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Celebrate the Holidays in Muskoka This Year with These Local Festive Events

It’s that time again! Whether you’re ready to admit it or not, the holiday season is quickly approaching. That means the Muskoka region will soon be bustling with a nearly endless amount of fun holiday events for everybody. If you’re looking to pick up some unique artisan-made Christmas gifts, support local businesses after the tough year we’ve all had, or just ring in the holidays with your loved ones, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.

 

The Muskoka region truly comes alive each holiday season, offering plenty of opportunities to peruse offerings from local businesses, check out the beautiful Christmas light displays all around you, reconnect with friends and make new ones, or show off those arts and crafts projects you’ve been working hard on all year. If you’re looking for something fun to do in Muskoka this holiday season, check out some of these events:

 

Muskoka Arts & Crafts Christmas Show

Where: Online

When: November 19th to December 11th in Bracebridge, ON

Cost: Free

 

Muskoka Arts & Crafts is one of the region’s oldest arts organizations, celebrating the creations of artists, hobbyists, amateurs and art enthusiasts from around the Muskoka area. The organization’s celebrated Christmas Show returns for its 41st installment, this time going fully online to ensure the safety and health of all those involved in the annual show. The Christmas Show launches on Friday, November 19th and goes all the way until December 11th, showcasing handmade works by festive exhibitors which make the perfect gift.

 

The 41st Annual Christmas Show launches at the MA&C Shop on November 19th. Check it out here.

 

Santafest

Where: Bracebridge, ON @ Santa’s Village

When: November 20th to December 22nd

Cost: Free for children under 36 inches, $29.95 for everybody over 36 inches

 

The big man himself and his talented team have totally revamped the annual Santafest tradition, bringing an entirely new experience to families around the region. This year’s Santafest will feature rides like the Candy Cane Express Train, Christmas Carousel and more, as well as brand new activities like the One Million Light Display and horse drawn wagon rides around the Village. For those with a sweet tooth, Mrs. Claus has baked up some delicious treats in her Bakery, all of which will be available for your enjoyment! Santa’s Toy Shop will also be available, as will the New Holiday Market full of local vendors so you can pick out the perfect gifts for your loved ones. The festivities launch on Saturday, November 20th and last until Wednesday, December 22nd.

 

Find out more about this year’s Santafest on the Santa’s Village website.

 

Santa’s Festival of Lights & Shopping Party

Where: Bracebridge, ON

When: December 3rd

Cost: Free

 

There’s nothing quite as cozy as taking in the Christmas lights around the holiday season. Santa’s Festival of Lights aims to capture that feeling with the official lighting of downtown Bracebridge. Join in on the festivities on Friday, December 3rd and watch the downtown area transform before your very eyes. The Festival of Lights is perfect for the whole family, featuring entertainment, a campfire, living window displays by the Bracebridge School of Ballet, and of course, plenty of holiday shopping opportunities!

 

Find out more about Santa’s Festival of Lights & Shopping Party on the Downtown Bracebridge website.

 

Torchlight Parade

Where: Huntsville, ON

When: December 24th

Cost: Free

 

Christmas Eve always feels like the longest day of the year, so why not spice it up this year by attending the annual Torchlight Parade in Huntsville? This family-friendly event is the perfect way to ring in the big day. Watch as snow school instructors and ski patrollers from the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area descend the hill with brightly lit torches in a jaw-droppingly gorgeous procession of lights featuring Mr. Santa Claus himself! There will be hot chocolate, cookies and acoustic music in the chalet, with the Torchlight Parade officially beginning at 6:00 PM.

 

Find out more about the Parade at the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area website.

Cozy Up Your Cottage This Winter With Thermal Curtains

If the predictions are correct, we’re in for one cold and snowy winter. There’s nothing quite like getting warm and cozy inside your home on a blisteringly cold or unexpectedly snowy day. Unfortunately, staying warm and cozy can sometimes be a challenge, especially when drafts make themselves known.

 

One of the most affordable ways to keep the drafts out this coming winter season is through thermal curtains, which are designed to provide thermal resistance that reduces heat loss so you can stay warmer all winter long. What exactly are thermal curtains and how do they work? Here’s everything you need to know about thermal curtains.

