Serving cottagers from Washago Lock #42 to Swift Rapids Lock #43


Welcome to the Sparrow Lake Association

SLA Regatta

When? Sunday, July 30th, 2017 (Please note this is NOT the long weekend!)

Where? Sparrow Lake Camp - Address: 1437 United Church Camp Lane (off Torpitt Road)

Fishing Derby TBD! More info coming soon.

Spring 2017 Newsletter! Click here for pdf version.

Anyone who has spent time on Sparrow Lake knows that it is a wonderful place. Many generations of Cottagers and Residents have enjoyed the natural beauty of the area, the numerous available outdoor activities and the comfortable social life that is part of "being" on Sparrow Lake.

The Sparrow Lake Association (SLA) acts as both an advocacy group and social network for Cottagers and Residents. SLA monitors municipal, environmental and safety issues that could impact our cottages, businesses, and residences. SLA also sponsors a number of events and activities that promote the social life on the Lake. The SLA's existence helps to ensure that the attributes and benefits of Sparrow Lake will be available to future generations to enjoy!


The SLA was established in 1926 as a not-for-profit organization by a group of concerned and caring cottagers who thought a committee should be established to look out for the best interests of all cottagers on the lake and surrounding area. The SLA has been in existance since that time and has provided different services, organized events, advocated positions to different levels of government and kept cottagers informed on cottage related events.

Click here to download our brochure.

Muskoka Watershed Wake Brochure

Trent Severn Waterway

Our cottage association partner

Upcoming FOCA news and events

Click on highlighted green events to see


See the Spring 2017 newsletter!

Click here for pdf version.

2016 Spring newsletter

Click here for pdf version.

2015 Spring newsletter

Click here for pdf version.

Previous Newsletters

2015 Spring Newsletter

President's Message Fall 2014
2014 Spring Newsletter
2013 Spring Newsletter
May 2012 Newsletter
Summer 2010 Newsletter

Environment and Water

Click here to see a presentation given by Lesley Johnson at a previous AGM meeting entitled What you Need to Know about the Water you are Drinking, Swimming and Bathing in.

The Sparrow Lake Association is an advocacy group that monitors environmental issues to ensure the preservation and longevity of your lakefront property Lock 42 to Swift Rapids Lock 43. The SLA monitors environmental issues that may damage the integrity of our eco system.

SLA will provide you with water quality testing. The lake will be tested in four areas on a regular basis. If you wish to become a volunteer to gather water samples in your area of the lake please contact

Ministry of Health

Primary responsibility is to protect the public community from a variety of potential health problems. link

Gravenhurst Office 705-684-9090

Orillia Office 705-325-9565

Ministry of Environment

MOE maintanins, preserves and protects many aspects of the environment including safe lake water. link

Muskoka Watershed Council

Muskoka watershed Council is a volunteer based non-profit organization with a mandate to champion watershed

Lake Partner Program

SLA is a member of the Lake Partner Program sponsored by the MOE

SLA supports the MOE pro-active protection of the lake water by appointing SLA water stewards for additional testing of lake water. link

Latest water testing results can be seen on the aforementioned site.

Volunteers Required

Volunteers for the MOE Lake Partner Program, sign up now.


Articles of interest

(click plus sign to expand article and minus to reduce back again)

Freshwater Algae

At the Sparrow Lake Association's AGM last August, many people noted a higher abundance of algae in the lake than normal. Indeed it seems that algae and algal blooms have been present in abundance in many of southern Ontario's lakes and rivers in the past few seasons. Beside the unsightly aspect, the presence of algae causes concern due to the possible correlations between the presence of algae and decreasing lake health. The relationship between algae and lake health is not straightforward; however, algae can both be present in lakes that are healthy, and can be indicative of lakes with problematic nutrient levels.

