Mary Lake, Muskoka

Mary Lake is a beautiful and pristine lake located in the heart of Muskoka, Ontario. With its crystal-clear waters and stunning scenery, it has become a popular destination for cottagers, tourists, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. But Mary Lake is more than just a recreational destination; it also has a rich and fascinating history, including a long history of Indigenous settlement and a role in the development of Muskoka as a tourist destination.

Aboriginal History

The Muskoka region has a long history of Indigenous settlement, with the Anishinaabe people being the first inhabitants of the area. The Anishinaabe have a deep spiritual connection to the land and water and consider themselves the caretakers of the region. They have a rich cultural heritage that includes traditional practices, such as hunting, fishing, and gathering, as well as storytelling and dance.

Mary Lake was an important site for the Anishinaabe, who used the lake for fishing and as a source of water. The Anishinaabe had a deep respect for the lake and the surrounding environment, recognizing the importance of maintaining a balance between human activities and the natural world. Today, the Anishinaabe continue to live in the Muskoka region and maintain their cultural heritage through a variety of activities and programs.


Mary Lake was named after Mary McKeown, the wife of James McKeown, a prominent businessman who played a key role in the development of the Muskoka region as a tourist destination. James McKeown was an Irish immigrant who arrived in Canada in the mid-19th century and quickly became involved in the lumber industry. He recognized the potential of the Muskoka region for tourism and began to promote it as a vacation destination.

In the late 1800s, James McKeown built a number of resorts and hotels in the Muskoka region, including the Mary Lake Lodge on the shores of Mary Lake. The lodge was a popular destination for tourists, who came to enjoy the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities, such as fishing and boating. The lodge also became known for its excellent cuisine, with guests enjoying delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients.

By the early 20th century, Mary Lake became an important location for the development of summer cottages. Wealthy families from Toronto and other cities began to build cottages on the shores of the lake, attracted by its natural beauty and peaceful surroundings. Many of these cottages are still standing today, and the area remains a popular location for cottage owners.


Cottaging is a popular activity on Mary Lake, with many families owning and renting cottages on the lake. Cottaging allows families to escape the city and enjoy the natural beauty of the Muskoka region. Many cottages on Mary Lake are passed down through generations, becoming family heirlooms and treasured memories.

Cottaging on Mary Lake offers a wide range of activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking. The lake is also an excellent location for water sports, such as water skiing and wake boarding.

In the winter, the lake offers opportunities for ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Cottage owners on Mary Lake are also actively involved in preserving the natural environment and protecting the lake. Many cottagers participate in programs to monitor water quality, control invasive species, and reduce nutrient inputs into the lake. These efforts help to ensure that the lake remains a beautiful and healthy environment for generations to come.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in sustainable cottaging practices. Many cottage owners are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact, such as using renewable energy sources, reducing water use, and using environmentally friendly products. These practices help to ensure that cottaging on Mary Lake remains a sustainable and responsible activity.

Mary Lake is a beautiful and historically significant lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario. Its crystal-clear waters, stunning scenery, and rich history make it a popular destination for cottagers, tourists, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The lake has a long history of Indigenous settlement and played an important role in the development of Muskoka as a tourist destination.

Today, Mary Lake continues to be a cherished destination for those looking to escape the city and enjoy the natural beauty of the Muskoka region. Cottage owners on the lake are actively involved in protecting the environment and ensuring that the lake remains a healthy and sustainable resource for future generations. With its rich history, beautiful scenery, and active community, Mary Lake is truly a treasure of the Muskoka region.

Mary Lake Information

Mary Lake is located in the Muskoka region of Ontario and is part of the larger Lake Muskoka watershed. The lake is approximately 7.5 km long and 2.5 km wide, with a surface area of 1,061 hectares. The lake is relatively shallow, with a maximum depth of 56 meters, and is fed by a number of small creeks and streams. The water in Mary Lake is part of the North Muskoka River drainage basin.

Water levels are controlled by an MNR owned and operated dam at Port Sydney and are governed by the Muskoka River Water Management Plan. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including lake trout, bass, pike, and walleye. The lake is also an important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including loons, beavers, otters, and the occasional osprey.

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