It is always a challenge, when designing new buildings for prime Muskoka land, to appeal to modern tastes while also honouring the area’s history and traditions. The new Edgewater development in Port Carling achieves just that – and its creator has even more plans up his sleeve for elevating the Muskoka look.
When Simon Hirsh of Hirsh Log Homes and Simon Hirsh Design began the visioning process for the land next to the Port Carling locks, he was inspired by the rich history of the area. “They built the original Dippies there, and the Duke brothers built boats across the river,” he says. “I’ve been collecting photos of what’s been there over the years, and I find it’s amazing to be able to add something to that architecture and add something to that part of the history of Port Carling.”
In his conception of the eight residential units and seven commercial units, Hirsh aimed for a timeless waterfront that was reminiscent of traditional boathouses and traditional Muskoka architecture. To conventionally framed, well-insulated, efficient buildings, he added Western Red Cedar accents to mimic the look and feel of log and timber construction.
Hirsh altered and staggered the buildings so they wrapped around the shoreline and had the diversity of a busy waterfront community. The design included 80 feet of boardwalk space and an additional 100 feet of dock space and boat parking for the public, making the commercial spaces – only three of which are still available for lease – very accessible.
A unique feature of the residential units, which are almost all sold, is the boathouse townhouse design. Owners can boat into their own private boathouse and walk upstairs directly into their four-bedroom dwelling. Townhouses without boat parking underneath still have access to a private dock on the property.
“It was really designed as a boater’s alternative to cottaging,” Hirsh explains. “It’s a low-maintenance way to enjoy the water.”
Looking to the future, Hirsh has big plans for bringing cutting-edge design to Port Carling, where he sees a yearning for something different, something new. He has worked for many years on projects with the high-profile, internationally-renowned interior designer Lori Morris out of Toronto. Their collaborations have pushed him to continue reinventing his concept of real Muskoka style, and now the two have decided to open side-by-side spaces in the Edgewater development to showcase their ideas.
“Lori’s fabulous design studio will bring a level of interior design to Muskoka that no one has seen yet,” Hirsh says. “It’s absolutely stunning.”
The show rooms will open in July, and Hirsh can’t wait. “It’s going to change the way people think about what a beautiful, luxurious cottage is,” he says. ““It’s high-end design, but it’s comfortable, and still uses the specific products that make Muskoka fabulous – just in new ways. I can’t describe it. You have to see it. That’s why we’re doing this. We need to show people now what we’re planning, and these vignettes we’re going to have in our office and showroom offer that little bit of a sneak peek.”