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December 2020 in Muskoka: Fun Holiday Events for the Whole Family

Muskoka during the holiday season is a truly magical place. Throughout December, the region has plenty of holiday events for you and your family to choose from, even during the pandemic. Whether it’s getting a head start on gift shopping, taking a sleigh ride to meet Santa, or having Santa Claus Zoom into your living room, there are many different options to help get in the Christmas spirit in Muskoka this December.

December 5-December 6 – XMUS Festival
Where: Canvas Brewing, Huntsville
When: Saturday, December 5th from 12-5:30 pm and Sunday, December 6th 12-4 pm
Cost: $6 ($5 food bank donation optional)

It’s a holiday gifting market to help start off your shopping, featuring local and non-local crafts, unique art, culinary artisans, gifting, and more. With craft beer, wine, spirits, and the holiday’s best cocktails with a gourmet bites menu, there are worse ways to do your shopping!

Time slots are for one hour with a maximum of 50 people. Masks are mandatory. For information and tickets please see their website.

December 6 – Bracebridge Santa Claus Parade
Where: J.D. Lang Park 
When: Sunday, December 6th
Cost: Free

The Bracebridge Santa Claus parade, hosted by the Rotary Club of Bracebridge Muskoka Lakes, will look a little different this year. In its 74th year, instead of having people line the streets, the club is going to reverse things–with parade viewers becoming the parade! 

A drive-thru parade, the Bracebridge Santa Claus parade will begin at J.D. Lang Park, with a route going from Monica Lane, across Gray Road, through the Bracebridge Fair Grounds before finishing at Fraserburg Road. The parade will run from 1 pm to 4 pm.

For more information, see the Discover Muskoka website, here

Until December 23 – Sleigh Ride to Santa
Where: Back of Beyond Equine Centre
When: From November 20 until December 23
Cost: $62.15

Create a family memory that will last a lifetime, with a horse-drawn sleigh ride to Santa’s North Pole Stables. Santa will be there to greet your family as the sleigh pulls up, with the entire visit occurring outside and in line with social distance recommendations. Santa’s helper will take a family photo with Santa with your own phone before Santa waves goodbye as the sleigh returns you to your car. 

Rides are 15 minutes and full information and tickets can be found here.

Until December 19 – Muskoka Arts & Crafts Christmas Show & Sale Online
Where: Virtually
When: From November 20th until December 19th

The 40th annual Muskoka Arts & Crafts Christmas Show has moved online this year. Shop your favourite local artists from the comfort of your home. Whether you are looking for pottery, paintings, photography, jewelry, sculptures, or home decor, the Arts & Crafts show has seasonal gift ideas for everyone on your list.

Many artists provide studio curbside pickup, while others can deliver within Muskoka. For full information, see here.

December 24 – Torchlight Parade
Where: Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area
When: Thursday, December 24th
Cost: Free

Due to COVID-19, the Torchlight Parade will have to be viewed from the car or the parking lot this year, with the chalet closed. However, enjoy the sight of snow school instructors and ski patrollers going down the Flying Dutchman carrying brightly lit torches, creating a magnificent parade of lights–even featuring Santa! 

The parade begins at 6:00 pm sharp, weather permitting.

Do I Need Screen Doors On My Cottage?

We’re all familiar with screens doors and the pain they can be. The creak of the hinges, the torn screens, and the way they always seem to close on you before you can get in the door. But if you have a good, well-fitted door, an additional storm door is completely unnecessary. In fact, most newer homes and cottages don’t have screen doors at all. One door gets the job done itself, no classic screen door needed, regardless of the desired style.

Smooth Fibreglass
Low maintenance and well-insulated is why this is a popular choice for both homeowners and contractors. Durable to withstand dents, it’s a great choice for high traffic areas that see constant use. Engineered wood edges and a reinforced lock block will provide years of consistent protection from the elements, guaranteed.

Wood Grain Fibreglass
Wood Grain Fibreglass doors give the appearance of traditional wood with the durability of fibreglass, combining the elegant detail of a wooden door with the weather-resistant and low-maintenance qualities of fibreglass. Plus, both the door and the glass insert are available in various styles.

Aluminum Clad Wood
Similar to Wood Grain Fibreglass, these doors offer a perfect combination of traditional style and modern durability to withstand Muskoka winters and summers. The aluminum provides an extra layer of protection for doors which may be facing the lake (think boathouse porch). Choose from a variety of colours, glass options, and brick mould and trim options for the perfect look to match your existing design.

