Exploring Muskoka by Chance
"a good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving” lao tzu (570-490 bc)
The old cliché that says life is a journey not a destination often rings true. And it certainly was just that on a recent trip up north. My wife and I were on our way to play golf at the course on Bigwin Island, on Lake of Bays. The island itself is 200 hecares and is the westernmost of the four main Muskoka lakes (Lakes Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka being the other three). The name ‘Bigwin’ comes from the Ojibway chief Joseph Big Wind.
In the early 1920’s a famous hotel opened on the island, Bigwin Inn, and it attracted thousands of tourists including Clark Gable, Ernest Hemingway and Holland’s Princess Juliana. Entertainment was provided by the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Guy Lombardo!
Pretty impressive stuff! Lately the island has been slowly converted to a community of lakeside cottages anchored by a beautiful Doug Carrick championship golf course. All in all, a great destination to visit and enjoy.
As we arrived onto the island for our 1 p.m. tee time (you take a short ferry ride) we were informed that there were severe thunderstorms and possible tornado warnings in the area. Playing golf was not an option. Small dilemma… we had just driven two hours and were not keen on driving back home only to return the next day (the weather forecast was sunny and warm for the next morning). So, we decided to "smell the roses along the way”, as they say, and explore this part of the world – we were not very familiar with the Lake of Bays area and thought it would be a great opportunity to change that… and so we did.
Our first stop was the Lake of Bays Brewery where we sampled some of their marvelous brews. The company is one of the fastest growing craft breweries in Ontario… only in existence for five years, it has already cracked the top ten production numbers. It’s quite an amazing story for a brewery in such an isolated location.
After driving the beautiful countryside and marveling at all the wonderful lakes and rivers we decided a bed for the night should be our next priority. Fortunately the Deerhurst Inn had a vacancy so we checked in for the night. We felt like a naughty couple since we had no luggage as we registered at the front desk. After exploring the hotel grounds and golf courses we headed into town for dinner. The two of us both felt like some local fish so we stopped at the Docks Pub on the downtown of Huntsville. The restaurant was right on the water… we both were looking forward to fish and chips… only problem, no fish and no chips on the menu! Nevertheless, we enjoyed a pint and some good old pub fare. I’d recommend the place even without any aquatic offerings. After dinner we strolled the historic part of Huntsville and were pleasantly surprised with the nice selection of stores...there were also some nice replicas of the Group of Seven paintings on building walls.
On our way back to Deerhurst we stopped at a drugstore for toothbrushes and deodorant. Then it was back to the Inn for our ‘clandestine’ meeting and evening. The next day was warm and sunny, as predicted, and we played our golf game and made it home in time for cocktails and dinner. Overall, a happenchance kind of happy ending adventure.