Real estate industry updates & Muskoka events

A Winter’s Drive In Muskoka

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words had little to do with a winter’s drive through Muskoka, or maybe they did. Like any great pastime, a driving journey past frozen lakes and parks and villages under blankets of snow may well be about the experience rather than the destination. We’re not trying to reach Port Carling, or Rosseau, or Huntsville, or Bracebridge—though all of those destinations are worthy. The point is the journey.

What we see along these pathways is one of the reasons we choose to live in cottage country. Winter driving routes lead in all directions, twisting through the highlands of Huntsville, the farmlands near Bracebridge, and along the shorelines of Gravenhurst and Port Carling. Here are three winter routes I’ve driven often, both for my work as a realtor and for simple pleasure—passing time during this pandemic. These routes mix highway driving with slow meanders along country roads. You can drive an entire route in a single day, or carve a route into bits, savouring sections one day at a time. The key to a winter’s drive is taking time to look around rather than racing toward the finish line. As Emerson said: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

 

Circling Lake Muskoka

At about 95 kilometres from start to finish, this route covers quintessential Muskoka: Gravenhurst, Bala, Port Carling, and Bracebridge. You can begin at any point as it’s a circle route. I’ll start in Gravenhurst, heading through the gates at the south end of town, following the main street past shops, bakeries, and the Gravenhurst Opera House, then dipping down toward the lake to Muskoka Wharf, where you’ll see the RMS Segwun and the Wenonah II often covered in snow and always sleeping peacefully in winter. Picking up Muskoka Road 169, we travel the shoreline of Lake Muskoka to Bala, where we turn into the village to pass by the falls, shops and bakeries, and the Kee to Bala. At Muskoka Road 118 we hang a right, following it to Port Carling. The route funnels through the centre of the village, a hub for shoppers, boaters and ice cream lovers. Next, Muskoka Road 118 tracks toward Bracebridge, its most spectacular point the Huckleberry Rock Cut, a canyon that reveals the majesty of the Canadian Shield. In Bracebridge we deviate off 118 for a brief swing through the main part of town, over the “brace bridge” that spans Bracebridge Falls, then down the hill to 118 once again where we hang a left. At the railway bridge near Muskoka Brewery, we turn right on Muskoka Road 17 and follow this Muskoka Beach Road—perhaps the prettiest piece of the drive—back to the town of Gravenhurst.

 

Huntsville Highlands Tour

This hilly route has many possibilities and is especially pretty in winter. We’ll start on Huntsville’s main street. At the north end of town we head right on Highway 60. Note: this is were the route has many, many options! We can sidestep by turning left onto Limberlost Road, where we follow its path, as twisty as a roller coaster. At Camp Olympia we turn around and retrace our path back to Highway 60. Back on Highway 60 we approach Canal Road. A right turn there leads us toward Deerhurst, then turns sharply right, over a bridge and left again behind Peninsula Lake. North Portage Road is next, which leads to South Portage Road near Dwight. At this junction we have more choice: a left turn will pop us back on Highway 60 where we can head back to Huntsville; a right turn will lead us along another roller coaster called South Portage Road, a lovely fun drive that tracks the north shore of Lake of Bays. At Brunel Road, we can turn right and circle back into Huntsville, or turn left and follow Brunel to Baysville. Steering left onto Highway 117 at Baysville follows the south shoreline of Lake of Bays. We turn left again at Dorset onto Highway 35, which meets up with Highway 60 and leads us (finally!) back to Huntsville.

 

Circling Lake Rosseau

Our last jaunt winds a circular route through some Muskoka classics: Port Carling, Rosseau, and Windermere. We’ll begin in Port Carling, where we’ll stop to gaze at “The Wall”, a mosaic painted on a brick wall in the centre of town to commemorate Port’s 100th anniversary. Heading east, we’ll hang a left onto Muskoka Road 25, also known as Brackenrig Road. This meandering route includes views of the lakes but also offers glimpses of local farm life. We dip left again onto Muskoka Road 24, taking time to veer into Windermere, where the famed hotel commands a grand view of the lake. Next we journey toward Ullswater on Highway 141 until we reach Rosseau, a village that’s sleepy in winter but alive in summer with a Friday farmers’ market, a general store, and a fabulous bakery. A left onto Highway 632 brings us to Minett and Port Sandfield, two of Muskoka’s tiniest, busiest villages in summer. Over the bridge at Port Sandfield, we pop out again onto Highway 118; a left turn leads us back to Port Carling.

