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Unique Muskoka Issue 41 - September 2023

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SEPTEMBER 2023Muskoka’s role in shapingCanadian jurisprudenceDISCOVERINGOUR PASTCCoommmmuunniittyy sscciieennttiissttsstteellll tthhee ttaallee ooff tthhee cchhaannggiinngg bbiirrdd ppooppuullaattiioonnConnecting settler andIndigenous cultures

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(Port Carling) Limited(705)

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 1Lake Rosseau Lake of Bays Lake Muskoka$2,795,000$2,749,999 $3,295,000CHELSEY PENRICE BrokerMuskokaLuxuryProperties.ca705.205.2726

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...telling the Muskoka storyFeatures11Bonnie Boyd – Teaching Through CompassionArticle by Kelly Goslin Photography by Josianne MasseauRenowned childcare provider and author Bonnie Boyd has built a remarkable program, and an equally remarkable children’s story, with the help of the animals at her home, particularly Ben the goose. 16Community Science – Ontario Breeding Bird AtlasArticle by John ChallisIn Muskoka, 139 community scientists are currently participating in collecting data for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. e five-year survey, which repeats every 20 years, is building a massive database of breeding bird populations, and trends, across the province.25Heritage Curators – Muskoka Lakes MuseumArticle by J. Patrick Boyer / Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsSixty years ago, heritage-minded cottagers and locals came together to protect and conserve settler and Indigenous history in Muskoka Lakes, resulting in the inception of the Muskoka Lakes Museum. Today, the tradition of education and preservation continues. 32The Secret Alchemy of James GrayArticle by Bronwyn Boyer Photography by Kelly HolinsheadSinger/songwriter James Gray’s latest album, New Friends at Talk Like Old Friends, is a connection to his love of performing; a conversation between himself and the listener. [16][25] 2 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023[11]

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Celebrating 25 Years!

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 5Our CoverPhotograph by Andy ZeltkalnsMuskoka Lakes Museum in Port Carling offers an extensive well-displayed collection, information and artifacts, from Indigenous culture to settler life to advancing technologies and boating culture. SEPTEMBER 2023Muskoka’s role in shapingCanadian jurisprudenceDISCOVERINGOUR PASTCCoommmmuunniittyy sscciieennttiissttsstteellll tthhee ttaallee ooff tthhee cchhaannggiinngg bbiirrdd ppooppuullaattiioonnConnecting settler andIndigenous cultures64Muskoka MomentsBy Jeff Lehman, Muskoka District ChairOpinion9 Muskoka InsightsBy Meghan TaylorDepartments54What’s HappenedArticle by Matt DriscollMuskoka Music Festival and Dockside Festival of the Arts announce their 2023 schedule. e District of Muskoka has approved a new strategic plan and Muskoka hosted the Canadian Council for ministers of the environment. Changes are coming to waste collection services across Muskoka and results of the district’s second home study are in. Talks of the return of the Northlander train service continue and the SS Bigwin has returned to the water for its first full season in four years.58Cottage Country CuisineArticle by K.M. Wehrstein Photography by Tomasz SzumskiMany Muskokans, seasonal or permanent residents, like to cast a line into a convenient lake or river and pull up a lovely, big fish suitable for lunch or dinner that very same day. While fresh fish is on the menu, let’s use the kitchen magic of Muskoka’s chefs to make that fresh-caught meal truly spectacular!38Mapping Outdoor Adventures – Craig MacdonaldArticle and Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsDwight resident, Craig Macdonald, has spent much of his life studying and learning about the Indigenous cultures that inhabited Muskoka and other parts of Canada. Not only has Macdonald gathered extensive knowledge about Indigenous Peoples’ wilderness travel and survival practices but he has applied the knowledge to experience it first-hand.46Muskoka’s Role in Canadian Legal HistoryArticle by J. Patrick BoyerMuskoka’s renown as a place of peacefulness is well-earned throughout its history. Profiled are several significant lawyers in Canadian history who experienced Muskoka as much needed balance to their busy careers in the city. [38][58]

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…telling the Muskoka story Unique Muskoka is published six times per year by Unique Publishing Inc.Meghan TaylorPublisher/EditorDonna AnsleySalesLisa BrazierDesignSusan SmithAdministrationBronwyn BoyerJ. Patrick BoyerJohn ChallisMatt DriscollKelly GoslinKelly HolinsheadJe LehmanJosianne MasseauTomasz SzumskiK.M. WehrsteinAndy ZeltkalnsContributorsAnnual Subscription Rates: (including HST where applicable)In Ontario $30.00 All Other Provinces $36.00 U.S. $60.00 All Other Countries $72.00HST: 773172721Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement Number: 43268016Copyright © 2023 Unique Publishing Inc.No content published in Unique Muskoka can be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.Mailing AddressBox 616, Bracebridge ON P1L 1T9Street Address28 Manitoba St., Bracebridge ON P1L 705-637-0204 6 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023HIRAM ST MARKET 705-204-0857SULLYS MUSKOKA705-394-4594BIG RIVER BAKING COMPANY705-394-4499• Fine Artisan Breads Daily• Assorted Baked Goods• Made in House Desserts• Black Angus AAA beef, Ontario lamb, pork, chicken and sustainable sh• Assorted selection of house-made sausages• Variety of cheeses, dips, sauces and exclusive pantry items• Chef-inspired ready-to-eat meals and salads• Catering for staff luncheons, private parties and everyday needs• Check the QR code online for menu ideasDISCOVER THE LOCAL MARKET WITH BIG CITY SELECTIONS IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN BRACEBRIDGEbigriverbakingco.comOPEN TUESDAY TO SATURDAY11A TAYLOR ROAD

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 9Muskoka InsightsSAVOY by DreamStar BeddingYour Home and Cottage Mattress CentreTHE LARGEST SELECTION OF IN-STOCKMATTRESSES IN MUSKOKA6 Monica Lane, Bracebridge705.646.2557www.mattressesofmuskoka.comMUSKOKACURATED COLLECTION by Marshall MattressWe always know it’s coming. Fall. As summer wanes and the change of seasons begins to take hold, there’s a change in the air, not to mention the leaves. e days grow shorter, the evenings become cooler, and birds and animals can be seen preparing for migration or hibernation.While Mother Nature consistently keeps to her own clock, letting us know when it’s time to start bringing a jacket, I’ve always seen September as the time to go back to school. Yes, I’ve been out of school for a while but that’s still the connection in my brain. Heading back to school may not be the greatest memory for some but I always considered the start of a new school year as a chance to reset. To meet new people. To try new things. September was a time to fill my new backpack, put on my first day of school outfit and re-imagine what life could be. September can be seen as the end of summer. e end of beach days, holidays, boat trips and glorious days spent in the Muskoka sunshine. But it can also be regarded, like any change, as a beginning, an opportunity and a new adventure. September may be two-thirds of the way through the calendar year but it also sets the stage for new growth. Preparing the soil and planting seeds in the fall is the necessary work for fresh crops in the spring. Plants and trees must lose their flowers and leaves to weather the winter and grow strong the following summer. Both summer and fall are filled with the potential of meeting new people, running into old friends and building relationships that can last a season or a lifetime. Friends made at summer camp can last a lifetime. New classmates at school in the fall may only be there for a year. Regardless of the timeline, the stories of the people we meet along the way can also impact our own paths. In this issue, people are a focal point. Regular contributor Bronwyn Boyer shares the openness and vulnerability of troubadour James Gray. When on tour, performing gives Gray the space to come alive by having conversations with the audience and building a rapport. On his latest album, New Friends at Talk Like Old Friends, Gray worked to capture that dynamic – a genuine conversation between himself and the listener. Craig Macdonald has spent his life focused on the outdoors, throughout his career and his own personal adventures. Contributor Andy Zeltkalns details the dedication and diligence Macdonald exudes, from his research of Indigenous Peoples’ wilderness travel and survival practices to mapping traditional routes across Muskoka and northern Ontario to his work as a recreation specialist creating and maintaining wilderness trails in Algonquin Park. e tales of a curious goose have made childcare provider Bonnie Boyd an author. As contributor Kelly Goslin shares, Boyd’s daycare business, run from her home in Port Sydney, is a positive environment with a nature-oriented, play-based program. e animals at her home for the children to socialize and play with are an added benefit. In regular contributor Patrick Boyer’s feature, he shares the connection of a number of high-profile historic legal figures to Muskoka. While the achievements of many of those included did not take place in Muskoka, Muskoka played a significant role in their lives, showcasing that both who and where you are can make an impact. Wherever the change of seasons takes you, and whoever you meet along the way, take time to enjoy the journey. Happy reading!Photograph: MacKenzie Taylor

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 11Article by Kelly Goslin / Photography by Josianne MasseauIt is often said the greatest mark of compassion in an individual is the care they provide for animals and the natural world. Kindness towards those beings, both great and small, granted without the expectation of reciprocity, is one of the most important parts of respecting the environment within which we live, as well as everyone else with whom we share space. Renowned childcare provider and author Bonnie Boyd has built a remarkable program, and an equally remarkable children’s story, with stewardship and compassion as their pillars. Boyd began her career in childcare almost immediately out of high school, committing herself to a holistic education approach that encourages creativity, autonomy and connectedness. At an outdoor education seminar a decade ago, Boyd learned “people take care of what they love”. Acutely aware of the fragility of our natural environment, she discovered childcare provided a wonderful, direct way to inspire kindness and environmental responsibility.“I realized that inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards could Bonnie Boyd, childcare provider and author, sits with Ben the goose, one of several animals at her home and the focal point of The Nibbler – A Story of a Curious Goose.

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12 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023be a simple task,” explains Boyd. “I provide time and space for children to create good memories in the forest, or by a river, or with an animal. ose children grow up feeling connected to the natural world, knowing that they are part of it. ink of how you’d feel learning that your childhood home is being torn down? Now imagine that you see the natural world in that same light.”Moving to Muskoka in 2011 with her husband Russell provided an excellent opportunity for Boyd to pursue her aspirations. She was situated perfectly to establish a daycare program where environmental stewardship and holistic learning could thrive in a supportive community atmosphere.“I feel that Muskoka has a different approach to the natural world,” Boyd states. “Muskoka needs its green spaces. It needs wildlife. It needs clean water. ese are our valuable resources. It’s refreshing and encouraging to live in a place where so many people, including the decision makers, are invested in protecting nature.” Volunteering at Ontario Early Years Centre in Port Sydney, or EarlyON, Boyd learned “there was high demand in Muskoka for home-based daycare.” Opening her daycare was consequently an instant success and she has been a licensed home-care 705-764-0765 | | 1163 Milford Bay Rd, Milford Bay ONBARGING STEEL & CRIB DOCKS SEPTIC SYSTEMS LANDSCAPING ● ●Muskoka Barging●Family run construction company with over 35 years experience operating in the Muskoka Lakes area. No job is too small or too big.Based on his love of nibbling everything, from tree bark to shoelaces, one of the children began calling Ben “The Nibbler” as a nickname. Soon, the tales of his nibbling were recorded in homemade storybooks the children craed and by the end of summer, Boyd had self-published The Nibbler so the students could take a copy home with them.

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 13BATH & KITCHEN SHOWROOMDESIGN. INSTALLATION. REPAIRSERVING ALL OF MUSKOKA279 MANITOBA ST, BRACEBRIDGE705.645.2671KNOWLESPLUMBING.COM @MUSKOKABATHTHE RIOBEL MOMENTI™ COLLECTION AVAILABLE AT KNOWLES PLUMBING!279 Manitoba Street, Bracebridge 705.645.2671 @knowlesplumbing @knowlesplumbing @knowlesplumbingBATH & KITCHEN SHOWROOMSALES•INSTALLATION•REPAIRSERVING ALL OF MUSKOKAknowlesplumbing.comMuskoka’s Bath & Plumbing Centreprovider with the Muskoka Home Child Care Agency since 2017. Boyd feels access to quality childcare in Muskoka remains limited, describing the current situation as a “crisis.” In recognition of her efforts to combat the crisis and provide support, Boyd received a 2018 Muskoka Community Services Recognition Award. e award was, and remains, a testament to the positive impact she has made on children and families in her community with her nature-oriented, play-based program. For Boyd, the award was inspirational. “It made me reflect on my practice and recognize how much time and intentionality had gone into creating it,” shares Boyd. “I felt bolstered by the award and energized to keep improving and to keep on learning”.e recognition of her childcare work has led to her latest, wonderful endeavour: e Nibbler – A Story of a Curious Goose. At her home and daycare, Boyd has multiple animals for the children to love and socialize with, Ben, the goose, took up residence at Port Sydney Daycare in the summer of 2020 and he quickly became a sensation amongst the children. He became a point of inspiration for their learning and exploration and a muse for their art and storytelling.

