Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Steamship Era

Photo by Frank Micklethwaite

Getting to a Muskoka resort or cottage was an adventure in itself in the early days, so many vacationers stayed for two or more months. They arrived at the Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst by train from Toronto, some, like the Eatons (mentioned in the previous post), in their own private Pullman coaches. Then they boarded one of the grand steamships or their own yachts, three of which can be seen in the photo above.

The leisurely cruise up the lakes could include a fine meal in an oak-panelled dining room with panoramic views of the rocky, pine-tufted islands floating on shimmering blue water.  There were plenty of ports of call as the steamers dropped cottagers and all their trunks and paraphernalia right at their docks. That sometimes included the family silver, pianos, and even cows!

Here we see a mid-lake transfer of passengers, which sounds rather tricky, but was part of the routine. The fleet of up to nine steamships plied different sections of the three interconnected lakes – Muskoka, Rosseau, and Joseph. The regal S.S. Sagamo, which was the largest, could carry 800 passengers and all their stuff. The one on its left is the Segwun, the only one remaining, and at 127 years old, the oldest operating steamship in North America. You can take delightful cruises aboard the Segwun, one of which takes you past Millionaires’ Row, which I mentioned in an earlier posting.


  1. Well you have to bring your own cow, the milk was probably inferior. LOL!

    1. I was wondering if they ever had to transfer cows between the ships!