Hotel Launches and Livery Boats of Muskoka

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When cruising the Muskoka lakes on one of our steamships, inevitably a guest asks, “How were guests transported on the lakes once they were settled in their hotels?” The answer? Launches or livery boats, built in the Muskoka style, from mahogany or other exotic woods and varnished with such intensity they shone in the sun like jewels.

Some of the launches or livery boats are plying the lakes today.

Lady Elgin Launch or Livery boatsLady Elgin, 36 feet long, was built by Ditchburn Boats in 1928. During her 89 years of service, Lady Elgin was livery, a water taxi, and tour boat, carrying thousands of passengers on sightseeing cruises from hotels such as Clevelands House and Elgin House. In 1976, the Wilson family bought and refurbished her at Dukes in Port Carling. Watch for her as you cruise Lake Muskoka.

Wiggy III, 31 feet long, is privately owned these days. She was part of a fleet of five used at Wigwassan Lodge on Lake Rosseau. Wiggy III could carry 16 people. Her first owner was Mrs. Timothy Eaton. Wiggy III was docked at her summer estate, Ravenscrag on Lake Rosseau in the community of Windermere.

Viola, 36 feet long, is a Ditchburn boat that was used to give tours to guests of the many hotels near Minett. She was named for the daughter of her first owner. She now lives on Georgian Bay having been handed down through five generations.

Muskoka Discovery Centre has the largest in-water collection of classic and antique wooden boats in North America.