go Festival Hopping!

What do steel drums, yoga, dogs, art, beer and macaroni have in common? They’re all the focus of festivals happening around Muskoka this summer!There’s a festival every weekend. Some of the more unique offerings are the bathtub races at Rotary Dockfest in Huntsville, the yoga festival and forest run at Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, an on-the-water stand-up-comedy show, and a festival celebrating love in Dorset. Everyone’s favourite Nuit Blanche North street festival, the arts and crafts shows, and classic boat shows are back for another season. And some, like the Butter Tart Festival, Muskoka Ribfest, Muskoka Veg Fest, and the Macaroni Festival, have food at their heart. Many of the events are free or have a nominal cost. Mark your calendars with the dates below, and enjoy summer in style. 

Every Wednesday in July and August, 7-8pm
Concerts on the Dock series (including perennial favourites, the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra)
Town Dock, HuntsvilleAdmission: suggested donation of a toonie (goes directly to the performer) 

July 12-14
Huntsville Ribfest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Admission: $3 (10 and under free)

July 12-14
35th annual Muskoka Pioneer Power Show
J.D. Lang Activity Park (Fairgrounds), Bracebridge
Admission: $5 (Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult)

July 13, 10am-12pm
Butter Tart Festival
Muskoka Lakes Museum, Port Carling
Admisson: $2

July 19, 6pm-midnight
Midnight Madness and Street Dance (there’s a beer garden, too)
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

July 19-21
Muskoka Yoga Festival and 10k Forest Run
Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, Huntsville
Admission: see the website for pricing 

July 19-21
Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show
Annie Williams Memorial Park, Bracebridge
Admission: by donation 

July 19-28
Muskoka Pride Festival
Various activities across Muskoka – see website for details
Admission: free

July 20-Aug 11
The Artful Garden (fans will be sad to learn that this is The Artful Garden’s final year)
1016 Partridge Lane,Bracebridge
Admission: by donation

July 20-21
Dog Fest Muskoka
Bracebridge Fairgrounds
Admission: $5 (under 13 free)  

July 20, 3pm
Algonquin Outfitters Paddle On Comedy Festival
Town Dock/Muskoka River, Huntsville
Tickets: suggested donation $15 (cash only)
Canoe rentals available at Algonquin Outfitters

July 24
Everything Anne of Green Gables Day
Bala’s Museum, Bala
Admission: $5.99/person or $19.99/family of fourbalasmuseum.com 

July 26-28
Muskoka Ribfest and the Muskoka In-Water Boat and Cottage Show
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free 

July 27
Baysville Walkabout Festival 
Baysville
Admission: by donation 

July 27
Nuit Blanche North
Downtown Huntsville 
Admission: free 

August 3
Midnight Madness
Downtown Bracebridge
Admission: free 

Aug 2-4
Sawdust City Music Festival 
Gravenhurst
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website; some shows are free

August 3
Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival 
Annie Williams Park,  Bracebridge
Admission: $30 in advance or $40 at the gate; must be legal drinking age 

August 3, 9pm
Civic Holiday fireworks
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free 

August 10
Muskoka Veg Fest
River Mill Park, Huntsville 
Admission: free 

August 10
Love Fest Street Festival
Dorset
Admission: by donation 

August 10-11
Baysville Arts and Craft Festival 
Baysville
Admission: by donation 

August 16-18
Dockside Festival of the Arts
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst 
Admission: by donation 

August 17-18
Artists of Limberlost Open Studio Weekend
Limberlost Road, Huntsville
Admission: free 

August 24
Muskoka Craft Beerfest
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website, must be legal drinking age 

August 24
Inaugural Muskoka Jazz Festival
James Bartleman Island, Port Carling
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website 

September 14
Macaroni Festival and Busker Fest
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free 

Mmmmm…Maple Syrup!

It must have been an inspired moment, one lost to the annals of time, but whoever first decided to boil down sap into a rich, sweet syrup deserves some serious love!

For centuries, people have been gathering the slightly sweet sap from maple trees each spring to make a delicious annual treat. The methods may have changed—many maple syrup producers now use more efficient gathering systems and advanced technology to aid their efforts—but the result is the same: a tasty nectar that graces more than just pancakes.

Maple syrup is produced all over Ontario, right from the province’s most southern reaches up to Thunder Bay. Maples go a bit incognito in the spring and summer—from afar they blend into the forest canopy—but if you’ve ever marveled at the changing fall colours, you’ll know how ubiquitous these magnificent trees are.

