Boathouse Q & A

Nathalie Tinti, Partner Barriston LLP
45 Ann Street
Bracebridge, ON P1L 2A1


two story boathouse

Question: Is my two story boat house legal?


Answer: Chances are, if you have a two story boat house it is located on either municipally owned land (likely an original shore road allowance) or land over which the Ministry of Natural Resources has jurisdiction (on the water). Generally, this does not become an issue until you wish to remodel or rebuild your boathouse. Most people believe that this remodel or rebuild is not an issue because the boathouse is “grandfathered” into compliance as a legal non-conforming structure, regardless of current building and zoning compliance. To some extent, this is true. However, when you go and apply for your building permit, you may find a few surprises.


If your boathouse is built on an original shore road allowance (“OSRA”), which is a road that lies between your land and the water, the municipality is within their legal rights to require you to apply to purchase the OSRA or remove your structure from the land. By virtue of past legislation, municipalities own all roads, whether open, closed or OSRAs, that are located within their municipality.


Question: Why would I want to purchase a road?


Answer: Purchase of an OSRA has many benefits. It improves the footprint of your land, and more importantly, will allow your boat house to be on property owned by you. Depending on the square footage of OSRA being purchased, this addition of land may also allow you to build a larger cottage in the future. Also, this will be the cheapest land you ever purchase in Muskoka! The cost per square foot of OSRAs has not, thankfully, kept up with the ever increasing cost of waterfront in Muskoka. However, it should be noted that the costs associated with any road allowance purchases are governed completely by the municipality in which they are located and therefore may change at any time.


Question: What if my boat house in on the water and not the OSRA?


Answer: If you are lucky enough to have a two story boat house with living quarters that is located on the water, not on the OSRA, you are required to either the lease or purchase the land that it sits on from MNR. The lease or the purchase can be accomplished fairly easily at a reasonable cost. Again, as the cost of this land is so reasonable, I highly recommend that you purchase it rather than rent it. One never knows when MNR may change its policy relating to these lands and as anyone knows, long term investment of ownership is always preferable to renting!


Happy cottaging!



Muskoka Steamships Cruises


Muskoka Steamships is home to one of Canada’s most famous cruise vessels, the Royal Mail Ship Segwun, North America’s oldest operating steamship. Launched in 1887, this 99 passenger floating museum – along with her larger sister ship, the Wenonah II – entertains visitors throughout the cruise season from its home port at Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst. The Steamships offer cruises 7 days a week throughout the sailing season, including lunch cruises, sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises, and their famed family theme cruises, featuring Noah’s Ark, Frozen, and Pirate Cruises.

Above: Iris waves from the deck of the Wenonah II before departing on a wonderful dinner cruise around Lake Rosseau

Eilean Gowan – Lake Muskoka

This outstanding Eilean Gowan Island oasis features 759 feet of water frontage
with fabulous sandy water entry which is fun for all
the little ones as well as the grandparents. Absolutely amazing!!!

There is a total of 2923 square feet of living space, which includes the upper level of
the boathouse boasting 900 sq. ft., and features south west, sunset views. The rocky
Georgian Bay style `windswept` point provides several outdoor sitting areas as well
as a fire pit for star and moon filled nights to create memories your family will talk
about for years to come.

The cottage is charming and cozy with a beautiful Muskoka room that allows for
screened-in dining, games and general fun with a sunset view…don’t miss out on
this fabulous feature!!! There are two boathouses to store your water toys and one
of them features a second story with 2 bedrooms, large living area and covered
deck. It is the perfect spot to hang out on a rainy day and the space is bright and

The year-round cottage is fully furnished with 4 bedrooms which has been
extremely well maintained. There is a lakeside sauna, plus an extra lot in case
you want to create a family compound. There are several marinas close by for a
short boat ride, depending which town you would like to be close to. This is a “must
see” island property for those buyers seeking large water frontage, privacy, island dotted view and capacity for a boat collection. It is simply divine!

The Setting:
We can assure you that here you will experience spectacular views with sun all
day long. Lounge on the various decks and docks with excellent privacy, enjoy
the sun, jump in the lake to cool off in the deeper water, lounge in the water
on a chair or play with the little ones in the shallower water front …whatever you
decide is your favourite pass time, you can do it here.

You have arrived to your special Muskoka property to make your new memories. ENJOY!!!