The Fish Hatchery at Skeleton River

17 Aug 2015 1:43 PM | Deleted user

Old Hatchery Dam circa 1960

Skeleton Lake Fish Hatchery (1953)
photo courtesy of :Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario

In 1938, The Ontario  Department of Game and Fisheries purchased 18 acres from Joe and Sadie Danson for a fish hatchery, the parcel including the dam site where the lake empties into the Skeleton River, where the small falls would feed the rearing ponds by gravity. The sale was under threat of expropriation as the area of interest was a good part of the area used by the Danson's for their Camp Winnabagoe activities.

The first phase of the hatchery was built in 1938, consisting of five rearing ponds and a jar hatchery. The dam used by Briese's was probably replaced. For 15 years, annual production was 300,000 speckles trout, 350,000 pickerel, 100,000 small mouth bass, and miscellaneous species such as muskinonge. In the late 1950’s, pickerel production was discontinued.

For the first two decades, the manager was Douglas McNee assisted by Myron Bethune. In 1950 Robert G. Creasor was appointed manager The old cement bridge over the Skeleton River was replace by a large culvert 2013.with Myron as his assistant. When Robert retired in 1971, Myron became the manager. On Myron’s retirement in 1982, Mike  Bohn was manager and when he was transferred in 1984, Charlie Core became manager. Numerous local people were hired seasonally to assist in the production.

The hatchery was closed in 1992 due to provincial budget cutbacks and in 1993, with local pressure led by Aubrey Goltz while he was a Director of the Twp. of Muskoka Lakes Rate Payers’ Association, the property was purchased by The Township of Muskoka Lakes as a park.

The old cement bridge over the Skeleton River was replaced by a large culvert 2013.

We would like some help on a couple of our ongoing items....

  1. We are looking for a photo of "Shanty Island" that shows the shanty - does anyone have one they would share?
  2. We need information about Forest Fires in the area surrounding the Lake. Island "M" is often referred to as "Burnt Island" by  older cottagers. A more recent fire occurred in the Hekkla in 1999,. and old white pine stumps on the south shore indicate that a major fire ravished  the area in the early twentieth century - We would really like to hear about any details you may know or have heard about concerning these or other fires.


  • 17 Aug 2015 11:45 PM | Anonymous
    I have a photo of Shanty Island with the shanty on it.
    Link  •  Reply
    • 21 Aug 2015 2:46 PM | Deleted user
      Got it - will feature that in an upcoming post ....
      Link  •  Reply
  • 24 Apr 2019 9:31 AM | Anonymous
    The area to the north of Newport is referred to as Bald Rock by some of the older families on the lake, but is now more known as Blueberry Rock. There had been a fire in that area probably in the mid to late 1800's, as my grandfather told me that there was hardly anything growing there in his childhood. It is well overgrown now.
    There are also a large number of stumps that are heavily blackened around my cottage, and drone footage Jeff Crocker and I took of the area this winter indicate unusually dense spots of conifers vs. deciduous trees on my point and in certain other areas on the other side of Moore's Bay. Since conifers tend to be the trees that grow first after a fire (and some trees actually NEED a fire to open their cones), this suggests that there may have been some localized fires in some spots around Moore's Bay, probably around the same time as the Bald Rock event.
    Link  •  Reply

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