264 pages
ISBN 1-55046-484-1
DDC 725'.87'0971316





Photos by John de Visser
Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.


Whether your interest is in domestic architecture, interior decorating,
photography, vintage boats, the Muskoka lakes, or lifestyles of the
well-to-do, you will find much to enjoy in this impressive compilation.

By definition, a boathouse is a garage for boats. In the
Muskokas—Ontario’s cottage mecca—that definition is just a
starting point. A basic boathouse provides a slip or two to shelter the
family runabouts. But there’s nothing basic about the 45 boathouses
presented here. Imagine, instead, enough slips to moor and display a
collection of vintage mahogany launches, perhaps a yacht or two, or even
a 30-foot sloop. Think gleaming, polished wood, underwater lights,
change rooms, verandas, and perhaps a bar. That’s at water level.

Originally, any space over the boat slips was used as housing for
servants. This evolved into a place for the kids, then accommodation for
guests, and now additional space for the cottage owners. The range is
from cozy to immense (six bedrooms), with features such as a fireplace,
games room, party room, and balconies. Kitchen, baths, and living rooms
are basics, of course. The interiors illustrate many variations on the
country-comfort theme, with vintage furniture, prized collectibles, and
natural materials highlighted.

The book starts with a brief explanation, in text and photos, of how a
boathouse is constructed and the evolution of the form in the Muskokas.
For each featured boathouse, there’s one or more photos of the
exterior and setting, at least one of the slips, and approximately four
to six views of interiors. The Ross–de Visser team is famous for books
on the Muskokas. This volume incorporates at least part of two earlier
works. The high quality that has made their many previous collaborations
successful is continued here, with outstanding photography and
professional text. The result is a coffee-table book with lots of
interesting notes, certain to be popular with all those who admire and
aspire to life as a cottage owner.


Ross, Judy., “Boathouses,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,