Houseboats Making Waves

These massive houseboats in Northwest Ontario are a perfect under-the-radar summer getaway
“Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not.”
- James Taylor

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Everyone loves a houseboat—cartoonist Shel Silverstien lived on one in Northern California, while musician George Harrison and author Michael Palin have both vacationed on the famous houseboats in the Kashmir region. If you're looking to buy, there are dozens of chic (expensive) options moored all over the world. But Ontario has a lot of boating terrain, and for a local, affordable option (that’s also much less work!), Canadians and Americans have been flocking to Northern Ontario’s best kept secret: the floating lodges of Lac Seul

As anyone who’s spent time in a floating house can attest, they capture the imagination in mysterious ways. Waking up in the morning with the boat beneath you bobbing away and the water gently lapping at your doorstep—it’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else. That’s why guests have been returning for decades to spend their summers in these massive Lac Seul houseboats. And we do mean massive. 

Lac Seul Floating Lodges celebrates its 41st anniversary in 2019

Founded in 1978, Lac Seul Floating Lodges has grown from just two 40-foot houseboats to a fleet of 11 that range in size from 65’ to 75’. The operation is growing every year, and it’s now the largest fleet of houseboats on Lac Seul. 

With space for up to 12 guests, the floating lodges come with everything you need for an amazing vacation: lawn chairs, cookware (including a BBQ), reading lights, USB ports, full-size bathrooms, fridges, closets, and even a flat-screen TV. With carpeted screened-in porches and rooftop decks, you can enjoy unrestricted sunrise and sunset views. Lifejackets, defibulators, and first-aid kits are also provided. Everything you’d need or find at a lodge or cottage is here—plus the added bonus of a lake as your backyard. 

So what exactly does a houseboat vacation involve, and why are they so popular?

A vacation like no other—for those craving flexibility, accessibility, and freedom to set their own schedules

“Houseboating allows you to stay on the lake and avoid the long commute to and from the lodge every day,” notes Lac Seul Floating Lodges owner Andrea. That means more time on the lake and more time for fishing. “Many guests enjoy a morning coffee on the back deck while everyone else is still boating up to the fishing spots,” she says. “You are already there!” It’s perfect for travelers who like to set their own schedules—no more racing back to the lodge in time for supper every night. 

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Another advantage to houseboating is the flexibility it offers—groups can shore up at whatever destination suits their needs. Canoers and kayakers can drop anchor near interesting waterways with loads of nooks and crannies. Fishing for musky? Pull up at one of the specific spots around the lake where they’re known to congregate. Plus, spring fishing spots are different from summer spots so you won’t waste any time—the houseboats ensure you’re always exactly where you want to be. “Families and couples like the houseboats, as there is something for everyone,” says Andrea. “You’ve got the beach for the kids, the top deck for reading and relaxing.”

For mature travellers looking for adventure without the hassle, Lac Seul Floating Lodges offers an accessible, more comfortable way to enjoy the lake. No more pitching tents or climbing in and out of fishing boats—just fish off the back deck of your home away from home. And with full-size bathrooms on board, there’s always peace of mind. 

Whatever your group’s specific needs, the staff at Lac Seul Floating Lodges will work with you to ensure you’ve got the information you need to have the best holiday ever! 

@camstarratt on Instagram

From check-in to casting off—a seamless experience with knowledgeable guides 

Your unique vacation at Lac Seul Floating Lodges begins when you arrive at the docks (check in begins at 1 pm). There you can check in, launch your fishing boat (if you’ve brought one), and load up the houseboat. The company has a fleet of 11 houseboats with two sizes to choose from, and staff will work with you to ensure you’ve booked the right size and amenities for your needs. 

Visitors will also get a tour and a quick course on how things work. Unsurprisingly, most first-timers opt for a houseboat pilot rather than operating it themselves. “Hiring a shuttle pilot is a good idea if it is your first time on the lake,” advises Andrea. Guests also like “knowing that their houseboat will be parked in a certain location by supper time,” she adds. The shuttle operator ensures the boat is exactly where you want it, which means more fishing/relaxing time and less time spent travelling up the lake. Unless of course, that kind of lake cruise is what you’re looking for. 

Getting to Lac Seul—an easy drive from Northeastern Ontario and the US or Manitoba borders

Lac Seul Floating Lodges are in a beautiful, remote location, yet still accessible by car. Just a 3.5-hour drive north from the Minnesota border, a five-hour drive east of Winnipeg and about four hours northwest of Thunder Bay, you’ll find Lac Seul—one of the best freshwater fishing lakes in Ontario. 

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Lac Seul Floating Lodges are a perfect summer getaway

A vacation on a houseboat is a refreshing alternative to the standard cottage and cabin rentals we’re all familiar with up north. A houseboat vacation is an easy, accessible, and unique way to enjoy everything that Northern Ontario has to offer—plus some of the best freshwater fishing around. So if you’ve ever dreamed about a life on the water, don’t delay! This is the vacation for you.

Because what’s the one thing the staff at Lac Seul Floating Lodges hears from its first-time visitors, according to Andrea?

“Should have found this sooner!” 

5 Lakefront, Box 210 
Hudson, Ontario P0V 1X0
+1 807-582-3284

About Jennifer McCartney

Jennifer McCartney is a New York Times bestselling author. She has written a number of books including So You Want to Move to Canada, Eh? Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Vice Magazine, Teen Vogue, and CBC.

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