By Michael Atkinson for Luxury Lifestyle Magazine

Deerhurst Resort is one of Ontario’s and Canada’s most historic resorts, starting life as a purpose built first-class resort, designed from the outset to provide upscale vacations to a high-end clientele.

The resort traces its history to the end of the 19th century, when Charles W. Waterhouse opened his lodge in 1896 on a parcel of land beside the majestic Peninsula Lake in Canada’s Muskoka region, an expansive area which incorporates the vast wilderness of the renowned Algonquin National Park in the east to the windswept shores of Georgian Bay in the west.

It was the region’s first major summer resort for the wealthy on Muskoka’s northern lakes, accessible in those early years, only by steamboat. The original lodge, with its 18 bedrooms, dining room and smoking lounge, catered for discerning guests, many staying for several weeks and enjoying fishing, swimming in the lake, rowing and tennis.


deerhurst resort exterior
Deerhurst Resort is one of Canada’s most extensive vacation and conference destinations

Back then, Deerhurst was a family-run summer seasonal operation. It is now one of Canada’s most extensive vacation and conference destinations, its success over the years created from a combination of the beauty of its woodland and lakeside location, combined with the extensiveness of its amenities, converting it into a four season family playground.

The resort has many claims to fame – in the 1980s, it became home to Canada’s longest-running variety stage show production, where a young singer named Eileen (Shania) Twain began her rise to music superstardom. In June 2010, the resort hosted the 36th G8 Summit of world leaders, including America’s President’s Barack Obama, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel and the UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron.

The resort has been extended and remodelled over the years and is a hugely popular resort for a relaxing family escape. Today, Deerhurst has grown to over 760 acres and can accommodate over 1,000 guests.

Deerhurst is located around two hours from Toronto, a few minutes from the well-known town of Huntsville, as well as the world-famous Algonquin Provincial Park and Arrowhead Provincial Park.


deerhurst resort lodge
Accommodation is spacious with homely touches

The resort features 400 guest rooms in a variety of resort enclaves featuring more traditional hotel rooms, as well as lodge suites and one, two and three bedroomed resort apartments situated within Deerhurst ‘neighbourhoods’, which overlook either the lake or the golf courses.

Deerhurst also provides extensive conferencing facilities with 40,000 square feet of function space including two ballrooms and an 11,000 square foot venue which can be used for trade shows and major conferences.

We stayed in a two bedroom lakeview apartment, the perfect accommodation for a family of four with two energetic young boys. The apartment was incredibly homely and spacious, with two large bedrooms, sitting room, well equipped kitchen and dining area and a separate sun room.

The highlight of the apartment was an extensive balcony, complete with outdoor dining table and reclining chairs that provided magnificent views of Lake Peninsula. A truly spectacular setting, especially with the autumn colours; watching both the sunsets and sunrises looking out over the lake were moments to remember.

Food and drink

deerhurst resort food
The Compass Grill and Lounge serves a menu with a focus on locally sourced produce

We dined both nights at the Compass Grill and Lounge, a casual and relaxed dinner venue, which features a wall decorated with a huge map of the Muskoka region, detailing the history of the development of resorts throughout the area since the late 19th century. The Compass Grill features hearty portions of great food. Pan seared Georgian Bay rainbow trout, Muskoka Deer Tail Ale fish and chips and Canadian ribeye all feature on a menu with a focus on locally sourced produce. The resort itself produces its own honey and maple syrup.

Other options for dining include the Antler Steakhouse (temporarily closed for the autumn period during our stay), the Maple Pub and Patio and the Eclipse restaurant. Our breakfast each morning was in the Eclipse, buffet style, which ensures you are set up well for the activities of your day ahead. Leading to the Eclipse restaurant is a display of Canadian paintings, sculptures and bespoke furniture items, all by Canadian artists and all available for purchase.

To Do

deerhurst resort snowmobile
Activities include an exhilarating off-road journey through the Muskoka forests

With check-in at 4pm, we arrived a few hours earlier and headed straight to the Yamaha Motor Adventures centre, a short drive from the main resort entrance. This is an exhilarating two hour off-road journey through the Muskoka forests. At the helm of your ATV (all-terrain vehicle), you will traverse steep rocky inclines and drops in the Yamaha Wolverine and weave your way through the beautiful forest, guided by an expert. When snow reaches the resort, you can experience the winter wonderland of Muskoka aboard your Yamaha snowmobile. A great, fun activity.

Deerhurst itself has two golf courses. In the 1980s, Deerhurst opened the Deerhurst Highlands course. Combined with the redesigned Deerhurst Lakeside golf course, Deerhurst’s focus on golf laid the groundwork for Muskoka’s later emergence as a major Canadian golf destination. The Lakeside course is nine holes, built around Peninsula Lake featuring elevated tees, deep valleys, water hazards and deep bunkers. The Highlands course is 18 holes, with some stunning holes including the 10th which features a sheer granite rock face which follows the length of the fairway.

deerhurst resort golf
The 18 hole Highlands course is a golfer’s delight

One evening before dinner, we tried out the Zig Zag Escape Rooms, testing our family teamwork and problem solving abilities. There are four different cabins that you can experience with different themes.

In summer the Deerhurst lakeside setting facilitates water skiing, wakeboarding, flyboarding, jet-skiing, fishing outings, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and there are hiking trails for great walks. In winter, the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area is right next door for downhill skiing and snowboarding.

There is also a spa at the resort with an array of treatments, as well as a large indoor swimming pool and fitness centre.

In a nutshell

Deerhurst is the perfect family resort. With activities to keep the whole family entertained whatever the season, over 120 years after it was first established, it continues to showcase Canada’s warm hospitality in a beautiful setting.


Double rooms within the hotel start from around CAD$200, although the resort provides some great packages, integrating activities and dining options.

Address: Deerhurst Resort, 1235 Deerhurst Drive, Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, P1H 2E9
Phone: (+1) 800 461 4393