Bill Waterhouse was a tremendous ambassador for Huntsville


Quietly and peacefully, we lost another piece of our Huntsville heritage Wednesday. Bill Waterhouse, after a courageous fight against cancer, passed away surrounded by his family at our hospital in Huntsville.  

Bill was at once, a colourful and a quiet man. He and his family were one of the pillars of the tourism industry in Huntsville. Bill’s grandfather, Charles Waterhouse, emigrated from England in 1896 and opened one of the first resorts in North Muskoka on Penninsula Lake. In the beginning, Deerhurst was only accessible by steamship and in its first season, hosted only two guests who paid the princely sum of $3.50. per week, which included three meals per day. It is a tad more expensive these days!

Photo submitted by Frank DrinkwaterDeerhurst Resort remained in the Waterhouse family for nearly a century, being operated first by Charles, then his son Maurice and finally his grandson Bill. It was primarily Bill Waterhouse who saw the potential for Deerhurst to evolve from a successful family vacation Lodge into the world class destination resort it is today. Although the Waterhouse family sold their interest in Deerhurst in 1989, they got the ball rolling and played a significant role in putting Huntsville on the map as a popular and successful vacation venue.

Bill Waterhouse was a tremendous Ambassador for Huntsville; promoting its tourist industry wherever he went and in whatever he did. He never really promoted himself but at times he could be somewhat colourful which added considerable flavour, both to Deerhurst and to Huntsville!

Although Deerhust was his genesis, Bill made many other contributions to Huntsville. Among other endeavours, he was involved in the building of Hidden Valley Resort and in the development of Woodland Heights, one of Huntsville’s premier subdivisions. He was a visionary and through times thick and thin, he never stopped looking for opportunities improve and promote our community.

Bill’s death this week made me somewhat nostalgic as I remembered so many people who I have known over the years who have made tremendous contributions, in many different ways, to the very fibre and character of Huntsville and are no longer with us. They must not be forgotten.

On every entrance sign to Huntsville is our Motto; ‘Touch the Past, Embrace the Future.’ Bill Waterhouse has played an important part in making our past a part of our future, especially as Deerhurst expands into yet another phase. He is part of our heritage. He will be missed.


Photos courtesy of Frank Drinkwater


  1. Thank you for your tribute to Bill Waterhouse. He promoted a strong vision and believed in Muskoka. I admired him throughout the years although I did not know him personally. A good man.

  2. Hello Hugh.
    Fine tribute to a good man. I had many dealings with Bill and before that with his Dad and they were honourable people to the core.
    I am glad that you are still on top of things. I have been away from Huntsville for 37 years but still remember my life there with fondness. The story of the well we installed for your Dad and Mom is still one of my favourites.
    kindest personal regards,
    Stan Cox.

    • Hugh Mackenzie on

      Good to hear from you Stan. Glad you are still on this side of the grass! I have many good memories including that well on the hill in Port Sydney that went all the way to China!!

  3. I , among many others, remember Bill for his foresight in so many ways. We were classmates at Huntsville High School and over the years, at reunions , old classmates would get together and remember that Doug Stone, our English teacher would often stop the instruction to say “Waterhouse, are you with us?” To which Bill would respond, “were you speaking to me, sir?”
    In our later remembering, we all agreed that we finally knew what he was doing in that English class so many years ago … dreaming those future dreams, many of which became realities.
    Well done, Bill, and many more wonderful dreams.

  4. Through business associations I knew Bill well and often look back with fondness on those days past when we would do deals and build improvements at the Deerhurst properties. I haggled with Bill on the costs of roads and tennis courts and other things he wanted built to enhance and expand his resort. We always found an agreeable price and the work was done. It isn’t a secret that money was sometimes tight at Deerhurst during those old days and I was one who had a relationship of personal trust with Bill. Against other advice I went ahead with sometimes large jobs and while others were nervous I trusted Bill’s firm hand shake and he never let me down. This in the end was what mattered. A personal, trusting relationship which lasted over the many years we knew each other. It is necessary also to mention that Bill’s personal recommendation, the Shrimp Wilbur was always divine at the old Deerhurst Lakeside dining room. More than well worth the drive up from Bracebridge on a winter evening!
    Bill was a classy guy who’s like we won’t see again. I know another great friend of Bill’s and mine, Bruce Evans, himself recently passed, would join me in saying, well done, Bill ! God’s speed.

Leave a reply below. Comments without both first & last name will not be published. Your email address is required for validation but will not be publicly visible.