It’s a good thing—it takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup, and Ontario produces about a million litres of the golden goodness each year, second only to Quebec for production levels.

If you’ve ever wondered how maple syrup producers get from the clear sap inside the tree to row upon row of bottled syrup, a sugar bush tour is the place to be.

In March and April, Muskoka celebrates all things Maple with the Maple Trail and Festival. From March 8 to April 27, look for sugar bush tours, signature maple experiences and maple-inspired dining across the region.

Some maple syrup producers even create unique treats for the occasion. At Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm just south of Huntsville, you can try Maple Creemees: soft serve ice cream twirled with pure maple syrup. Others have the classic maple taffy, created by drizzling maple syrup on fresh snow or ice.

Or check out some of the creative ways local bakeries and cafés incorporate maple into their delectable delights. At Affogato Café and Gelato in Huntsville, experience maple gelato. Indulge in a gluten-free Muskoka maple butter tart or sip on a Masala Maple Chai at The Past Shoppe Bakery & Fine Foods in Bracebridge. Or how about a maple pecan apple strudel from The Bakery in Gravenhurst? Mmmmm… maple!

And for the beer-lovers out there, there’s even a maple-flavoured brew for you to sample.

Muskoka’s four craft breweries—Clear Lake Brewing Co., Lake of Bays Brewing Company, Muskoka Brewery and Sawdust City Brewery—have collaborated to create the Pancake Breakfast Specialty Maple Ale, a toasted golden brown ale that is inspired by a perfectly flipped pancake with aromas of cinnamon and vanilla. Complimentary samples will be available at each brewery for a limited time beginning March 17.

The Maple Trail culminates in the Muskoka Maple Festival on April 27 in downtown Huntsville, where there will be live music, tasty treats and a Maple Marché. If you love maple syrup, you don’t want to miss this!

And if the only way you’ve ever experience maple syrup is drizzled over waffles or pancakes (a delicious option), check out a list of maple recipes—like Maple Chicken, Maple Syrup Corn Bread, or Creamy Maple Syrup Dressing—from the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association at ontariomaple.com/recipes.

Ontario May Allow Realtors to Disclose Offer Prices in Bidding Wars

The Canadian Press

January 31, 2019

Ontario home buyers may soon be able to find out the prices and conditions of other offers in bidding wars.

The government launched a consultation Thursday looking at the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, and that’s one rule they’re looking at changing. Currently, if there are multiple bids on a home, the seller’s broker can only disclose the number of competing offers, but not the details of them.

Through this method in a hot housing market, buyers often can blindly offer more than what they initially planned on spending in hopes of beating their competitor.

“Allowing registrants to disclose the details of competing offers to other bidders may benefit both buyers and sellers by making this process more transparent,” the government says in its consultation document.

“Prospective buyers would have better information to inform their decisions, while sellers would know that potential buyers had not been deterred by the prospect of a blind bidding war.”

Realtors have been pushing for this change

The Ontario Real Estate Association has been pushing for a change to that rule and a broader review of the act, and they said they are thrilled consultations are underway.

“The rules governing realtors were set 16 years ago, when smartphones weren’t invented and fax machines were the norm,” CEO Tim Hudak said in a statement.

The industry has changed tremendously … It’s time for the legislation, as well as enforcement and education to catch up with the modern real estate market. – Tim Hudak, CEO, Ontario Real Estate Association

“The industry has changed tremendously since then. It’s time for the legislation, as well as enforcement and education to catch up with the modern real estate market. Updating the rules will increase professionalism in our industry, which is what realtors want and what home buyers and sellers deserve.”

Bill Walker, the minister of government and consumer services, said he is seeking public input to modernize laws governing real estate professionals, to reduce red tape and strengthen transparency and consumer protection.

“We need to make sure the rules governing real estate professionals, and the brokerages that employ them, are efficient, fair and up-to-date with modern realities,” Walker said in a statement.

The consultation document asks if details of competing bids were to be disclosed in multi-offer situations, should that require the consent of all parties, or should it just be the standard, with parties having the ability to opt out. As well, should the disclosure be limited to those actually making offers on a home, or should it be available to anyone who inquires?

The consultation also ponders escalation clauses, asking if the legislation isn’t changed to allow the details of competing offers to be disclosed, should bidders be banned from submitting offers that automatically increase if higher offers are submitted.