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14 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023705.645.4294 TF: 866.645.4294STORE: 228 TAYLOR RD., BRACEBRIDGEOFFICE: 1646 WINHARA RD., GRAVENHURSTSales & Service of MajorPropane Appliances(refrigerators, ranges, fireplaces, furnaces & more)Safe & reliableNo electricity requiredBulk propane deliveryto your home or cottageAppliancesSERVING MUSKOKA &PARRY SOUND FOROVER 70 YEARSincluding one cat, two dogs, four chickens and one duck. Seeing how significant the creatures were to the children of her daycare, Boyd came to realize a new addition was in order.During a three-month shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boyd decided she wanted the children to return to her daycare with a summer project. While the initial plan had been to find a female companion for Frankie, their backyard duck, they found Ben instead. Ben the goose took up residence at Port Sydney Daycare during the summer of 2020. Ben instantly became a sensation amongst the children attending Boyd’s daycare, bonding quickly with his new human companions. He became a point of inspiration for their learning and exploration and a muse for their art and storytelling. One of the children nicknamed Ben “e Nibbler,” as they all saw he loved to nibble on everything around him, from tree bark to shoelaces. Soon, the tales of his nibbling were recorded in homemade storybooks the children crafted with Boyd. “I have written many children’s stories over the years and most of them have to do with the animals I’ve known or my experiences in nature,” shares Boyd. “Storytelling has always been part of my childcare practice. My young students and I have written books together before but none of them ever got past the crayon and staples stage.”e first draft of e Nibbler, however, was different from these previous creations. ere was a concreteness to the story and an unprecedented enthusiasm amongst the students. e handmade book was constantly being borrowed, nibbled on by Ben and mended together just to survive its popularity.Wanting to send the children home at the end of the summer of 2020 with their own copy of e Nibbler, Boyd set about self-publishing the book. Boyd states that “creating the book was like piecing together a little puzzle.” Touring local libraries with Ben the Goose has garnered a huge amount of support for Boyd’s book. e enthusiasm e Nibbler has received has encouraged Boyd to write two more books, with the likely anticipation of more projects in the future. “My experience of creating e Nibbler with my students felt like magic,” says Boyd. “It was bigger than us. Nothing could make me happier than to have an experience like that again.”What started as the search for a fun summer project for the children at her daycare has turned into much more for Bonnie Boyd. The success of The Nibbler has encouraged Boyd to write two more books, with hopes of more in the future.

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16 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Article by John ChallisThe pandemic, even at its worst, had one silver lining: it turned people’s attention to nature. While people were locked down, idle hours were filled walking in the woods or parks. Birdwatching suddenly was cool. With the street silenced, a pure, warbling whistle might be heard in the trees; a flash of colour might draw the eyes to a cardinal or indigo bunting.Community science was a beneficiary of the change in behaviour. With the country locked down in April 2020, use of eBird, the internationally popular bird-reporting app, rose 40 per cent over a year earlier. e Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, one of the most

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 17Photograph: Michael HattonA mother killdeer, a bird species commonly seen in Muskoka, waits on her nest for the nal egg to hatch even though one baby is ready to head out. If the chick ventures o and a threat comes near, the mother will let out its namesake call as a warning. ambitious community science projects going, was ramping up in 2021. e five-year survey, which repeats every 20 years, is building a massive database of breeding bird populations, and trends, across the province. ousands of volunteers contribute time to the Breeding Bird Atlas. Here in Muskoka (one of 42 atlassing regions), 139 people are currently participating, assigned to 10-km-by-10-km squares. e atlassers, as they’re known, are an ambitious bunch.“e atlassers have spent an incredible 4,967 hours to date atlassing in the field, the second highest total in the province!” enthuses David Goodyear, one of Muskoka region’s six atlas co-ordinators. Now concluding the third of the five years,

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 19Community scientist and volunteer Regan Goodyear enters data from her kayak on Halfway Lake, just east of Bracebridge, while observing birds for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas survey. The survey operates in ve-year cycles with the current survey ramping up in 2021.Two great blue heron nestlings await the return of food. Herons will nest in trees or on the ground, however they will only nest on the ground if there are no potential land predators nearby, like on an island in the middle of a lake. Herons will reuse their nesting grounds for many years, if possible.Chipping sparrows, like this one carrying nesting material, typically build their nests low to the ground, in a shrub or tree. They’re easily identied by their cap and their trilling song and are oen visitors to backyard bird feeders. Photograph: David GoodyearPhotograph: Wendy HillPhotograph: Wendy Hill

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20 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023A common and very familiar bird with character! Blue jays are very social, vocal and smart (they are related to the American crow and common raven), usually travelling in groups. With a stick in its beak, the blue jay is actively courting a mate with a stick oering as nesting material.Goodyear says Muskoka’s atlassers have submitted “a whopping 5,898 atlas checklists, comprising 55,480 records, the third highest total of all the atlas regions.”Atlassers range from experts who’ve worked in all three Atlases to relative newcomers. New technology helps: A specialized phone app was developed to allow records to be added in the field in real time. Other tools, like Cornell University’s Merlin app, are great aids in identifying birds through photos or song recordings. “We are extremely fortunate that we have such enthusiastic and dedicated atlassers,” Goodyear says. “Without them this monumental project would not be possible.”The eastern kingbird is a relatively common bird found across the country. They build their nests in exposed locations, quite frequently on dead trees in a pond as the water provides protection from many predators. Photograph: Wendy HillPhotograph: Wendy HillRESIDENTIAL • COMMERCIALINDUSTRIAL519.865.6209ARKLTD.CAGENERATORSSMART HOME SYSTEMSNEW CONSTRUCTIONLIGHTINGECRA/ESA #7010474

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 21Apparently, not even heart surgery can stop some of them. Jane-Anne Campbell joined as a novice birder, along with her daughter Mary, after being told the Georgian Bay area needed more coverage. Her efforts were put in doubt after heart surgery last winter, followed by a stroke. It didn’t matter. “I was so grateful to have recovered well enough to be involved again this season,” Campbell says. “In the hospital, I was telling the health care team about my interest in birds and involvement with the Atlas. ey got completely on board, and even gave me tests of the different bird species to help my recovery.”“e project has done wonders for my abilities as a birder and has contributed to the knowledge of birds in this area,” Campbell adds.James Kirkland was another beginner in Georgian Bay’s under-surveyed area. His family bought a cottage on Georgian Bay to cope with the pandemic, and he signed up for the Atlas, “to help someone with expertise,” he says.Bobolink are less common in Muskoka, as they prefer open grassland oen found in open agricultural hayelds and tallgrass prairies. Their nest are well hidden on the ground under clumps of plants and so dicult to nd. Alternatively, eastern kingbirds (eggs shown) nest above water and adults ercely defend their nests from much larger aerial predators, like hawks. Sparrow Lake in Gravenhurst has been home for a colony of common terns for many years. Common terns are migratory, social birds, nesting in colonies on the ground and foraging in groups. Photograph: Regan GoodyearPhotograph: Wendy Hill

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22 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023“I was unexpectedly promoted to principal atlasser of 100 square kilometres of bush, swamp and mosquitoes around 12 Mile Bay . . . you rarely see birds in my area, which is a thick, wet forest with a few gravel roads running through it.”He learned that one of the most reliable means of identifying birds is through song, so took a training program offered by the project. Using the Merlin app to help, he was sending in his first records.“With three years mostly completed, I almost feel like an expert going into the final two years of the atlas,” Kirkland says. “is project has seen me through the pandemic and added purpose to my retirement, and I am grateful for that.”As Kirkland learned, there is some preparation required, but the Atlas website,, has links to training tools. Wendy Hill, one of the six co-ordinators and a veteran birder, reassures that the actual birding part is just “a slow and immersive process of quietly listening, watching and waiting. e longer you wait, the more birds and actions are revealed.”Discovering birds and their breeding activity is, she says “my favourite part of atlassing. Each encounter is like a mystery that I am challenged to solve. And I whisper a quiet Miigwech after each offering and discovery.” e Atlas is revealing many changes, both good and bad. ose with long experience in Muskoka will know the steep and worrying decline of the whip-poor-will and ruffed grouse. e feisty, little, red-breasted nuthatch, however, is one of several with growing numbers.Anyone who’d like to sign up and become a community scientist for the Atlas can connect through the Facebook page (Muskoka Region 18 – Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas-3). You can also sign up on the website, Once signed in you can search for regional co-ordinators where you’ll find a list of contacts.www.mikeslandscaping.cainfo@mikeslandscaping.caLike all woodpeckers, the pileated woodpecker nests in tree cavities. The largest of Ontario’s woodpeckers, their young are also very vocal and can be heard in quiet woodlands. Photograph: Wendy Hill

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 25Article by J. Patrick Boyer / Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsDonated by the Hall family of Glen Orchard, the historic cabin that makes up part of the Muskoka Lakes Museum facilities anchors the museum complex. Originally built in 1875, the square-timbered cabin was relocated log by numbered log to its current home at James Bartleman Park in 1983. The cabin, and the more recently added contemporary structure, were the result of work carried out by dedicated volunteers of the Port Carling Historic Society.It seems appropriate as “the hub of the lakes” that Muskoka Lakes Museum can only be reached by walking on a bridge or arriving by boat. Surrounded by water and the locks in the centre of Port Carling, an island known as James Bartleman Park is the setting of the Muskoka Lakes Museum. Indigenous culture and settler history are both connected to the land in Port Carling and thus, are both represented at the heritage centre. Indigenous presence in Port Carling reaches into time beyond memory. Obajewanung, the 1800s Ojibwa settlement of log homes and field crops, mutated into the 1900s “Indian Village,” and today endures as an Indian River Reserve shared by Ojibwa from Rama and Mohawks from Wahta. But that is fairly recent history.Liz Lundell, a museum director and author of Muskoka heritage books, notes the museum has more than Muskoka’s largest collection of arrowheads and spear points, resulting from longtime Indigenous

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26 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023We’re Celebrating our14 Gray Road, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1P8MAPLE COOKIES350 g. 1.800.461.5445info@mapleorchardfarms.comwith some Sweet Deals35YEARSTHANKYOUMapleOrchard399$1799$Farms- FACTORY OUTLET SPECIALS -17$PURE MAPLE SYRUP1 LitreASSORTED CHOCOLATESMuskoka Lakes Museum’s First Nations Gallery shares the history of the Indigenous Peoples who lived, and still live, in the Muskoka region. With spearheads and tools in vast numbers, dating back centuries, as well as an authentic birchbark canoe, a replica wigwam and a variety of other items, the exhibits provide context and explanation of Indigenous tradition. presence. It also has stone tools used 11,000 years ago. An oblong window at the museum offers a view across river to the site where many of these items were found. On display in the First Nations Gallery are a wigwam in its setting, clothing, tools and crafted wares. Information panels provide context and explanation of the items. Photographs show the much-evolved Indian Village of the 1920s, where crafters sold items made during winter to tourists in the summer. An exhibited canoe, toboggan and snowshoes are Indigenous technologies for easy year-round travel settler society adopted and continues to use to this day. A photo of Maureen Bartleman (nee Benson Simcoe) of the Rama Chippewa community, hangs beside a reproduction of the Queen’s Park oil portrait of her son James – Ontario’s first Indigenous lieutenant governor, who was raised in Port Carling. Beneath the portrait are his books about First Nation experiences in Port Carling and beyond. e museum began 60 years ago in response to a sense of urgency both seasonal and year-round residents felt as the 1950s ended. A societal shift was underway. Private automobiles and motorboats were closing out the golden age of steamboats and steam trains, changing how people got to and travelled around Muskoka. Pioneer-era buildings for schools, post offices and community organizations were disappearing. Homesteading families who lived Muskoka’s vital era were thinning out. Toronto-based Muskokan Marion Catto spearheaded a campaign to preserve the rich heritage of Port Carling, crystalizing on September 9, 1961, with the creation of the Port Carling Historical Society. Members next envisaged a museum to preserve Port Carling heritage and offer tourists a new summer attraction. e next year, the museum opened in the Algonquin Hotel, lending its own heritage distinction because it had operated beside the Presbyterian Church since 1896.

