Our world really shifts when winter rolls around. A fluffy layer of white covers all that we see and we don thicker, warmer clothing to keep us cosy and warm. The landscape changes with the weather patterns, keeping us on our toes whether we’re heading out to play, or braving the roads for some winter driving.
But what’s beneath the surface doesn’t really change – it’s just frozen for awhile, waiting to be rediscovered when the time is right.
In this winter’s Sideroads, we remember what lies just beneath the surface. Sometimes it’s a forgotten history – one like the tale of the Bondi Bay Vikings – that you have to choose to believe. And other times it’s the discovery of what we thought was lost – like the warplane at the bottom of Lake Muskoka – but has been found, solving a mystery more than half a century old.
We’ve got the story of an abandoned inn, behind whose resurrected walls an intellectual community is being fostered. A tale of an artist whose talent was buried beneath years of challenge and hardship, only to be reborn as one of Almaguin’s star painters.
One of the great pleasures I get out of winter is how it completely reinvents our landscape. It always surprises us with its beauty and power and we can never really predict what tomorrow’s going to look like. In the following pages, read about the surprises and discoveries your fellow Muskokans have made, and feel inspired.
Rediscover your Muskoka this winter. And most of all, enjoy your winter Sideroads.
The mystery of officers lost to Lake Muskoka has been solved
By Neil Etienne
Under Lake Muskoka’s murky surface, the shattered remains of one of the world’s only known Northrop Nomad A-17As- a Second World War plane – rests silently in wait.
Eighty feet of water, silty sands, algae and 71 years of mystery shrouded its location until recently. Now, whether or not the plane will ever again see the unfiltered light of day is the focus of a group who in 2004, took up the hunt for her hidden grave and the remains of the two military officers who fell under Lake Muskoka’s icy surface Dec. 13, 1940.
By Gillian Brunette
Bondi Bay. Just the name conjures up images of golden sand and azure-blue waters. A surfers’ paradise, its beach draws thousands of tourists each year.
Closer to home, another Bondi Bay offers a far more tranquil setting. Although named for its Aussie counterpart, the only resemblance Bondi Bay in Lake of Bays can lay claim to today is its horseshoe shape.
But in May of 1905, when Joseph and Elisabeth Tapley arrived from Sydney, Australia, the two bays were very similar. Both sported sweeping sands and the surrounding areas were rural.
Joseph Tapley enjoyed an illustrious career on the comic opera stage in the late 1800s in Australia and England, but decided to become a farmer and move his family to Canada. After searching and rejecting several properties in Muskoka, Tapley came upon a farmhouse and tract of land with a bay that so resembled the beach he had left behind, he immediately bought it and named it Bondi.
By Andrew Hind and Maria Da Silva
Imagine the excitement of a child’s face shortly before Christmas when Mom pulls out an assortment of colourful and delicious candies in preparation for making together the holiday favorite that is the gingerbread house. Other than opening presents of course, for many children building a gingerbread house or making dozens of delicious gingerbread cookies is the most memorable part of the holidays.
The same appeal holds for adults. To warm up the whole house and fill the air with delicious yuletide scents, there’s nothing better than spending an afternoon making gingerbread. In a season of traditions, there are few more timeless and cherished.
Photo by Pamela Steel
By Sarah Ryeland
It’s in Michelle Ainsworth’s nature to help.
From a very young age, Ainsworth knew she wanted to devote her time to helping people and animals live the best life possible. Now, she puts her considerable skills to work in Muskoka to do just that.
Two years ago, having recently moved to Muskoka from Toronto, Ainsworth saw a need for an animal rescue organization in the area. With colonies of feral cats causing problems in Muskoka’s neighbourhoods and pet owners abandoning and mistreating their animals, Ainsworth knew she had to step in and take action.
A new age of conversation
By Pamela Steel
In 17th century Paris everyone who was anyone whiled away their evenings at one of the influential salons in the city. Chic ladies of the era created environments conducive to chat of the heady rather than idle variety. Thus poets, philosophers and political junkies ushered in the age of enlightenment through thoughtful conversation.
And the clever couple that has bought and is restoring the Portage Inn want to create a similar atmosphere in Muskoka.
Nancy and Sid Kirkpatrick bought the inn on North Portage Road in Lake of Bays in June 2010 and have been restoring the grand old dame. The inn was originally built in 1889.
Artwork by Alana Boyd
By Sarah Ryeland
Some people are simply born to do what they do. They’ve been blessed with a gift and no matter where they go or what circumstance they find themselves in, they always come back to what they love.
For Alana Boyd, that passion is art.
Focusing on the natural world, Boyd loves to paint animals. Her horses are a great source of inspiration, as are flowers, landscapes and everything in-between. But she doesn’t limit herself. She can find inspiration anywhere.
That broad scope can be attributed to the wide variety of life experiences she’s had.