Family Day weekend at Mary Lake, Port Sydney Ontario – cottage country refined


The Lake of Bays area in Muskoka, Ontario encompasses Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville and the tiny lake hugging hamlet of Port Sydney.  It’s  proximity and ease of access to Toronto (couple of hours up the 407) means that this is a  buzzing vibrant community – a concentration of interlaced lakes punctuated by small forested “Franklin Carmichael”  islands.
Picture postcard pretty lakeside cottages snuggled in blankets of snow and bejeweled with icicle tiaras. Snow and ice reflect rosy winter sunsets to create amazing evening light; night skies unadulterated by city light become the image of the city nightscapes hundreds of miles away – multiple layers of soft and bright glittering lights -a constellation feast for any star-gazer.
Despite the vibrancy and the abundant year round activities, you can still switch off your city transmitter, take a deep breath and relax into a deep armchair and – if you are fortunate enough to bs staying/own  a waterfront cottage – stare at the ever changing vista of Mary Lake.

Just for starters in the two or three days we had here, we watched the transient ice fishing community pull up to the lake, transfer their portable huts onto the frozen surface; drill several “bore” holes to check thickness ( 2 ft on places) and then erect their huts/ sun loungers and other ice fishing necessities such as beer,beer and  more beer and then dismantle these again in the evenings whereupon they would be replaced next morning by someone else’s  man-hut retreat.

Skidoos race across the iced Lake keeping to the designated tracks and presumably following the odd cluster of signposts dotted throughout this frozen highway. Two  ice skating rinks on the shoreline play host to both ice hockey and free-form skaters and a plane even landed on the Lake at one point. This event rather made a mockery of my fear of the ice breaking whilst I was standing on it. I challenge even the most hardy winter-conditioned Canadian not to draw a sharp intake of breath upon hearing several bullet like sounds in succession signalling the formation of a new series of crazed ice cracks forming around them. Whilst irrational to even entertain the idea that you might end up on your own floating ice-flow, it had me and the dog  – and consequently the other 3 members of my party –  backing in a silent movie style walk to the safety of terra-ferma. Apparently everybody was “spooked” by the ” Green Hornet” – a reference to my pistachio coloured parka – not my proudest moment!!!!
Although this is year-round cottage heaven; in the summer the area swells to bursting as those cafes, restaurants and businesses that actually shut during the winter reopen and business booms. Despite out- of -towners flocking to the area, it still retains an air of peace and tranquility coupled with the option to take part in a huge variety of outdoor water or snow sports plus enjoy a huge array of eating options both locally and in the nearby towns of Hunstville, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.

Pretty sure this post comes off as a little smug – and I would be (smug that is) were I to actually own a cottage in this area.
Over and Out

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