 

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Whether to stay in or get outside is a question Muskokans are going to ask themselves throughout the winter as we await a fix for this pandemic. Fortunately we’re in an area blessed with vast outdoor spaces in which physical distancing is doable. And while safety protocols must be followed, experts are indicating it’s possible to ski and skate safely this winter. I’ve gathered some suggestions on how and where to make it happen in Muskoka.

XC Skiing

Stay six feet apart. That’s the guideline stipulated by XC Ski Ontario, and it’s an easy measure thanks to the equipment on your feet. The organization states the average length of XC skis is about six feet, giving recreational skiers a simple reference.

Cross-Country ski trails in Muskoka are open this winter, including the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre, where there are more than 16 km of trail for all levels and there’s no fee. Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near Huntsville is also free. Its trails feature fun and informative titles—Turtle Lake Trail and Ski Hill Trail—all lined with varieties of larch, hemlock and massive basswoods.  Offering the motherlode of XC trails near Muskoka, however, is Algonquin Park: 85 km of groomed trails plus 32 kilometres more of ungroomed, wilderness skiing.

Skating Trails

Outdoor ice skating, especially along trails, is widely supported by health officials this season, who cite its benefits and its natural open areas. “There’s a lot of space and a lot of movement, which is good,” says one of Canada’s top epidemiologists. “It means you’re not being exposed to the same people for prolonged periods, and the ventilation is, of course, second to none.”

Listed among the Top 50 Canadian Winter Experiences, the Arrowhead Ice Skating Trail in Arrowhead Park is 1.3 km of fairytale goodness, especially at night when the trailside torches are lit. Winding through dense Muskoka forest, this is a true bucket-list experience. Standard Covid protocols apply, including mask wearing and social distancing. Ontario provincial parks may restrict the number of daily visitors to their parks to ensure safety. Visitors are encouraged to check park rules and limits before arrival.

Alpine Skiing

There are 236 ski areas in Canada and most of them plan to be open this season by adopting the Ski Well, Be Well slogan. Ski resort associations across the country have created Covid safety standards for all resorts, including those situated in or near Muskoka: Hidden Valley, Horseshoe Resort, and Mount St. Louis.

There’s little doubt your favourite ski area will operate much differently than in previous seasons, but don’t let that stop you. Among the protocols: wearing face coverings at all times, changing your boots in the car instead of the lodge, and physical distancing of at least two metres in lift lines. Fortunately, due to lengths of skis and snowboards, distancing within liftlines is achievable.

Singles lines will be eliminated at most resorts; only those within the same party will be permitted to load onto a chairlift. Most chairs are spaced at least 15 metres apart and travel at speeds between eight and 27 km/h, which authorities say ensures directional air flow. At the top of the lifts, skiers will be encouraged to move away from unloading areas as quickly as possible, and will not be permitted to gather.

Again, skiers will be directed to use their cars as baselodges this winter: lunches, snacks, boot changing, and equipment storing will all take place in the parking lot.

And yes, as with all of the above activities, remember to bring your own hot chocolate!

The Women of Winter

Winter has always been a favourite of mine, especially in Muskoka. Snow has a special way of lighting cottage country landscapes by blanketing the evergreens, sparkling the fields, and rendering frozen lakes in smooth, contemplative whites. I’ve been admiring the way Muskoka’s women artists are able to capture this beauty on canvas. Painter Lynda Lynn, for example, a colleague of mine in real estate, is especially talented in catching the feel and colour of a Muskoka winter. Joining her are fellow mixed media artists Wendie Donabie and Janice Feist. This month I’m profiling their winter works. Join me in celebrating these remarkable women.

