Page 1. " Victoria hated the confining bathing costumes "
Bathing Beauties - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite/ Library and Archives Canada
Public DomainBathing Beauties - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite/ Library and Archives Canada

Can you blame her? These bathing suits were made of wool and always in dark colours so that you couldn’t see through them. Black stockings, slippers, and cap completed the outfit. Little wonder that “skinny dipping” - swimming naked, usually at night and with the same sex - became fashionable. 

Page 3. " The massive dining room of The Grand Muskoka Hotel was two storeys high with two levels of windows inviting the mellow evening light to filter in "

Royal Muskoka Hotel dining room - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite
Public DomainRoyal Muskoka Hotel dining room - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite

This is a photo of the dining room at the Royal Muskoka Hotel, which the author used as the basis for the Grand Muskoka Hotel. 

Page 5. " “Why, I understand that our President owns an island on this very lake!” “Yes, Formosa Island.” "

The Bluff - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite
Public DomainThe Bluff - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite
Woodrow Wilson  was a professor at Princeton University when he vacationed in Muskoka in July of 1904. He must have enjoyed himself, because shortly thereafter he bought Formosa Island on Lake Rosseau - not far from this inn where he had stayed.  He became President of the United States in 1912. 

Page 5. " With this infernal heat, the city is like Hades itself. And we can hardly breathe for the soot and smoke "

 

Pittsburgh pollution - John L.  Alexandrowicz, Photographer
Public DomainPittsburgh pollution - John L. Alexandrowicz, Photographer
By 1914 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was heavily industrialized, producing half of the nation’s steel, and making industrialists and bankers, like Andrew Carnegie and the Mellons, fabulously wealthy. Like many others who could afford to escape the city's heat and pollution, the Mellon family owned an island in Muskoka, where descendants still summer. The area around Beaumaris became known as "Little Pittsburgh" as well as "Millionaires' Row".

This photo gives an idea of what the pollution must have been like in Pittsburgh. Note that effluence from the mill is also spewing into the river.

Page 5. " The staff and the cargo were then conveyed to the Oakleys’ island by one of the big lake steamers, while the family traveled in their own steam yacht "
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst - Credit: Frank Micklethwaite
Public DomainMuskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst - Credit: Frank Micklethwaite

A fleet of majestic steamships serviced the three large, interconnected lakes, dropping passengers at resorts or private homes. This photo shows the wharf at Gravenhurst - the gateway to the lakes - with a couple of the large steamships in the back and private ones in the foreground. The train pulled right up onto the wharf.

The restored R.M.S. Segwun is the oldest operating steamship in North America, and provides daily sightseeing cruises in the summer, including a delightful sunset dinner cruise. It can also be rented for weddings and special events. Check out the website for information on sailings.

Page 13. " They lived with Grandmother in her mansion in the upscale Toronto suburb of Rosedale. "
Rosedale in 1882 - sketch by Anne Langton
Public DomainRosedale in 1882 - sketch by Anne Langton

Rosedale, one of the oldest suburbs of Toronto, started out as a country property known for its abundance of wild roses. It’s now one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Canada. This sketch shows what the area looked like in 1882, when the fictional Wyndhams were one of the few families to reside in this picturesque area. By the turn of the century, there were many large estates, and increasing expansion.

Page 14. " the sanatorium in Gravenhurst "
Cottage Sanatorium, Gravenhurst Muskoka - Credit Frank Micklethwaite
Public DomainCottage Sanatorium, Gravenhurst Muskoka - Credit Frank Micklethwaite

The Cottage Sanatorium in Gravenhurst, Muskoka, was the first one in Canada. Tuberculosis patients breathed plenty of Muskoka’s clean, pine-scented air, as treatment consisted of spending the best part of every day outdoors, no matter the weather. In winter, patients would be wrapped in layers of woolens or furs, and then in a dozen blankets before their beds or "cure chairs" were wheeled onto verandas. 

Find out more about TB at this site.

Page 15. " he owned lumber and shingle mills throughout the district of Muskoka "
Moon River - Credit: Frank Micklethwaite
Public DomainMoon River - Credit: Frank Micklethwaite

For decades, lumbering was big business in Muskoka. The logs that came down the rivers and lakes in the spring were often a problem for boats navigating the waters. Gravenhurst Bay was lined with lumber and shingle mills, and it was said that the Bay itself was sometimes so thick with log booms that you could walk across it. This photo shows some stray logs on the Moon River.

Page 16. " They lounged with practiced ease on white wicker chairs and rockers and chaise lounges on the broad, pine-boarded veranda "

Lounging on the veranda of a typical Muskoka cottage - Credit: Frank Micklethwaite
Public DomainLounging on the veranda of a typical Muskoka cottage - Credit: Frank Micklethwaite

This is not a photo of the family, of course, but it conveys the ethos of leisurely summer life on the veranda of a typical Muskoka cottage at the beginning of the last century.

Page 19. " the long and wide dock where the steamships could stop to pick up or deposit passengers "

typical dock - Credit: FRank Micklethwaite
Public Domaintypical dock - Credit: FRank Micklethwaite
Here’s an example of a dock. When you wanted to leave the cottage - many were on islands - you would raise a white flag on the flagpole as a signal for the steamships to pick up passengers. 

Page 20. " Built in the popular Shingle Style "

Shingle Style cottage in 1908- Credit: Frank Micklethwaite
Public DomainShingle Style cottage in 1908- Credit: Frank Micklethwaite

The Shingle Style is illustrated in this cottage.

Page 21. " Sir William Mackenzie "
Sir William Mackenzie
Public DomainSir William Mackenzie

The author enjoys weaving real people into her novels. Mackenzie is one of the several self-made millionaires that crop up in the book. He was one of the builders of the transcontinental Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR), and also owned the Toronto Street Railway. But the CNoR went into bankruptcy and was taken over by the government, becoming part of the CNR in 1918.  There’s an excellent biography about him by Dr. R.B. Fleming. Find out more at this website.

Page 25. " racing about the lake in the new and powerful Ditchburn boat "
Mahogany boats at the annual Antique and Classic Boat Show in Muskoka
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumMahogany boats at the annual Antique and Classic Boat Show in Muskoka - Credit: Mindshadows

Muskoka boat builders like Ditchburn, Minett, Greavette, and others became famous for their beautiful, handcrafted vessels, many of them finished in gleaming mahogany. These boats are now prized by their owners, many of whom display them at the annual Antique and Classic Boat Show in Gravenhurst in July, where this photo was taken.

Watch some of these classics perform at the 2011 show.