Bigwin Island on Lake of Bays

Posted by Andrew Bulloch on Friday, June 5th, 2015 at 12:00pm.

Bigwin Island Lake Of Bays

Bigwin Island is the largest island on Lake of Bays, in the Muskoka District of Ontario, Canada. In 2001 it became the site of a major re-development, in the form of a private golf club and a planned community of family waterfront cottages and golf villas. It is the second development to be built on the island, and has regained its recognition as a world class vacation destination and is major economic contributor to the community.

There are also multiple native burial grounds on the Island and immediately off shore given graves that were once on the island were flooded when lake levels were changed with damming for the purpose of bringing improvements to the logging and navigation industries. The original owners consented to preserve and protect all the ancient burial sites on the island from desecration and to allow Chief John Bigwin, who was still alive at the time, to be buried there with his ancestors when he died.

Bigwin Island has a long history in Lake Of Bays in Muskoka, Ontario.

Bigwin Island is known to have many native burial grounds – some of these grave sites are off-shore when the island was flooded from high lake levels changed from damming for loggin and navigating the Lake Of Bays waterways. The first development on Bigwin Island was in 1920 when the Bigwin Inn opened its doors, as an exclusive destination for the elite from Toronto and the US. Charles Orlando Shaw, founded the Bigwin Inn Company Ltd. in 1915 with the help of architect John Wilson (Collingwood) the resort was developed with 350 guest rooms and hailed as one of nicestest resorts in Muskoka.

In 1922 the first 9 hole golf course was added and then expanded to 18 holes in 1930, the Dance Pavilion brought in amazing musical acts of the time. Shaw passed in 1942 and Bigwin slowly fell into disrepair. Much of the resort he built was demolished overtime and by 1966 the island resort was closed.

The ferry that serviced the island missed its demise many times and eventually made its way into the hands of boat builders who rebuilt the Bigwin Ferry to its former glory.

In 2011 the golf course was revamped and much of the island is held by a membership/ The course is a par 72 championship layout.


Photo Credit: David A. SmithOwn work David A. Smith

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