Lynda Lynn

Perhaps the most recognizable painting by Lynda Lynn is a depiction of downtown Bracebridge during the annual festival titled Fire and Ice. Lynn uses soft watercolours, oils and acrylics in her representationals to put you right there in the scene. In the Fire and Ice painting, you’re walking the store-lined hill on Manitoba Street alongside the artist, sensing the cold and the wind, but also the joy of children as they slide on snow. A profile of the artist in Unique Muskoka explained it this way: “Using this style captures the overall picture but allows the artist to manipulate specific parts to create a more balanced composition for the art piece.” Lynn is a fifth generation Muskokan, her family first arriving to homestead in the 1800s. The place is in her soul. “I love the feel of the soft breezes on my face,” she explains, “the rainbows in the dewdrops, the smell of the land after a summer rain, (and the) softly falling snowflakes as big as feathers.” You can view more of Lynda Lynn’s work at www.muskokaartist-lyndalynn.com

Wendie Donabie

Paintings by Wendie Donabie start with a walk and a camera. Alongside her husband Hugh Nichols, a commercial realtor, Donabie hikes the trails of Muskoka in both winter and summer, seeking what she calls her next muse. “When I witness a scene that causes my heart to flutter and goose pimples to rise on my skin,” she says, “I’m moved to capture the moment with a photo.” Back in her Bracebridge studio, a light sketch comes next, then the painting begins. “I know a painting is finished,” she says, “when I experience the same emotional response that inspired its creation.” In her Heron’s Nest Gallery (95 Muskoka Road), Donabie exhibits a range of her work, from realistic to abstract and impressionistic. Many feature creatures of Muskoka’s streams and woodlands—birds, deer, fish—and many are mystical. Among my favourites: Winter Solstice, an acrylic that captures the sun as it lights a snowy trail in the heart of a Muskoka forest. Wendie Donabie’s work can be seen at www.wendiedonabie.com

Janice Feist

Being surrounded by the lush landscape of Muskoka is Janice Feist’s “idea of heaven”. Living and working here for more than 30 years, the painter and sculptor is inspired by the beauty and ruggedness of the Canadian Shield. “It’s a magical place,” she says, “an artist’s treasure.” Feist has always been drawn to colour and texture. Her paintings capture what it’s like to view a stormy sky in winter, or encounter a wolf or a bear as he roams the leafless woodlands. In sculpture, Feist holds a place in her heart for horses. Hand-built in papier mache, these silent beauties are stoic and majestic, some with snow blanketing their backs and faces. To view Janice Feist’s work, see www.janicefeist.com

Turkeys and Cranberries: Happy Thanksgiving!

There are some sure signs that Thanksgiving is just around the corner: wild turkeys are on the move, often visible at roadside (or on the road) at this time of year; the cranberry harvest has begun; and fall colours are almost at their peak.

In honour of that belly-busting holiday, here are a few fun facts that you might not know about Muskoka’s turkeys or its cranberries.

Gobble, gobble

Did you know that turkeys were extirpated from Ontario in the early 1900s thanks to unregulated hunting and forests that were cleared for agriculture? You wouldn’t know it today—a reintroduction program that began in 1984 was hugely successful and the 4,400 wild turkeys released then has grown into a population of more than 70,000 birds across the province.

Turkeys can run at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour, although you’re more likely to find them sauntering. They seem to particularly enjoy a leisurely stroll when they are in front of your car.

Turkeys sleep in trees…

…which means that despite their large size they can fly short distances.

Some people do still hunt turkeys, although most of us buy ready-to-cook domesticated birds from the grocery store, or maybe some tofurkey for the vegetarians and vegans among us.

Hello, sweet-tart

Cranberries are a classic side dish for roast turkey, loved by some, reviled by others. (If you’re in the latter category, ditch the gelatinous canned stuff and try the recipe below. If it doesn’t convert you, nothing will!)

Did you know that Muskoka has its very own cranberry bog, or that cranberries are native only to North America?

In commercial cranberry operations, the berries are harvested in water to make picking easier: cranberries float.

Indigenous peoples used cranberries not only for food—pemmican is a mixture of dried meat and mashed cranberries—but they also used its juice as a natural dye.

Muskoka’s cranberries are celebrated every year during the Bala Cranberry Festival, which is held on the weekend following Thanksgiving.

And if you want to include some fresh, local cranberries in your Thanksgiving feast, try this recipe. It’s super easy and delicious, with just the right balance of sweet and tart. (Add more sugar to taste if you like it on the sweeter side.)

Killer Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 1 navel orange
  • ½ tsp. grated ginger
  • 4 c. cranberries
  • ½ c. toasted pecans (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the orange peel and add to a pot with the sugar and ginger. Squeeze the juice from the orange and add that to the pot, too. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the cranberries and cook until most of them have popped (about five minutes).
  3. Add the pecans if desired.
  4. Cool sauce and serve. Can be made the night before and refrigerated.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Looking for some of the best places to see fall colours? Look here!

