The listing: 1175 Hamill’s Point Rd., Foot’s Bay, Ont.
Asking Price: $6,950,000
Lot Size: 1.6 acres
Agents: Paul Crammond (Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.) and Paul Heenan and Linda Ratkovsky (Johnston & Daniel Rushbrooke Realty)
About 18 years ago, Andy and Gaye Stein bought their first cottage on Lake Joseph in Muskoka.
The couple had two young daughters and they were looking for a relaxing setting outside of Toronto where they could take a break from overseeing their expanding retail business.
The Steins are the owners of Henry’s, which sells cameras and other electronics.
The family business, founded in 1909 by Mr. Stein’s grandfather, started as a jewellery store in downtown Toronto. Mr. Stein’s father was also a jeweller and gemologist who continued his father’s business until he saw the potential in selling photographic equipment in the late 1950s.
“He started with four rolls of movie film and sold them the first day,” Mr. Stein says.
For several years, he says, Henry’s sold jewellery and camera equipment side-by-side.
In 1971, Mr. Stein and another family member took over the business. Within a few years, they moved to the flagship store at Church Street and Queen Street East and narrowed the retailer’s focus to photography.
Today, Mr. Stein is chairman, his daughter Gillian is chief executive officer and Henry’s has expanded across most of Canada with gear and services for photographers and videographers.
A few years after taking on their first cottage, the Steins spotted a “for sale” sign on a property across Hamill’s Point Road.
The newer 5,400-square-foot cottage offered more room to accommodate kids and grandkids. Its setting on another of Lake Joseph’s quiet bays appealed to the couple.
“We literally moved across the driveway,” Mr. Stein says.
The house today
The cottage, with six bedrooms and five bathrooms, was about two years old when the Stein family purchased it 12 years ago.
Real estate agent Paul Crammond of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. calls the building a new “Old Muskoka” cottage because of such traditional elements as beadboard walls, wood floors and ceilings, and verandas overlooking the lake.
But unlike some of the 100-year-old dwellings in Muskoka, the cottage has heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Contemporary luxuries include en suite bathrooms and a high-end kitchen.
While a typical vintage cottage had porches and overhangs designed to keep the sun out, this cottage has large windows and an open plan to bring light to the interior.
Residents and guests arrive to a front foyer that opens into a large great room with high ceilings and timber frame accents.
The great room has a large stone fireplace and a wall of windows facing the water. There’s an open dining area and a door leading to the veranda.
A few years ago, the Steins updated the kitchen, which now has a large island topped with granite. There’s a farmhouse sink and built-in appliances.
The main floor also has a study, a family room and a screened Muskoka room with sliding windows.
“It turns your screened porch into a three-season room on nice days,” Mr. Crammond says.
Doors open to a large deck with space for entertaining a crowd.
The master suite has an en suite bathroom with a walk-in shower and a corner bathtub beside windows facing into the trees. The bedroom has large windows and a door opening to the veranda.
Upstairs are two bedrooms with built-in window seats and en suite bathrooms.
The lower level has high ceilings and large windows facing the lake. There’s a large recreation room, a bathroom and more sleeping quarters.
“We can sleep about 18 people in beds in the cottage and the boathouse,” Mr. Stein says.
The Steins built the two-storey boathouse, which has a sitting area, kitchenette, bathroom and sleeping quarters above the three boat slips.
Mr. Stein says the interior of the boathouse was fully finished in order to keep the wildlife out. The living quarters above have wood walls with white trim. Two levels of decks provide plenty of places to lounge in the sun.
Much of the Muskoka region was hard hit by spring flooding this year, but Mr. Stein says Lake Joseph is the smallest of the “Big Three” lakes and also tends to be the calmest.
The way the boathouse and dock were constructed, along with bubblers that prevent the water from freezing, protected the property.
“In the worst winter ever, we had virtually no damage,” Mr. Stein says.
The bay’s position protects it from moving ice floes in the spring melt.
The property has 310 feet of shoreline, which includes a small sand beach where the grandchildren played when they were younger, he adds.
Several years ago, the Steins acquired the older cottage next door as a privacy buffer. That parcel, which brings the total shoreline to 410 feet, is being included as part of the asking price, but a purchaser can also opt to buy just the main cottage and land for an asking price of $5.955-million.
Both properties have good views of the sunset, Mr. Stein says.
Mr. Stein says the cottage’s position at the south end of Lake Joseph is convenient because it’s only a 10-minute drive to the main highway to Toronto.
“We live right in the middle of the city and we’re two hours door-to-door,” Mr. Stein says.
Mr. Crammond says that the preferences of cottage buyers have changed over the years. These days, cottage owners want a central location close to Port Carling and other towns. As traffic headaches in Toronto have increased, they prefer to be at the south end of Muskoka in order to shave off some time spent getting to cottages at the top end of Lake Joe or the far side of other lakes.
“Most of them are paying more attention to the drive time,” he says. “That extra 45 minutes is the killer. Often that affects the market value of a property and it affects how long it takes a property to sell.”
Mr. Stein says the location is appealing to golfers because there are three golf courses nearby.
Mr. Stein is an amateur photographer who likes to spend some of his time in Muskoka capturing the plants and wildflowers around him in macro photography.
An artistic bent seems to run in the family, says Mr. Stein, who passed on one of his own cameras to his 10-year-old granddaughter.
“She’s got the eye, too,” he says.
Mostly, Mr. Stein likes to spend time relaxing at the cottage. He enjoys boating or just sitting on the deck with a morning coffee. In the winter, the family goes snow shoeing in the woods or cross-country skiing on the lake.
The best feature
Mr. Stein says his family’s stretch of shore near the end of Hamill’s Point Road has remained largely unchanged through the years.
“Many people don’t know the bay exists.”
The water is clear, he adds, and the breeze keeps the mosquitoes away.
Mr. Stein says family members have spent a lot of time on the water in canoes and kayaks because there are so few cottages – motor boats rarely enter the protected bay.
“It’s totally peaceful,” he says. “It’s just a nice place to relax.”
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