A Stay at the Windermere House in the Muskoka Region of Ontario

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

For our anniversary, my husband Josh and I decided to venture north of Toronto to check out "cottage country" in the Muskoka region of Ontario. Not quite as far as Algonquin Provincial Park (our next outing), and very popular with people in the City, Muskoka offers 1,600 lakes, just two hours from Toronto. 
We really enjoyed our stay at the Windermere House, known as "The Lady of the Lake," which has proudly stood over Lake Rosseau since 1870. It was early in the season, so the full fleet of watercraft to enjoy the lake was not ready (we wanted to goof off and paddle boat…no luck), and the lake water was chilly. However, the chairs on the lawn made for a great scenic reading spot, the pool was lovely, and the pub patio dining was excellent (especially our $24 anniversary banana split sundae; a mere $18.50 USD). We walked and walked in the area, enjoying the sunshine and the lake views. People with homes in Muskoka include Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Goldie Hawn. You can see why. Remote, yet accessible and beautiful.   
On our way back to Toronto, we stopped in Gravenhurst, one of the main towns in the region, nicknamed "Sawdust City" because of the long history of logging in Muskoka. Interestingly, from 1940 to 1946, Gravenhurst was the site of a Prisoners of War camp for Nazi officers (at its peak, it held 489 prisoners). After WWII, Irving Ungerman, well-known in Toronto’s Jewish community, and the child of immigrant parents who ran a small butcher shop in Kensington Market, bought the POW camp and turned it into a kosher resort called "The Gateway" which was very successful from the mid-50s to 60s. Our detour to Gravenhurst was far more trivial — a delicious stop at Sawdust City Brewing Company for some craft beer and smoked lake trout (Milford Bay Smoked Trout).