The summer of 2018 was arguably one of the best ever with plenty of sunny days to get out and enjoy Muskoka’s lakes, trails and towns. Autumn 2018 is shaping up to be equally good—no need to put away the water toys just yet!

With autumn comes fall fairs, pumpkin spice everything, and a stunning show of colour as Muskoka’s deciduous trees bid farewell to summer.

There are many places to view those colours—I’ve shared some below—but first a bit about the science behind that brilliant shift from green to fiery gold, orange and red.

Just as some of the local wildlife (like those adorable chipmunks) build a stash of goodies to get them through the winter, trees need to stockpile some energy to help them survive the coldest months.

In the spring and summer, chlorophyll (a chemical in the leaves that gives them their green colour) produces nutrients for the tree through photosynthesis, a reaction that uses sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen. But as the days get shorter, nutrients are moved to the trunk, the chlorophyll starts to break down, and the bright colours of the leaves (which were there all along, hidden beneath the green) are revealed.

A dry summer and an autumn with sunny days and cool nights produce the brightest fall colours—2018 could be spectacular!

Roads a bit off the beaten path provide some of the best fall viewing opportunities. A wonderful driving tour, that also incorporates some local arts and culture, is the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour. It’s Canada’s original studio tour—celebrating its 40th anniversary this year—and one of the few studio tours where you do actually visit the place that each artist works. Learn more and find a map at muskokaautumnstudiotour.com.

Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Parks are another beautiful option, each providing a different experience. Be aware that traffic can be congested in Algonquin Park in the fall with thousands of people driving Hwy 60 through the park—a mid-week visit is best to avoid the crowds. At Arrowhead, you can take to the trails to see the colours up close—Big Bend Lookout offers a unique vantage point for both fall colours and the Big East River.

You’ll find plenty more suggestions for driving tours courtesy of Muskoka Tourism and Explorers’ Edge at the links below:

discovermuskoka.ca/top-fall-driving-roads-muskoka

explorersedge.ca/muskoka-tourisms-fall-driving-tours

And don’t forget about the view from the water! Rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard from a local outfitter if you don’t have your own, or take a cruise on the Lady Muskoka, Muskoka Steamships, or the SS Bigwin to see how the fall colours reflect along the shoreline.

For other recommendations on where to see fall colours in Muskoka, and when they’ll be at their peak, visit discovermuskoka.ca/ontario-fall-colour-report. Happy autumn!

Arts and Culture: A Natural Cure for the Winter Blahs

If you love winter, there are plenty of ways to spend a day outdoors in Muskoka. But what if you don’t love winter? Our fair-weather friends (and those who just want a break from the cold and snow) need not despair-while you anxiously await the day when you can once again step outside in flip-flops, there are lots of options for indoor joy to be found in Muskoka’s arts and culture scene.

Live Shows
There’s nothing like a little music or an entertaining play to help drive the winter doldrums away. Muskoka’s music and theatre scene hums all year-round, with performances to suit just about any taste. If music soothes your soul, check out what’s on offer from Huntsville’s Algonquin TheatreHuntsville Festival of the Arts, the Rene M Caisse Memorial Theatre in Bracebridge, the Gravenhurst Opera House, and Peter’s Players. Many local pubs also have live music on weekends (and sometimes weekdays), too.  If live theatre is your thing, the Huntsville Theatre Company and the Dragonfly Theatre Company both offer fun community theatre. Watch for the Rotary spring musicals in both Huntsville and Bracebridge, too!