Residential Commercial Aluminum
Energy-efficient and designed with wear and tear in mind. Residential Commercial Aluminum doors are built for high-traffic areas but with architectural detail due to a larger glass area than typical doors. Available in various glass finishes with flexibility of design.

Solid Wood
A traditional, solid wood door offers a homely and classic look. Solid woods doors offer even more variety than fibreglass doors, with a nearly endless choice of wood species and designs to pick from. Choose simplicity or elegance with natural colours, grains, and textures for solid wood doors. With a laminated core and a veneer exterior, the risk of warping or splitting due to weather is reduced.

Bigfoot Premium Doors
If you are looking to combine contemporary elegance with commercial-grade security, premium doors are a perfect choice. With a 3-point safety lock, two large hooks, and three powerful hinges, premium doors provide your cottage with the best security available. The special construction, creating an exceptionally firm and thick door, rounds out the comfort premium doors provide from the inside. 

On the outside, special LED illumination gives a warm, modern feel whether a guest is arriving or you are returning home. With a wide range of choices in styles, colours, surface treatments, glass and its treatment, handles, knockers, and locks, Bigfoot’s premium doors aren’t just the perfect door–they are the perfect door for your Muskoka cottage.  

No Need for That Wheezy Screen Door No matter your style of cottage or the type of door you desire, a screen door is a thing of the past that’s only good for nostalgia and one of the finest songs in Canadian history. There’s no more need to try and rush inside to avoid a squeaky screen door swinging shut or patching up holes with duct tape. With new cottage doors, one is enough, giving you the quality, durability, security, and design that’s right for you.

How the Winter Weather Impacts Your Windows and Doors in Muskoka

The Muskoka winter is just about here. Even without it officially being winter, you can see that many areas have already experienced large amounts of snowfall and the weather has quickly become frigid. While you’re staying warm and dry inside your home, you might be wondering how the winter weather affects your windows and doors. The answer is probably a little more complicated than you might expect, and will be reliant on a number of factors including age, material, and the weather outside.

Condensation may form on windows
One of the most common problems experienced during the winter months is condensation building up on your windows. The formation of condensation generally occurs after there’s a significant change in temperature on either side of your windows – warm air is unable to escape through your windows and eventually loses its ability to hold water vapor, causing excess vapor to pool onto your windows.

Condensation isn’t always as bad of a problem as it seems, but can quickly become an annoyance for homeowners. You can reduce the amount of condensation on windows by using a dehumidifier, or using other methods to decrease the amount of humidity in your home. If excess condensation is building up on your windows, it’s likely that you have a leak in your windows and may require further inspection.

Materials can shrink and warp
Certain materials just don’t agree with the extreme weather experienced by many parts of the country. This is especially true of wooden doors and windows, which can be heavily affected by the temperature and humidity, causing it to shrink, warp, and bow. The best way to combat this is by regularly treating wood with sealer or paint, or to use aluminum and vinyl alternatives, which don’t experience such significant effects in extreme weather conditions.

Ice buildup can take place
During the winter months, ice can build up in gaps around your windows and doors, and can even cause your locks to seize up in extreme cases. Ice buildup can make it difficult to open and close your doors and windows, and can make it much more difficult to get into your own home. To avoid the buildup of ice around doors and windows, it’s recommended that you regularly maintain your weather stripping and ensure that it’s in good working order before the winter months arrive.

If your lock is seizing up due to the weather, you can use de-icing spray to thaw and release frozen locks, making it easier to escape the cold and preventing future problems. The presence of ice can also make it easier for hardware to fail, making it necessary that you clear your windows and doors of any buildup before operating your doors and windows.

You’ll really start to notice drafts
The most significant way that the winter weather can affect your doors and windows is by causing drafts and leaks in your home. While you might not notice the presence of drafts in your windows or doors during the summer months, you’ll definitely be feeling it when the weather dips below thirty degrees. 

Drafts are typically caused by old or poorly fitted windows, and can be a serious issue during the frigid winter months, forcing you to turn up the heat and spend more on your heating bills. While drafts and leaks can be temporarily alleviated with things like weather stripping, it’s typically a sign that you need new windows.