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 27Original ArtworkCanadian CraftStudio Jewellery oxtonguecraftcabin.comNovember Queens, Sue Tupy, 36" x 30", acrylicCharcuterie Larch Wood7" x 18"1073 Fox Point Rd, Dwight Lake of Bays, 705.635.1602The tools and equipment used by settlers across Muskoka as they established homesteads on their land granted under the Free Grants and Homestead Act of 1868 vary drastically from tools and equipment used in modern times. Muskoka Lakes Museum displays a wide array of changing technologies from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With timeless styling and durable build, TOPO backpacks and bags will hold up in any environment and stand out in all of them.28 MANITOBA STREET, BRACEBRIDGEAvailable at

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28 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023From canoes to rowboats, Disappearing Propellor Boats to sleek launches to steamboats, Muskoka Lakes Museum pays homage to the rich history of boat building and boating culture in the area. The museum’s extensive well-displayed collection testies to people’s donations of unique vintage pieces.Life on the lake is well-represented and well-preserved at the museum.Villagers’ enthusiasm for a museum was widespread and received strong support. Families donated all manner of items and records to the society. By 1964, more space was needed. Plans to demolish the Algonquin Hotel in 1965 – the telling loss of yet another heritage structure – forced the issue. A log cabin to move to the island became the goal; to provide a space to display heritage information and artifacts. One option Marion Catto pursued was an 1880s log structure, built by Mr. Justice William Middleton and, at the time, owned by the Toronto jurist’s granddaughter, Susan Daglish. While Daglish avidly supported the goal of a museum structure, she could not offer up her family cottage. Instead, she donated some 30 prized artifacts, later became a museum director and remains an

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 29HARDWOOD • LAMINATE • VINYL PLANK & TILE • VINYL ROLLS CARPET • CERAMIC • NATURAL STONE & MOREFloors for Home & CottageMODERN HOME CARPET ONE350 Ecclestone Drive • Bracebridgecarpetonebracebridge.caTAYLOR CARPET ONE30 Cairns Crescent • Huntsvilletaylorcarpetonehuntsville.com705.645.2443705.789.9259The preparation and preservation of food was an important element of surviving the changing seasons in Muskoka, as shown by the tools in the pioneer kitchen. Settler life in Muskoka was challenging and Muskoka Lakes Museum provides a glimpse at the artifacts and household items used in the 19th participant to this day. As Daglish’s contributions show, there were, and continue to be, many ways to support the preservation of heritage in Muskoka.Heeding Catto’s pursuit of a structure, the Hall family of Glen Orchard chose to part with their magnificent 1875 square-timbered cabin instead, ensuring the museum represented all of Muskoka Lakes, not solely Port Carling. Relocated log by numbered log to the island, the cabin anchors the museum complex. e cabin and a contemporary structure beside it are combined as today’s Muskoka Lakes Museum. e Catto Gallery, named in honour of longtime supporters Marion Catto and her husband, Lt. Colonel Douglas E. Catto, houses feature exhibits which change yearly. e museum’s extensive well-displayed collection testifies to people’s worthy donations of unique vintage pieces. e diverse embodiments of culture offer an enthralling, intimate study of society’s evolution as new technologies modernized customs, clothing, cooking, boating, sports

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Specializing in Private Events, Wheelie Good Coffee brings a delightful selection of espresso coffees and refreshments to Weddings, Film shoots and Corporate promotions. Exclusively serving Muskoka since 2016.To book or check availability, text/talk with Matthew directly 416 795 30 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Indigenous technologies for easy year-round travel were readily adopted by settler society as they navigated life in Muskoka and continue to be used today. Snowshoes, sleds, toboggans and canoes on display at Muskoka Lakes Museum showcase the myriad connections and adaptations of Indigenous equipment. and vacationing. Every aspect of life in Muskoka, from Indigenous culture and history to homesteading to boat building, is included in Muskoka Lakes Museum’s curated collection. Port Carling’s community-minded citizens 60 years ago left a legacy for entertaining education. e museum is now poised to advance while preserving the past. e directors are aware of the need for an expansion of their facilities to exhibit heritage assets lacking space for presentation. During winter months, items from its stored collection are shown and explained on the museum’s website. But a more permanent solution to better showcase the vast array of heritage artifacts is needed. An overhaul of existing exhibits is a major recent improvement. “ey must tell a story,” emphasize directors Susan Hand, Liz Lundell and curator Sarah Sharpe. Going forward, they want narratives – people’s stories – to tie exhibits together, with displayed artifacts illustrating them. e stories, says Hand, must be the authentic voices of those who lived them.

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32 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Singer-songwriter James Gray enjoys the life of a troubadour, travelling and performing across the globe, noting that experiencing new places and meeting new people breaks him out of his routine. But he also knows he’ll always come home to his quiet cabin.Article by Bronwyn Boyer / Photography by Kelly Holinshead“As soon as I try to write a song, I worry will they like it and it comes out all wrong / Like a race car driver staring at the crowd, it’s hard to find silence when your mind is so loud.”ese are the opening lines from James Gray’s latest album, New Friends at Talk Like Old Friends. e first song, “ink About Me,” sets the theme of the record - conversations between himself and the listener. Whether he’s singing to a crowd or connecting with someone one on one, it has to be genuine. For Gray, performing is a conversation. He confides in his audience as though it’s an old friend, sharing his stories about the human

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 33condition. By having the courage to be vulnerable, he proves that it’s nothing to fear, because everyone can relate to what he sings. Although Gray has an eclectic palette of musical tastes, he has flourished into a classic troubadour, following in the footsteps of artists like John Prine, Gillian Welch and Townes Van Zandt. “e artists I admire most say things that feel real and authentic, because they’re being true to themselves,” says Gray. “You can smell it on people when they’re trying too hard to be something they’re not. So I love when a song feels honest and casual, rather than contrived.” Since 2016, Gray has made a living as a full-time singer-songwriter, which is no easy feat. e Emsdale native began his musical journey around age 12 when he got his first guitar and started learning Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin songs. He then formed a metal band with a few friends from high school and started playing in North Bay a few nights a week. It was clear music was his passion but it was a puzzle to figure out the next step. “After high school I felt lost,” he recalls. “I knew I wanted to be a musician, but I had no idea how to pursue it. After the band broke up, I started to sing, and that’s when I became a folk singer. e style resonated with me, and it made sense from a practical and technical standpoint, so I didn’t look back.”Adapting to unpredictable territory gives Gray the ability to weather the storms of the solitary troubadour life. e support of his family has also helped Gray walk a path shrouded in danger and uncertainty, something he doesn’t take for granted considering how uncommon it is. But a true artist has no choice but to take that leap, regardless of any adversity or fear. “I’m always really ambitious in the planning stages of a tour,” Gray explains. “But then when it comes time to pack up my life for six weeks and leave my comfort zone, suddenly I feel the push back, both physically and emotionally. I think it’s natural because fear is there to protect us; it can be a good thing, but it can also be overwhelming and I wonder what I got myself into. But I know I’m not happy if I’m not performing and writing songs, so that keeps me going.”e balance between ambition and adaptability allows Gray to weather the many storms that an entertainer must endure. “We have to make changes to accommodate our ambitions,” he elaborates. “Knowing that everything is temporary is important. I try to have a purpose, but my goals are malleable - sometimes I get an amazing opportunity to play a great gig, and other times it feels like work. It’s scary when no one shows up and you don’t make any money. But even then, it’s still my dream job.” Gray dreams big and works hard. His humility, practicality and imagination seem to be the magical ingredients that have launched him onto some big stages, like the Mariposa Folk Festival, a Ted Talk in Whistler BC, and CBC radio. He’s toured all over Canada, Australia and Europe. He has three albums under his belt and is working on his Open about his own struggles with mental health, James Gray sold vinyl test presses of his latest album this spring to raise money for mental health programs in Muskoka. Creating a world where all individuals can feel safe is part of his job as an artist, he shares.

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34 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023stoneway marble & granite inc.Les and Renata Partyka1295 Muskoka Rd. 118 West, Bracebridge | 705.645.3380 | while continuing his busy performing schedule. Gray’s songs and the experience of performing them feed each other to create an intimate world where everyone is invited. As his latest album articulates, the most rewarding part of his work is meeting new people and sharing the life lessons that he learns from them. “What I love most about travelling and performing is meeting new people and exploring new places,” says Gray. “Waking up on a stranger’s couch and having a really great conversation with them and then going out and cruising around a place I’ve never been before, then performing and then sleeping on another stranger’s couch the next night – it’s illuminating. It breaks me out of the daily grind and the blockages it creates between people.” Naturally, Gray is most comfortable when he can make friends with the audience, which is another reason New Friends at Talk Like Old Friends is such an apt title for his latest body of work. What sets Gray apart is how at home he feels with emotional vulnerability, which for many artists can be the most daunting part of the job. “I don’t find the vulnerability difficult at all,” he says. “It’s when I don’t feel like I can open up that’s uncomfortable. I find the fact that we don’t talk openly with each other is a problem. We all act in certain ways to protect ourselves, which means we put each other into boxes that become our identities when it’s such a small part of who we really are. So when I get on stage, and I’m able to honestly express myself, I feel at home. I can be the best version of myself, and that encourages others to do the same.” Touring Europe taught Gray one notable

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 35cultural difference in particular. Even before his arrival, the experience of booking the shows was vastly different than the experience booking shows in Canada. “Every detail is meticulously organized and planned out ahead of time and they send documents outlining your every move,” Gray explains. “In Canada things are much more haphazard and experimental – everyone is just trying different things to see what works. Europeans know what works, so they don’t take risks. Both have their pros and cons.” For Gray, writing and performing are very disparate aspects of his work. “It’s hard to say which one I prefer,” he says. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Both can put gas in my tank but in very different ways. Performing is open and collaborative, while writing and recording are very personal. A good performance can crack open that creative inspiration, whereas recording can be stifling at times. People always tell me I’m so much better live because I feed off the audience. But I do love the mystery surrounding recording, how to make a song sound like what I hear in my head.” Despite the discomfort, Gray is able to find joy in the challenges he faces, adapting to the many complex factors that go into making a record. “Who you’re working with and their communication style, the mood people are in, the space – there are just so many factors,” he says. “I recorded my last album alone in my cabin in Emsdale. I did my guitar and vocals with no click track, and then I had the drummer play over it and we edited it to fit. It’s an insane way to record that doesn’t make sense but I thought it would feel more natural.”Good communication and a shared vision are essential when it comes to capturing songs that are so personal. is was especially the case on Gray’s latest album, since all the songs were written as sensitive conservations. “e concept is to remember that human connections matter most,” Gray explains. “Every song is about challenging the status quo, whether it’s re-framing addiction, mental health, or the fear that keeps us distracted from how temporary life really is.” Writing and performing are very dierent aspects of James Gray’s cra but he nds both fullling, in contrasting ways. For Gray, performing is open, honest and collaborative while writing and recording are very personal. He enjoys the mystery and the challenge of recording a song the way it sounds in his head. Performing in person, Gray feeds o the audience and is willing to be vulnerable.

