Boathouses have become a major part of the Muskoka shoreline – these prominent structures often rival the size and style of the main cottage, housing boats and watercraft of all types. The popularity of boathouses in the region has endured since cottagers have been making their way to Muskoka, becoming more grandiose and iconic over time. If you own a cottage in Muskoka or are looking into buying one, you may be thinking about investing in a boathouse to perfectly complement your property and add another beautiful structure to the Muskoka shoreline.

An iconic part of the Muskoka landscape
Many of Muskoka’s beautiful cottages feature prominent boathouses on their shores, creating a striking image for anybody new to the region. These pervasive structures have truly stood the test of time, with cottage owners being proud to show off their boathouses. Some owners have even gone as far as converting their boathouse into something far more versatile, with many spanning two stories – space for boats and watercraft on the first floor, and second-floor apartments that feature bedrooms, kitchen space, bathrooms, and living space.

Often, these lavish boathouses act as guesthouses for visitors or renters, giving guests the opportunity to experience accommodations that are truly unique to the Muskoka region. As time has passed, bylaws and regulations have changed throughout the region, limiting what cottage owners can do with their boathouses when looking to build or renovate.

What you need to be aware of when building or renovating your boathouse
Bylaws regarding boathouses vary throughout the Muskoka region – this can get very confusing, as different municipalities situated on the same lake will feature different regulations. Some areas like Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst allow for one story boathouses. Areas like Muskoka Lakes Township allow for boathouses to be built with living quarters on the second floor, but Muskoka Lakes is currently the only municipality in the Muskoka region that allows sleeping quarters to be featured in boathouses. Cottagers living on Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, and Lake Rosseau are permitted to build boathouses up to two stories high.

In Bracebridge, boathouses are allowed up to 15 meters from the shoreline, with Gravenhurst requiring that three quarters of the shoreline remain in its natural state. If you have a boathouse that doesn’t fit the established bylaws in your area, you may be grandfathered in due to the previous regulations in your location. If in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to check with the bylaws in your town or municipality to ensure that you can build or renovate the boathouse of your dreams. Parks Canada also has a number of policies relating to the construction of boathouses.

Getting the right windows for your Muskoka boathouse
Cottagers who are lucky enough to have a beautiful boathouse on their property naturally want to frame the spectacular view from the boathouse. Large windows are the best way to accomplish this. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your boathouse windows are in good shape in order to withstand the varying weather conditions of the Muskoka region.

Without the proper windows in your boathouse, you run the risk of letting moisture, pests, and the elements in, resulting in damages and creating an environment where mold will thrive. This can pose a safety hazard for anybody spending any significant amount of time in your boathouse, and will significantly reduce the lifespan of your boathouse. Remember to check for leaks and drafts in your windows, especially those situated in living spaces within your boathouse – this will allow you to tackle moisture and other problems proactively, and get the most out of your Muskoka property. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.