We have always loved the village of Killarney, and have visited it for many years. It was only accessible by water until 1962 when the road was built to the village from Highway 69. In 1964 Steve’s grandfather built a cottage on nearby Carlyle Lake in 1964 – and our family has spent many happy summer holidays there. Our son was married at the cottage and his reception was at Killarney Mountain Lodge. So many fold memories. This year we have had the privilege of seeing it from a different perspective, as it has been a fabulous stop-over spot for our summer cruising in Georgian Bay and the North Channel.
Killarney has changed considerably in recent years. The heart of the village – the over-priced Pittfields general store, waterfront LCBO, post-office, nursing station, RCMP post etc are essentially unchanged. But there are many new upmarket cottages in the area (on George Island and around Killarney) and Herbert Fisheries has replaced the fish & chips bus with a proper restaurant. I think the fish and chips are not as good even though they are more expensive; however, the local (bold and cheeky) otters seem to think they are fine. New owners of the Killarney Mountain Lodge and the Sportsman’s Inn are sinking millions (about $18 m we hear) into both places. The improvements are for the most part in good taste – keeping the legacy outpost/lodge atmosphere, but improving the dining, docks, patios and facilities. The Sportsman’s Inn has a waterside Spa on George Island.
What we love to do is pick up one of the Killarney Mountain Lodge’s 4 mooring balls, just across the channel on the George Island side, opposite the lodge. It entitles us to the use of all their facilities (wifi, pool, washrooms, dining, recreational toys etc) for just $25/night. And yet it is relatively peaceful, we can swim off the boat and there is access to the hiking trail from the mooring bay. Besides which, there is constant entertainment, watching float planes, the helicopter and/or charter boats go in and out across the channel. The new coffee shop at KML makes awesome apple bread and the dining patio is fabulous. The swimming pool made a nice change from cooler Georgian Bay, but we did not mind going back to chlorine-free swimming in clear anchorages afterwards!
We spilled some time, and really enjoyed our pre-arranged meet-up with Steve’s brother and sister-in-law Dave and Monique, and sister Maggie. We had a great meal together on the patio of the lodge, pre- and post-drinks on Tai Chi. Unfortunately, they hit a raccoon on the road back to the cottage after dinner that night, and blew the radiator out of Monique’s car resulting in logistical inconveniences as the car had to be towed to Sudbury for repairs.
We also enjoyed time with boat friends from Gaviidae and Escape – having sundowners on Escape one night and by the pool another night, after which we pot-lucked (I think I just created a verb!) dinner on Gaviidae.
We spent time watching the antics of a couple of juvenile black bears who have taken to raiding the crab apple trees at the lodge.
I avoid the General Store except for emergency supplies, but there is a farm stall on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer so I was able to stock up on produce. The docks were full at Killarney Mountain Lodge on Labour Day weekend – partly due to a Little Current Yacht Club Rendezvous. Firework displays lit the night skies from the Sportsman’s Inn and the Mountain Lodge and sounds of merry-making drifted across the channel. But by Monday of that long weekend the docks were empty, students who had worked all summer in Killarney were saying their last farewells to co-workers, as Killarney started to shed its tourist destination mantle to shrink back into a small remote northern village.
One disappointing discovery for us as August gave way to September has been a hardy species of mosquito that chased us from the cockpit each evening – we even resorted to watching DVD’s down below several evenings! As Steve says, these mosquitoes are stupid and don’t even know the day from the night – they seem to be out longer, even in the mornings! We had taken for granted being relatively insect free for several weeks in August, and had grown accustomed to lingering with a glass of wine each evening in the cockpit, watching shadows lengthen, the sun set and the moon rise. We really did not anticipate the second coming of the mosquito, encroaching on our “Florida Room” time even as the days shorten. However, we have not resorted to using cottage cologne….just arm ourselves with swats and try to avoid them as much as possible. I hope we outlast them as the fall advances.
Despite the mozzies this has been a worthwhile stop-over for us – the early morning mist and late evening pink skies in the channel just icing on the cake!