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Tech Home has helped clients realize their vision of a beautiful & uniquely personal custom home with the highest quality and aordable pricing.GRA VE NHU RS T MOD EL H O ME2278 Hwy 11 North Gravenhurst, ON | P1P 1R11 -888-417-8761GTA D ES I GN C ENT RE130 Konrad Crescent, Unit #18Markham, ON | L3R 0G5905-479-9013www.techhomeltd.com1-888-417-8761ye a r s of50I T ' S Y O U R D R E A M .W E B R I N G I T T O L I F E .cu s t o m ho m e s& c o t t ag e s .Pr ou d ly se rv i ng Mu sk o ka / Ge o rg ia n B ay / H ali bu r to n . 36 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023is spring, Gray sold vinyl test presses of his latest album to raise money for mental health programs in Muskoka. “As someone who’s struggled with my mental health my whole life, therapy has been vital for me,” he explains. “We need to take to care of our mental health. When we see someone out running, we think it’s positive and healthy. But when I tell people I’m in therapy they can’t believe it because I seem like such a happy person. We need to normalize maintaining our mental health the same way we do with our physical health. I feel like that’s part of my job as an artist – to help create a world everyone can resonate with and feel safe in.” Balance in all things seems to be at the core of Gray’s philosophy. He loves traveling and exploring but he also needs strong roots to come home to. “I hope to live in my cabin till I die,” he says. “I have no desire to play monopoly. I can go on adventures if I want but I’ll always come home.” Gray also plans on making many more albums. Currently, he’s working on a new EP and is quite excited about the material and some new directions he’s taking, building on what he’s learned so far. Since 2016, James Gray has made a living as a full-time singer-songwriter. He’s released three albums to date and is working on his fourth while continuing his busy performing schedule. His career has launched him onto some big stages including the Mariposa Folk Festival, a Ted Talk in Whistler BC, and CBC radio and he’s toured all over Canada, Australia and Europe.

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Tech Home has helped clients realize their vision of a beautiful & uniquely personal custom home with the highest quality and aordable pricing.GRA VE NHU RS T MOD EL H O ME2278 Hwy 11 North Gravenhurst, ON | P1P 1R11 -888-417-8761GTA D ES I GN C ENT RE130 Konrad Crescent, Unit #18Markham, ON | L3R 0G5905-479-9013www.techhomeltd.com1-888-417-8761ye a r s of50I T ' S Y O U R D R E A M .W E B R I N G I T T O L I F E .cu s t o m ho m e s& c o t t ag e s .Pr ou d ly se rv i ng Mu sk o ka / Ge o rg ia n B ay / H ali bu r to n .

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38 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023For many, an outdoor adventure may include a hike, snowshoe, paddle or camping trip. Modern, store-bought gear is checked and packed before heading out for the day, or perhaps longer, to explore the wilderness. Outings into the wild are a form of recreation for many people, helping them escape from busy lives and, hopefully, rekindle a connection with nature. While flirting with the wilderness in this manner, people always have the knowledge they will eventually return to the comfort of their homes with easy access to food, shelter and warmth. However, what we often forget is, prior to the 20th century, travel and survival in the outdoors for Indigenous Peoples was the standard way of life. Dwight resident, Craig Macdonald, has spent a good part of his lifetime studying and learning about the Indigenous cultures that inhabited Muskoka and other parts of Canada. Not only has Macdonald gathered extensive knowledge about Indigenous Peoples’ wilderness travel and survival practices but he has applied the knowledge to experience it firsthand. Article by Andy ZeltkalnsPhotograph: Andy Zeltkalns

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 39rough extended wilderness excursions using equipment and apparel similar to what the Indigenous Peoples used, Macdonald has journeyed on many of their summer and winter travel networks throughout Canada. Using canoes, snowshoes, skis, sleds and toboggans, he has spent weeks at a time covering thousands of kilometres. Much of the equipment Macdonald has used he designed and made to replicate the original items Indigenous Peoples depended on during their time in the wilderness. “I have snowshoed across Algonquin Park three times on three separate routes and have led snowshoe trips as far north as Richmond Gulf in the sub-Arctic” explains Macdonald. He describes his winter excursions as “hard core” covering as much as 200 to 300 kilometres per trip.Macdonald’s university background was in fisheries. His post graduate degree was completed at the University of California while supported by the U.S. Navy and the California Department of Fish and Game. Having started canoeing in 1953, Macdonald was able to use his experiences during his university years to work as a canoe guide in northern Ontario during the summers. “I would cover up to 1000 miles during a canoe season,” describes Macdonald. It was during this time his interest and knowledge in Indigenous culture and travel methods began to grow. Working with Order of Canada recipient and outdoor educator Kirk Wipper, who he originally guided for, Macdonald helped establish the beginnings of the Canadian Canoe Museum now located in Peterborough, Ontario. e museum houses more than 600 canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft that are representative of traditional water travel by Indigenous Peoples from across Canada. Macdonald had a 47-year career with the Ontario Government. During his tenure, he spent 24 of those years working as a recreation specialist in Algonquin Park. Anyone who has enjoyed a canoe route, hiking trail, ski trail or bike trail in Algonquin Park has likely been in a part of the park Macdonald has worked on. Over the years he has inventoried the shorelines of many Algonquin lakes, gathered information on lesser-known routes and portages and helped upgrade or establish new campsites and travel routes throughout the park. Usually working with a crew, Macdonald mapped, measured, cut, and signposted these routes that many of us have enjoyed. Prior to Algonquin Park, Macdonald did similar work for 13 years at the Leslie Frost Centre in Haliburton. In 1989, he upgraded and groomed the cross-country ski trails at the Bracebridge Management Resource Centre.Once his interest in Indigenous traditions and travel was kindled, Macdonald spent much of his spare time researching and collecting knowledge about Indigenous Peoples and their relationship to the environment in which they live. A significant Collections of wilderness equipment, from snowshoes to camping gear, both from Indigenous tradition and made by his own hands, are part of Craig Macdonald’s assortment of items throughout his home. Craig Macdonald’s work as an ethno-geographer, cartographer and Cree-Ojibwa place-name linguist is the result of years of research and dedication. His life’s work resulted in the “Historical Map of Temagami” which shows traditional snowshoe and canoe routes, as well as the Anishinawbeg names for 660 lakes, rivers, creeks and other geographical features.Photograph: Andy ZeltkalnsPhotograph: Andy Zeltkalns

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“Where f lowers bloom, so does hope.”– Lady Bird JohnsonConserving Nature in Muskoka. Join us today.A registered charity.Photo by Karen Mason

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 41Powering your cottageand home – even duringa power outage.ELECTRICAL • HVAC • HOME AUTOMATION • SOLARECRA / ESA 7002295 • TSSA 000365522“Where f lowers bloom, so does hope.”– Lady Bird JohnsonConserving Nature in Muskoka. Join us today.A registered charity.Photo by Karen Masonfocus has been on the routes and wilderness travel techniques Indigenous Peoples used. Macdonald described how, over the years, he has interviewed hundreds of Indigenous elders throughout Canada to learn how they lived, travelled and interacted with the environment. “Locally, I spoke to Anne Amberson, daughter of Tom Salmon, when doing research about eastern Muskoka and its Indigenous People,” explains Macdonald. Macdonald even had the opportunity to interview a 109-year-old elder who had experienced the entire Industrial Revolution. Macdonald states the importance of recording the wealth of knowledge he has encountered, since much of the information collected is an oral history passed down through generations. As Indigenous elders die, the wisdom is being lost. As a result of his hard work and dedicated research, Macdonald can be described as an ethno-geographer. According to Bill Steer, founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre and part time teacher at Nipissing University, Macdonald is also a Cree-Ojibwa place-name linguist and a cartographer as well. rough his painstaking research, Macdonald published a unique map of the Temagami area in 1988. Called “Historical Map of Temagami” and representing 26 years of work, Macdonald’s unique work shows all the traditional snowshoe and canoe routes, as well as the Anishinawbeg names for 660 lakes, rivers, creeks and other geographical features. Steer describes how “Macdonald’s creation presents a unique and invaluable contribution to our understanding of the Indigenous world that existed in Canada prior to contact with the colonialists.” e map even has the original waterlines of the lakes before dams were put in for logging. As Macdonald explains, “before the advent of roads and railways, waterways provided the principal routes for travel and communication in the wilderness. Waterways were chosen for both summer and winter travel as it was much easier to travel along waterways than to traverse the rugged, rocky and densely forested terrain.” While discussing his research and Craig Macdonald’s son, Colin, cuts the nightly waterhole on an exploratory eld trip south of Biscotasing. Craig Macdonald’s lifetime of work as a recreation specialist with the Ontario government and research into Indigenous practices translated into a family legacy of outdoor adventuring. Photograph: James Raffan

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SAVE $300 ON YOUR NEWFURNACE OR A/CPURCHASE & INSTALLATIONCALL US TODAY - 705.728.2460Keep your home comfortable year-roundReduce your energy bils and carbon footprintFlexible financing optionsFast and reliable repair servicesFlexible maintenance plans to fit your budgetand scheduleNEW CUSTOMERS RECEIVE$100 OFF YOUR FIRST OILOR PROPANE DELIVERY RELIABLE HEATING OIL OR PROPANE DELIVERYRENTAL TANK MONITORS HELP YOU MANAGE YOURTANK LEVELSCONVENIENT ONLINE ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT ANDBILL PAY OPTIONSFIT YOUR BUDGET! WITH FLEXIBLE PAYMENT PLANSAND FINANCING OPTIONS*MINIMUM 500L - 42 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023experience with elders, Macdonald describes some of the Indigenous language he learned which refers specifically to wilderness travel. e word “nastawgan” commonly spoken by northeastern Ontario elders refers to the established waterway travel routes that have been used for thousands of years. “Onigum” are the land portages between waterbodies required during the summer. “Bon-ka-nah” are the snowshoe trails over land and swamps which bypass open water and areas of unsafe ice often found at lake narrows and along rivers. Sometimes “bon-ka-nah” provide a shortcut to a route only to be used during winter. Others bypass steep hills and side hills on “onigum” that are difficult for sled and toboggan travel. Macdonald’s research of Indigenous history has extended into Muskoka and the surrounding area and he was able to contribute to the formation of a map now found in the Dorset Museum. e map depicts Indigenous names in Eastern Muskoka along with the original travel routes. Aside from speaking to elders, Macdonald has also gathered a unique oral history from trappers and old-timers who spent many years in the bush. An example Macdonald gave was of the Big East River that flows through Muskoka whose real name is “Kishka-downga Zeebi.” Translated the name means “Sand Bluff River,” aptly named due to the bluffs throughout the waterway. Metig-sahgim (wooden snowshoe) is an emergency winter snowshoe. It can also be used for traversing swamps and wet muskegs in summer months where babiche snowshoe nettings would be destroyed. This is one of many items in Craig Macdonald’s personal collection.Photograph: Andy Zeltkalns

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 43Muskoka historian, Patrick Boyer, has also tapped into Macdonald’s wealth of Indigenous knowledge to help him write about Muskoka’s history. Boyer’s book, Putting Muskoka on the Map, is one example where Macdonald contributed valuable information.Another one of Macdonald’s pastimes is designing wilderness equipment based on Indigenous Peoples’ traditions. ese items include tents, snowshoes, clothing, winter stoves and toboggans, just to name a few. Macdonald’s basement is filled with his own equipment along with many other traditional items he has collected over the years. Macdonald has one of the largest private collections of Indigenous built snowshoes, ranging from special snowshoes designed for walking on spring snow to huge, narrow shoes meant for travel on open areas of deep powder snow in the far north. If creating maps and designing equipment was not enough, Macdonald has spent 20 years working on a book about sleds and toboggans used throughout North America by Indigenous Peoples. One of these interesting sleds, generally called “Chee-maun O-daw-ban,” is the canoe-sled. It is a type of amphibious sled used during spring break up or freeze-up for traversing waterways when the ice was thin. Filled with over 300 illustrations, Macdonald is looking forward to publishing the book in the near future. Based on his lifetime of outdoor activities, If his work as a recreation specialist, cartographer and ethno-geographer was not enough, Craig Macdonald has spent 20 years working on a book about sleds and toboggans used throughout North America by Indigenous Peoples. Macdonald has also made use of his knowledge of sleds on his travels, such as hauling this heavy sled up hill in Ungava, east of Richmond Gulf.Photograph: Herb PohlMuskoka's Largest Home Service Company!No job is too big or too small! 705.687.9143 315 Industrial Drive, Gravenhurst

