This project is a private boathouse and family summer home on Horseshoe Island in Lake Muskoka, Ontario. With an existing cottage on the island, the client asked us to design a three-slip boathouse on the water with small living accommodations above. This typology is prevalent on the lake as the rocky shoreline makes it difficult to remove boats from the water. The historical solution has been to construct private “boat garages” on the water, and to pair the garage with living, entertaining, and sleeping spaces above as a kind of boat-coach house.

Our design solution was to slightly abstract the elements of the traditional gabled Muskoka boathouse and modernize them by exaggerating the gable roof to create a 15’ cantilevered porch roof, a continuous band of windows and doors, and an exposed steel structure. All interior finishes are natural — from the wood windows, to the pine paneling, to the exposed steel structure. Whitewashed ceiling joists, also left exposed, suggest the vernacular boat structures commonly found around the lake.

Typology Single-Family Residential
size 2,800 SF
location Horseshoe Island, Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
status Completed
date 2015


Architect Wilkinson Blender Architecture
Contractor JH Renovations
Structural Engineer Enspect, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer Muskoka-Parry Sound Engineering and Design Services Inc.
Photography Michael Wilkinson