Various other areas of the real estate act are under consideration, and the public can submit feedback until March 15.

Top 5 Places to Ski and Snowshoe in Muskoka

Do you hear it? The gently creaking boughs of the trees, the crunch of snow underfoot. It’s winter, inviting you out to play.

There’s no better way to enjoy the serene winter landscape than by ski or snowshoe, and Muskoka offers up plenty of opportunities for both.

Don’t have equipment? Visit a local outfitter like Algonquin Outfitters or Liv Outside for rental gear and then explore some of the best winter experiences around.

Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve (free, no rentals)

Limberlost is open for public use, free of charge, every day of the year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This beautiful spot northeast of Huntsville is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Although you know there are people around, it can sometimes feel like you’ve got the whole place to yourself.

There are more than 70km of hiking trails through forests and around lakes that can also be used for snowshoeing. In winter, the reserve also maintains 30km of track set cross-country ski trails (weather permitting). Be sure to check their website for trail conditions.

Bracebridge Resource Management Centre (free, no rentals)

With 16.5km of groomed cross-country ski trails through mixed forest and easy access off Highway 11 just north of Bracebridge, the BRMC is a favourite location for local Nordic skiers. But sorry, snowshoers – snowshoes aren’t allowed on the trails. There’s just a small (less than 1km) snowshoe loop. You’ll find a trail map here.

Torrance Barrens (free, no rentals)

Go snowshoeing at night? Yep. It’s an otherworldly experience, especially under a full moon in a dark-sky preserve like the Torrance Barrens, southeast of Bala. Who knew there were so many stars in the sky? And the trail is an easy, 3km trek around Highland Pond. Bring a flashlight or a headlamp (a better choice so your hands are free). Check out the Facebook page here.

Arrowhead Provincial Park (fee, rentals available)

Located just to the north of Huntsville off Highway 11, Arrowhead Provincial Park has 28km of classic ski trails, 16km of skate ski trails, more than 8km of marked snowshoe trails, and off-trail snowshoeing options. You can even try out skijoring (cross-country skiing with your dog!). Get more info here.

Algonquin Park (fee) – Okay, so it’s not Muskoka, but it’s not far and it’s worth the drive. Three track set and one wilderness trail offer 110km of Nordic skiing, and many of the parks other trails are available for snowshoeing. Find winter info here. Or embrace the season completely and join park staff for the annual Winter in the Wild Festival.

Bonus trails

Inevitably, with a top five list of anything there are good choices that get left out because five isn’t six or seven or 10. But this being Muskoka, there are of course many more options for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. So here’s a few more:

Echo Valley Nature and Bike Trails (free) – This 3.5km trail network just off Hwy 60 between Huntsville and Dwight is a quiet place to contemplate the winter landscape via snowshoe. Trails aren’t winter maintained.

Gravenhurst KOA (fee, rentals available) – the campground isn’t open in the winter, but the trails are. There are 15km of track set trails. Snowshoeing is available too.

Cranberry Marsh snowshoe trails (fee, snowshoe rentals available) – Johnston’s Cranberry Farm has 10km of groomed snowshoe trails. Cross-country skiing is permitted, but trails aren’t groomed for it so may be a bit rough for skiers.

Making The Season Bright

The days are getting shorter, carols are playing everywhere, and annual Santa Claus parades are popping up all over Muskoka. Christmas is just around the corner…

There are plenty of events in the region to help you get in the spirit, so if you missed the parades mark your calendar for some of this festive fun—maybe you’ll even make an annual tradition of one of them (if you haven’t already!).

If you have wee ones in your life, or if you’re just young at heart, or head to Santafest at Santa’s Village in Bracebridge or catch the Portage Flyer train in Huntsville (our own version of The Polar Express!) to make one last pitch to Santa. Leave a letter for the jolly old elf at a special mail box outside Christmas Tyme on Main Street in Huntsville. Or maybe you’d prefer to watch the big guy don skis for the annual Torchlight Parade at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area on Christmas Eve?

Or maybe your traditions have an outdoor element… a moonlit snowshoe walk on Christmas Eve, a family skate on one of Muskoka’s many skating trails like the ones at Arrowhead Provincial Park north of Huntsville, Memorial Park in Bracebridge, or at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala.

