Muskoka Moments – Nothing short of magic
Article by Val Hamilton
I was first introduced to Muskoka when I took a summer job at Clevelands House Resort on Lake Rosseau. I immediately knew Muskoka was nothing short of magic.
I spent my days hosting bocce ball tournaments, calling bingo games in the Lake Rosseau Club and planning shuffleboard duels for over 50 players at a time. I even ordered shuffleboard equipment for the one and only Martin Short. Working at a historic resort like Clevelands House was like being taken back in time. It’s those memories that made me fall in love with Muskoka and I’ve been here ever since.
Today I live with my family in beautiful Port Carling and I have the pleasure of being the executive director of Muskoka Tourism. At Muskoka Tourism, we work to inspire visitors through seasonally focused marketing campaigns. I find my greatest inspiration in my own day-to-day life. Nothing feels more natural to me than promoting Muskoka to the world as a must-experience destination.
As a family, we love the ski trails at the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre or a visit to one of the nine waterfalls in our region. We spend every minute we can on the water and love exploring the array of great shops across the region. I weave these moments into our marketing campaigns and with a love like this for Muskoka, it never feels like work.
When travel writers or media visit Muskoka I often speak of the magic. It’s almost hard to put into words the feeling when you cross the bridge in Port Severn or pass Webers on Highway 11. It’s an instant sense of relaxation and of being home. Many have used the term ‘Hamptons of the North’ to help would-be visitors better understand Muskoka. While the glitz and glam around the lakes is pretty spectacular, the Muskoka experience is so much more than that.
It’s the many small communities that support one another and come together to create something even greater. It’s knowing everyone by name at your local grocery store. It’s watching people explore the beauty of our winter landscapes for the first time (skating trail anyone!) and it’s watching families coming back to our over 35 public beaches and cottage resorts because once Muskoka is discovered, it’s never forgotten.
A new focus for me, and for Muskoka Tourism, is to keep sustainability and respect for our natural environment top of mind. With visitations at an all-time high, Muskoka Tourism has launched a new summer campaign, not to drive greater business but to remind travellers with their visit comes the responsibility to leave Muskoka just as they found it.
I know this is a message that will resonate with Muskoka’s lifelong, full-time residents, as much as it will act to ensure others take the same care of Muskoka that we do. Our message is to “Go Lightly” and is being shared through social media, radio, YouTube, and in partnering with influencers who visit the region. As we look ahead to 2024, we plan to build on this campaign as it’s never been more important to protect this place we call home.
If I had to choose my favourite Muskoka moments, it would be those spent with my family on our dock in Port Carling. This is my fourteenth year here, and I take none of it for granted. Every winter bonfire on a bluebird day, every late-night jump in the lake, and every breathtaking sunset, I savour each and every moment. There is no place on earth I’d rather be.
Val has called Muskoka home for fourteen years, having arrived here from Kingston and never looking back. Val has held marketing roles at Clevelands House, Horseshoe Resort and Muskoka Brewery and is now the executive director of Muskoka Tourism.
Val spends the best part of her day with her husband Jesse and stepdaughter Libby, exploring Muskoka every season of the year.