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MD CTHE MUSKOKA DISCOVERY CENTREBOOK ONLINE NOWWWW.REALMUSKOKA.COMOR CALL US AT1-866-687-6667THE NEW WAY TO EXPERIENCE MUSKOKA.SOME OF THE GREATEST SIGHTS IN MUSKOKA ARE INDOORS. 44 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Craig Macdonald’s research and experience meeting with Indigenous elders has provided him with an intimate knowledge of Indigenous language which refers specically to wilderness travel. Macdonald’s research of Indigenous history has extended into Muskoka and the surrounding area and he was able to contribute to the formation of a map now found in the Dorset Museum.Macdonald continues to enjoy staying physically active and in his spare time helps maintain a series of community trails and portages. Craig Macdonald’s lifelong investment in his own learning and understanding the life of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, before colonization, has created the opportunity for so many to understand the rich history of Indigenous Peoples. Next time you are on a trail or waterway in the wilderness, let your mind wander and recount the abundant Indigenous history embedded in the area. e route you are following has probably been travelled by Indigenous People for hundreds of years.Photograph: Andy Zeltkalns

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46 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Article by J. Patrick BoyerMuskoka’s leading industry may be tourism but the region also boasts legal importance and prestige in history. Russell M. Best in Bracebridge, for instance, ran an unprecedented string of defence wins when he was the only criminal lawyer between Barrie and North Bay. And “R.M.” attracted larger-than-life clients, from U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon who summered at Lake Muskoka to entrepreneurial wrestler “Chief War Eagle” from Caughnawaga facing eviction from Port Carling’s Indian River Reserve. e district’s roster of stellar lawyers includes seasonal Muskokans too. e district’s proximity to the urban south enticed significant players in the provincial and national scene as a convenient retreat. Taking the “Muskoka Cure” gave balance to their busy careers in the city, helped restore and maintain sound health and offered a detached perspective on public affairs. is phenomenon contributed to Muskoka’s outsized role in Canadian and Ontario legal history, as illustrated by the careers of James Gowan, William Middleton, James McRuer, Brendan O’Brien, Roy McMurtry, and Rosalie Abella. Sir James Robert GowanLake Muskoka IslanderBorn in Ireland in 1815, James Robert Gowan came to Canada in 1832 and became a law student of James Edward Small. Gowan practised law with Small until, in 1843, his appointment as judge for the newly created Photograph: Middleton Family CollectionBracebridge lawyer R.M. Best, successfully representing many well-known clients from far beyond Muskoka, lived just minutes from Muskoka District Courthouse and his red brick law building at the top of Chancery Lane. James Robert Gowan was judge for Simcoe and Muskoka when he bought a Lake Muskoka island he named Eileen Gowan. Justice William Edward Middleton led an active life in Toronto but from his youth had a strong attraction to Muskoka, which he maintained throughout his life. His botanical work in Muskoka made him a much-consulted expert on plants of the region.Photograph: National Archives CanadaPhotograph: Geoffrey Best

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 47Simcoe District. Simcoe was Upper Canada’s largest jurisdiction, encompassing territory to the north that included Muskoka. And Gowan was the youngest judge ever commissioned in the British empire to that date.He made his home near Barrie at a place he named Gowan which became a railway stop. In 1873 he was a royal commissioner inquiring into the Pacific Scandal that toppled John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government because money from railway interests helped finance his election campaign in 1872. Two years after Gowan retired his judgeship in 1883, Macdonald, now re-elected prime minister, appointed him to the senate. In 1905 Gowan was knighted. Sir Robert resigned from the senate two years after that, his 22 years in public office having allowed him to take an important role in Canada’s public life. Early on, Gowan had become familiar with Muskoka. As county judge for Simcoe, which was joined with Muskoka for judicial purposes, he heard cases involving district issues. Apart from engaging in Muskoka legal issues from the district’s beginning, Gowan was also a Muskoka property owner. Appreciating Lake Muskoka more than Lake Simcoe’s Kempenfelt Bay where he resided, he bought a large island at the mouth of the Muskoka River and, in a nod to his Irish origins, named it “Eileen Gowan,” Gaelic for Gowan Island.Summering tranquilly on his scenic private island, Gowan’s legal mind engaged intricate matters of state, one being codifying all criminal law in Canada. e complex work required analyzing and integrating numerous separate statutes of each province covering the spectrum of criminal offences, punishments for committing them and legal procedures for trying an accused person. Gowan’s patient and uninterrupted work on Eileen Gowan contributed significantly to Parliament enacting the Criminal Code in 1892, the first code in a self-governing jurisdiction of the British empire. It merged existing statute law and common law, a revolutionary development in the legal world. e Code had a rational and systematic format, shifted development of criminal law from the judiciary to Parliament and became a model for legislators in other British jurisdictions. As a senator in Ottawa, Gowan interacted with ministers of justice, the prime minister and counterparts in Britain and the U.S. As a seasonal Muskokan, Gowan’s relaxing contemplative setting in which to read and reflect helped vector diverse provisions into a single Code in all provinces and territories. e form of the 1892 Criminal Code remains fundamentally unaltered, with amendments almost yearly keeping it abreast of constant evolution in Canadian society. Justice William MiddletonMuskoka-based BotanistWilliam Edward Middleton, born at Toronto in 1860, was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario for 33 years. In that capacity, he wrote many insightful judgements that enriched Canadian jurisprudence. He also enhanced courtroom civility. Middleton got to know Muskoka and become intrigued with its plant life in the 1870s, when he and three uncles his age made annual summer canoe trips. In 1879, the foursome found an abandoned cabin beside Lake Rosseau, north of Port Sandfield. After using it several summers, William located the original homesteader, John Forbes, paid him $300 for the property and built a cottage Middleton called “Subha,” or “place of peace.”In tandem with his busy legal career, and alongside avid daily reading on diverse subjects to supplement his high school education, Middleton relentlessly pursued his Muskoka botanical investigations. “His exploration of Muskoka kindled Middleton’s enthusiasm,” notes his biographer, John Arnup. His interest in botany led to photography and making glass slides of stem and flower cross-sections to study under his microscope. In the 1880s, Middleton revitalized the Royal Society, which formed a botanical section in 1890, and then spent four years lobbying the government to create Algonquin Park, which it did in 1893.Muskoka was Middleton’s home-away-from-Toronto. He had one microscope in the city, two permanently at Subha. In addition to summer vegetable gardens, notes Arnup, Middleton created “a magnificent floral garden, partly with wild plants such as ferns and orchids, and partly with plants from a Toronto nursery.” He also built a separate structure with screen windows. “e fresh air of Muskoka Justice Middleton purchased a homesteader’s abandoned plot at Lake Rosseau in the early 1880s and built his cottage, calling it “Subha,” for “place of peace.” Visible in the photo is his screened summer room where Middleton completed most of his writing. Today the property is owned by his granddaughter, Susan Daglish.Photograph: Middleton Family Collection

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 49undoubtedly influenced the legal judgements that emanated from Middleton’s summer house,” observes Arnup, himself a senior judge. In addition to writing clear and engaging judgements in Muskoka that became precedents for other cases in years to come, Middleton worked an entire summer at Subha labouring over what became the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1927. Justice J.C. McRuerMuskoka-connected Law ReformerJames Chalmers McRuer arrived in Huntsville in 1909 to work as an articling student in Albert Hutchison’s law office. He was still weak from tuberculosis the year before. He boarded with his physician brother, John, and recently wed wife Edythe. McRuer soon became friends with Tom omson, a close friend of John’s and best man at his wedding. e four made weekend fishing excursions, with Tom taking many photographs. He gave McRuer several small oil paintings of Algonquin Park, saying “When I show them in Toronto, the big fellows laugh and ridicule them. But those are the colours I saw.” ere was not much work at Hutchison’s office. McRuer accompanied his brother on emergency medical calls to outlying homesteads by horse-drawn sleigh over moonlit frozen lakes. His time in Muskoka’s clean cold air made him healthier. He returned to Toronto and practised law.When the Great War erupted, McRuer at first heeded his strong-willed father’s advice to not enlist. But in 1916, he snuck north to enlist at Huntsville. In Europe, commanding anti-aircraft artillery, Captain McRuer was wounded at Vimy Ridge. After the war, he resumed law practice in Toronto, languishing for weeks without a single client. Canadians praised soldiers as heroes during the war but hired lawyers who kept up-to-date with changes by staying home and remaining in civilian play. Depressed and ill, McRuer returned to North Muskoka in wintertime to recover his health and take his bearings. At Algonquin Park’s Highland Inn he met and spoke with two prominent Conservative Party politicians, shrewd Colonel Billy Price, MPP for Parkdale, and prominent Toronto lawyer Peter White. e new government’s strongman, Attorney General W.E. Raney, was crusading to strengthen enforcement of Ontario prohibition. Price and White believed McRuer could have a future in Raney’s department, hoping he might even moderate the zealous attorney general. A devout Liberal, McRuer was pessimistic about landing a Crown’s job with Raney but Price offered to put in a word for him. After several weeks at Highland Inn, McRuer returned to Toronto, met with Raney and was hired. As assistant Crown Attorney in the busy Toronto office enjoying greatly expanded powers, McRuer was in court daily prosecuting alcohol related cases. His workload mounted as the 1920s roared on, violations increasing as people became contemptuous of prohibition. McRuer was defeated running for Parliament as a Liberal in Toronto High Park, but Prime Minister King appointed him to a royal commission investigating conditions in Canada’s riot-producing prisons. He emerged a strong advocate for penal reform. In 1944, King appointed McRuer to the Ontario Court of Appeal. In December 1945, Justice McRuer was interrupted at a Toronto Christmas Party to take a phone call. It was the prime minister. is time, King was appointing him Chief Justice of Ontario. In ensuing years on the bench, on both substantive issues of justice and matters of procedure, Chief Justice McRuer was marked as a reformer, intent on people’s rights, who strove to keep law in phase with the society it is meant to govern.As time passed, J.C. McRuer chaired Ontario’s new Ontario Law Reform Commission, first in the Commonwealth. In the 1960s John Robarts, Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario, appointed McRuer to investigate Civil Rights in Ontario. Ontario legislators, enacting Throughout his career, on both substantive issues and matters of procedure, Chief Justice J.C. McRuer was marked as a reformer, intent on people’s rights, who strove to keep law in phase with the society it is meant to govern.Photograph: Boyer Family CollectionOn a winter’s day at Highland Inn in Algonquin Park, James McRuer (le) was ill, broke and depressed about his career. He met W.H. Price (right). Price helped him obtain the position of assistant crown attorney in Toronto, a development McRuer would later call “the turning point of my life.”Photograph: Boyer Family Collection

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50 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023INTRODUCING KIATHE21 Robert Dollar Dr, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1P9705-645-6575muskokakia.caMUSKOKA KIAThe 2023 Seltos.BRACEBRIDGE GENERATION LTD.Water Power Generating a Cleaner EnvironmentInterested in more information or a free tour? www.bracebridgegeneration.comMcRuer’s recommendations over the following years, transformed civil rights for Ontarians. e list runs to hundreds of legislative changes, many copied in other provinces. Wherever he went over these decades, J.C. McRuer hung his framed Tom omson paintings on the wall and looked at them wistfully.Counsel Brendan O’BrienLifelong Muskokan and HistorianBorn in 1909, Brendan O’Brien became a Muskoka summer resident from infancy, accompanying his parents to Kinkora, the family’s Port Cockburn cottage at the north end of Lake Joseph, where he spent all his early summers. In Toronto, from 1932, O’Brien steadily rose in distinction over six decades as a civil litigator. In the 1950s, he also taught law. Elected in 1959 to the body running Ontario’s self-governing legal profession, he became head of it in 1966, outlining a plan that led to creation of the Law Foundation of Ontario. He knew interest accruing on lawyer’s mixed-trust accounts, which they had no right to and were too complicated to distribute to clients, meant the banks enjoyed a free ride, paying no interest while using the funds deposited with them. O’Brien’s solution, enacted in 1974, created e Law Foundation of Ontario, a non-profit corporation that received the millions of dollars in trust account interest yearly the banks began paying, to fund Legal Aid and legal education. O’Brien was a writer of history himself. His 1992 book Speedy Justice told of the tragic last voyage of His Majesty’s Vessel Speedy, and the mystery and scandal surrounding the ship vanishing on Lake Ontario with loss of some 20 lives. For the Muskoka Lakes Association’s 1994 centennial book Summertimes, O’Brien wrote a chapter entitled “Memories / Cottage Life at the Turn of the Century.” Few portraits of the Muskoka experience match O’Brien’s fulsome accounts for rich detail, tragic turns and amusing dimensions. His courtroom talent for accurate observation and reliable evidence rendered with telling gentleness translated directly into his writing style. O’Brien’s 1999 Muskoka history, e Prettiest Spot in Muskoka, deftly 28 Manitoba Street, Bracebridge, ON 705-637-0204ElleZed HandbagsContemporary style. Crafted from Harris Tweed –one of the most desirable textiles in the world.ElleZed HandbagsCrafted from Harris Tweed one of the most desirable