Freshwater Algae: Freshwater Algae are typically very small green-coloured aquatic plants. Algae can grow in many forms, including species that are microscopic and single-celled and others that grow as masses of cells or strands of cells. The former floats within the water column and at high concentrations can decrease water clarity and influence the colour of the water towards a greenish hue. The latter take forms that can appear as floating blobs or branching plants attached to hard surfaces on the lake bed. There are four basic divisions in the algal world: green algae, blue-green algae, diatoms and pigmented flagellates (the latter two are not discussed here). Green algae can grow in many forms, including the large bright green blobs termed "elephant snot" that have been noted in Sparrow Lake, and are non-toxic. Blue-green algae also grow in many forms and are distinguishable by its blue-green hue. Unlike green algal species, blue-green algae can be toxic to the aquatic environment as well as to wildlife and humans if ingested in sufficient quantity.

Algae Growth in Ontario Lakes: Algae, like other plants, require sunlight and nutrients to grow. The availability of these components will limit or promote growth. The depth to which algae and other aquatic plants grow is the depth that sunlight is able to penetrate. Correspondingly, the increase in aquatic plant growth that has been noted in southern Ontario is in part related to the increased depth that sunlight is able to penetrate due to the water clarity-promoting effect of zebra mussels. The intensity of sunlight (influencing water temperature) can also promote algal abundance; and climate change is making the annual level of sunshine less predictable. Two of the primary nutrients that aquatic plants require for growth are nitrogen and phosphorus. In an aquatic environment these nutrients can be present naturally, especially as a lake "ages" and an increasing amount of plant and animal matter decomposes on the lake bed. However this process (termed eutrophication) can be exacerbated by human inputs of nutrients, for example, from leaking septic tanks and the infiltration of herbicides into the lake water.

Another factor that can affect the abundance of algae is competition from other aquatic plants for sunlight and nutrient resources. An interesting point is that often the available growth resources in a lake are used predominantly by either aquatic plants or algae, and the balance can be tipped. I have noted that the level of aquatic vegetation in Sparrow Lake has decreased in the last few seasons (uncertain whether naturally, or by physical or chemical removal), as the abundance of algae seems to have increased and I wonder if the balance has "tipped". Algae can increase in abundance in an opportunistic manner; as nutrients become available the algal cells are able to take advantage of the supply and increase in numbers. As the supply diminishes they begin to recede. The first part of this past summer had a high level of precipitation which has the effect of washing nutrients from the adjacent upland into the lake. This type of nutrient burst can thus have the effect of promoting short-term algal growth.

Although this effect is likely a contributing factor to the increase of algae in Sparrow Lake this past year, as cottagers we must not become complacent.

Our collective actions on our cottage properties and in the water can have a direct impact on the nutrient status of the lake and thus on the growth levels of algae and aquatic vegetation.

The presence of green algae at reasonable concentrations is not a problem (in fact the beneficial aspects of algae include being an important component of the aquatic food chain and helping to maintain water oxygen levels), however we all want to discourage an overabundance of green algae growth as well as the presence of green-blue algae at any concentration.

The story of Three Mile Lake, the first of Muskoka's lakes to harbour a serious blue-green algae bloom is reason to be thoughtful of our actions at the cottage. Residents at this lake were no longer able to swim, fish or draw water for domestic use and needed to dramatically limit inputs of nutrients in order to help the restoration of lake health.

Reduce Light Pollution

Have you ever thought about the impact of outdoor lights used at the cottage? Although cottage lighting appears unimportant and benign, excessive outdoor lighting can actually have a detrimental impact both on the cottage experience and the workings of the natural world.

Many cottagers appear to have expanded their outdoor lighting in recent years. The addition of lighting on docks, decks and gazebos, bright security lighting, and Moonrays to light pathways all add to the amount of light that a particular cottage emits over the night time hours. The cumulative result of all the lighting from Sparrow Lake cottages (in combination with that from nearby lakes and communities) is a brighter night sky. Although this makes it easier to see outdoors after dark, it unfortunately also limits the visibility of the moon and stars.