Galleries
Winter is a great time for contemplation, and art is one of the best ways to contemplate both your inner and outer worlds. Fortunately, Muskoka is a hotspot for artists so there’s no lack of inspiration!Arts at the Albion in Gravenhurst is a co-operative gallery that showcases the work of 20 local artists and craftspeople. Its heritage home has a pretty cool vibe, too. The Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge hosts exhibitions primarily by members of Muskoka Arts and Crafts. In Huntsville, the galleries in Partners Hall at the Algonquin Theatreand the Canada Summit Centre highlight the works of members of the Huntsville Art Society and also occasionally host travelling exhibitions. Eclipse Art Gallery at Deerhurst Resort (just east of Huntsville) curates artworks from both Muskoka and across Canada for a one-of-a-kind collection.Many local artists also have gallery space at their studios. See the listings by the Huntsville Art Society and Muskoka Arts and Crafts for details.Once spring is here, you’ll also want to make a stop at the Oxtongue Craft Cabin and Gallery in Dwight. It’s a playful place to view art and has been delighting visitors to its out-of-the-way location for 40 years. And although not in Muskoka, the Algonquin Art Centre is always worth the drive to Algonquin Provincial Park in the summer months for some truly stunning works set in an equally stunning location.

Museums
Kids of all ages will love the Muskoka Discovery Centre at the Gravenhurst Wharf. Packed with both historical exhibits and interactive displays, it’s a great place to while away a winter day. Be sure to check out the new Watershed Wonders which includes, among other fun activities, a 96-inch virtual aquarium.Although its pioneer village is closed in the winter, the Muskoka Museum at Muskoka Heritage Place remains open year-round and offers an intriguing look into Huntsville’s past. Its current feature exhibit, Healthy Huntsville, provides a peek at early healthcare in the region (and visitors can see for themselves just how far we’ve come!). Note that the museum’s already inexpensive admission will be free on Family Day, February 17, 2020. Visit MHP again in the summer months to see the Steam Museum at the Rotary Village Station for an overview of steam and steamship history in North Muskoka.Once summer arrives, don’t forget to check out Bala’s Museum and its memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site in Gravenhurst (the birthplace of medical pioneer Dr. Norman Bethune), the Muskoka Lakes Museum in Port Carling, and the Dorset Heritage Museum which are all closed during the winter months.

Embrace Winter in Muskoka

It arrived in fits and starts this year, but it appears that winter is finally here to stay. There are plenty of ways to get out and enjoy the season, from winter festivals to outdoor activities like skating, snowshoeing and skiing. Even if you have your favourites, why not try something new this year? 

Winter Festivals
Just about every community in Muskoka has a winter festival, enough to take you through almost until spring!February 14-15 – Dorset SnowballFebruary 14-17 – Gravenhurst Winter CarnivalFebruary 17 – Baysville WinterfestFebruary 22 – Huntsville Snowfest – watch for details about this new event here!February 28-29 – Dwight Winter Carnival

Skating Trails
Arrowhead Provincial Park made it uber-popular, and now skating trails are popping up all over Muskoka. Be sure to check these ones out. (Check the links for conditions and closures due to weather)Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of HuntsvilleJohnston’s Cranberry Marsh in BalaMemorial Park Winter Village in BracebridgeHanna Park Skating Trail in Port Carling 

Snowshoe by Day or by Night
One of the easiest ways to get active outside. Just strap on your snowshoes and go. And you can go just about anywhere, but you’ll find some official trails at the links below.Arrowhead Provincial ParkLimberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, east of HuntsvilleFor a nighttime treat, head to the Torrance Barrens Conservation Area, an official Dark Sky Reserve 

Cross-Country Skiing
It’s been practiced for thousands of years, but cross-country skiing didn’t make its way to Canada until the late 1800s. In those days skis were long. Really long-sometimes up to four metres in length. Skiers carried just a single pole. Today’s options are more user-friendly and equally fun. You’ll find trails across Muskoka, including those at the links below.Arrowhead Provincial Park – 46km of trails, some track-set and some skate-set. (Be sure to check out what the Arrowhead Nordic Ski Club has to offer as well.)Bracebridge Resource Management Centre – 16.5km of groomed cross-country ski trails)Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve – more than 35km of cross-country ski trails to explore. Note that none of the trails are track-set.

Downhill Skiing
If you have a need for speed, there’s just one place to go. Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Areaoffers the only official downhill skiing in Muskoka.

Yoga in the Snow
Who says you need to practice yoga indoors? Head into the great outdoors, with or without snowshoes (leave them on for an added challenge), for a few asanas. You could even add a snow angel to your repertoire!There are many other ways to enjoy the snow, of course-build a snowperson, go tobogganing, have a snowball fight, build a fort or try your hand at an igloo, or just watch the white stuff gently drift down. However you choose to enjoy winter, here’s to having fun!