Preparing for the winter weather
Most Canadians are expecting this winter to be a particularly cold one, so it’s probably a good idea that you start preparing for the winter weather before it’s too late. That means finally getting around to sealing any gaps around your doors and windows to minimize drafts and leaks, insulating your windows to stop the warm air from leaking outside, and tightening loose hinges and hardware to keep everything operating as intended.

If your windows are showing their age or have problems that simple maintenance just won’t solve, you might want to schedule a consultation with a professional window and door installer. A professional will inspect your doors and windows and lay out their recommendations, giving you an excellent opportunity to replace your windows and doors with energy efficient units that can keep your home warm all winter long, reduce utility bills, and ensure your comfort even in the most extreme conditions.

Muskoka Window & Door is the premier provider of energy efficient doors and windows in the Muskoka region. Our experienced team of window and door installation experts will meet with you to determine your needs and get to work on improving your home so you and your family can stay warm this winter season. To get started on your window or door replacement, contact the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

How to Keep Things Quiet on the Lake

Muskoka’s cottage country comprises a number of closely-knit communities where being respectful of your neighbours is of the utmost importance. You should understand what your role is in maintaining that calm that inspires community harmony, especially when it comes to noise levels.

The unwritten rules to know
Between boat traffic and kids playing, there can be an awful lot of noise on the lake on those beautiful summer days. However, those are the kinds of sounds we come to expect in cottage country. What nobody wants to hear is all-day construction and the sound of a chainsaw revving up before the sun rises. Don’t forget, on the lake sound travels easily. 

A good, general, unwritten rule to follow is to avoid doing construction during summer days unless it’s absolutely necessary. Otherwise, the construction and lake activity can become a cacophony of noise that nobody will enjoy!

The written rules to follow
For as helpful as the unwritten rule, above, is to follow, your municipality will have written rules, too. The local bylaws could differ depending on where you are, so be sure to follow them in order to avoid a complaint or a fine. Full bylaws for each municipality can be found by following the links, but there are a few things worth noting for each. 

  • Town of Huntsville. — Notify neighbours if you are doing any loud work and limit construction to standard working hours.
  • Town of Bracebridge. — Domestic tools such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, snowblowers, and saws are not permitted outside of standard working hours.
  • Town of Gravenhurst. — The operation of any public address system, car stereo, sound equipment, loudspeaker, or other electronic device intended for the amplification of sound is prohibited.
  • Township of Muskoka Lakes. — Noise bylaws apply between 11 pm and 7 am and include the use of loud music, engines, shouting, or any other sound that can be heard beyond your property.
  • Township of Lake of Bays. — Most excessive noise, whether it’s residential or construction, is not allowed between 9 pm and 7 am Monday-Saturday, or before noon on Sundays.
  • Township of Georgian Bay. — Unnecessary operation of vehicles that causes tire squeals, exhaust, banging of equipment, or excessive sound from a horn or stereo, is prohibited. 

In many cases, individual lake associations have their own guidelines on noise in addition to the written law from the municipality –  make sure you brush up on these annually. 

Guidance for renters
If you are renting out your cottage, whether it’s to family and friends or as an AirBnB, it’s important you provide guidance to your guests. In the end, the fines you get for their behaviour and the annoyance levels you’ll have to face from neighbours will be yours to deal with and not theirs. 

Once you have read up on the specific noise bylaws in your area and any rules your lake association has, you can apply those specific requirements to an AirBnB listing, including the time cut-offs. An additional layer can be to add the details into the rental agreement itself, in order to protect yourself and the community in the event of a problematic guest.

Additionally, AirBnB allows the listing to have each individual guest register, in order to ensure everyone is aware of the rules and bylaws for the property and surrounding community. In the event of a large gathering, a phone call ahead of time to communicate everything can be helpful.

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers has an excellent resource page for responsible cottage rental that everyone who is renting out their cottage should review. 

When should you complain? 
If noise levels are contravening local bylaws, and are significantly impacting your enjoyment of the lake, chances are good it is annoying your neighbours too and you should contact your municipality’s bylaw enforcement office. Things to give a pass for may be events like weddings, but realistically if someone is holding an event like that they should have already given a heads up to the neighbours. 

Just be respectful 
At the end of the day, it all goes back to respect for your neighbours and mindfulness of the community. As long as everyone is courteous, whether you are doing renovations or enjoying a fire in the evening, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, in the event of an issue, using bylaws as a guideline serves as an excellent fail-safe and help to maintain the peaceful cottage country environment you know and love.