The listing: 1646 Juddhaven Rd.
Asking price: $2,995,000
Taxes: $7,875.00 (2017)
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Lot size: 0.65 acres
Agents: Paul Crammond, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
One long-cherished swath of Ontario’s cottage country is spread out across the 1,600 or so lakes of Muskoka. The Canadian Shield provides an iconic backdrop of pink granite mixed with forests of black spruce, jack pine and white birch.
Tourism in Muskoka really began to thrive after the first steamship to navigate the lakes was launched in 1866. Wealthy Toronto business tycoons and American industrialists began to build family compounds on the shores of Lakes Rosseau, Muskoka and Joseph, which are known today as “the big three.”
Entrepreneurs built grand resorts that attracted visitors from as far away as England to the Canadian wilderness.
One such visitor paid $100 for his own chunk of Lake Rosseau shoreline in 1893.
“The buyer was a repeat guest at a large hotel nearby,” said real estate agent Paul Crammond of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
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The buyer was a Mr. Hill and the hotel was a hunting and fishing lodge known as Earnscliffe. Mr. Hill purchased his parcel from the lodge’s proprietor, Francis Judd.
In addition to running his resort, Judd was the local postmaster, with an office at his homestead on Rest Harbour. Juddhaven Road is named for the family, which remained in the old homestead until 2017.
The tranquil bay known as Rest Harbour became the summer home of the Crammond family in 1971.
Every year, the family would head north from Toronto the day after school ended. Mr. Crammond and his four siblings would spend the summer swimming, canoeing and water skiing.
Mr. Crammond recalls days of picnicking on uninhabited islands and jumping from the cliffs that line parts of the shore. As a teenager, he took summer jobs in local resorts.
In 1996, he moved to Muskoka year-round and joined Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. in the town of Port Carling.
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About five years ago, he purchased the property that once belonged to the Hill family.
Mr. Crammond says the century-old cottage was rickety and neglected, but he was drawn to the property’s location around the bay from his family cottage. It also sits next to the causeway to Royal Muskoka Island.
The peninsula is not a true island, but the locals have called it that since the Royal Muskoka Hotel was built there in 1901. The grand resort drew guests from as far away as Europe and the social elite who cottaged on Lake Rosseau attended its formal Saturday night dances for decades. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1952 and cottages now stand on the point.
Rest Harbour remains quiet because the road runs out on the peninsula, Mr. Crammond explains. Few cars head that way and boats tend to pass farther out from shore.
The cottage today
Mr. Crammond knew the vintage cottage would need to be rebuilt but before it was torn down he uncovered some interesting relics left behind. Turn-of-the-century photos, for example, show cottagers in Edwardian dress.
Mr. Crammond also discovered that the Hill family sold the cottage around 1915 to a Methodist minister from Toronto.
“I found his 1899 bible in the former cottage and tracked down the family in Calgary to return it,” Mr. Crammond said.
Mr. Crammond says Mr. Hill purchased a good lot, with 570 feet of shoreline and two small sand beaches.
“It’s a very cool lot because it’s shaped like a triangle,” he said.
The point of the triangle that juts into the lake ends at a rocky islet.
“This leads out to your private island,” Mr. Crammond said of the wooden dock that connects the two. Occasionally, he will return from a canoe ride to see a heron perched on the islet.
Mr. Crammond preserved the footprint of the original cottage so that he could build close to the lake.
“The closest corner of the cottage is 15 feet off the water, which you can’t do today,” he says of local bylaws that require cottages to be set back from the shore.
He also fought for planning permission to make the cottage one-and-a-half storeys.
In building a new, year-round dwelling, Mr. Crammond wanted to follow the conventions of Olde Muskoka architecture with a peaked roof, traditional windows and fish-scale shingles. The exterior is clad in a low-maintenance siding in colours that blend in with the surroundings.
“I tried to make it architecturally interesting – not to look like a shoebox on the lake,” he said.
Inside the 2,600-square-foot cottage, a centre hall provides ample room for greetings and departures. It’s open to the living room with a large window overlooking the lake.
“When you first come in, there’s your view,” Mr. Crammond said.
The living room has a large stone fireplace, a beamed ceiling, wood trim and white wainscotting.
Throughout the open-concept main floor, ceilings are nine feet high and the floors are of wide-plank, wire-scraped oak.
The kitchen includes a six-burner range, built-in appliances and Shaker-style cabinets. There’s a separate bar area with a wine fridge.
The dining area faces the three-season screened Muskoka room, which has a natural granite floor and a walkout to the deck.
“Even when you’re in the dining room, you can look out and see the shoreline,” Mr. Crammond said. “You’re right by the water.”
A main-floor den also has a walkout to the deck on the water’s edge.
Upstairs, the cottage has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. A family room could serve as a fourth bedroom, Mr. Crammond says.
Throughout, the goal was to keep the focus on Lake Rosseau.
“You can see the water from every room in the house, including the laundry room,” Mr. Crammond said.
Outside, Mr. Crammond hired a landscaper who decided to keep the terrain as natural as possible. At the front of the cottage, a previously hidden slice of Canadian Shield was revealed.
“The landscaper uncovered original bedrock, which had been covered with earth to plant flowers,” Mr. Crammond said.
He had pathways and stone steps created so that people feel connected to the landscape and a small sand beach. When he took over, the cove was difficult to reach.
“There was no way to get to it without going through all the underbrush,” he said.
A cove on the other side of the triangle also has a stretch of sand that makes a good spot for small children to play, he adds.
The boathouse has a slip for Mr. Crammond’s motor boat, plus additional space for his collection of vintage canoes. Mr. Crammond says some cottagers use such areas for added dockside living space. The zoning would also allow a second boathouse with room above for guest quarters, he adds.
There’s plenty of deep water for boats and swimming but in front of the cottage, a large shoal stretches into the lake.
“It’s on the lake charts, which keeps boats away – and if it doesn’t it’s highly entertaining,” he said of the occasional boaters who don’t read the charts and drift onto the shoal.
The best feature
The master suite at the front of the cottage has a spacious bedroom with a 12-foot cathedral ceiling and a door leading to a deck overlooking the lake.
The ensuite bathroom has a stand-alone soaker tub next to a window with views of the treetops and the water beyond. The bathroom also has a walk-in shower, double sinks and a separate water closet.