Welcome to Leisure Bay Landing, your gateway to the spectacular natural beauty of Georgian Bay. Its crystal-clear waters, rugged shorelines and idyllic pine swept vistas offer endless opportunity to explore and discover. Stretching approximately 175 km and encompassing more than 347,000 protected hectares from the Severn River to the French River, the Georgian Bay Biosphere contains the largest archipelago of freshwater islands in the world. This is where we are. Known locally as the 30,000 islands, the Eastern shores of the Bay are home to more than a thousand species of breeding and migratory birds, mammals, plants, fish and reptiles. Whether you are a seasoned Islander, a day-tripper exploring, fishing or planning a camping excursion to an outer island; The Landing is your gateway to the Bay.
After being a family owned and operated business for more than 50 years, The Gross family has handed over the helm of Leisure Bay to a new family. In late 2020, Cynthia and Roddy Marnoch became the proud new owners. We are very excited to take on this venture and will continue to work on updating the cabins, improving our docking facility and the services we offer to our customers. We look forward to being your landing of choice for many years to come! Our goal is to ensure that all facilities at Leisure Bay Landing are the best we can present and that the boating or lifestyle experience presented by the Landing is relaxed, friendly and enjoyable.
Legend has it that the name Leisure Bay originated from an Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwemowin word which translated to English as Leisure. It is said that the sheltered inland bay was so named by Native peoples as it was a seasonal resting ground for them when they travelled through the area. According to Ruth McCuaig in her book ‘Our Pointe au Baril’, it is possible that the winter camp of the so-called Saint Esprit or Seventh Church, “a group of Christian Indians – Nipissings and other Algonquins – nomads, with whom several dedicated missionaries moved about” may have been located near Leisure Bay. Mrs. McCuaig also recorded that there was a logging camp in Leisure Bay sometime between 1904-1908.
By this time, like most of Ontario cottage country, the Leisure Bay property was owned by the Crown. In the 1940’s there was a fellow by the name of Erwin Zimmer who built, out of Douglas Fir, a floating eleven room hotel. Catering mostly to fishermen, Mr. Zimmer provided his customers with meals, accommodation and guided fishing excursions around Georgian Bay in his early days’ version of a ‘cruise ship’ or he may have advertised as a ‘boat-el’. He was also a jack of all trades handyman who provided repair and maintenance services to Island property owners. He ran these businesses out of Parry Sound where he moored his ship at the town dock year-round. In 1952 the town revoked this privilege. Mr. Zimmer approached the Department of Lands and Forests (todays Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests) to help him find a new location for his ship. On September 8, 1952, the Department sold him the then 9.6-acre Leisure Bay property for $270.00.
Meanwhile, Karl and Klaudia Gross were discovering the beauty of Georgian Bay for themselves. In around 1951, at the tender age of 21, Mr. Gross was a newcomer to Canada. He chanced to read an article in Readers Digest magazine about the 30,000 Islands. He promised himself he would go there one day. In 1953 he fulfilled that promise. He and his wife spent a weekend at Mountview Lodge. The Lodge was located in the main Station channel on what is now North Shore Road. Back then, there was no such road. Mountview Lodge was owned and operated by Jack and Millie Thorkildsen. There was a restaurant and phone booth located at the site of present-day South Shore Marine. Guests of the Lodge were instructed to call from the phone booth upon arrival. Mr. Thorkildsen would then come by boat to pick them up and take them to the Lodge. Karl and Klaudia were hooked and spent every summer vacation after that at Mountview until purchasing their first cottage property (A25-9) in 1960.
Mr. Zimmer continued to operate his boat-el and handyman businesses at Leisure Bay until 1964. By this time, he had purchased a piece of property directly across from Leisure Bay. He planned to dismantle his ship and use the Douglas Fir to build a cottage. On moving day Mr. Zimmer began to drive his ship across the Bay to his new property. Halfway there she sunk. It is said that he was able to salvage much of the Fir and did indeed use it to build his cottage. Leisure Bay was sold to a Mr. Serge Bernardo. Mr. Bernardo built 7 cabins and opened Leisure Bay Holiday Resort.
“Being a neighbour across the Bay so to speak, we followed the development of this resort with some interest. To our great surprise the resort was put up for sale in the fall of 1969. Klaudia and I, after much soul searching and researching, decided to make an offer to buy the resort. Our offer was accepted. We became the proud owners of Leisure Bay Holiday Resort. To make it a viable operation, over the next two years, we built an additional 5 cabins and a 3-unit waterfront motel. This gave us 15 rental units. We also had a fleet of 12 rental aluminum boats for our guests. Some locals predicted that our business might last for two years. We operated the resort from 1970 – 2012.
These were good years. Many of our guests became lifelong friends. Klaudia was happy. She told me ‘Karl, this is my calling.’ She was the BOSS! Now a short history of the beginning and evolution of Leisure Bay Marina; as more and more of our resort customers became repeat guests, rather than take their boats home we started storing them for the winter. Also, some of our guests became island property owners with a need for summer docking. Through word of mouth, other Islanders began to use our facilities. This was the beginning of Leisure Bay Marina.”
By 2012 Georgian Bay water levels were dropping to unprecedented low levels. The beautiful hard packed sand beach shoreline of the resort was gone. Karl and Klaudia could no longer advertise as a beachfront resort. This triggered the closing up of the resort, the dismantling of most of the cabins and a change in focus of the business to its marina division. Leisure Bay had been offering marina services to Islanders since 1981. It was about to offer more.
“After closing down our resort, we concentrated on building up our marina operation. After much hard work, miles of red tape, and heavy investment of resources (including the required purchase of parcels of Crown land), we then had a marina with the capacity for boat docking and car parking second to none. As you all know, we operate as a no-frills marina. We provide no services, only boat docking, car and trailer parking and winter boat storage.”
Fast-forward to 2015 when Cynthia Colby and Roddy Marnoch purchased their cottage in Brignall Banks Narrows. They quickly fell in love with Pointe au Baril and Georgian Bay, spending extra long weekends at their cottage year-round, enjoying the spectacular beauty of the area in all seasons. In 2018, after a 13 year ‘courtship’, they wed at the Florence Universal Church, renting out all of Pleasant Cove Resort for guests of their weekend long wedding celebration. They also rented a few boats from Desmasdons and Paynes to take their family and friends for a cruise around the islands. Clearly, they had become Pointe au Baril lifers!
In late 2018 they heard word that Leisure Bay may be for sale. After much thoughtful contemplation and consideration, on a cold winters’ day in February 2019, the Marnochs approached the office door of the big brick house and met Karl for the first time. He and Leisure Bay easily won their hearts and minds. Sadly, they were too late to have had the opportunity to meet the late Mrs. Gross. After lengthy negotiations (about a years worth!), the deal was sealed. The Marnochs officially became the proud new owners of Leisure Bay on November 1, 2020. Roddy and Cynthia, along with Cynthia’s Dad, (Bud) look forward to meeting more of their existing customers and welcoming new ones. Operating under a slightly new name, Leisure Bay Landing, they will continue to provide excellent and affordable marina services to their customers.
Leisure Bay has been providing excellent and affordable “no frills” marine services to Islanders since 1981. Our floating wooden docks and slips are stable and well maintained.
Nestled in a sheltered inland Bay, we are a short boat ride to the open deep waters of Georgian Bay with numerous shoals, marshy wetlands, channels and varying riparian zones along the way. Our accommodations are newly renovated, clean and comfortable.