Riley Lake and The Boy Scout Cabin

All ideas or adventures start somewhere. Our journey started at Riley Lake.

When I was first booking that weekend away for our Fifteen Wedding Anniversary, we had invited our children to come with us. Schedules conflicted as they commonly do with busy families, the children couldn’t come along. We were a little disappointed. It would have been nice to share this weekend with them. Later, no offense to the children, but we were glad that they didn’t make it. It turned out to be the beginning of a big adventure for the two of us.

Riley Lake is a smaller lake in the Muskoka’s in Northern Ontario. This cabin was located on a peninsula with nothing else there except the cottage.

The drive there did include over the hills and through the woods. Off the main road, on to the gravel road and then the dirt road to the private dirt road. It was an adventure to find, but thanks to GPS, we found the cottage.

The owners of the cottage had warned me on the telephone that it was rustic and old. It had running water and hydro added, but not drinking water. You would have to bring drinking water. He also said the only heat was the a pot belly stove. He would stack some wood outside for us to burn. Being Fall, expect the morning to be cool and the nights to be damp.

We arrived at the cottage and the owners, June and Paul were just finishing cleaning up from their last guests. We met them on the road, loading up the garage into their car.

They had an unpleasant booking prior to us. The people came with many dogs, all long haired and had left dog hair through out the whole house and yes, dog poop all over the property.

Normally they would have closed the cottage up this weekend, but because of our special occasion, our Fifteenth Wedding Anniversary, they had waited to rent it out to us. They were relieved to see it was just the two of us and also pet free.

That’s where we learned the first story of rental problems. Some families come and bring Fido with them, and you never know the dog has been there. Others bring Fido’s and the evidence of Fido’s is left every where. Those people don’t get invited back to use the cottage again.

We parked the car. We had a little bit of a walk into the woods to get to the cottage. It was still morning and you could smell the dampness of the lake. The birds were chirping in the tall pine trees. You could hear the water breaking against the rocks.

We entered through the back door, which brought you into the master bedroom. It was just as Paul had described on the phone, old and rustic. Lots of mismatched furniture donated by people clearing out their houses.

The doors to the screen porch creaked when you opened it.  When you stepped out onto the porch, there was the view.

The view of the lake was serene. The blue water, surrounded by the tall pines, was breath taking. The air was so fresh. The sun reflected off the water and suddenly, no offense to the children, but we were happy to have this place in paradise to just ourselves.

We unpacked the car. Chilled the wine. Put the food for the weekend in the frig and set out with cameras in hand to explore the peninsula.

We where surrounded by water on three sides which lead to large rocks, down to the water. Behind us was three acres of woodland. The short hike we planned, turned into day filled with photography.

Shortly before dinner, we heard a boat coming across the lake. June and Paul had come for a visit. With them they brought some fresh baked bread that June had made for us, and the story of the cabin on Riley Lake.

The cabin on Riley Lake had been originally been built by the Boy Scouts in 1946. It was named South Fork.

The road we had driven on had been newly added, before you could only get there by boat. All the material used for the cabin had been brought over by row boats and had been hand assembled on the island, which had no hydro. There were no power tools to build this cabin.

The three acres of woodland behind the cottage, had been planted by the Boy Scouts in the 1940’s through the 1950. They earned their forestry badges for planting them. Over five hundred Boy Scouts had stay in this cabin.

When the cabin came for sale, it was bought by this family. It is now owned by the daughter and husband, of the man who first bought the property for $500 for the Boy Scouts. 

Later, Junes father, who had purchased the land for the Boy Scouts, had Alzheimer’s and forget most people. He never forgot South Forks. He passed  away several years ago, knowing that the property was in her hands.

The next day Paul came back to visit us, bring more firewood. We shared with him our dream of owning a cottage.

He shared the stories of renting out a cottage. The good and the bad. He suggested buying closer to home. There are many repairs needed on a cottage. There is the drive back and forth to collect the rental fees and keys, and the weekly clean ups.

We listened carefully to what he had to say. He was willing to share his knowledge and experience, and kind enough to give it to us.

That weekend, I woke up to the smell of the fire built by my husband,to warn the cottage. We cooked together, did dishes and barbecued. Drank wine and shot pictures. The food never tasted better. The conversation between us never stopped and the plan to start looking for the Love Shack, was put in place.

We are great-full to June and Paul for sharing their place and their father favorite place, with us. For allowing us to be able to shoot there. For their advise and their friendship. And for Junes fresh baked bread.

Their story made our weekend more special. And we thank them, for the most romantic anniversary we ever had. 

We started shooting at 7:15 Am and stopped at 8:20 Pm. Theses photos are only a few shot from Riley Lake.


the cabin crppoed
South Fork


Sun Rise and the Morning Fog


morning  on the lake
Morning Fog


fog 2
The Canal


front view
Front View from the Cottage
left view
Left View from the Cottage
right view
Right View from the Cottage
pole from the old flag
The Original Pole for the Boy Scout Flag
View from the Woods
View from the Rocks on the Water
early sunset
sunset 2
Early Evening
evening sky
The Evening Sky




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