"Town of Bracebridge"
I spent one month this summer in a rented cottage on Wilson Island in Lake Muskoka this summer...The closest town to the island is Bracebridge, about 10 minute boat ride from the Indian Head Marina. Bracebridge, itself, has grown like crazy since I was last in the area (there was only a McDonald's back then really). Now there are 2 huge grocery stores (independent and A&P), retaurants (including a Kelsey's, McD's, Dairy Queen, and a bunch more) as well as many many laundromats, medical clinic, pharmacy, Dollarama, etc. Anything you might need while at the cottage is now available in Bracebridge which means you don't need to worry about forgetting a few small things while packing, and makes picking up extra food for suppers and impromptu guests an easy task.
If you want privacy and quiet, I wouldn't recommend this island! The cottagers here have for the most part owned or rented on the island for years, and therefore know everyone and their mother! This is fantastic for children because they can run back and forth between cottages for playdates and to give them a break from adult company and get their energy out in a big way. Neighbours often drop by for drinks on the dock or just for a chat, and there are frequently large group barbecue dinners at alternating cottage decks. The people here are very generous and considerate. Neighbours running to the marina or into the mainland will do errands for others, or at least offer to do so and everyone is willing to pitch in when one group needs a hand. Take the time, me, another novice boater and three children got stuck in the middle of the lake due to an undetected gas tank flood. Another boater towed us into our bay and three men jumped right into the chilly morning water with ropes to help us dock, not even thinking about their own discomfort! After thanking one of them profusely, he confessed to us that it's happened to everyone at one time or another and everyone on the island is fully prepared to jump into the lake to help out a fellow cottager. A great community! The island is generally quiet, the noise comes from nature being so absolutely silent that any low conversations from across the bay, not to mention excited cheers or shouts echo and make it seem louder than it is.
"Summer 2006 Weather etc..."
Unfortunately, of the month I spent in Muskoka this summer, 60% of the days were rainy, windy and damp. This has not been the case on most of my other visits to the Muskoka area when the days have been filled with sun and heat. When it was sunny and warm it was a dream to swim in the warm, calm water and hike around the island, boat, waterski, windsurf or just lie on the dock with a good book. In nice weather, we wouldn't eat dinner until 9 pm, barely even realizing that the day was almost over. The sunsets are beautiful - if you are renting a cottage in Muskoka it is worth it to get one with a view to the west if you enjoys sunsets. Sunset cruises in your boat are also a relaxing way to end the day. Also, it is worth a note that many cottagers choose "dusk" - after 6 pm - to go out on the lake in their boats for water sports such as waterskiing. It is the best time to do so if you are planning on it. Also, if you are swimming and find the waves getting choppier, get out and wait for them to calm a bit - the current can be strong and you could find yourself much farther from shore than you intended and discover it is difficult to get back without a big effort. The weather can change quickly. We experienced several storms, but the worst was one which seemed to blow up withing 15 minutes. We had to run to cover the boat and by the time we finished we were soaking wet and in the centre of an electrical storm which lasted 5 hours!