SLCO Newsletter - Happy New Year

        A Message from your President

        Warm Wishes to all our members for a Happy and Healthy 2022 and my sincere hope that we’ll all enjoy a return to our normal, social activities at the lake.

        Always an optimist, I’m hopeful that this latest variant will be a last gasp for this terrible virus.  And, despite the challenges, I’m thankful for several ‘silver linings’ that have come out of the pandemic.

        Looking back, 2021 was another year of great accomplishment for the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization.  I’m proud of the team of Directors that we have looking after our lake, and I’m impressed by the heart and soul and spirit of our community.

        I’m happy to report that we’ve had a very successful year in 2021.

        First and foremost was the smash-success launch of the “Bones of Skeleton Lake” - researched and written by Cary Deloye, Ken Reese edited by Joanne Hutchinson and designed by John Wyndam, along with the contributions of many cottagers and a team who helped distribute this treasure.  Kudos to everyone involved in this achievement.  We’ve sold almost 700 books!!!

        Also, we had another banner year in merchandise sales which, together with book sales, record membership and strong donations have put the SLCO in the best financial shape ever!  All of these funds will be used exclusively to build our war chest to protect our lake from threats like the Lippa Pit & Quarry.

        Perhaps less visible but no less important, your SLCO directors have also stepped-up Stewardship efforts to new levels, using our Lake Plan and Stewardship Program as the blueprint for action.  Our Lake Plan has now been mapped onto and approved into the Township of Muskoka Lakes New Official Plan.  We have improved engagement with strategic lake partners, local elected officials, and municipal staff so that we are engaged on matters that affect our lake and its health.  And efforts to improve communications of key stewardship matters are continuing.  We all saw the benefits of this and our ability to bring the community together in steering the proposal from Bell for a communications tower on Tomelin Bluffs to meet our community goals.

        Looking forward to 2022, we still face a number of challenges.  

        The Lippa Pit & Quarry still looms large for our community.  There is currently little visibility from the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) as to when this appeal will restart, and it’s now been delayed more than 24 months due to COVID-19.  We’ll need the full support of the community to make sure we put the final ‘nail in the coffin’ of this threat once the OLT restarts this appeal.

        And we’ll need to continue to grow our membership, bolster our finances and broaden our engagement with the townships, stakeholders and strategic organizations that can help us achieve our stewardship goals.

        And finally, I’m pleased to announce the recent appointment of Marcus Firman to the SLCO Board of Directors.  Marcus recently retired as Director of Water and Wastewater Services for the District of Muskoka and lives year-round on Beamans Bay.  His passion for water quality and his knowledge of municipal processes will be an asset to our Board of Directors and our community at large. 

        In closing, I’d like to appeal to more of our members to get involved.  We have a great team of Directors and committee volunteers without whose passion, dedication and time we would have a difficult time protecting our lake.  If you’re passionate about Skeleton Lake and have skills in the areas of communications, IT, social media, environmental protection, fund-raising and/or finance drop us a line at   It’s fun, it’s social and it’s a great way to get to know the community of Skeleton Lake!

        Happy New Year!

        Jeff Crocker


        Governance Committee

        The Committee Members will be reviewing the October 19th 2021 Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) to ensure that The SLCO BY-LAW #1 complies with the Act.  The SLCO will have three years to comply with the terms of the Act (October 19th 2024).  All changes to the present BY-LAW will be presented to an Annual General Meeting of the SLCO.

        Teddene Long

        Chair of Governance 

        Water-Access Issues 

        As water-access cottagers will attest, 2021 was a challenging year.  Arrangements for trash disposal changed and one of our marinas, The Village Harbour Marina, announced an exit from its business. 

        The District of Muskoka instead set up a Waterside Collection program on Sundays at both the Village Harbour Marina and at the government launch on Skeleton Lake 3 Road.  The program runs through the cottaging season.  With the assistance of the SLCO, the District has just completed a survey of water-access cottagers to gauge satisfaction with the new program and to consider an alternative collection point on Hwy 141 accessible by vehicle.  We hope everyone has had a chance to make their views heard.

        With the impending closure of Village Harbour Marina, approximately 30 water-access cottagers now face challenges with access to their properties.  In response, Skeleton Lake Marina has submitted an application to expand docking and parking facilities at their Beaman’s Bay location.  This application is expected to be circulated for public input in the coming months with a decision by council scheduled for April. 

        In consultation with the SLCO, the Village Harbour Marina has also announced its intention to extend some limited services to water-access clients over the coming season to allow clients time to make alternative arrangements.  Also, a number of water-access cottagers are seeking the assistance of the township to allow temporary parking/docking at public access points and some, who are on the mainland, are also seeking potential road access to their properties.

