Lake Vernon, Muskoka

Lake Vernon is a hidden gem located in the heart of Muskoka, Ontario. It is one of the larger lakes in the region and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, swimming, and cottaging. In this article, we will explore the history of Lake Vernon, including its indigenous roots, as well as current data and trends related to the lake and its cottages.


Lake Vernon is believed to have been formed during the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago.  A surveyor named John Dennis made the first recorded visit to the lower Big East River around 1860.  It's said he named the lake after his student assistant Vernon B. Wadsworth.  The lake was officially opened for settlement through the Free Grants and Homesteads Act of 1868, giving free 100-acre parcels to settlers.  Early settlers included Charles and Janet Hood, who constructed a dam and water-powered sawmill.  By the late 1800s it had a post office, 3 stores, 2 churches, a hotel and 12 homes. The lake has a rich history, including its use as a trading and transportation route by indigenous peoples, as well as the site of early European settlements.

Indigenous History

The indigenous peoples of the region, including the Ojibwa, Cree, and Algonquin, have a long and deep connection to the land around Lake Vernon. For thousands of years, they used the lake as a source of food and transportation, and it played an important role in their spiritual and cultural traditions.

One of the most significant indigenous sites on Lake Vernon is the ancient Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) burial mound on the eastern shore of the lake. The mound is a sacred site, and it is protected under Ontario law. The Ojibwa people have used the site for thousands of years to bury their dead, and it is a reminder of their deep connection to the land and the water.

European Settlement

In the early 1800s, European settlers began to arrive in the area around Lake Vernon. They were drawn to the fertile land and abundant natural resources, including the lake. Many of the settlers were loggers and farmers, and they built their homes along the shores of the lake.

One of the earliest settlements on the lake was the village of Huntsville, which was established in 1869. Huntsville quickly became a hub for trade and commerce in the region, and it played an important role in the development of the area.

Lake Data

Lake Vernon is one of the larger lakes in Muskoka, with a surface area of approximately 7,000 acres. The lake has a maximum depth of 80 feet, and it is fed by several small creeks and streams. The water in the lake is generally clear and clean, with an average visibility of around 10 feet.

The lake is home to a wide variety of fish, including bass, pike, muskie, and trout. It is a popular destination for fishing, with many visitors coming to the lake each year to try their luck at catching the big one.

Cottaging Trends

Cottaging has been a popular pastime on Lake Vernon for many years, and it continues to be a popular destination for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. There are over 700 cottages on the lake, and they range from simple cabins to luxurious mansions.

One of the trends in recent years has been the growth of eco-friendly cottages on the lake. These cottages are designed to be sustainable and energy-efficient, and they are often built using natural materials like wood and stone. They are a popular choice for people who want to enjoy the beauty of the lake while minimizing their impact on the environment.

Historic Cottage Prices

2019 | 14 sold between $95,000 - $1,525,000 Median $782,500

2020 | 17 sold between $216,814 - $3,395,000 Median $710,000

2021 | 9 sold between $249,000 - $2,289,000 Median $1,200,000

2022 | 8 sold between $277,500 - $2,725,000 Median $1,093,103

*Freehold waterfront sales - The Lakelands Association of Realtors®

Another trend is the growth of vacation rental properties on the lake. Many people are now choosing to rent a cottage on Lake Vernon rather than buying one, as it allows them to enjoy the lake without the long-term commitment of owning a property. This trend has been driven in part by the rise of online vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, which have made it easier for people to find and book cottages on the lake. At times this can be a bone of contention with neighboring property owners so many townships are going to a licencing model to control rentals. Many of my clients rely on renting their cottage part of the time to help cover costs so a balance will need to be found.

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