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Muskoka/Parry Sound

Driving Ontario’s Big Chute Marine Railway


Big Chute dam (Photo: Yulia Rabinovich)

It is one of the most picturesque drives in southern Ontario, yet very few know about the winding road to Big Chute Marine Railway north of Port Severn, two hours from Toronto. On this route, you’ll see Ontario at its best while passing stunning views of marshes, rocky formations, lakes, islands and thick forests, ending up at the railway boat lift at Lock 44 on the Trent-Severn Waterway, the only inclined-plane boat lift left in North America.

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Muskoka Steamships—Georgian Bay, Ontario

Every Friday we feature an inspirational travel photo of a Canadian destination.

Why we chose it: Muskoka’s historic RMS Segwun steamship launches its cruise season this weekend. We love the perspective of this photo of the Segwun and its sister ship, the historic-replica Wenonah II, which makes them look especially imposing. The just-after-dusk light creates some stunning colours. Can’t wait to climb aboard! (more…)

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Andrew Dymond


As executive chef at Taboo Resort, Dymond heads up the luxury property’s lauded Elements fine-dining restaurant, tasting-menu-oriented Culinary Theatre and casual Boathouse eatery. Having cooked at distinguished hotels in southern Ontario and Europe, he crafts globally inspired cuisine based on the freshest available ingredients.


Grenville Farms and Four Seasons Greens provide Dymond and his staff with a wide variety of Muskoka-grown produce, while Windermere’s Winding Fences Farm is his source for naturally raised beef and Berkshire pork.

MAP: Our Guide to 16 of Muskoka’s Best Nature Trails and Hiking Destinations


View Muskoka Trails: Pathways to Fresh Air and Fun in a larger map

Nature takes centre stage in Muskoka with daily performances by 250 species of birds, 50 types of mammals and 25 species of amphibians. Turn off the iPod and open your ears to Muskoka’s natural sounds by hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking through the region National Geographic Traveler selected selected as one of the top 20 “Best Trips of the World” for 2012. No gas required and no stress allowed.

Here, we’ve mapped some of our favourite trails for you to explore (zoom in close to see all the smaller trails).

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Randy Spencer


Chef Spencer has been a gastronomic standard bearer in the Muskoka region for many years. With his wife, Karen, he owns Spencer’s Tall Trees, a venerable restaurant in a century-old house overlooking Hunter’s Bay.


Spencer’s menu balances classic and contemporary elements in dishes that are at once cosmopolitan and clearly Canadian—rack of lamb with mint-infused spaetzle and hoisin-glazed baby back ribs are among its recent offerings. In summer, vegetables are sourced from Brooklands Farm in Bracebridge. A significant portion of the restaurant’s award-winning wine list is composed of Niagara vintages, while its own house-made pies are a sought-after delicacy distributed by a number of Muskoka retailers.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Shaun Crymble


Toronto-trained chef Crymble manages the culinary operations of two restaurants, a bar, a poolside café and room service at The Rosseau, crafting continental and Italian-influenced menus for the resort’s discerning guests.


A rooftop herb garden supplies some subtle flavours and aromas for summer offerings—basil is particularly favoured for pizzas and fresh breads, while The Rosseau’s bartenders clip mint for mojitos. Tasty, too,
are the Ontario cheeses that Crymble plans to use this season. Cranberries from Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala are also a staple.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Rory Golden


A longtime proponent of the Savour Muskoka culinary initiative, Deerhurst Resort executive chef Rory Golden is committed to filling his menu with seasonal ingredients found close to home. In summer he also highlights the power of the barbecue with lots of grilled meats and vegetables—even grilled desserts.


You’ve heard of the 100-Mile Diet. At Deerhurst it’s more like the 100-metre diet—herbs, mushrooms, honey and maple syrup are all on site. Farther afield, Golden sources Ontario ingredients such as omega-3-enriched pork from Willowgrove Hill farm near Stratford. The chops are given a maple glaze and served with a tomato and locally made Big Ass Garlic “jam”.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Christine Bib


With her eponymous company, Christine Bib Catering, Chef Bib creates simply prepared, seasonal menus for all manner of clients in both Toronto and the Muskoka region.


Trout is a favourite ingredient; Bib often serves Milford Bay smoked trout, for example, on a potato latke with crème fraîche and dill, and grills fresh trout—farmed off of Manitoulin Island—on a cedar plank with a citrus-soy marinade. Later in the summer she takes advantage of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable harvest, from tomatoes and corn to peaches, pears, apples and wild blueberries.

How to Own a Piece of Ontario Cottage Country for $199,000

Inside a unit at Horseshoe Resort & Village

If you ever wanted to own a vacation home but didn’t want the hassle of maintaining it, Horseshoe Resort & Village has an offer you can’t refuse. Check out their Copeland House community, which has whole-ownership units (one bedroom, one bedroom plus den, or two bedrooms) starting at $199,900. Best of all, Horseshoe Resort’s stellar amenities, including a golf course, ski hill, restaurant and Shizen Spa, are just steps away. See horseshoevillage.com for details on Phase One and Phase Two.


Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: James Brown


Originally from Niagara-on-the-Lake, chef Brown has spent more than two decades cooking in wine-and cottage-country kitchens (he moved to Parry Sound in 1993). At Kudos Kuisine (one of Where’s best new restaurants of 2011), he combines the skills he developed in Niagara with culinary influences from Northern Ontario, including traditional inspirations from the Shawanaga First Nation.


Georgian Bay pickerel is marinated in maple syrup, crusted in cornmeal and pan fried, while wild shiitake mushrooms are incorporated into a sauce for the restaurant’s AAA striploin steaks.

Two Great Golf Apps that Will Help Improve Your Game

Linkside love: GolfLogix (left) and Everyday Golf Coach can help improve your game

Improve your game with technology. Golf apps can help you master specific courses and your swing. GolfLogix (pictured on the left) allows players to zoom in on individual holes and hazards. Among the international database of courses are the Muskoka Highlands, Parry Sound Golf & Country Club, Deerhurst Lakeside course, Muskoka Bay Club and the Lake Joseph Club. Everyday Golf Coach (on the right) is from PGA pro Noel Rousseau and features 32 videos that focus on your swing. A Swing Analyzer function allows you to diagnose specific issues, while videos for your iPhone and iPad help you to apply specific principles. Everyday Golf Coach is available for iPhone, and GolfLogix is available for BlackBerry, Droid, iPhone, Palm and most other devices.


15 Things We Love About Muskoka: A To-Do List of the Region’s Most Memorable Experiences

#1. A classic Muskoka wooden boat. (Photo: Neill Sturgess)

1. Spinning around the lake in a finely honed wooden boat from Muskoka Launch Livery.

2. Chomping down on a fig and prosciutto sandwich at Huntsville’s Pie Iron Sandwicherie.

3. Gazing up at the stars at the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve. (more…)