One of the main reasons cottagers purchase lake property is to escape urban life to the peace and beauty of wilder areas. A primary attribute of non-urban areas is the ability to clearly see the beauty of the night sky; the phases of the moon, the constellations, the Milky Way and (when lucky) the northern lights can all be enjoyed throughout the summer at the end of the dock. Unfortunately, it's becoming progressively harder to see the night sky due to outdoor lighting and the brighter sky that results.

We are fortunate to have an area just to the north of Sparrow Lake that has been designated as one of the first dark sky reserves in the world. The Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve is a 4,700 acre area of crown land located southeast of Bala. The provincial government's designation of 'dark sky reserve' recognizes this region as a protected space free of urban light pollution and is popular with astronomers and others wishing to take in the night sky. A number of events occur at Torrance Barrens throughout the summer season, please see for more information and driving directions.

There are a variety of simple ways that Sparrow Lake cottagers can help to reduce light pollution and help support the goal of the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve while still providing the light they need for navigation and safety. For example:

Replace high wattage bulbs with low wattage bulbs. Ask yourself whether a low wattage bulb would do the job just as well as a 100 or 150-watt bulb.

Reduce light intensity by installing a dimmer switch on your outdoor lighting. This is a perfect solution for areas you only occasionally need full intensity light.

Use fixtures that cap the top of the light so that no light is emitted upwards. This type of of fixture can be purchased or retrofitted (any "do it yourself" electrical work should be followed by a safety inspection.) Note: both Gravenhurst and Huntsville have recently established outdoor lighting that emits light down, not up or out.

Avoid dusk-to-dawn security lights. A motion detector with a delayed reset is a more effective way to add lighting security.

Aim lighting fixtures away from the water and neighbouring properties. Choose fixtures that aim or reflect light only on to the intended target area. Illuminate lanes or walkways from above, not from below.

Provide adequate lighting for the task, but don't over-light. Choose lights that meet your needs without lighting the entire waterfront or yard.

The above suggestions were obtained from the Muskoka Star Party website ( This organization coordinated a series of public events in August 2006 that celebrated the night sky - keep an eye on their website for the 2007 lineup of events. Try to take advantage of these and other opportunities to observe the moon and stars this summer - the night sky is undoubtedly one of the best attributes of Sparrow Lake.

Stop Invasive Species

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has created a volunteer project to test over 300 lakes for invading species. The success of the project is dependent on volunteers who collect water samples using specialized fine=mesh nets called plankton haul nets. The nets will trap small plant and animal life called planton. Since 1998, over 300 lakes in Ontario have been monitored for zebra mussels, spiny water flea, and other invading species where they have not been previously detected. Voluteers forward the samples to OFAH staff for analysis using a microscope to detect the early life stage of zebra mussels, spiny water flea as well as other invading species.

Monitoring will occur between late June & mid-Septeber when sebar mussel veligers and spiny water flea are most likely to be present in the lake. Generally, when veligers are first detected in alake, there is about a two year period before adult mussels become noticeable. Thus, if veligers are discovered in a lake, it will you give them time to heed the warning and prepare for the negative impacts of the zebra mussel. However, it cannot be overemphasized that a negative result is NOT a guarantee that zebra mussels, spiny water flea and other invading species to not live in your lake. Proper precautions should always be taken in order to prevent the potential spread of invading aquatic species.

We collected water samples from Sparrow Lake, from Deep Bay, MacLean's Bay and out in the large part of the lake.

Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Before leaving a boat launch:

  • Remove all aquatic plants, mussels or other visible organism and put them in the garbage
  • Drain the water from your boat, including the motor, live well, and bilge
  • Do not release live bait!! Empty your bait bucket on land, or freeze or salt the bait to use later
  • Remove organisms you can't see on your boat by: Rinsing with hot water or spraying with high pressure water or dry in the sun for 5 days

This is a cooperative initiative of Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters, FOCA, York University, Government of Ontario, South Nation Conservation, Rideau Valley Conservation, Mississippi Valley Conservation, University of Guelph, Temagami Stewardship Council.