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 51chronicles life at Port Cockburn, the Summit House, and the magnificent and engaging summer community to which Muskoka steamships sailed from Gravenhurst Bay. He wrote from his unique familiarity of Muskoka and family tales of earlier times. In 2005, Brendan O’Brien received e Law Society of Upper Canada’s highest honour, the Law Society Medal – for “immense contributions to the legal profession over the past seventy-two years.”Attorney General Roy McMurtryEileen Gowan ArtistRoy McMurtry’s parents met when summering in 1929 at Britannia Hotel on Lake of Bays. By the 1970s, he had his own place in Muskoka, on Eileen Gowan. Here McMurtry’s artistic creativity, reading, swimming, tennis, thinking and engagement with family and friends over meals became its own intensely satisfying universe; a counterpoint to his intense public action in legal, journalistic, athletic, political, judicial and diplomatic realms.Roy’s oil painting began in his university student years. When working the summer in remote B.C. alongside immigrant labourers to teach them English, he took up a brush to express his feelings for the majestic mountains. e artist largely taught himself but his friendship with Group of Seven veteran A.J. Casson included mentorship, with the two men painting together. Each year for a decade, distinctive McMurtry canvases of Lake Muskoka featured on the Muskoka Sun’s front page, while other donated paintings raised money for good causes at charity auctions.McMurtry rotated through roles as a football player and coach, courtroom lawyer, newspaper columnist, Member of Ontario’s Legislature, Attorney General of Ontario, Solicitor General of Ontario and candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. He served as Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Committee on Cooperation through Sport, and Honorary President of Commonwealth Games Canada. He has also been Chair and CEO of the Canadian Football League, Chancellor of York University and patron and sponsor of organizations supporting opportunities for youngsters, impoverished people and those made victims of the law.McMurtry also fostered educational initiatives to help young Canadians understand the justice system. He created the Ontario Justice Education Network in partnership with the justice and education communities to educate both students and members of the public about Canada’s justice system and the importance of the rule of law to Canadian democracy. As Attorney General, working alongside his longtime friend Ontario Premier William Davis, McMurtry played a pivotal role in the patriation of Canada’s Constitution. During his years in the Legislature as Attorney General and Solicitor General, some 60 bills he sponsored became law, including many landmark measures. His leadership gave Ontario a bilingual judicial system, a network of community legal clinics across the province and Law Foundation of Ontario financial support for civil society.One summer, when immobilized by a recurring back injury from football days, Ontario’s Attorney General had a hospital bed installed in his Muskoka cottage. Ministry officials had no objection to coming from the city to summertime Muskoka and taking a scenic boat ride to brief “the boss,” whom they found in bed alongside a pile of books and documents as he read his way to recovery. at summer, one book reignited McMurtry’s concern that many vital stories of law, legal confrontations, and the profession’s changing nature were going to the graves with those who knew them. As a result, the Osgoode Society for Legal History was incorporated in 1979. e Society has since published a diverse range of 115 books on topics in Canadian legal history and recorded and archived more than 600 oral histories from legal profession members, making it the world’s largest oral history program dedicated to legal subjects. Rosalie AbellaLeading Jurist on Lake of BaysBorn in 1946 in a post-war refugee camp in Germany, Rosalie Abella arrived in Canada in 1950 with her parents, both survivors of Nazi Germany’s death chambers. Her father Jacob, a lawyer, was unable to practice because he was not a Canadian citizen. As a girl, Abella resolved to become a lawyer. She got her law degrees and at the same time graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano. From 1972 to 1976, she practised civil law and criminal litigation in Toronto. Photograph: McMurtry Family CollectionOntario Attorney General Roy McMurtry and Group of Seven member A.J. Casson were painting buddies. The pair are on the dock at McMurtry’s Lake Muskoka cottage on Eileen Gowan.In 1979, Brendan O’Brien became president of the Osgoode Society for Legal History. He also served as head of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario legal profession’s self-governing body.Photograph: O’Brien Family Collection

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Help more families just like Derek &Amanda's. Scan the QR code or shelterwe empowerPrior to moving into a Habitat home,Derek, Amanda, and their fourchildren were living with relatives – atight squeeze for a family of six. Withthe announcement that they hadbeen chosen as Habitat for Humanityhomeowners, the family committedto investing in their future. Nine yearshave passed since becoming aPartner family. With equity they build,this family has purchased a business,with an attached home, that has beena generational legacy for 60 years.Derek and Amanda’s graduation fromthe Habitat for HumanityHomeownership program is asuccess worth celebrating! Thisachievement opens the door foranother family to experience a worldof opportunity through affordablehome ownership. We build strength, stability,and independence forfamilies like Derek’s andAmanda’s – and thosewho come after. 52 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Her career path realigned in 1976 when Attorney General McMurtry appointed her to the provincial Family Court. At 29, Judge Rosalie Abella was both the youngest and the first pregnant (eight months when appointed) judge in Canadian history. She and husband Irving had met as students at University of Toronto. In 1983 Abella, as a federally appointed one-woman royal commission on equality in employment, coined the term “employment equity” to describe the project of reducing employment barriers that most women, visible minorities, people with disabilities and Indigenous People face. eories of equality and discrimination she developed in her report were adopted in 1989 by the Supreme Court of Canada in its first case decided under the equality rights section of the Charter. From the Family Court, Abella went on to chair Ontario’s Labour Relations Board, next to head the Law Reform Commission of Ontario, only to reappear in 1992 sporting a judge’s robe as a member of the Ontario Court of Appeal. In 2004, Madame Justice Abella exchanged her burgundy robe for a scarlet one as a member of the Supreme Court of Canada. is time, her double record was being both the first Jewish woman and the first refugee on the Supreme Court bench.To assist with the restorative privacy that helped Abella balance her high-profile roles, the telephone number at the family’s Lake of Bays cottage was listed only under “Abella I.” Close to Camp New Moon, a Jewish summer camp Irving knew well, their thickly-treed property with its sand beach, dock, canoe and motorboat provided a discreet enclave for reading, conversation, thinking and relaxing over meals and with close friends. e Abellas savoured Muskoka’s natural comfort and took advantage of everyday living in the district.Muskoka’s mystique resides in continuous integration of hinterland practices and metropolitan expectations, blending ice-age lakes and chilled white wine. ese half-dozen cameos of seasonal Muskokans illustrate, with particularity, how a lakeland counterweight to the pressures of high-level public careers facilitated the positive contributions each of them made to society’s evolution. Muskoka’s reputation for conveniently offering a healthful “place of peace” where one can get a clear perspective is the sum of thousands of such experiences as these. Hike for Hospice MuskokaSunday, September 10, 2023 • 12-4pmMuskoka Lakes Farm & WineryJoin us for our rst Hike for Hospice fundraising event in 2023! Help Hospice Muskoka continue supporting the community through it’s programs and services. Sign up or donate now at Sign up or donate now at TINYURL.COM/TINYURL.COM/H4HM2023H4HM2023Rosalie Abella blazed a new path across Canada’s legal landscape, shaping the Canadian understanding of systemic discrimination. She and husband Irving, with sons Jacob and Zachary, cottaged near Baysville on Lake of Bays.Photograph: Supreme Court of Canada Collection; Philippe Landreville

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Help more families just like Derek &Amanda's. Scan the QR code or shelterwe empowerPrior to moving into a Habitat home,Derek, Amanda, and their fourchildren were living with relatives – atight squeeze for a family of six. Withthe announcement that they hadbeen chosen as Habitat for Humanityhomeowners, the family committedto investing in their future. Nine yearshave passed since becoming aPartner family. With equity they build,this family has purchased a business,with an attached home, that has beena generational legacy for 60 years.Derek and Amanda’s graduation fromthe Habitat for HumanityHomeownership program is asuccess worth celebrating! Thisachievement opens the door foranother family to experience a worldof opportunity through affordablehome ownership. We build strength, stability,and independence forfamilies like Derek’s andAmanda’s – and thosewho come after.

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54 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Changes in store for Muskoka waste collectionWith the usage of local waste disposal sites soaring over the past several years, the District of Muskoka is making changes to commercial garbage collection services.During a meeting of the district’s engineering and public works committee, district councillors heard they are looking at two potential options for commercial garbage collection.According to Stephanie Mack, the district’s director of waste management and environmental services, the first option is ending all curbside waste collection for most industrial and commercial users. Option two is the continuation of curbside collection within the downtown areas of Muskoka’s municipalities.e announcement comes in the wake of changes to provincial legislation announced in 2021. e changes involved altering the existing blue box program. Muskoka is expected to transition to the new blue box program in autumn 2024. While residential property owners are covered under the new blue box program, industrial and commercial property owners are not.Staff recommended option two, which allows for continued curbside collection within the business improvement area and main street areas of Muskoka. Staff said this option would help to promote clean urban areas within the district.Council voted to approve the second option but there was some concern about ensuring an appropriate communication strategy was in place to make sure all business owners were aware of the changes.e move comes on the heels of an announcement by district staff that waste disposal across Muskoka is up dramatically. Statistics show waste disposal sites in the district received more than 400,000 visits in 2022 alone.In her presentation to councillors, director Mack said during lockdowns caused by the pandemic in 2020 waste disposal sites across Muskoka saw unprecedented traffic volumes throughout the year. Mack said the high season for waste disposal is now lasting longer and slower times of year are increasing in volume.In a district survey conducted in 2022, the majority of residents indicated that despite increased usage at area facilities, the majority of Muskoka residents still dispose of their waste via curbside collection.Second home survey results show interesting changese results of the District of Muskoka’s second home survey are in and they’re providing interesting insights into the region’s seasonal residents and second homeowners.e district has been collecting information on its second home population since 1973. Studies have been done periodically over the years with the goal of providing valid data to estimate the size and impacts of Muskoka’s second home population.e most recent survey received a total of 5,952 responses, the largest number since the initial survey in 1973.Among the data collected, the new survey indicates that while the seasonal population across Muskoka has decreased by 0.56 per cent since 2017 (down from 81,907 to 81,452), the combined permanent and seasonal population has grown by four per cent (from 142,506 in 2017 to 148,126 in 2023).e data indicates that 48 per cent of the seasonal population is over the age of 55. Of those surveyed, 43 per cent of second-home households earn more than $200,000 annually, which indicates a four per cent increase since 2017.Just over 10 per cent of second homeowners cited Muskoka as the location of their permanent residence and roughly 98 per cent of second homeowners in Muskoka are located on waterfront property.Roughly 10 per cent of those surveyed said they plan to make their second home their permanent home at some point in the future. e survey calculated an average time span of six years until that planned move.e survey indicates 11 per cent of second homes are rented in Muskoka, which signals an increase of just over seven per cent since 2017. e average annual rental period is estimated at 7.7 weeks per year.Whats HappenedThe District of Muskoka’s waste collection program will soon see changes based on provincial legislation announced in 2021. Muskoka is expected to transition to the new blue box program in autumn 2024.Collecting data since 1973, the District of Muskoka recently released the details of the most recent second home survey completed in the region. Photograph: Michael JinPhotograph: April Barber