 

What are thermal curtains and how do they work?

Thermal curtains are window treatments designed to reduce heat loss. They’re made up of several different layers (generally between 3-4) of materials which prevent thermal transmittance and provide thermal resistance.

 

The front of the curtains are very similar to your favourite window coverings, featuring aesthetically pleasing designs made from traditional fabrics. The middle layers of thermal curtains are made of thicker thermally resistant materials like felt, flannel or even foam to offer thermal resistance. The backing of thermal curtains generally protect the inner layers from sunlight, serve as a vapour barrier to protect against damage from condensation, and reflect heat and light through reflective or vinyl-based materials.

 

Now that you know how they work, you might be wondering whether thermal curtains actually work? The short answer is yes, thermal curtains work to reduce heat loss. They do so by creating dead air between your window and the rest of the room, reducing the amount of heat transfer when properly installed. Rather than transferring out of your windows, the heat generated in your home will be kept inside and circulated throughout the room.

 

Are thermal curtains easy to install?

If you’ve ever installed curtains in your home or any other kind of window treatment, you’ll know how quick and painless the process is. Installing thermal curtains is just like installing any traditional window covering. The trick is to ensure that the installation is done correctly so that the thermal curtains can perform the way they’re intended to.

 

In order to perform optimally, thermal curtains should be installed to be as air-tight as possible. Air-tightness will ensure that heat transfer is reduced, allowing them to perform as intended. In order to improve the air-tightness of thermal curtains, they should be installed as close to the window frame as possible, with the top, bottom and sides sealed properly using velcro or magnetic tape to secure it to the frame or walls. Thermal curtains work best when dropped all the way to the floor or to the windowsill, ensuring that heat does not escape underneath the curtains.

 

Do thermal curtains work during the summer?

Once they’ve been installed, you might be worried about whether you’ll have to tear them down year after year when the spring and summer come around. Thankfully, thermal curtains work well during the summertime too, especially light and medium coloured curtains with a reflective backing. These thermal curtains are designed to reduce heat gain by up to 33% by reflecting the sun away from your windows, keeping your home cooler and helping your air conditioner breathe a little easier on hot days.

 

Window treatments have come a long way, allowing homeowners to keep their homes warmer during the winter months and cooler in the summertime. While they certainly can’t replace the benefits of new triple pane windows, thermal curtains are great in a pinch and can mean the difference between a warm and cozy winter and a season full of blistering drafts. Remember to install thermal curtains properly to ensure that heat transfer is prevented, and to select the correct size for the windows in your home.

 

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the region’s premier supplier and installer of high quality door and window products. Our experienced team can help you find the perfect windows and doors for your upcoming renovation, allowing you to increase your home’s energy efficiency and reduce utility bills. To find out more about the great window and door brands featured in our showroom or the installation services offered by the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre, get in touch with us today.

How Muskoka Winters Ravage Windows & Doors – and How to Stop It

You may be able to flee winter, but your home can’t. So if you’re packing up for the season it’s important to make sure every part of your property is winter-proof before heading south.

The frost, ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures that blast off-season cottage country can wreak havoc on your windows and doors. From leaks and structural issues to wood warping and paint damage, it doesn’t take long for mother nature to make her presence felt.

Seasoned homeowners know that you can’t be too cautious when winterizing the house. Prepare now and you won’t have to worry about any unwelcome surprises when you step through the door in spring.

Seal up drafts where present

One of the first steps in preparing your home for winter is assessing its defences. Now’s the time to take care of any suspected leaks before they do lasting damage.

Weather stripping isn’t invincible, nor does it last forever. If your windows and doors have been in place for decades, it’s possible that they’re no longer as weather-resistant as they once were. Proper installation and maintenance can help keep them secure.

Carefully inspect every window and door, applying sealant if necessary. If the situation is too far gone, you might want to consider upgrading your frames and windows.

Watch your wood for warping

A common cause of leaks is warping. This happens when temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate and is especially common with wood products. The wood absorbs the moisture, swells and becomes permanently distorted.