        The SLCO remains committed to keeping its members informed about this situation and to facilitate, wherever possible, a satisfactory outcome for all.

        Membership Report

        Thank you to our SLCO membership for an awesome 2021.  Let’s all work together to reach 300 members in 2022.  Together we can keep our beautiful lake for all of us to enjoy.

        Kelly Andrews

        Chair Membership Committee

        Merchandising Committee

        The Merchandising Committee thanks everyone for their overwhelming support for SLCO through their purchases of The Bones of Skeleton Lake, clothing and other items. We thank those who have been patiently waiting for their orders to arrive and will connect with you in the spring as soon as we can arrange delivery.

        Fun Facts:

        There were 563 individual orders placed this year.

        Of the 700 books that we ordered, only 5 remain to be sold.

        Our best selling items were Wine Tumblers (52), One Tree Island Baseball Caps (37), One Tree Island Hoodies (36), Travel Tumblers (31) and One Tree Island Sweatshirts (31).

        The Merchandising Team is looking forward to reviewing items that we have in our current catalogue, and possibly adding a few more items.  (If you have requests that you think our membership would be interested in, please let us know). We are hoping to return to a regular ordering and delivery schedule in 2022.

        Kathi Poupard

        Board Member

        SLCO Stewardship Committee:

        The committee was busy this year working with both the Township of Muskoka Lakes (TML) and the Town of Huntsville (TH), the two municipal jurisdictions of our lake. The main emphasis was to ensure that the top priorities of our cottagers were enshrined in the new Official Plan (OP) being worked on by TML and the bylaw controls being worked on by TH.

        Phosphate levels in all lakes are a concern. So to reinforce our monitoring program we increased the number of tests to see if there were any trends or issues we were missing with the existing program.

        This year, we will continue our efforts at the municipal level with a goal to ensure that our voices are heard to make sure the bylaws are not softened and are in fact strengthened to protect our beautiful lake environment.

        Though our beautiful Skeleton Lake has pristine waters, we cannot take it for granted. We need to be vigilant and proactive in ensuring the water quality does not decline. The Lake is deep - 32m average depth and 65m at its deepest point – and its total volume is approximately 6.64 million cubic metres. There is very little turnover of our water. With no large river feeding into the Lake, the water in the Lake takes a long time to replace itself (estimated to be around 20 years).  For this reason, it is very important to proactively protect the water and the natural shoreline. There are many things we as cottagers can do to help preserve the water quality.   We have updated the website to reflect a great deal of new and interesting information about the lake.  Please look at the website under Our Lake.

        We will be providing information to you with the current trends and concerns but most importantly on how you can help protect your investment and preserve your enjoyment of the lake. These communications will be coming out monthly and directing you to resources on a number of key topics regarding our lake.

        We want to hear from our Lake Community to understand what we should be focusing our efforts on, and what information you believe needs to be provided to ensure we have a robust stewardship plan to protect our lake.

        Deirdre Broude

        Chair Stewardship Committee 


        2021 Recreational Program

        The recreational events for 2021 began with the Canada Day Antique Boat Flotilla around Skeleton Lake cheered on by the cottagers.

        The new format annual Sailing Race held in August was a fierce competition that concluded with first place awarded to Paul Elliot and Zane Szabo, second Place to Paul Horn, Camden and Lochlyn Horn, third place to Ben and Jamie McLaughlin.

        Also, on a very warm day in August, Muskoka Conservancy conducted a hike attended by many on their 100-acre property on the north shore.  The professional guide, Aaron Rusiak, provided a most enjoyable and very informative day.

        This year’s catch and release Fishing Derby saw 14 participants from the age of 4 and up. Their catches included bass, pickerel and lake trout weighing from 10 oz. to a whopping 4.6 lbs.

        The photograph contest was once again a huge success with many showing off their talented shots.  The theme "Life at the Cottage" winners were first Shannon Capri and second place Bill and Susan Meyers.  The "Wildlife" theme winners were first Jonathon Farrar and second Adrienne Gilbert. The best overall photograph was awarded to Linda Haslam-Stroud.  The winners’ photographs are shown below.

        Our coveted annual Regatta was unfortunately cancelled due to the Covid virus.

        1st Place Overall Photo - "Rush" by Linda Haslam-Stroud

        1st Place - Life at the Cottage - "Beach Bum" by Shannon Capri

        1st Place - Wildlife Photo - "Loon" by Jonathon Farrar

        2nd Place - Life at the Cottage - "Walking on Sunshine" by Bill & Susan Meyers

        2nd Place - Wildlife Photo - "Mating Dragon Flies" by Adrienne Gilbert

        Bob Smith

        Chair Recreation Committee

        News Summary from our Lake Partners

        The list of links below represent a selection of recent news and information pieces from our Lake Partners.  Click on the name of the Lake Partner to go to the Lake Partner's website where you can find additional information.  Enjoy!