You could light up your New Year’s Eve with early, family-friendly fireworks at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area or head to Arrowhead for the first Fire and Ice night on the skating trail (weather permitting – check their website to confirm). If you already have plans for the big night, you can get a jump on the celebration with a torchlight skate on the cranberry marsh trail on December 29. (All of these events are weather permitting, of course—be sure to check their websites to confirm the fun is still a go before you head out.)

You can create traditions closer to home, too. A roaring fire and friends gathered for fondue night. A build-a-snowman party. Or a day spent baking delicious Christmas goodness. (If you’re not a baker, but need an easy go-to treat that just about everyone will love, try the fudge recipe below. It’s easy as they come, next to buying it pre-made, but you don’t need to tell anyone!)

Super-fast festive fudge

What you need:

  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped pistachios, cashews or walnuts (optional)
  • Crushed candy canes for topping (optional)

How to make it:

  1. Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter or margarine in large microwaveable bowl. Zap in microwave on medium until chips are melted, about 3-5 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking. You can also melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler if you prefer.
  2. Stir in nuts, if desired.
  3. Pour into well-greased 8×8-inch glass baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, if desired.
  5. Refrigerate until set.

(Adapted from All Recipes)

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, happy holidays to you and yours!

 

 

Non-waterfront sales climb to new February record

Residential non-waterfront sales activity recorded through the MLS® system of Muskoka Haliburton Orillia – The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® numbered 155 units in February 2017, up 18.3% from February 2016. This was a new record for the month.

On a year-to-date basis residential non-waterfront sales (249) were running 12.2% above the first two months of 2016. This was also a record for the period.

Sales of waterfront properties rose 12.8% to 44 units in February 2017. This was above both the five and 10-year averages for the month and the highest since 2002.

On a year-to-date basis waterfront sales were up 1.2% from the same period in 2016. This was also the highest since 2002.

“Non-waterfront sales activity has started 2017 at a record-breaking pace, and waterfront sales are running at a 15-year high,” said Mike Taylor, President of Muskoka Haliburton Orillia – The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®. “Supply continues to fall, which is leading to an acceleration in prices for those listings that are for sale. Should currently trends persist, that shortage of supply could potentially also start to bite into those record sales figures.”

The median price for residential non-waterfront property sales was a record $315,000 in February 2017, jumping 39.4% from February 2016.

The median price for waterfront sales was $386,250 in February 2017, rising 24.4% from February 2016.

The dollar value of all residential non-waterfront sales in February 2017 totalled $51.8 million, leaping 61.8% from February 2016. This was a record for the month of February and marked the first February to reach more than $40 million.

The total value of waterfront sales was $19.6 million, edging down 2.2% from February last year.

Summary – Sales by Housing Type
Category February 2017 February 2016 Year-over-year
percentage change
Non-Waterfront Residential 155 131 18.3
Waterfront 44 39 12.8
Includes transactions in all areas recorded by Muskoka Haliburton Orillia – The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®
Summary – Median Price by Housing Type
Category February 2017 February 2016 Year-over-year
percentage change
Non-Waterfront Residential $315,000 $226,000 39.4
Waterfront $386,250 $310,500 24.4
Includes transactions in all areas recorded by Muskoka Haliburton Orillia – The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®
Detailed – Non-Waterfront Residential Sales and Median Price by Area
Non-Waterfront Residential
By Area Unit Sales Median Sale Price
February 2017 February 2016 Year-over-year
percentage
change
February 2017 February 2016 Year-over-year
percentage
change
Muskoka 82 59 39.0 $270,500 $190,000 42.4
Haliburton 6 8 -25.0 $216,500 $181,250 19.4
Orillia 63 62 1.6 $328,900 $259,900 26.5
All Other Areas 4 2 100.0 $377,500 $309,000 22.2
Note: A percentage change of — indicates there were no sales in the same month one year ago.
Detailed – Waterfront Sales and Median Price by Area
Waterfront
By Area Unit Sales Median Sale Price
February 2017 February 2016 Year-over-year
percentage
change
February 2017 February 2016 Year-over-year
percentage
change
Muskoka 24 27 -11.1 $395,000 $310,500 27.2
Haliburton 10 4 150.0 $254,500 $228,500 11.4
Orillia 8 8 0.0 $629,950 $387,500 62.6
All Other Areas 2 0 $428,750 $0
Note: A percentage change of — indicates there were no sales in the same month one year ago.
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