Some types of wood are hardier than others so if you’re upgrading your windows or doors it pays to know your product. Fir, cedar and redwood are all good choices as they’re more water-resistant and therefore less likely to bow or crack.

If your wood frames are already in place, you can protect them by coating them with a winter treatment. There are loads of options on the market for a quick DIY short-term solution.

Over the long-term, you may consider switching up your wood for a more winter-appropriate solution.

Aluminum, vinyl, fibreglass, coated wood – market innovation means you’ve lots of options when it comes to selecting materials that don’t just look good, but are also more winter-hardy.

Don’t overlook the hardware

Conscientious cottage owners don’t just think about frames and panes this time of year. They also pay close attention to the hardware – locks, shutters and screens.

These small details can become big problems. Locks can freeze, shutters can stick, and screens can ice over.

Follow the three Cs to stop damage before it starts:

Check – Unroll your shutters, pull down any screens, peer into your locks. The pre-winter routine should include checking for any damage, holes, or clutter in and around your windows and doors.

Clear – Remove any debris as this can freeze up in winter and lead to iced-over locks and stuck screens.

Clean – Thoroughly wash out your locks and clean your screens to remove any traces of dirt that could ice up and damage your hardware.

A particularly severe winter is coming

The Farmers Almanac is predicting a particularly severe winter for 2021-22, with a ‘winter whopper’ forecast for parts of Ontario and chilly temperatures expected through to late March.

So if you’ve been procrastinating on a repair job or delaying some much-needed maintenance, now’s the time to tidy up and get those jobs done.

The team at Muskoka Windows & Door Centre has helped local homeowners through decades of winters. Our family-owned firm has been a fixture in the Muskokas for generations and no-one knows cottage country like we do. Contact us today so we can help you prepare for whatever winter brings.  

Shop Local in Muskoka This Holiday Season

The holidays are right around the corner, meaning you’ll soon be looking to cross off some items on your Christmas lists. What better way to do that than by shopping locally? Shopping within the Muskoka region helps you avoid the inevitable holiday season hustle and bustle of the big city so you can stay right where you’re comfortable.

 

This is an especially important year for shopping locally – business owners are still reeling from the effects of last winter’s devastating province-wide lockdown, making this the very first holiday season since their businesses were forced to shut down.

 

This holiday season, consider shopping locally to show these pillars of the community that you’re fully behind them, and that you value their offerings more than the big box stores or online marketplaces which have become too big to fail. Without support from the community, this could very well be the final holiday season for small businesses around the Muskoka region.

 

The importance of shopping local this year

While things seem to be on the right track now, they were far, far more bleak at the beginning of the year. The 2020 holiday season was a very different one, filled with plenty of fear and uncertainty about the future. Businesses were limited on how many patrons they could have indoors, were subject to ever-changing levels of restrictions, and were about to be hit by the crippling post-holiday lockdown.

 

These factors severely affected businesses all around the Muskoka area, turning what is usually a joyous and prosperous season into something far darker. This is exactly why it’s so important for local businesses to feel your love this year – giving your business to big box chains and online conglomerates could spell disaster for your favourite local haunts.

 

The benefits of shopping locally

By choosing to shop local, you can help to ensure that these businesses will be around well into the future, generating growth within your community and the Muskoka region at large. Purchasing gifts and other items from local businesses keeps your money within the local economy, creating jobs for your fellow Muskokans, allowing businesses to expand and improve, improving the area’s standing as a tourism destination, and even inspiring others to launch businesses of their own.

 

Not only is it great for the community, but shopping locally lets you find far more creative and unique gifts than you could ever hope to find in a big box chain. Browsing a storefront you’ve always wanted to check out but have never quite made the time to do so can lead you to finding the perfect gift for that special somebody. Maybe it’s handcrafted or artisan made, maybe it’s been produced locally using materials sourced directly from the area, or maybe it’s just a niche item you never even thought existed. When you choose local, you’ll soon find that your gift giving game can be taken up a notch.

 

Myths about shopping locally

Despite many people advocating for shopping locally all year long, there are many misconceptions about shopping within your community that continue to halt the progress of the shop local movement. The most damaging myth about shopping locally is that it’s more expensive. There are, of course, select storefronts which cater to those in search of higher ticket items, but for the most part shopping locally isn’t any more expensive than the alternatives.

