The Bones of Skeleton Lake

Explore the lake like never before ...

  • Learn how Skeleton Lake came to be
  • Meet the pioneer families and first cottagers
  • Uncover the early lodges, campgrounds and  commercial activities
  • Discover unknown parts of the lake
  • Picture the plentiful logging operations
  • Return to the lives of early cottages
  • Delve into the stories of multi-generational families on the lake
  • Ponder what the future may hold
  • With plenty of maps to help you discover

Bones of Skeleton Lake Third Print

After making a presentation at the 2022 AGM to sum up how The Bones of Skeleton Lake came to be, Joanne Hutchinson was approached by then counsellor, Peter Kelley, who asked if he could purchase a copy of the book.  Joanne explained that he was out of luck – all 700 copies had been sold. Joanne asked Peter if he knew of any grant programs that could assist with a third print of our “best seller”.  Knowing that almost everyone on Skeleton Lake had purchased at least one copy, we wanted our contribution to Muskoka’s history to be available outside our lake community.

In January 2023, we reached out to now Mayor, Peter, to inquire about the award process for the Muskoka Lakes Community Grant Program.  Along with book team members, Ken, Cary and John, we submitted our application and in June, we were officially informed that our efforts had been successful!  SLCO was awarded $2,200 toward the third print of 100 copies, the remainder being funded by SLCO. To date, approximately half have been sold ,easily covering SLCO’s investment.  To officially thank Peter for his help, we presented him with his own copy … after more than a year-long wait!

If you are one of the few who do not have a copy you can order here. Mailing arrangements can be made or you can pick up at Skeleton Lake Marina this spring.

The Origins

Following the production of the Skeleton Lake Plan and Stewardship Program, the SLCO embarked upon an ambitious project to document and publish a history of our Lake.  From its early origins to its first settlers and the generations that followed, the goal was to produce a complete compendium of all that is known about Skeleton Lake.  Led by a group of dedicated volunteers, and after six years of background work, The Bones of Skeleton Lake was launched Canada Day weekend, 2021. 

Thanks for making it a success!

After much agonizing on the number of copies to order and whether it would be hard- or soft-cover, we ambitiously ordered 500 hard-cover books - with plans to store boxes of unsold copies during the winter.

Much to our delight, the book was a sell-out and a second print of 200 soft-cover versions was ordered - and once again, a sell-out.  We are in the process of looking at possibilities for a third print to keep the book "alive".

Ken Reese - Co-Author Cary Deloye - Co-Author

Joanne Hutchinson - Editor John Wyndam - Layout & Design

The Content:

  Chapter  What it's all about ... 
 1 The Geology of Skeleton Lake  How the lake came to be discussing the origin of the bedrock granite; the meteor crater; glaciers and limestone deposits.
 2 Promises and Hope The development of the Ottawa-Huron Tract and its First Nation peoples; early exploratory and township surveys; colonization roads, railroads and lake access; early settlement including free land grants and logging; and the 1900 exodus as logging collapses and pioneer farmers are discouraged with their infertile land.
 3 The Community in 1900 Describes the four townships that surrounded the lake including: local communities, pioneer farms and commerce; access to the district by rail, road (Parry Sound and Stisted Roads) and the floating bridge at Utterson.
 4 Saw and Awe Forests surrounding lake, forest fire history, successive logging and the lake’s eight known sawmills; the role of dam at the fish hatchery; and forest and cottager interaction.
 5 Pioneer Families The lives of ten settler families on the lake.
 6 Tourism Arrives Early economic activities starting with the first lodge in 1895 followed by more lodges, camp grounds, summer camps and marinas.
 7 Cottagers Arrive The main part of book provides a tour around the lake packed with cottagers’ stories; meet the first cottager in 1913 and discover early cottage life through the World Wars to seventh generation families. An “inset” looks at the mysteries of the Devil’s Face and the mysterious Skelly.
 8 Celebrating Skeleton Lake  A series of beautiful Skeleton Lake photos.
 9 Fishing The lure to the lake and the Skeleton Lake Fish Hatchery, annual Fishing Derby, fish studies, changing species and protecting the lake fishery.
 10 Our Lake Water Our lake’s unique water quality, annual water testing, and the SLCO social and educational events.
 11 Reflections Pondering the lake’s future, looking back and considering stewardship, development trends, shifting activities, climate change and the move towards four-season homes and retirement.

Meet the History Team!

Cary DeLoye


Cary lives in Michigan and has been on the lake his entire life.  His great grandfather was one of the first cottagers on the lake.  Cary has a passion for restoring antique boats.

Ken Reese


Ken arrived on the lake in 1957, invited by members of the Norvoc Camp community and then married into the family.  He has an avid interest in genealogy.

Download AGM "Bones"  Presentation ...


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