Representing The Brandy Lake Association

Muskoka Etiquette

Jul 18, 2019

Here are a few suggestions from the Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association on what we consider to be good “cottage etiquette” when enjoying your Muskoka vacation property. Basically, this simply means …being a good neighbour.


Boating Safety – Various boat licensing opportunities are available on-line, or in kiosks throughout the area during the summer. Take note of anyone paddling a motorized boat to see if they need help due to engine trouble.

Boat Wakes can cause considerable damage and you are considered the responsible party. Reduce your wake near docks, shorelines, swimmers, canoes and sailboats.

Floating Items such as rafts and water toys should be placed so as not to impair boating safety. Water toys should be brought to shore when not in use. Remember these things are not to be used for a slalom course for jet skis and do pose a risk of injury or damage to the driver or the floater.

Water Quality is Important – No bathing, shampooing or laundry washing in the lakes. Even phosphate-free products are harmful to the environment.

Septic Systems are Very Sensitive – “Phosphate Free” products are a good choice to use, however, “anti-bacterial” products should be avoided as they break down the bacteria necessary for the proper operation of your septic system. Most systems should be pumped out every 2 to 3 years. Know the history of your system and be sure it is up to date.

Shoreline Health is so Important – Keep (or restore) it to a
healthy state. Plant native vegetative growth wherever possible which helps to serve as a buffer that can filter storm runoff and any phosphorous overflow. This in turn, promotes good water quality.

Noise – Always be conscious of your neighbour’s right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. The Township of Muskoka Lakes has a noise by-law in effect and any amplified sound after 11 PM is an infraction and could result in a fine.

Pets – Township by-laws state that all dogs must be on a
leash. Muskoka encourages a ‘stoop n’ scoop’ practice and provides containers for disposal in area parks.

Fires and Fireworks – Bonfires and fireworks are always a fire concern in a forested area. Muskoka Lakes have Fire (See 2018-16) and Fireworks (see 2016-092) by-laws in place. To quickly summarize bonfires…be aware of posted fire ratings, keep fires small, are only allowed dusk till dawn and must have water at hand. Fireworks summarized…are only allowed on Fridays, Saturdays and statutory holidays and are never allowed when the fire rating is high or after 11 PM.

Dark Sky – The Township of Muskoka Lakes has a Dark Sky By-Law (see 2014-029). It is mandatory that any new outdoor light fixtures within the Township be dark sky compliant and not give off “light trespass”. We suggest that you change all your old fixtures to comply with this by-law as well. Fixtures should have full top shade, so the light shines directly down and not up into the night sky. Muskoka prides itself on having a designated Dark Sky Reserve at the Torrance Barrens.

Garbage – Be familiar with your local collection schedules and/or the location of your closest transfer station. Muskoka collects green-bin compost, household garbage and has a two-bin separated recyclable materials program. Please put garbage out the morning of pick-up so as not to attract wildlife…including bears! Muskoka works hard to be clean and litter-free. Disposal of the garbage along our roadsides is poor manners and illegal.

Wildlife – Please do not feed the wildlife, especially geese or raccoons. Our wildlife is not tame… just looking for an easy meal

Winter Etiquette – It’s a good idea to arrange for someone to attend your property to do a regular ‘walk around’. Snow load on rooftops, trees or limbs down, excessive water, are a few things that should be monitored to ensure that you and your neighbours’ properties haven’t been affected. If you use a boathouse or dock “bubbler”, it is mandatory to mark these open water areas with a warning light and signage. There is no need to run a bubbler system from October to March or April creating dangerous ice conditions around the shoreline. Many contractors need safe access to the lakes to perform winter work on surrounding properties. Hikers, snowmobilers, skiers, ice fishermen and emergency departments also need safe access to the lakes.

We hope that your Muskoka cottaging experience is a safe, enjoyable and memorable one.


2023 Events

We are once again putting together a summer program to gather in person, to meet our new members...

read more