The Golden Encore: Autumn’s Second Act

Summer has come and gone and the cooler weather has prompted a bit of magic: the bright greens of summer trees have become a blazing expanse of reds, oranges and yellows.

It’s not magic, of course (hello, science!), and it’s short-lived, lasting just a few short weeks. But following that initial burst of colour, after the red and orange leaves of the sugar maples and red maples have dropped to the ground, a warm yellow glow remains—the golden encore.

This second act can persist into November and is courtesy of trees like the yellow and white birches, trembling aspen, balsam poplars and tamaracks, the only local coniferous tree to turn yellow and drop its needles in the fall.

The stunning colours are a side effect of a tree’s preparations for the cold winter months. Chlorophyll, the chemical in leaves that gives them their green colour and produces nutrients for the tree, starts to break down in the fall as those nutrients are moved into the trunk. The bright colours of the leaves, which had been masked by the chlorophyll, were there all along.

You can enjoy the golden encore just about anywhere in Muskoka, as well as its adjacent provincial parks, Algonquin and Arrowhead. Go for a drive, take a hike, or head out onto the water for a different vantage point. Find suggestions for driving tours at Muskoka Tourism and Explorers’ Edge.

While we’re talking leaves, and now that there are lots of them on the ground, it raises the question: to rake or not to rake?

The answer is somewhere in the middle. You can definitely forgo the rake, but that doesn’t mean leaving a thick layer of leaves on your lawn either unless you want dead grass in the spring. The best solution is to mulch it: run it all over with a lawnmower and either leave the bits where they lay or you can then get the rake out and drag some of it into your garden.

More tedious, but an equally good option, is to compost it, either yourself or through a green bin program in your municipality if one exists.

What you should never, ever do is rake them, bag them and toss them. Organic matter in landfills doesn’t have adequate oxygen to decompose properly and ends up releasing methane, a greenhouse gas.

Fall means Thanksgiving, too. Here’s to plenty for you to be thankful for this month and beyond. Happy fall!

This Summer, Go Festival Hopping!

What do steel drums, yoga, dogs, art, beer and macaroni have in common? They’re all the focus of festivals happening around Muskoka this summer!There’s a festival every weekend. Some of the more unique offerings are the bathtub races at Rotary Dockfest in Huntsville, the yoga festival and forest run at Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, an on-the-water stand-up-comedy show, and a festival celebrating love in Dorset. Everyone’s favourite Nuit Blanche North street festival, the arts and crafts shows, and classic boat shows are back for another season. And some, like the Butter Tart Festival, Muskoka Ribfest, Muskoka Veg Fest, and the Macaroni Festival, have food at their heart. Many of the events are free or have a nominal cost. Mark your calendars with the dates below, and enjoy summer in style. 

Every Wednesday in July and August, 7-8pm
Concerts on the Dock series (including perennial favourites, the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra)
Town Dock, HuntsvilleAdmission: suggested donation of a toonie (goes directly to the performer) 

July 12-14
Huntsville Ribfest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Admission: $3 (10 and under free)

July 12-14
35th annual Muskoka Pioneer Power Show
J.D. Lang Activity Park (Fairgrounds), Bracebridge
Admission: $5 (Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult)

July 13, 10am-12pm
Butter Tart Festival
Muskoka Lakes Museum, Port Carling
Admisson: $2

July 19, 6pm-midnight
Midnight Madness and Street Dance (there’s a beer garden, too)
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

July 19-21
Muskoka Yoga Festival and 10k Forest Run
Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, Huntsville
Admission: see the website for pricing 

July 19-21
Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show
Annie Williams Memorial Park, Bracebridge
Admission: by donation 

July 19-28
Muskoka Pride Festival
Various activities across Muskoka – see website for details
Admission: free

July 20-Aug 11
The Artful Garden (fans will be sad to learn that this is The Artful Garden’s final year)
1016 Partridge Lane,Bracebridge
Admission: by donation

July 20-21
Dog Fest Muskoka
Bracebridge Fairgrounds
Admission: $5 (under 13 free)  

July 20, 3pm
Algonquin Outfitters Paddle On Comedy Festival
Town Dock/Muskoka River, Huntsville
Tickets: suggested donation $15 (cash only)
Canoe rentals available at Algonquin Outfitters