 

Purchasing handmade or artisan gifts from stores in the Muskoka region won’t be any more expensive than doing so in a bigger city or seeking out a specialized marketplace online. Even if you discover that the price of that perfect gift is slightly higher here at home than it is in the city,  when you consider how much heart and soul went into the items you’re buying and that every dollar you spend stays within the community, it’s easy to justify a marginally higher price.

 

A lack of selection is often pointed to as a flaw of shopping locally, too. Despite the beliefs of many, variety can absolutely be found at local businesses. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, a small business owner is far more likely to work with you to special order items or work with local craftsmen and artisans to create the perfect gift made to your exact specifications. If it means creating a new loyal customer, local business owners will be far more willing to make the time to work with you than anybody in a big box store or online storefront.

 

This holiday season, reconsider how you want to spend your money – out with the big box stores and faceless online conglomerates and in with the local businesses that do so much for the Muskoka region. Get out of your comfort zone and explore the many local businesses all around you that need your help. You’ll quickly find that the myths of shopping locally are all wrong and that you’ll be able to pick out the perfect gift for the special people in your life.

 

Check out some of the great holiday shopping opportunities in the Muskoka region:

 

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s preferred provider of high quality window and door products. Our showroom is home to some of the biggest and best names in the door and window industry, and our talented team can help you find exactly what you need to make your home more energy efficient and stand out from the crowd. To find out more about the products and services available through Muskoka Window & Door Centre, get in touch with us today.

The New Generation of Muskoka Cottage and Home Owners

Ontario cottage country is awash with timeless beauty thanks to its gorgeous scenery, but that doesn’t make it immune to change. With all the shifts and upheavals of the past year, home and cottage ownership in the Muskokas is also evolving. While wealthy retirees dominated the local real estate market in the past, they’re now making room for city dwellers, families and would-be landlords eager to scoop up a good investment.

A family affair

Muskoka real estate has always been among the most sought after in Canada, but while the area previously attracted mostly wealthy retirees, it’s now more multi-generational as families from Toronto and the GTA realize their dreams of cottage ownership or make the move up North. 

Boosted by this urban exodus, sales surged in cottage country over the past year as owners aged out of their waterfront havens and family members rushed to sell off their high-demand properties. Homes and cottages that had been in a family for decades were listed and snapped up within weeks.

In 2020 the Muskoka region saw a 42% increase in sales of waterfront property and a 27% increase in sales prices, according to the Lakelands Association of Realtors.

All this activity has ushered in a new era of cottagers – Gen Xers looking to create their own family memories on fresh turf, with most popular areas being Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville.

For these new homeowners (many of whom work remotely) a Muskoka cottage isn’t just a recreational property, it’s a place to live, work and raise a family. Some have been able to overcome the price tag shock by selling their GTA properties and using those funds, others are teaming up with siblings or other relatives to make a family investment.

Rental returns

With prices still much higher than in previous years, it’s clearly not every family that can afford to move to Muskoka. Cottage country continues to occupy the premium end of the market – the average sales price of a waterfront home in September 2021 was just over $1.6 million, according to Royal LePage.

In order to meet those costs, many are looking at Muskoka as an investment. Short-term rentals and vacation lets can help the property pay for itself.

 

New owners keen to convert their homes into a source of income are banking on continuing demand as pandemic restrictions ease but international travel remains inadvisable. More staycations means more revenue for savvy buyers willing to let their family home do double duty as an in-season investment.

The new normal

The Muskokas will always have a large retiree contingent, but the generation gap is gradually widening as cottaging changes with the times. Realtors predict that the area will continue to see surging interest from younger first-time buyers. Especially now that the market is cooling, paving the way for more affordable lakeside living.

Whether you’re new to cottage country and putting your mark on your rural idyll, or a seasoned owner in the midst of renovations, Muskoka Window & Door Centre can help create the property of your dreams. We work with North America’s top manufacturers to offer the latest fixtures and furnishings, from three-season windows to specialty sliding doors. Contact us today to see how we can help transform your home.