Houseboating in Ontario: Just Add Water for the Ultimate Staycation
In the past they served as thoroughfares for Indigenous people, voyageurs, trappers and explorers. Today, the same routes and waterways are enjoyed by anglers, outdoor enthusiasts and recreational boaters from cottages, resorts or campsites.
Another unique way to appreciate Ontario’s nautical highways is by houseboat. Combine the creature comforts of home with the thrill of exploring the province from a different perspective – on the water.
Various vessel sizes, activities, locations and routes means there’s a bragworthy houseboating adventure perfect for your crew.
You’ll receive full instructions on operating and navigating the houseboat prior to departure. In some cases, no boating licence is required, or you’ll be assisted by a captain. Here’s a great tipsheet on how to prepare for a houseboat trip in Ontario.
Houseboating allows you to get out, explore and make amazing memories with your friends and family, while still practicing responsible social distancing. Be mindful when entering local communities, and check ahead with local public health units for COVID-19 related requirements or restrictions.
Here are five different Ontario water systems with houseboat rentals.
Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.
Many tourism experiences require advance bookings or have restrictions in place due to COVID 19. It is important to check directly with the business operator before you travel. Get the most up-to-date information now.
Over 250 connected bodies of water make up the Kawartha Lakes, including the Trent-Severn Waterway. The 386 kilometre canal flows through Kawartha Lakes between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario, and is designated a National Historic Site. Coined the ‘houseboat capital of Ontario’, Kawartha Lakes provides boundless cruising routes, linking small towns and waterfront communities just north of Peterborough with marinas, local family-friendly attractions and loads of water-based adventures from safe swimming spots to secluded fishing holes.
Fully equipped, compact style houseboats that are designed to easily maneuver canals, marinas and locks. Accommodations include two bedrooms, full kitchen, three-piece bathroom and BBQ for up to six adults.
Location: 23 Russell Dr, Omemee, near Emily Park
Tri-pontoon design make these vessels super stable and easy to handle, even for the larger 16 person size (lots of extra space for your ten person social bubble). The fleet includes a 44 foot unit that wheelchair accessible with widened gates, doorways, hallways and pilot area.
Location: 1601 Mill Line Rd, Bobcaygeon
Lake of the Woods
Known as Sunset County, this is a legendary location for a houseboating vacation. Renowned for trophy freshwater fishing, Lake of the Woods is a spectacular north western lake surrounded by mighty forest and containing almost 15,000 islands with secluded beaches and coves. And with its proximity to Kenora, Morson, Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows, it’s easy to get all the supplies you’ll need for your trip.
Chart your course and set your schedule to chill on one of three models that sleep up to ten people.
Location: Laughing Water Road, Sioux Narrows
Set out from the east end of the lake for full days of fishing, swimming and wildlife viewing, while nighttime is for star gazing.
Location: Morson Marina, Morson
With a variety of sizes, this well-maintained fleet can accommodate just about every group from a friend’s fishing getaway to a honeymooning couple.
Location: 320 Main Street South, Kenora
Navigating your floating cottage getaway is a breeze with the onboard lake system GPS.
Location: Sabaskong Bay Road, Nestor Falls
With fish cleaning stations, aerated minnow tanks and hand fuel pumps for filling small boat tanks on board, this fleet is designed with the angler in mind. Upper deck child-proof railings and special life jackets for kids keep families safe and comfortable too.
Location: 19 Miller Road, Sioux Narrows
For the ultimate stress-free houseboating experience, let Captain Brock Bargen sail you to the location of your choice, show you the ropes and return when you are ready to come home. Perfect for first timers!
Location: 12e Kendall Inlet Road, Clearwater Bay
A magnificent architectural achievement, construction of the Rideau Canal was completed in 1852, making it the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. This 202 kilometre waterway connects the city of Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River via the Rideau and the Cataraqui rivers, a number of lakes and a series of man-made locks and stations, thus providing alternative post war passage between Kingston and Montreal. The canal remains an ideal cruising route through small communities like Merrickville, Smiths Falls and Westport.
Having operated luxurious, high end self-guided sailing holidays throughout Europe for years, Le Boat has crossed the pond with a premium Horizon fleet of houseboats cruising the Rideau. Groups of two to ten can be accommodated in boats designed for ultimate comfort, ease of handling, accessibility and with cool features like the oversized windows, sunbathing area and fundeck. Read more on what you can expect from Le Boat.
Another great option for exploring this national historic waterway, Rideau Lake Houseboat Rentals is a family friendly operation that also offers Sea Doo rentals.
Location: 15 Water Street, Portland
Meaning ‘deep water by the shore’ in Ojibwa, Temagami is a sprawling, island studded water system 80 kilometres north of North Bay, in the Nipissing District of northeastern Ontario. There are over 3,200 kilometres of shoreline and hundreds of islands to discover, including Temagami Island. Hike its island trails to one of Ontario’s most spectacular old-growth forests.
Cruise the mighty Lake Temagami with up to nine of your favourite people on one of Three Buoys’ forty foot Sportcruisers.
Location: 25 Lakeshore Drive, Temagami
Temagami’s first and largest houseboat rental company have a fleet of pontoons specially designed for the rocky shores and shoals with front and back decks to maximize your outdoor space.
Location: 115 Lake Shore Drive, Temagami
Freshwater sport fishing doesn’t get much better than Lac Seul. Located north of Dryden in the northwest, the lake is home to walleye, muskie, smallmouth bass and northern pike. The majestic wilderness, wildlife sightings and postcard sunsets are not too shabby either. Here's a link to more fun facts about Lac Seul.
A small fishing boat is included along with your houseboat rental from Lac Seul Floating Lodges so you can get closer to the angling action.
Location: 5 Lakefront, Hudson
In addition to cabins, RV facilities and camping, White Wing Resort offers houseboat rentals. A guide will aid you in and out from their northwest location on the lake near Ear Falls.
Location: 80 White Wing Road, Ear Falls
Know Before You Go
Ontario encourages everyone to travel safe during this time and follow public health guidelines. Some facilities may not be operating so pack lots of water. It is important to practice physical distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing a non-medical face covering where required or where physical distancing is a challenge. Learn more Coronavirus-related health and safety measures at Ontario.ca/coronavirus.