Monday, August 31, 2015

Cottage Sunrise

copyright Gabriele Wills
It doesn’t have the rugged granite or cache of Muskoka, but Balsam Lake in the Kawarthas is remarkably clean, clear, and quite lovely. At sunrise, it’s particularly enchanting when the water is mirror-still, as in this photo, which I took at the family cottage a few weeks ago. There’s nothing more soothing, yet inspiring, than sitting on the dock savouring your morning coffee, watching loons swimming and diving, and hearing only their trilling songs cleave the silence.

The highest lake in the Trent-Severn Waterway, which connects Lake Ontario with Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, Balsam is also reputedly “the highest body of freshwater in Canada from which you can circumnavigate the globe without ever having to travel on land.” It’s certainly not unusual to see yachts from Florida or even California on the lake.

But for us it’s more satisfying to watch these adventurers cruise by while relaxing on our island sanctuary.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Zoe's Boathouse Cottage

copyright Gabriele Wills
This century boathouse cottage inspired my design for Zoë’s cottage in Under the Moon.  The kitchen, living and dining rooms at the back are actually on land.  You can just glimpse the wing of the living room on the right. There were servants’ quarters above, accessed by outside stairs from the veranda.

But Zoë’s cottage also had a spacious dining-sitting room above the water, and a private screened sleeping porch off her bedroom, used on sweltering nights - and for an intimate moment “serenaded by the gentle lapping of the waves and the distant call of loons.”

This cottage is actually on the island upon which I based Wyndwood, and, as in the novel, was part of a burgeoning family compound. Although it no longer belongs to a member of the founding family, the cottage's current owners kindly gave me a tour in 2011.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Muskoka Chairs Beckon

copyright Gabriele Wills
They're everywhere! First designed and built in the mountainous lakeland of the Adirondacks in 1903 - and thus known as Adirondack chairs - they're now symbolic of summer living on the lakes, especially in Muskoka.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fictional Moonglow Island

copyright Gabriele Wills

There’s something about this rocky island that speaks to me. So I based my fictional Moonglow Island on it – one of the 4 owned by the Thorntons. The real island, Wistowe on Lake Rosseau, is part of a similar group. And as in the novels, they’re close to “Wyndwood”,  inspired by Mazengah Island. There is a spacious century cottage on Wistowe; the only one on the entire island. You can catch a glimpse of it in the photo below. Wistowe was profiled in the excellent book Old Muskoka: Century Cottages & Summer Estates, by Liz Lundell.

copyright Gabriele Wills

Find out more about Moonglow Island in Under the Moon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Elegance on the Water

copyright Gabriele Wills

Is that Chas cruising the Muskoka lakes in one of his sleek mahogany launches? This picture may not have looked much different in the 1920s and '30s. Although that's probably not a vintage boathouse in the background, it's very much old Muskoka style, and what I envisioned at The Point on Wyndwood Island, where Edward, Prince of Wales once slept. You can join in the fun in Under the Moon.