Reflections on Kahshe Lake, Muskoka
Kah-she-she-bog-a-mog, more commonly known as Kahshe Lake, lies just a short distance south of the town of Gravenhurst. Its name is said to mean “Lake of Healing Waters”. As the 4th largest lake in the Muskoka region it is characterized by a great number of islands, bays and wetlands. In fact Kahshe Lake has the greatest concentration of islands of various sizes on any of the main lakes in Muskoka. Its sprawling and unique shape covers a total surface area of 828 ha.
The surrounding landscape is typical of the Canadian Shield. Rugged granite outcrops form cliffs and rocky points, interspersed with marshes and a mixed forest including Muskoka’s iconic wind swept pines.
Kahshe Lake is just as well known for its rugged beauty as it is for its many shoals, islands and rocks. Many of these shoals lie just under the surface of the water, often catching unsuspecting boaters with disastrous results. Much like Georgian Bay, the waters of Kahshe are riddled with rocks, far too many to mark.
Navigating, especially at night can be challenging until one becomes familiar with routes that can be safely travelled. This same topography provides an interesting and pretty paddle for kayakers and canoeists with opportunities to stop for a swim and to stretch your legs. Kahshe's picturesque scenery and rugged beauty continues drawn people to the lake and has so for many years. Kahshe Lake continues to be one of the most sought after lakes in today’s cottage market.
My family arrived on Kahshe Lake during the 1940’s. My Grandparents with their 4 boys, rented a little lake front cottage on the North Kahshe Lake road not far from Nagayay Beach.
After spending a few summers on the lake, Grandma and Grandpa decided to purchase a water access property of their own, located just a short distance across the lake from Rockhaven Inn. During the early 60’s my parents would purchase their own water access property on the south shore of Grant’s Bay, far from any roads and other cottages.
Our simple family cottage is located on the site of an original homestead. My parents, with the help of my uncles built the original cabin in the summer of 1961, perched on top of the stone foundation of the old barn. The original homestead had a few cows and horses, who were kept in the lower area of the barn. A short distance behind that were the remains of the small house, tucked away from prevailing winds. My Dad would share memories of the fallen down house and barn that he knew so well from when he and his brothers, then later my Mum, would take his small cedar strip motor boat or canoe down the channel to the point to spend the day swimming and picking blueberries. For years he had dreamed of one day owning this special piece of land and building a small cottage.
As kids, my siblings and I would spend our summers and weekends from May to Thanksgiving at the cottage. We had the whole lake to explore, as well as thousands of hectares of natural forest that lay steps from our tiny backdoor porch. During the mid 2000’s this same crown land parcel became the Kahshe Barren Lands Conservation Reserve. This protected 3,169 ha Reserve is home to more than 500 species of flowering plants and over 100 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Use is restricted mainly to hiking and snowshoeing, with a limited amount of snowmobiling on trails that were established by SunnyCrest Riders Snowmobile Club long before the area was protected. Kahshe Lake is part of the reserve’s northern boundary with water access from the lake in several areas.
The majority of cottages on the lake began as accessible by boat only. Several new roads have been built over the past years to service some but many of the cottages remain water access.
There are 2 marinas on the lake , both are located on the North Kahshe Lake road though only Denne’s has actual marina services. Denne’s marina and Rockhaven both provide water taxi, boat slips and parking.
The Kahshe Lake Ratepayers Association (KLRA) is an active organization representing the members who own cottages on the lake. Property owners are encouraged to join and become involved with the lake community. The KLRA meet annually at the Gravenhurst Opera House and play an active role in maintaining and preserving life on the lake. The Kahshe Krier, the lake community newsletter is published 3 times a year, helping to keep its members informed. Nagayay Beach on the North Road is home to the popular Kahshe Lake Regatta which takes place every July. This event is hosted and organized by the KLRA along with several other social events throughout cottage season, bringing the community together.
Having the privilege to have grown up on the lake I have seen much growth and many changes over the span of several years. In my heart and in my mind, Kahshe Lake remains one of the most beautiful lakes in South Muskoka. I’m pretty sure John would agree.
Whether you’re out on the lake for a misty morning paddle, enjoying the sun on your dock or out for an evening sunset cruise, there’s something pretty captivating about the Healing Waters of Kahshe Lake.