All about working in Muskoka Lakes: interviews with 5 Employers
Not many people outside Muskoka know what it is like to live and work in Muskoka. We asked 5 employers in different business niches what they love most about Muskoka Lakes and what challenges they experience.. We also found out which jobs are usually available in their companies and had them clear the air about common misconceptions about finding employment here.
Looking for a job in Muskoka Lakes? Check out our many job listings at muskokalakeschamber.ca/jobs
Are you a Chamber member looking to hire? Post your job listing for free at muskokalakeschamber.ca/post-a-job
We interviewed Randy, who runs Cottage Cravings Cafe & Gift Shop with his wife, Henny, and got his thoughts about the local employment scene.
Can you describe your experience since moving to Bala, Muskoka?
Living and working in Muskoka Lakes has been nothing but wonderful! When we first got here, people were open and they were excited to see a new business in town. It’s a small town. If you ever run into any difficulties, there’s always someone you’ve met who’d come and help you! There’s a year-round business for us as a cafe and gift shop.
How often do you hire?
We have “Help Wanted” signs up on a sort of a semi-regular basis. Our first ones usually go up in May because we need summer help. There’s no doubt about how many more people come to experience Muskoka Lakes in the summer months.
What are the challenges?
I think one of the difficulties we have with finding staff is the housing situation here in the Muskoka Lakes. It’s a little harder in the summer to find housing because there are so many people coming to work here. But there’s often houses and families that will have rooms for rent and the Muskoka Lakes Chamber is wonderful in helping to match employees with available rooms.
See the video of Randy Brown, co-owner of Cottage Cravings Cafe & Gift Shop, describing what it’s like to work in Muskoka Lakes.
Kristan and her husband, Rob, own Bala and Port Carling Garden Centres. She spoke about the culture of Muskoka and the positive outlook for work opportunities.
How is it like being in Muskoka?
I love it here. We’re raising our family here. I like the opportunities that we have to be out in nature and to just really enjoy some quality time. We get to enjoy everyone’s playground year-round. I like the sense of community: it’s great to be involved in a community where you know a lot of people. They want to support your local business.
What of the issue of seasonality?
There’s a common misconception about Muskoka and Muskoka Lakes: that we are just a seasonal playground. As the area has grown, there’s been a demand year-round for many services that used to be thought of as just summertime work. They’re now evolving into full-time career opportunities. We have many friends who live in the city and they would move up here in a heartbeat! It really can be the best of both worlds: you can live, play, and work in Muskoka Lakes.
Take a minute to watch this video interview of Kristan Farlie, co-owner of Bala and Port Carling Garden Centres.
Greg Murphy, Clear Water Property Management
As the founder or CEO of Clear Water Property Management, Greg sees employment as an avenue to benefit society. He also had an encouraging message for those who want to start their own companies.
What is it about working in Muskoka that you like so much?
What I really like about being here in Muskoka is the opportunity to help people. Muskoka has so many wonderful attributes that people often forget it’s not just a cottage country. It is being part of nature…being on the water…being able to experience what this place is really about.
Tell us what drives your business
I created this property management company about five years ago and I saw the need to help people. The openings/closings, boats, renovations, additions…we deal with everything in Muskoka and we make it a one-stop shop. We have so much work year-round that we can easily hire 12 more people.
What kind of work is available?
The trades that I’m looking for are electricians, carpenters, HVACs…the sky’s the limit up here if you want to work for somebody. And if you want to work for yourself, there’s tons of opportunity out here in Muskoka.
Here is a video of Greg Murphy, the CEO of Clear Water Property Management.
Muskoka Lakes Winery is an expansion of the family-owned cranberry farm which spans 3 generations and it’s run by Murray Johnston and Wendy Hogarth. We asked Wendy for her insights.
What is living in Muskoka like?
Living in Muskoka is a wonderful lifestyle. It’s a little more laid-back. One of the biggest benefits as far as I’m concerned is the fact that my commute to work may involve a traffic jam with a deer or a moose. The other day, it was a beaver!
How often do you hire?
We hire a lot of seasonal labour even though we’re open year-round. Our busy season certainly is during our October harvest but we also need people year-round with our ice trail. We need people who will help with flooding the ice trail and running our Cranboni, which is our version of a Zamboni. Year-round, we are producing wine. The only days we are closed are Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
So jobs are available in Muskoka?
I would absolutely say it’s an employee’s marketplace. There are a lot of businesses looking for staff and so there are opportunities in a lot of different fields. I would say if this is where you want to be I think you can manage to be here.
Watch this video of Wendy, co-owner of Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery.
Christopher Kadonoff, Port Carling Foodland
Our interview with Christopher centred on some of the implications of moving to work in Muskoka. He also disclosed why his hiring pattern works. Watch this one minute video featuring Christopher here >
Why do you recommend working in Muskoka?
If you’re looking to relocate from the city or another province or anything like that, Muskoka Lake is a great opportunity for anybody in any trade or any skill level to come in and work. You can have a year-round position where you can raise a family and enjoy some free time.
What’s the age bracket for your staff?
We actually have a wide range of people that work for my company. We have 15-year olds all the way to a lady that’s in her early 70s! It’s a great age range where we have young people working with older people, getting a lot of experience and guidance from them and also the younger people showing the ageing population a few things about how to get stuff done.
What is commuting like?
During the summer months, you can get here by boat if you’re living on the lake. We have boat docking. You can also bike into town: we’ve got bike racks and locks ready to go.
Are there still jobs after the summer?
A lot of people think we close up after September or October and we all just take the winter off. Not so! We are open year-round. We like to support our local community groups and do a lot of local fundraising. There are quite a few businesses that are open and we love to see in here.
Come work in Muskoka Lakes!
We appreciate Randy, Kristan, Greg, Wendy, and Christopher for making themselves available for these interviews. The members of our chambers keep doing us proud. And we’re happy to keep recognizing their achievements. In 2019, we had Chamber member award winners federally, provincially and locally for their innovation and great service. Read about that here. Beyond excellence in products and services, the dedication of Muskoka businesses to staff welfare and progress is remarkable!
As business opportunities keep increasing we are inviting more people to come live, work and play in Muskoka! Click here to find your next cottage country career.
About the Chamber’s Workforce Attraction Project
Dear Chamber members, we are doing our part at the Chamber to try and help you find great staff. Not only do we know have a job portal just for you, it feeds your jobs into other job boards across Muskoka-Simcoe for the widest exposure possible. We also help potential employees find housing. Plus, we sponsor the South Muskoka Job Fair and attend on your behalf. Make sure you post your jobs up on our site (it’s free) and we’ll be sure to feature your jobs at the Job Fair. We also have opportunities for paid Featured Job ads on our site. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to know more. The Chamber’s Workforce Attraction Project features Paid Social Media ads showing the videos you see above, creates a talent pool of people we can send job newsletter updates to, and drives job seekers to our Jobs page. This project was partially paid for through a grant we received from Ontario’s Regional Economic Development Program. Do you have ideas on how we can help you find staff. We’d love to hear your ideas.