The Portage Flyer was owned and operated by the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway, between 1904 and 1959. Known as the world’s smallest commercial railroad, it bridged the 1.81 kilometres between Peninsula Lake and Lake of Bays. With a difference in elevation from Fairy Lake to Lake of Bays of over 170 feet, dredging was not an option, and a lock system was to expensive. While a road was built, it was not satisfactory and ill suited to the needs of the area.
The Portage Flyer carried mail, cargo, building supplies, tourists & cottagers from North Portage on the shores of Peninsula lake to South Portage on the shores of Lake of Bays. A trip to Lake of Bays in the early 1900’s may have looked something like this:
- Train to Huntsville
- Transfer to Steamship Algonquin
- Transfer to The Portage Flyer
- Transfer to the Steamship Algonquin
- Drop off at your destination
With the increase in technology and automobile traffic, the Portage Flyer was retired in 1959, at which time it was sold to the Town of St. Thomas. In the 1980’s The Flyer was repurchased and brought home to Huntsville, where it resides in Muskoka Heritage Place. You can take a ride on the Portage Flyer from July – the end of August as well as tour the museum. For exact times of operation and the cost, please visit their website.
The Parker Team enjoys snorkeling at one of the docks from the Algonquin Steamship. To see our video please visit our blog on 10 Mile Bay.