        Cottage Life

        New Year’s Resolutions: It’s time for resolutions! And while you may be focusing on your weight, or your finances, or simply going to bed an hour earlier every night, you shouldn’t neglect your cottage. That’s right — your favourite place on earth could use some resolutions too.  10 New Year’s resolutions every cottager should actually stick to this year

        Federation of Ontario Cottagers Associations

        FOCA Fall Seminar Presentation by Dr. Norman Yan:  Dr. Yan’s talk was entitled: “Imagining a good future for our lakes despite climate change”.  He provided an in-depth overview of the current state of our lakes, discussing how we got here, where we want to go and how to get there.  He detailed three drivers for the increasing risk of algal blooms:

        1) Faster algal growth due to increased phosphorous load caused by: a) more waste and land clearing from development, b) the death of trees, and c) more erosion, mineralization or anoxia which are enhanced by climate change.
        2) Lower algal death due to decreased zooplankton populations caused by: a) calcium decline, b) spiny water flea invasion, c) increasing use of road salt as a result of climate change and d) decrease of zooplankton directly due to climate change.
        3) Continually improving blue green algal habitat due to climate change.

        Dr. Yan recommends that we fix the problems we do understand, study those we don’t yet understand and protect forests and animal plankton so they can protect the waters we all value.

        The problems that we do understand along with their respective solutions include:
        Faulty septic systems - repair along with regular maintenance
        Too many invaders - prevent new introductions
        Too much road salt - reduce use
        Too little calcium - add it, for example, the ASHMuskokaproject

        Click here for Dr. Yan’s presentation.

        Responsible Cottage Rental: FOCA supports a philosophy of responsible use, that encourages cottage owners to:

        • educate and inform guests about cottage country living and etiquette—the link above includes a sample visitor information sheet
        • work with neighbours to promote harmonious relationships 
        • be environmental stewards by ensuring the sustainable use of cottage properties, recognizing the limits of the existing septic system; and reviewing road capacity and other community considerations.

        Trailered watercraft are now regulated under the Invasive Species Act:  The Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015 has been amended and now regulates the movement of watercraft as a carrier of invasive species. The new rules are based on "Clean, Drain, Dry" practices, as supported by FOCA and others.

        • Boaters are now required to remove drain plugs, drain all on board water and remove any aquatic plants upon removing the watercraft from a waterbody. 
        • Prior to reaching a launch site, the watercraft, watercraft equipment and any vehicle or trailer used for transportation  must not have an aquatic plant, animal or algae attached to it

        Muskoka Ratepayers Association

        Site Alteration By-Law Update:  Township of Muskoka Lakes Chief Municipal By-Law Officer, Rob Kennedy, presented a draft Site Alteration By-Law to Committee.  He explained that the changes to the by-law were mostly “technical” and would allow by-law staff to enforce the by-laws and set fines more easily.  The most significant change is penalties were increased from a maximum $10,000 to $100,000 for both individuals and corporations.  These are the maximum fines permitted under the Municipal Act. Staff were directed to establish an Engage Muskoka page with a number of questions to obtain public input prior to returning to Committee.

        Safe Quiet Lakes

        Your Lakes--Your Views Survey:  6,000 community members responded to the 2021 Your Lakes, Your Views survey.  There was 71% support for no wake zones to protect people and nature, 70% support for stronger enforcement of boating while under the influence, and 67% support for establishing decibel limits on noise made by boats. Only 18% say no need for additional enforcements (down by 33%).  The research report has eight practical recommendations. Safe Quiet Lakes is actively working on plans to lead this change.  Summary and full report.

        Be Wake Aware:  Over 200 No Wake signs were deployed in Muskoka and beyond.  SQL released the campaign and video in partnership with FOCA and the MLA to educate those participating in tow sports to stay well away from shore. The video was disseminated across many regions of Ontario and to date has well over 6,000 views.

        The Land Between

        Why should I embrace my leafy lawn?  Many animals use leaves as shelter and insulation to survive our cold winters.  Recommendations for leaves and gardening.

        Town of Huntsville

        Licencing short-term rentals: The Town of Huntsville would like to remind all seasonal and permanent residents of the Town’s Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) Program. All those operating a STRA are reminded that they must be licensed with the Town and registered with OHRMA for the MAT program.  Reminder to license Short-Term Rental Accommodations

        Please contact Tom Grajnar at with any suggestions that you may have for this Lake Partner News Summary.

        If you have any suggestions for future newletters, please let me know. 

        Tim Lutton

        Chair, Communications Committee 

        Please continue to follow us on Facebook or visit the SLCO website to get the latest news.