The Sparrow Lake Results were findings of Zebra mussels but no spiny water fleas. A final report will be produced in November with results of all lakes. If you would like more information on this topic see or call 1-800-563-7711.

General Enquiries


Bob Corbett, President
Judy Moore Vey, Treasurer
Secretary - Vacant-Please Volunteer!
Marten Burns, Past President


Jane Bowman, Special Events
Jill King, Membership
Wendy Miller, Water Quality & Testing
Jill King & Wendy Miller, Environment
Member at Large, Public Relations
Member at Large, Education Safety & Health
Meredith Oberfrank, Editor
Courtney Reistetter, News Reporting
Karin Prendergast, Webmaster

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2017 Regatta

When? Sunday, July 30, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. sharp. (NOT the long weekend)

Where? Sparrow Lake Camp - Address: 1437 United Church Camp Lane (off Torpitt Road)

Event list coming soon

2017 Dates
Jan 1 Happy New Year! SLA New Year Begins
TBD Fishing Derby and SLA Annual Picnic
Sun, July 30 (NOT the long weekend) Regatta at Sparrow Lake Camp
Sat, Aug 12 Association General Meeting @ Bayview Wildwood 9:30am
Dec Season's Greetings to those at the cottage and at home

Online Membership

Benefits of Membership

  • Website-Keep cottagers informed and up to date all year long
  • Visibility-Attending local municipal meetings to represent our rights
  • Voices can be hears-Timely discussion with members at local meetings
  • E-Blast member updates-Upcoming events and reminder notices
  • Networking Opportunities-with members to socialize and keep informed
  • Social Events-Family and friends annual picnic, fishing derby and regatta
  • Fund Raising-Golf tournament to raise money
  • Annual General Meeting-All members welcome to discuss issues
  • Education Workshops-Boating safety, estate planning, eco concerns
  • Water front safety-Liason OPP safety issues and promote safe boating
  • Prevention and Protection-Promote sustainable eco development
  • Lake Development-Monitor Zoning bylaws issues Severn/Muskoka township

Click here to see our new 2017 membership brochure.

Click here to download 2017 membership application form.


The Sparrow Lake Area is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway. As such, there can be a fair amount of boating traffic, especially during peak hours (approximately 9am to 5pm) on weekends.

Please be mindful of this and be a safe and courteous boat operator in high traffic areas. Also, please remember that all boat operators are currently required to have a boat operator's license in their possession while operating a boat.

For more information on the Trent-Severn, including hours of operation, please visit

Muskoka Watershed Wake Brochure

Common Marine Charges and Fines (as of 2014)

  • Operate unlicensed pleasure craft $305
  • Operate pleasure craft without copy of vessel licence onboard $305
  • Speeding - over 10km/h within 30 meters of shore $240
  • Speeding in a posted speed zone $240
  • Operating a vessel in an unsafe manner $615
  • Operate vessel with safety equipment not in good working order $240
  • Insufficient number of PFD's or lifejackets $240 (plus $100 for each additional PFD or lifejacket)
  • Failing to exhibit lights as prescribed $180
  • Fail to have Proof of Competency on board $305
  • Fishing without a licence $155
  • Operate boat with open liquor $215
  • Operate power driven vessel without a muffler that is in good working order $305

    • Required Equipment Checklist

      Rowboat, canoe, kayak up to 6 metres in length (19'8")

      • Whistle Life jacket or PDF for each person on board
      • Buoyant heaving line 15 m (50')
      • Reboarding device/ladder
      • Hand-bailer OR bilge pump
      • Sound signalling device
      • Navigation lights [Not required unless operated at night or in restricted visibility.]
      • Magnetic compass [not required within sight of navigation marks]
      • Radar reflector [not required under most day and near-shore use]
      • Over 6 metres: Watertight flashlight, 6 Type A, B, or C flares