July 24
Everything Anne of Green Gables Day
Bala’s Museum, Bala
Admission: $5.99/person or $19.99/family of fourbalasmuseum.com 

July 26-28
Muskoka Ribfest and the Muskoka In-Water Boat and Cottage Show
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free 

July 27
Baysville Walkabout Festival 
Baysville
Admission: by donation 

July 27
Nuit Blanche North
Downtown Huntsville 
Admission: free 

August 3
Midnight Madness
Downtown Bracebridge
Admission: free 

Aug 2-4
Sawdust City Music Festival 
Gravenhurst
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website; some shows are free

August 3
Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival 
Annie Williams Park,  Bracebridge
Admission: $30 in advance or $40 at the gate; must be legal drinking age 

August 3, 9pm
Civic Holiday fireworks
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free 

August 10
Muskoka Veg Fest
River Mill Park, Huntsville 
Admission: free 

August 10
Love Fest Street Festival
Dorset
Admission: by donation 

August 10-11
Baysville Arts and Craft Festival 
Baysville
Admission: by donation 

August 16-18
Dockside Festival of the Arts
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst 
Admission: by donation 

August 17-18
Artists of Limberlost Open Studio Weekend
Limberlost Road, Huntsville
Admission: free 

August 24
Muskoka Craft Beerfest
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website, must be legal drinking age 

August 24
Inaugural Muskoka Jazz Festival
James Bartleman Island, Port Carling
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website 

September 14
Macaroni Festival and Busker Fest
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free 

Eat Local!

Imagine this: just over 150 years ago early settlers to Muskoka, lured by free land and the promise of a fresh start, arrived to find that the land they had been given was full of rock. A lot of it. Those who tried to clear and ready it for farming found it was back-breaking labour.

Today, some of those properties still remain as farm land, testament to an earlier, harder time and the resilience (or perhaps desperation) of those first European residents. Today, current residents and visitors can still reap the rewards of their efforts—without the work—at local farmers’ markets. Most open for the season this month or next.

At each, you’ll find locally grown produce, meats, preserves, cheeses, and a variety of culinary delights, along with artisans and crafters displaying everything from rustic and fine art to pajamas and quilts.

In addition to supporting local producers and small businesses, shopping at a farmers’ market is good for you and good for the environment. Produce is farm-fresh, often harvested just that morning, and is organic in methods if not in label. It also conserves energy: supermarket produce often travels thousands of kilometres from farm to store. At a farmers’ market, your food was likely produced no more than 100 kilometres away. You also have direct access to the producer, who can tell you exactly how the food was grown, and may surprise you with varieties of fruits and vegetables you didn’t know about before.

And farmers’ markets are just plain fun: you can meet up with friends or make new ones, spend some time people-watching, or just soak up the sun and the atmosphere. There’s a market just about every day of the week somewhere in Muskoka. Check out the list below!

Monday

Bala Farmers’ Market, Jaspen Park on Muskoka Road 38 (1005 Pine Ridge Road). Opens for the season on June 24 and runs every Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until September 2.

Tuesday

Dwight Farmers’ Market, 1009 Dwight Bay Road in Lake of Bays. Opens for the season on Tuesday, June 25 and runs until August 27, every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Wednesday

Gravenhurst Farmers’ Market, in the special events field across from the Muskoka Wharf. Opens for the season on May 15 and runs every Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. until October 30.

Thursday

The Huntsville Farmers’ Market has a new location for 2019: the Huntsville Fairgrounds at 407 Ravenscliffe Road. Opens for the season on May 16 and runs every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until October 10.

Port Carling Farmers’ Market, Hannah Park, 40 Bailey St. Opens June 27 and runs every Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. until August 29.

Friday

Baysville Farmers’ Market has a new location for 2019: the Season2Season Garden Market, 2849 Muskoka Road 117. Opens for the season on June 28, 2019 and runs every Friday until August 30 from 1-5 p.m.

Rosseau Farmers’ Market at the waterfront park. A free shuttle is available – park anywhere in town! Opens for the season on June 28 at 9:00 a.m.

Saturday

Bracebridge Farmers’ Market, Memorial Park on Manitoba Street (next to the Norwood Theatre). Opens for the season on the Victoria Day long weekend and runs Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. until the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Huntsville 100k Farmers’ Market, West Street S next to Pharmasave. Opens for the season in June and runs every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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