Seeing Muskoka through a new lens
Joel Jones has country living in his blood. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, the property maintenance entrepreneur and photographer, spent his summers at a family cottage two hours outside of the city. This has instilled in Jones a sense of kinship with the forests, lakes and countryside. He now calls Huntsville home. Along with discovering a new passion for photography thanks to picking up his wife’s old camera, he’s helping to raise his son in “one of the most beautiful places in Canada.”
Here, Jones tell Stories about how a brief stint as a hockey coach helped him form a few deep connections off the ice. He also shares why he is so happy to spend time with his new family in Muskoka.
Q: As per your Instagram, you love being outdoors. Have you always enjoyed the great outdoors?
My love of nature and passion for adventure definitely stems from my time spent at [the cottage]. I spent all day exploring. You know that feeling of freedom as a kid? No responsibility; just soaking life in. To this day, I still feel that when I’m in the forest or out on the lakes. It’s just who I am. It’s a part of me.
Q: What do you love the most about living in Muskoka?
Our surroundings. I love that every direction you go, you will reach water. I love our vast forests and many winding rivers. I love that Algonquin Park is in our backyard. We live in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
Q: Why did you start coaching minor hockey? What do you love most about coaching?
Coaching was always one of those things in the back of my mind. It took a close friend of mine to propose the idea. He applied for the team and in we went. Alongside three other friends, we coached the same group of kids for three years. I loved the sense of family within the whole team. I loved the sense of brotherhood within the team and with us four coaches. Over the three years, we spent a heck of a lot of time together. We forged some amazing relationships over the years and we as coaches share a special bond now for sure.
Q: What makes Muskoka that perfect place to raise your son?
There is definitely an amazing sense of community here in Huntsville and that’s great. I don’t necessarily think it’s a place that makes raising your child perfect — it’s who you decide to surround yourself with. We are so blessed to have amazing friends and family who help us along the way. You know what they say, it takes a village to raise a child. Our son is surrounded by so many amazing influences, but the Muskoka scenery sure does help.
Q: When did you pick up photography?
I started taking photos about four years ago. My wife had an older DSLR that wasn’t getting used much and I decided to take it out on a hike with me one day, and boom. My love for nature and photography now go hand in hand.
Q: Why do you love it?
I love the emotion a photo can evoke. It can bring you back to that exact moment in time and make you feel that feeling again. It can also make somebody else somewhere across the world feel something totally different. A powerful photo can give you inspiration, it could also make you cry, laugh or even have the strength to change a point of view. My photography is kind of my voice. I can’t sing so I take pictures.
Q: What is your favourite subject to shoot?
My favourite places to photograph are times in a canoe, on the trail, in the forest or at a campsite. You get what Mother Nature gives you and I love that.
Q: What four words would you use to describe the area?
Boundless, peaceful, alluring and spirited.
Q: If you’re traveling, how do you describe Muskoka to people you meet?
To be honest I don’t know if I’ve ever had to explain Muskoka. Most folks instantly say “Ohhhh Muskoka, it is so beautiful there!” Muskoka is a world-renowned spot.
Q: What do you love to share with friends and family when they are visiting you in Muskoka?
Algonquin Park never disappoints. If they aren’t into that it’s always fun to hit the markets or tour Main St. during the summer months. Not too many of my friends from afar visit in the winter. Haha.
Q: What are your favourite ways to decompress after a long day? Do you have any rituals that you do to help relax and get a good night’s sleep?
I don’t usually decompress until I’m lying in bed. I’ve never had an issue with a good night’s sleep. If I feel like I need that time in the evening, I usually lay out the yoga mat and have a good stretch, head out to the garden or take the dog for a stroll. Those things zen me out and make me feel better.
Q: Tell us about your business.
I have a property maintenance company with clients all around Muskoka that I care for on a weekly basis. I do everything from turf to trees and I also do a lot of painting during the winter months. I love being able to see so much of Muskoka throughout my work week. I always find new spots to explore or photograph. My wife and I both own our own businesses and we would never trade the freedom for dollars. Work less, experience more.
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