MUSKOKAN - On a particularly quiet part of Lake of Bays there’s an unassuming little neighborhood of heritage properties.
Relaxing at the Point.
The Tyrrell family sets up for a picnic at Clovelly in a photo believed to have been taken in 1910. At this point, there were no buildings.
Clovelly, located on a peninsula-like section in the southwest area of the lake, is a reminder of turn-of-the-century Muskoka. The neighborhood is so notable that this year several of the cottages were officially recognized with a 2012 Built Heritage Award.
Bruce MacLellan, president of the Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation, said Clovelly stands out for being an excellent representation of Muskoka’s past.
“It’s a beautiful little enclave created by a man early in the 1900s to create a little cottage community around that shoreline. A number of people gathered there, and their families are still there. Third and fourth generation families are still there still cottaging in these buildings that date back to 1912,” said MacLellan.
Roughly 100 years ago James William Tyrrell purchased the land which would become Clovelly and recognized it for what it was – an excellent place for a vacation spot. After dividing the 26 acres of land into separate lots he built a few cottages and rented them out to vacationers.
It wasn’t an entirely smooth ride though, as Tyrrell ran into difficulty with the property in the early years. His original plan was to sell the land to people who wanted to build. But, likely due to a combination of the lack of road access and a public that wasn’t in a vacationing mindset, the properties failed to attract interest.
When he decided to rent out Clovelly cottages, Tyrrell produced a brochure in 1912 that promoted the area with many of the same descriptions one would see in an advertisement for a Muskoka summer home today.
“A beautiful sandy beach affording a perfectly safe place for bathing as well as for boat and canoe landings,” reads the Clovelly brochure. “Also lovely shady walks through the fragrant balsam woods, and during their seasons a great variety of wild fruits are found in abundance.”
The current owners of the Clovelly cottages still enjoy the sandy beach and shady walks. The heritage award given to the Clovelly cottage owners recognizes the owner’s commitment to preserving the area’s character.
“These cottages, in many cases were the first structures built on these properties. In some cases, they’re now more than 100 years old and they’re such an important part of our history. It’s important that people preserve them so everyone can enjoy them,” MacLellan said.
Modern comforts have been brought into the old Clovelly cottages. Electric heating warms most of the cottages while modern plumbing supplies them with water, but throughout the changes they have maintained their very turn-of-the-century feel.
MacLellan feels that properly protecting heritage properties is good for both the region’s tourism and its sense of history.
“People love when they arrive in a cottage area and see the charming old buildings, the old churches and community buildings. These cottages represent an important part of our history,” said MacLellan.
For more information on Lake of Bays heritage communities, visit the Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation at www.lakeofbaysheritage.ca.