OUR MISSION: Make the Muskoka lakes safer and quieter to ensure the sustainable enjoyment of a treasured shared resource

Fall 2022 Newsletter

Chair’s Message

Happy October!

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year as the leaves turn to gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and crimson. Some of our activities on the water are lessened but we can enjoy autumn walks with the crunch of the leaves underfoot and trees still cloaked in a riot of colour. It is also a time of reflection as the flurry of summer is wound down. And a time of thankfulness. Every time of the year has its special appeal and it is always a pleasure to be in Muskoka.

Thank you to all who have participated and contributed to the success of our many programs around keeping our lakes safe and quiet and preserving them for the generations to come.

Warm regards,

Diana Piquette

Chair, Safe Quiet Lakes


Spotlight on Outreach: Boating habits matter

Otter Lake, south of Parry Sound, is part of the Georgian Bay Biosphere. It meets up with Little Otter Lake and is characterized by a series of channels and narrow bodies of water. More than 430 properties and three resorts line its shores and Little Otter Lake's.

“Wakes are the main concern,” says Kerry Mueller, president of Otter Lake Ratepayers’ Association. “We have narrow channels, long narrow stretches, not big open areas where waves can dissipate,” she explains. 

The oversized waves are hitting shores hard, damaging docks, causing erosion and becoming a safety issue, she says. There have been reports of a kid knocked off their dock and a canoe swamped from excessive boat wakes. 

Mueller says she is also concerned about long-lasting ecology damage from wake wash. “This a really beautiful lake, it’s clean and supports a lot of aquatic life.”

“This is not a trivial issue,” she says. 

Several cottages, including Mueller’s, have put up Safe Quiet Lakes’ No Wake signs, and they are having an impact, Mueller says. “We’ve seen greater awareness of speeds and respectfulness. Boats are definitely slowing down and reducing their wakes in the channel where I am.”

Boat wakes are also a key issue at the McKellar Lake Association. The McKellar Lake basin, north of Muskoka, incorporates several smaller lakes, narrows and islands, and has shallow shorelines in many places. More than 1,400 cottages, as well as golf courses, marinas and camps surround the lake. 

This past summer, the McKellar Lake Association subsidized the cost of SQL’s No Wake signs, selling them to members for $5. More than 38 signs were distributed to members. “They were a hot item,” says Steve Macdonell, president of the McKellar Lake Association. “It’s not that we’re against wakes, but take them to the middle,” he says.

More education is important for raising awareness, he says. Mueller agrees: “Education is the best thing that can be done to encourage smart and respectful boating,” she says. 

At Safe Quiet Lakes, we believe strongly in our mission to make the lakes safer and quieter to ensure the sustainable enjoyment of a treasured shared resource. Our small team of dedicated, active volunteers needs all the help we can get. Please consider getting involved or making a donation to help us with this mission. Safe Quiet Lakes is a grassroots not-for-profit organization and our programs are powered by the generosity of the community of lake users. Your support helps us to:

  • Expand our outreach to bring our messages to all boaters.
  • Bring decibel limits to Canadian boats through the work of the Decibel Coalition.
  • Lead the conversation on boating issues in Canada, bringing forward solutions on noise, wakes, speed and safety.

Please consider donating online here or by sending a cheque. Click here for more information. 


The passion for the recreational and nature offerings of lakes has been the key finding in every survey undertaken at Safe Quiet Lakes, including our most recent in late 2021. 

While top pleasures are swimming, relaxing by the lake or enjoying nature by the lake, a vast majority of people are also passionate about boating: 99% of respondents have one or more boats of some kind; 91% have one or more power boats; and 95% have one or more non-powered craft.

There is an important relationship between boating and healthy lakes, especially when it comes to wakes. There is growing awareness -- and scientific evidence -- of the severe impact boat wakes can have on erosion, aquatic life and the overall sustainability of our lakes and waterways:


More powerful wave energy -- a combination of wave height and frequency -- can have more erosive power on shorelines. 

Under natural conditions, windward shorelines adapt to wave action and are more resistant to erosion. In contrast, areas that are protected from prevailing winds are more sensitive to erosion. While the vegetation of windswept shorelines tends to be comprised of large trees with extensive root systems that provide extra erosive protection, areas protected from the wind are dominated by vegetation that is more sensitive to wave action.

The ability for boats of all types, and particularly wakeboats, to generate larger and more powerful waves than the shoreline would experience naturally means there is also increased potential for shoreline erosion. Simply put: When there isn’t enough distance on a lake or river to dissipate wakes, boats can cause shoreline erosion. More information on wakes and erosion can be found in studies conducted by Quebec University, University of Minnesota, and the New Hampshire state commission into boat wakes.

Algae blooms 

Toxic algae blooms are an increasing concern on Canada’s lakes. Incidents of blue-green algae bloom have been identified this year in Muskoka and elsewhere. 

Ever notice on a busy day of boating the water looks murky? Boat wakes and prop wash in shallow waters or too close to shore can disturb lake or river bottoms. This happens when wake energy is pushed down toward the bottom instead of dissipating outward -- sediment particles are mobilized resulting in turbid (cloudy) water. Turbid water interferes with aquatic life respiration. Additionally, the suspended sediment particles mobilize nutrients that can contribute to algae blooms, including highly toxic cyanobacteria: blue-green algae. 


By now many of us are familiar with the risks to loons from boat wakes. Here is why: Because they cannot walk well on land, loons build their nests very close to the water’s edge, which makes them vulnerable to swamping from boat wakes. To avoid harming a loon nest, please follow no-wake rules and be especially careful in areas where loons are known to nest.

More to come: This past summer, University of Windsor conducted a study at several cottages in Muskoka to add to the growing body of scientific evidence on the impact of wakes. We look forward to sharing their results when finalized and keeping you informed of the latest research on wakes.

Please check our website for more information on Safe Quiet Lakes and our projects.

Join us in helping to keep our waterways safe
We build partnerships to encourage conversations about respectful boating and to lead change through education and advocacy. Your donation will help drive our programs.

Have questions? Contact us at donate@safequiet.ca
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