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 55Muskoka hosts Canadian Council of MinistersSome of the country’s most important players in the environmental sector were in Huntsville recently for their annual meeting.At the end of July, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) met at Deerhurst Resort to discuss a number of issues related to the environment.e council is made up of environment ministers from each of the provinces and territories as well as the government of Canada and the meeting was hosted by Ontario’s Minister of the Environment David Piccini.A number of topics were up for discussion, foremost among them were making progress on achieving zero plastic waste and attempting to come up with innovative solutions to lessen the impact of climate change and strengthen resilience and adaptation.Ministers discussed better management of plastic waste in Canada and received an update from the CCME working group on the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste. ey highlighted their respective governments’ initiatives to promote a circular economy and to strengthen their efforts to prevent plastic waste and pollution, so plastics are reused and stay in the economy and out of the environment. Ministers heard and discussed concerns about the proposed federal plastics registry, single-use plastics ban and recycled content and labelling requirements, as well as the need to streamline measures.“Ontario was pleased to host the 2023 meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to discuss our shared commitment to protect the environment, create environmentally sustainable programs that support new jobs, and grow the economy. Working in partnership with other governments, Indigenous communities, industry, and local organizations, we’re ensuring a safe, healthy and clean environment now and for future generations,” said Piccini.Ministers held a separate and prior meeting with Indigenous leaders from national Indigenous organizations and representatives from Ontario First Nations and Métis communities and organizations on July 26. Discussions focused on ways to improve collaboration on water issues.The District of Muskoka has approved a new strategic plane District of Muskoka’s new strategic plan is expected to help guide its priorities for the next several years.e strategic plan focuses on following RISE values. e RISE acronym stands for respect, innovation, service and equity. Under the plan, the district will focus on four priority areas. e first priority area is the environment and the plan calls for focus on environmental preservation, climate change action and ensuring they are a positive behavioural example.e second area of focus is on community. is area encompasses provisions for building safe and sustainable housing, stimulating a diverse economy and workforce as well as connecting residents to healthcare and social supports.e third area is focused on services with the stated goals of modernizing municipal services, improving communication abilities and planning for future infrastructure needs and developments.e fourth stated priority is a pledge to strengthen relationships between district staff and the community.e plan has recently undergone public consultation, wherein 89 per cent of respondents indicated they supported the RISE values. Council approved the strategic plan and directed staff to return in the fall with clear steps to be enacted by the district.Muskoka hosts Northlander train talksIt appears that it’s all aboard for the return of passenger train service to Muskoka.In July, Stan Cho, Ontario’s associate minister of transportation, hosted a round table meeting at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville to discuss the return of the Ontario Northlander passenger train service.Cho assured those in attendance the return of passenger rail service is a reality and the trains will be running by the mid-2020s. However, to hit the target dates a great deal of work is required, said Cho. More than just infrastructure upgrades to stations and railway lines, Cho said local businesses and municipalities must prepare The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), with members present from each of the provinces and territories and the federal government, met at Deerhurst Resort at the end of July to discuss a number of issues related to the environment.District council recently approved a new strategic plan and directed sta to return in the fall with clear steps to be enacted to meet their goals.Photograph: Government of OntarioPhotograph: District Municipality of Muskoka

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for increased visitor traffic.According to the Ontario government, some 60,000 annual train users are expected by 2041. Cho said that should translate to roughly $132 million in economic benefits and thousands of jobs.Northlander passenger rail service will initially focus on 16 stops: Toronto (Union Station), Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake, Matheson, Timmins, and Cochrane. e train service is also expected to connect with the Polar Bear Express train service from Cochrane to Moosonee.Passenger rail service to the area was cancelled in 2012.The SS Bigwin returns to Lake of BaysOne of Muskoka’s most iconic watercrafts is back and ready to cruise Lake of Bays after a prolonged pandemic hiatus.e SS Bigwin is now back on the water for its first full season in four years. e boat is currently operating regular cruises for the public from the Dorset public boat launch and Dwight Beach.Built in Toronto, the 66-foot SS Bigwin was purchased by the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Navigation Company in 1925. Shortly after arrival in Muskoka, Bigwin was transferred to the Bigwin Inn boat livery. For years Bigwin ferried many famous guests back and forth to Bigwin Island Resort, one of the most prestigious summer destinations in North America during that period.As the golden age of Muskoka’s resorts dimmed, so too did the fate of SS Bigwin and she eventually fell into disrepair. After years of neglect, the boat sat partially submerged on the bottom of her slip at Bigwin Inn.However, in 1991, a coalition of Lake of Bay’s cottagers, residents and organizations came together to purchase the vessel and begin the long restoration process.On November 17, 2012, SS Bigwin once again set sail on Lake of Bays to pass preliminary engine tests. She was officially relaunched in July of 2013 and is now operated by the Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigational Society.Lorenna McKennitt headlines Muskoka Music FestivalWith arts, crafts, food and wall-to-wall live music, there’s something for everyone in Gravenhurst with Dockside Festival of the Arts and Muskoka Music Festival. On the weekend of August 18th to 20th, Dockside Festival of the Arts and its sister festival Muskoka Music Festival, returned to Gravenhurst.In addition to the vendors and artisans, the Dockside Stage featured songwriters’ circles and performances from Alex Pangman & e Sweet Hots, Alli Sunshine, Bet Smith, Briar Summers, Claire Davis, Clerel, Clever Hopes, Dayna Manning, Doghouse Orchestra, Eamon McGrath, Highway 11 Corridor Ukulele Players, Jade Hilton, John McMillan, Kunlé, Liam Kearney, Lindy Vopnörð, Miranda Mulholland, Talia Hannah and the commune. As part of Muskoka Music Festival, multi-award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Loreena McKennitt graced the Opera House Stage for a sold-out Saturday evening performance. McKennitt was accompanied by e Bookends, a Stratford-based Celtic band. JUNO Award-nominated, award-winning and internationally renowned contemporary folk artist Dayna Manning kicked off the special evening of music. “I can’t believe our festival is seven years old,” said Miranda Mulholland, founder and artistic director of the Muskoka Music Festival. “I’m so delighted to be welcoming my musical hero, Loreena McKennitt to Gravenhurst this month. It’s been my absolute pleasure to curate a lineup of so many talented artists who will be gracing our Dockside stage all weekend long alongside our incredible artisans."Both events are not-for-profit with the goal of providing accessible entertainment and artisans to celebrate the past and future of Gravenhurst. Supported by sponsors, donations from the public are also welcomed. 56 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Photograph: Ofce of MPP Graydon SmithStan Cho, Ontario’s associate minister of transportation, hosted a round table meeting at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville to discuss the return of the Ontario Northlander passenger train service.Feature by Matt DriscollThe SS Bigwin has returned to the waters of Lake of Bays for the rst full season in four years. Multi-award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Loreena McKennitt graced the Opera House Stage as part of Muskoka Music Festival in Gravenhurst. Photograph: Richard HaughtonPhotograph: Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigation SocietyCorrectionIn the July 2023 issue of Unique Muskoka, there were errors in the article Traditions Run Deep – Muskoka Boat Building. e article erroneously referred to Lawton Osler as the operator of a boat building shop in Port Carling. James Osler is the owner and operator of Osler Boats in Port Carling. James is possibly the youngest boatbuilder to establish a shop in Muskoka. Clark Wooden Boats is located on Langford Drive, south of Bracebridge. Mike Windsor did not previously work at Duke Boats.We apologize for the confusion these errors have caused.

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58 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Shore Lunch:Preparing fresh-caught sh like a proArticle by K.M. Wehrstein / Photography by Tomasz SzumskiIf you’re like many Muskokans, seasonal or permanent, you probably like to cast a line into a convenient lake or river and pull up a big fish suitable for lunch or dinner that very same day. Let’s use the kitchen magic of Muskoka’s chefs to make that fresh-caught meal truly spectacular!e first of two new restaurants on the block, Playa Cabana Muskoka, which opened in Bracebridge this past Canada Day. Playa Cabana is the latest addition to Muskoka’s constantly broadening selection of restaurants. Owner and chef David Sidhu is of Indian and Filipino extraction but was born in Miami and grew up in Toronto. “I worked in restaurants my whole life,” Sidhu says, noting that he started in Toronto and went to New York where he worked for Dos Caminos on Park Avenue. After a semester-long cooking course in Yucatan, he brought his new expertise and taste for Mexican cuisine back to Toronto, which then lacked in Mexican eateries. By 2011, he owned a chain of six restaurants under the banner of “Mas Playas” (more beaches), a sentiment any Canadian can get behind.After weathering the pandemic in his cottage in Utterson, he decided to open a restaurant in nearby Bracebridge. “Building up the company, I had very little time doing cooking,” shares Sidhu. “I wanted to revert to back how I started, hands on everything –that’s what it’s all about.” He’s considering adding a location in Huntsville.Mexican food, Sidhu says, “relies so much on fresh ingredients that you’re doing everything just before serving; on the fly. If you make a guac the day before, it won’t hold up. It’s not about the recipe. It’s all about managing the freshness.”His British Columbia Rockfish Taco is flexible fish-wise. “It can be anything: trout, pickerel, pretty much any fish you want.” e dish was originated the usual way: “Just playing around with trial and error.” He and his Toronto chefs all share ideas with each other.Sidhu’s guacamole, which can be eaten on its own, is the genuine article – chunky, fresh and containing David Sidhu, chef and owner of Playa Cabana Muskoka, shares his sh taco recipe, noting the recipe is exible sh-wise, and highlights the use of fresh ingredients for the accoutrements.

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 59cilantro. It’s not too spicy, so add more jalapeno if you’re one of those suicide-wings-type people.e taco is a delight. It's colourful and packing enough flavours to make your taste buds want to get up and dance the salsa. e beer-battered fish is the soft note underlying the piquancy of three sauces (counting the guacamole as one). ere’s no tidy way to eat it but that’s part of the joy.e Pearl (Muskoka) opened in Bala on June 20, 2023; the brainchild of a three-person partnership of brother and sister Toben Kochman and Elana Kochman and Elana’s husband, Ryan Feldman. Elana and Toben started a hospitality business in Toronto in 2005; now Toben Food By Design provides not only high-end catering but home delivery, event venue provision, full event planning and more, keeping 100 employees busy.About the conception of e Pearl, Toben Kochman says, “My whole idea was creating a business so I could be up here part of the time. I always just coveted the idea of being by nature, by Ontario north and Muskoka in particular, having travelled all over the world.” Kochman completed his chef’s training at the Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris. “It’s just the feeling you get when you’re up here. Bala is a hidden gem and we’re thrilled to be in a place that still has that rustic, natural element to it.”e partners purchased the property in Fish Taco– David SidhuIngredients1 fillet of fresh fish, skin off, sliced lengthwiseBatter for coating fish (recipe below)1 Tbsp guacamole (recipe below)1 tortilla, 6-inch diameter (home-made or store-bought)1 Tbsp tartar sauce1 Tbsp guajillo chili sauce (recipe below)Method• Coat fish in batter and fry at medium (350°F) until golden brown (2-3 minutes), then place guacamole on tortilla then fish on top of that. • Add tartar sauce on top of fish and drizzle with guajillo chili sauce. • Garnish with shreds of watermelon radish, regular radish or daikon and fresh chopped cilantro. • Serve right away, with fresh lime on the side.Batter1 cup all-purpose flour¼ cup cornstarch¼ cup rice flour3 eggs1 regular can of beer (Mexican lager is best: Sidhu uses Vacation Voucher Mexican Beer from Catalyst Brewery)Whisk all ingredients together, add 1½ tsp salt.Guacamole 2 ripe avocadosJuice of 1 lime1 fresh jalapeno chili, chopped1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped fine1 Tbsp fresh white onion, chopped1 Tbsp tomato, choppedSalt to tasteCombine and serve right away.Yield: 1½ cup.Guajillo chili sauceTwo guajillo chilis, dry, chopped1 clove garlic, mashed½ tsp Mexican oregano (or any oregano)Mix all ingredients.Chef ’s TipsAnother Mexican culinary secret: “Adobos are spice mixtures,” Sidhu says. Mash and mix together 200 ml each of: chili arbol, chili guajillo, chili ancho (dry poblano), roasted garlic and roasted onion, plus ¼ cup salt. “You can make anything taste Mexican by adding this.”The Pearl (Muskoka)’s executive chef, Michel Swanson, co-created the maple-mustard glazed trout with pastrami spice recipe with chef and co-owner Toben Kochman. Milford Bay Trout Farm and local maple syrup served as inspiration for the dish.

