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That was then, this is now. How water levels have fallen on Georgian Bay

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Waubaushene, Ont.

The family of 21-year-old Lauren Patchett has owned a cottage in Waubaushene for decades. The submerged rock where her grandfather, Richard McPhail, sits in this 1994 picture with water to his knees while holding 2-year-old Lauren on his lap is surrounded by rotting weeds.

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Cognashene Island, Ont.

Back in the early 1980s, children could push each other into the water that lapped up to the dock at Darren Long's family cottage. Today, Mr. Long stands at the foot of the same dock his father, Lorne, stood shirtless in the past photo.

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Cognashene Island, Ont.

From another angle of the dock at Darren Long's family cottage, the family used to be able to tie up their boats at the end of the dock. Today that part of the dock sits useless amid sand and weeds.

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Tobermory, Ont.

At Ross Goodall's family cottage, spots where he used to to be able to play and scoop pails of lake water in 1973 are now far from the receding lake, with only exposed rock and sand. His father, Ronald, walks along the rocky shore in July, 2013.

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Tabasakwa Island, Ont.

Ted Larson has owned a cottage on Tabasakwa Island since 1983. In the early days water often used to come up over the original upper dock. He has since had to add an extension and a lower portion as the lake levels dropped.

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Tobermory, Ont.

At Ross Webb's cottage, the earlier photo shows a boat anchored just off the shore. The receding waters have exposed a large rock there. Boat traffic has decreased as owners fear running into emerging hazards, even if they follow navigational markers.

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Waubaushene, Ont.

Lauren Patchett remembers the water levels began to drop dramatically in the past decade. One year, she recalled, “we came up and it was starkly different. We had a whole new beach.”

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Picnic Island, Ont.

Like other marina owners, Ken Aquino, owner of the Picnic Island Resort, had to dredge and expand his dock as the waters receded, exposing the sand underneath. “There's a lot less boat traffic. I think people are afraid because they don’t know where the rocks are now. As the water drops, new rocks appear.” He recalls the days when a few boats would sail nearly every minute across the channel between his resort and Roberts Island. “It’s pretty quite now. It used to look like the 401. Now, it’s empty.”

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Interactive: CHRISTOPHER MANZA AND MICHAEL SNIDER / Photos: HANDOUTS / DEBORAH BAIC / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

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