Lake of Bays is a township within the District Municipality of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. The township, situated 193 kilometres (120 mi) north of Toronto, is named after the Lake of Bays.
Located in the northeast corner of Muskoka, the Lake of Bays offers a natural landscape of forests, rocks, lakes and wetlands. Because of its natural beauty, it is an important cottaging, recreation and tourism destination in Ontario. Currently, the economy of the township is primarily based on tourism, recreation, and the service sector with forestry and aggregate (composite) extraction contributing as well.
Lake of Bays was established in 1971 from the former townships of Franklin, Ridout, McLean, Sinclair and Finlayson in the District of Muskoka.
Lake of Bays is situated in Ontario's cottage country and has long been a vacation destination for the inhabitants of Toronto and the surrounding areas. In the early 20th century Bigwin Inn, a resort that once operated on Bigwin Island, was a sought after destination point by many individuals and groups.
The township was once home to the smallest commercial railway line in the world called the Portage Railway. Between 1904 and 1958 it ferried passengers between North Portage on Peninsula Lake to South Portage on Lake of Bays, a distance of 2 km. The train, named the Portage Flyer, was discontinued in 1958 and was relocated to an amusement park near St. Thomas, Ontario, until 1984. Much of the original components have since been repatriated and continue to operate on the grounds of Muskoka Heritage Place near Huntsville.
The township includes the communities of Baysville, Bigwin, Birkendale, Bona Vista, Bondi Village, Britannia, Brooks Mills, Browns Brae, Dorset, Dwight, Fox Point, Glenmount, Grandview, Grassmere, Grove Park, Hillside, Limberlost Lodge, Lumina, Maple Ridge, Millar Hill (ghost town), Nith Grove, North Portage, Norway Point, Port Cunnington, Sea Breeze, South Portage and Wahawin.
A small community developed on the subdivided landholdings of a sawmill built by William Brown in the 1870s. The economic development of Baysville was enabled by good road and steamboat connections. Baysville developed into a popular region for vacationers and sportsmen.