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60 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Maple-mustard Glazed Trout with Pastrami Spice – Toben Kochman & Michel SwansonIngredients 100g pastrami spice (recipe below) 340g trout fillet, skin on fillets 80g maple-mustard (recipe below) approx. 5g Kosher salt to taste Method• Working with the freshest local trout you can find, arrange the trout fillets on a parchment lined baking sheet, skin side down.• Preheat oven to 400°F on the highest convection setting (if possible). • Season fillets with the salt and pastrami spice, making sure to generously cover the entire flesh.• Brush fillets with half the maple mustard glaze.• Roast fillets in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 110°F.• Remove the fillets from the hot baking sheet and brush one more time with a fresh coating of the maple mustard glaze.• Serve immediately or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.Yield: four one-fillet portions.Pastrami SpiceIngredients 300g black peppercorn, ground 150g coriander seed, whole 100g coriander seed, ground 250g brown sugar 160g paprika 110g garlic powder 85g onion powder 50g yellow mustard seed 25g mustard powder Method• Toast all whole spices. • Grind the whole spices in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. • In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until evenly combined.• Reserve in an airtight container for up to two months in a cool, dry area. Yield: 1250g Maple Mustard GlazeIngredients 350g grainy Dijon mustard 150g maple syrup Method• Whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined. • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four months. Yield: 500g Chef ’s Tips• For cold serving or to warm up later, roast the fillet(s) seasoned with pastrami spice and salt alone, and add the glaze after cooling. “Because trout is such high-fat fish, it doesn’t matter if you cool it, it’s still going to be buttery and taste good,” Swanson says.• Grilled version: cedar-plank the fillets to keep them from drying out too much.Wine pairing: Swanson recommends “Something very light and crisp, such as a Sauvignon Blanc, fruit forward with notes of apple and citrus.”Wild-Caught Pickerel with Foraged Wild Mushrooms – David Friesen Ingredients1 Tbsp olive oil1 fillet of pickerel or any other white fish, scaled, skin-on1½ cups mixed mushrooms, torn into bite-sized pieces¾ cup locally grown cherry tomatoesLocally grown fresh thyme to taste4 cloves garlic confit lightly mashed (recipe below)Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste1 Tbsp butterMethod• Heat the pan, add oil, season fish with salt and pepper and place in pan flesh-side down. Flip after 2 minutes. Fish should curl.• Add garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and some thyme leaves, season these ingredients with salt and pepper and cook. Total cooking time should not exceed 5 minutes.• Add butter just before taking off heat, cook until butter browns then serve, garnished with sprigs of thyme.Yield: one one-fillet portion. Multiply for multiple diners.Garlic cont½ cup garlic cloves, peeled1 cup olive oilMethod • Place garlic and oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Using medium-high heat, cook until garlic is soft and golden brown. • Let cool, place into a glass jar and refrigerate. • Will last months in the fridge so long as the garlic is covered by the oil.Chef ’s Tips:• “White fish are very light in flavour compared to, say, trout, so it will take on flavour of mushrooms. Mushrooms are buttery themselves.”• Tear mushrooms rather than cut. • If you find dirt or any little critters, wipe off rather than using water, as the mushrooms will soak it up.• “I use garlic confit because that way the garlic is already sweetened.” It can be used wherever you would use garlic; the process gives the cloves a mild nutty flavour.• Browning the butter will give a nutty flavour to complement the mushrooms.Wine pairing: “An oaky Chardonnay would pair well with the earthiness of the mushrooms.”

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 61March 2022, considered exclusively catering but are now glad they chose to serve onsite. “e patio is literally full, from opening to close. I’m so thankful for the support we got not just from cottagers but the people who reside here all around,” says Kochman.Another key person in e Pearl’s opening is executive chef Michel Swanson, who by virtue of growing up in Toronto and working with food all his life starting with a Taco Bell at age 14, was exposed to different varieties of cuisine. “Middle Eastern, Japanese, Spanish, Latin, Italian, French,” Swanson lists off. His experience has leant itself well to the Pearl’s “global street-food” approach. Swanson is a seasonal Muskokan, planning to winter in Toronto.Milford Bay Trout Farm was the inspiration for the trout recipe that Kochman and Swanson co-created. “Being Canadian, we wanted to do a maple-mustard glaze,” Swanson says, adding that the maple syrup is local, of course. Customer feedback on the dish? “We have a lot of people asking for it on the phone.”e tastes of the pastrami spice and maple-mustard glaze that adorn the trout are deliciously present but, perhaps unexpectedly, do not overpower it at all. Playing nicely rather than bullying, they add to the delicate orange flesh a complexity, intensity, texture and soupçon of sweetness. Possible future plans for our dynamic trio? “We might open up a few more Pearls in other parts of Ontario and Muskoka north,” Toben Kochman says.Veteran Muskoka chef and restauranteur David Friesen composed a pickerel recipe in what seemed like seconds – laying out, among the ingredients, four species of wild fungi he had gathered in the bush from Minden to just 200 feet from a driveway. Talk about a locavore. Wait!? Isn’t it dangerous to eat wild mushrooms if you don’t pretty much have a PhD in mycology?“I only choose species that are very distinctive and obvious,” Friesen reassures. David Friesen, veteran Muskoka chef and restaurateur, composed a pickerel recipe with four varieties of foraged wild mushrooms. However, he also asserts that anything fresh, in-season and that you prefer can be substituted to create a delicious meal.

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62 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023YOUR GUIDE TO SERVICES AND RESOURCESDIRECTORYJOHNSON LOG HOMERESTORATIONS705-738-7831 Staining Chinking Log Repairs Sandblasting Timber Frames Renovation Log Wash Custom BuildsLogHomeRestore.caYOUR FURNITURE & CUSTOM UPHOLSTERY SPECIALISTS Cal Cur an Paul Toda! • “If you see a round white mushroom, there are many types that could be, so you have to know your mushrooms.” He searches for them in lines, since their roots interconnect. “e mycelium is the Internet of the mushroom world, the largest living organism.”e four species he used in the recipe are chanterelles, black trumpets, oyster mushrooms and a fungus named chicken of the woods, all of which do indeed stand out visually. If you don’t dare forage, store-bought species such as shiitake or cremini or any, really, will work fine in this dish.Friesen was born on Vancouver Island, began his chef’s apprenticeship in Lake Louise, and worked the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics. Moving to the GTA in 1992, he worked several stints including a two-year partnership with renowned chef Mark McEwan. After moving to Muskoka in 1999, he worked at the Hemingway-themed Compleat Angler in Port Carling and Club One in Bracebridge, which became Riverwalk, a restaurant he eventually bought.Asked how Friesen conceived this dish, he answers, “Took cues from nature. Nature told me. Keep it simple; any of this stuff can be interchanged with anything else. Go with the season and what’s currently fresh.” He mentions smelt in springtime as an example.is recipe works as well on steak, Friesen advises, and the fish can be stove-sauteed, grilled, spitted on sticks, cooked on a fire with green branches over it to smoke it—whatever. “Baking has to be precise; this doesn’t,” he says joyfully. “If you like mushrooms, put on more!”Fish, mushroom and tomato flavours are all married gorgeously by the thyme, garlic and butter – oh, that nutty butter! Maybe that’s how, despite using a frying pan, Friesen managed to get the barbecue taste. He did it somehow. | 705-765-5565 | Inspired Natureby

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September 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 6328 MANITOBA STREETBRACEBRIDGE | 705-637-0204Now if you don’t fish but still like to eat trout or pickerel, there’s always the Milford Bay Trout Farm. As well as its most famous products, the smoked trout and smoked trout paté found in many Muskoka stores, fresh rainbow trout and pickerel fillets are available for using in recipes like these, not to mention candied trout and barbecue-ready trout on a cedar plank, by visiting their Milford Bay location. If they’re sold out, pre-ordering from the next batch is also an option.If you are concerned about the effects of environmental contaminants on your health, the Ontario government provides a website with suggested limits on consumption of fish caught in Muskoka lakes and even preparation tips to minimize contaminant consumption. Search the web for “Guide to Eating Ontario Fish” and click on the “” result.Good luck fishing Muskoka!The pastrami spice and maple-mustard glaze that adorn the trout, thanks to the recipe provided by The Pearl (Muskoka), are deliciously present but do not overpower the avour of the sh. Instead, they add to the texture, intensity and complexity of the dish. Budget Propane Sales & Service705.687.5608 Toll Free 1.888.405.7777Serving: Muskoka • Gravenhurst • Haliburton • Barrie • Simcoe CountyWe’ll take care of your propane needs for your home, coage, or business.

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64 UNIQUE MUSKOKA September 2023Muskoka MomentsArticle by Je Lehman, Muskoka District ChairA Sense of PlaceFourteen years old and telling myself I wasn’t freezing, I stood a few hundred feet offshore on the ice of Lake of Bays and craned my neck to stare at the skies. My Casio calculator-watch - indispensable accessory for a high school math geek - said it was nearly midnight on a February night, in 1989. What it didn’t tell me was it was at least twenty-five below, the kind of cold that makes the air not just crisp, but sharp; cold you can feel as pain in your nose from the first breath in but, like most high school kids, I believed I was impervious to cold. I was staring at more stars than I had ever seen before in my life, the kind of cosmic display that only comes with the darkest of skies and clearest of air, in winter. It’s one of those views nobody can ever claim to have seen in southern Ontario – there’s just too many settlements, too many well-lit roads, too many power centre parking lots. Once you’re north of the Severn, the spaces in between allow for real dark – Torrance Barrens dark – and this kind of view. at night on the ice of Lake of Bays, I could see the Milky Way as a foggy band of brilliance stretch from one dark treelined shore to the next; I watched jets and satellites wink into existence, trace a steady trail, then blink out. A shooting star scratched fire across the entire sky. Aside from realizing it was probably really dumb to be out on the ice at midnight alone, my strongest memory of that moment was feeling I could have been any human being at any time in history – the black trees on the shoreline around me, the huge, open expanse of ice, the constellations above – had changed very, very little over thousands of years. I felt tiny amid the full expanse of nature.Since the first European settlements, we’ve spent a lot of our lives in places where we push the natural environment far away. We build towns that shunt nature into manicured parks, we build underground parking lots and drive-thru everything to ensure we don’t have to spend an extra moment out of our cars. I think one of the reasons Muskoka draws so many visitors is it creates moments that take us out of this sheltered life. Living here, even visiting here, demands you respect the natural environment. I think that’s why both permanent and seasonal residents share such a strong desire to protect the lakes, shorelines and forests of our region and why we get so angry when we hear stories about people who don’t. During District Council’s strategic planning earlier this year, one councillor made comments that have stuck with me, questioning what really creates Muskoka’s identity. I thought of something my dad, Bob Lehman, wrote: “A sense of place is derived from the knowledge of place that comes from working in it in all weathers, making a living from it, suffering from its catastrophes, loving its mornings or evenings or snowstorms, valuing it for the time and emotion that you, your parents and grandparents, and hopefully your children have and will put into it.”Muskoka – and all its moments – belongs to those people who know and love the land the most, who are willing to put their heart into making it a better place. From the first Indigenous residents, who have told these stories and stewarded this land for millennia before Europeans arrived, to those who work today to protect our environment, strengthen our communities, and make it more prosperous – it’s the people in whose voice you can hear the pride when someone asks them where they live and they say “Muskoka.” Jeff Lehman is the Chair of Muskoka District Council. A part-time resident of Lake of Bays since the 1980s, he was Mayor of Barrie, his hometown, for 12 years before becoming District Chair in 2022. He and his partner Carolina and their children love Muskoka, especially in the snow.Photograph: Jeff Lehman

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