      Personal Watercraft PWC

      • Life jacket or PDF for each person on board
      • Buoyant heaving line 15 m (50')
      • Reboarding device / ladder
      • Manual propelling device (oar) OR anchor with 15 m (50') of rope
      • Hand-bailer OR manual pump
      • Watertight flashlight OR 3 approved Type A, B, or C flares.
      • Sound signalling device
      • Navigation lights [Not required unless operated at night or in restricted visibility.]
      • Magnetic compass [not required within sight of navigation marks]
      • Radar reflector [not required under most day and near-shore use]
      • Class 5BC fire extinguisher

      Up to 6 metres in length (19'8")

      • Life jacket or PFD for each person on board
      • Buoyant heaving line 15 metres
      • Manual propelling device OR anchor with 15 m (50') of rope
      • Hand-bailer OR manual pump
      • If equipped with motor: Watertight flashlight OR 3 Type A, B, or C flares
      • Sound signalling device
      • Navigation lights [Not required unless operated at night or in restricted visibility.]
      • Magnetic compass [not required within sight of navigation marks]
      • Radar reflector [not required under most day and near-shore use]
      • Class 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with inboard engine, fuel tank, fuel-burning stove, fridge or heater.

      6 - 9 metres in length (19'8"-29'6")

      • Boarding ladder
      • Life jacket or PDF for each person on board
      • Buoyant heaving 15 metres
      • Life buoy attached to buoyant line 15 m (50').
      • Manual propelling device (oar) OR anchor with 15 m (50') rope
      • Bailer OR manual pump
      • Watertight flashlight
      • 6 flares: type A, B, or C
      • Sound signalling device
      • Navigation lights [if operated at night or in poor visibility]
      • Magnetic compass [not required within sight of navigation marks]
      • Radar reflector [not required under most day and near-shore use]
      • Class 5BC fire extinguisher if vessel equipped with motor
      • Class 5BC fire extinguisher if fuel-burning stove, fridge, or heater

Sparrow Lake Photo Gallery

2012 Golf Day

Regatta 2013

Fishing Derby

Beautiful Scenery




Welcome to Gravenhurst! Gravenhurst is proud to be home to 11,000 or more permanent year round residents and welcomes a seasonal population of equal size to enjoy the many attractions, hiking and biking trails, parks, beaches, heritage locations and culinary, cultural and artistic pursuits. Be Sure to mark your calendars to join us for amazing festivals, events and activities all year round, including the Antique and Classic Boat Show, Piratefest, Dockside Festival of the Arts, Winter Carnival and Music on the Barge. From the iconic Muskoka Wharf, where a confluence of financial commitment, community dedication and collaborative partnerships have created an 89 acre celebration of Gravenhurst's unique and varied heritage; to the oldest operating Steamship, the RMS Segwun, to Dr. Norman Bethune, international Cultural Icon, Gravenhurst is a close knit community that values its heritage, natural beauty and citizens, and welcomes the rest of the world to join us.



Welcome to Orillia, Ontario's all natural playground. Recognized as one of the premier outdoor recreation areas in Canada, Orillia is at the heart of Lake Country and home to boating, swimming, skiing, walking, hiking, cycling, and much more. From museums to galleries, live theatre, events, festivals, natural attractions, and superior accommodations, Orillia offers visitors the ultimate recreational, cultural, and experiential adventure. Naturally, it's all here. Located in the heart of Ontario's Lake Country, Orillia offers four-season recreational and cultural opportunities.


Severn Township

Welcome. The Township of Severn is a rural municipality located within the County of Simcoe which is uniquely situated in the heart of cottage country, only one and a half hours north of Toronto. Our close proximity to both the cities of Barrie and Orillia, means that all of the "comforts of home" are readily available. So whether you're planning to visit, work or retire... Come and experience Severn!

If anyone wishes to advertise on the SLA website, please contact us at

Seeking the position of Secretary of the Sparrow Lake Association. Contact if interested.