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Unique Muskoka Issue 42 - Fall/Winter 2023

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FALL/WINTER 2023RROOAADD SSAALLTT:: SSAAFFEETTYY MMEEAASSUURREEOORR BBAANNEE OOFF FFRREESSHHWWAATTEERR LLAAKKEESSFROM OKATO MUSKOKAEclipse Walk with Light: an interactive journey Unimaginable conditionsand treaty challenges Curated tours – discoveringMuskoka’s special places

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 1Lake Muskoka Lake of Bays Mary Lake$2,995,000$2,749,000 $1,395,000CHELSEY PENRICE BrokerMuskokaLuxuryProperties.ca705.205.2726

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2 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023...telling the Muskoka storyFeatures11Author Christina KilbourneArticle by Kelly Goslin Photography by Josianne MasseauAward-winning author Christina Kilbourne expertly and genuinely tackles social issues and difficult topics in her novels, although activism is not the source of her inspiration. Truly, Kilbourne’s upbringing in the small community of Barkway instilled a love for nature and the community where she resides. 17Community Science – Road Salt MonitoringArticle by John ChallisRoad salt plays an important role in maintaining highways, streets and walkways throughout winter in Muskoka. However, it creates more problems than it solves. A devoted group of citizen scientists are monitoring the impacts of salt as part of a pilot program from the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed. 24Heritage Curators – Lake of Bays MuseumsArticle by J. Patrick Boyer Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsBoth the Dorset Heritage Museum and the Lake of Bays Marine Museum are vital heritage centres in Dorset, representing the vast history of Lake of Bays. e museums are emblematic of the creative possibilities when citizens care about their community’s past, present and future.32Home is Where the Light is – Artist Meghan IrvineArticle by Bronwyn Boyer Photography by Kelly Holinsheade play of light along water as the sun sets in its “golden hour” is just one of the fleeting moments found in Meghan Irvine’s paintings. Painting from photographs she takes while out exploring in Muskoka, a prevailing theme of comfort, home and safety flows through Irvine’s canvases38Eclipse Walk With LightArticle and Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsHuntsville’s Eclipse Walk With Light takes one through a memorable interactive journey of artistic lights and sounds. Journeying through what feels like an enchanted forest, illuminated soundscapes that connect to the seasons of the year and cycles of the day and moon are an adventure for all ages. [11][32][24]

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Celebrating 25 Years!

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 5Our CoverPhotograph by Andy ZeltkalnsEclipse Walk With Light in Huntsville is a magical journey through time. With over 20,000 lights across multiple installations, buildings and soundscapes, the experience is memorable for all ages and abilities. FALL/WINTER 2023RROOAADD SSAALLTT:: SSAAFFEETTYY MMEEAASSUURREEOORR BBAANNEE OOFF FFRREESSHHWWAATTEERR LLAAKKEESSFROM OKATO MUSKOKAEclipse Walk with Light: an interactive journey Unimaginable conditionsand treaty challenges Curated tours – discoveringMuskoka’s special places64Muskoka MomentsBy Cathy KuntzOpinion9 Muskoka InsightsBy Meghan TaylorDepartments43Tours with a TwistArticle by Bronwyn BoyerPhotography by Tomasz SzumskiJacki MacPherson’s search for outdoor experiences and teachable subject matter for her kids during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the creation of Away We Go Trips. Curated day trips, for locals or visitors, guide people to local independent businesses, historical monuments and hidden gems that are often overlooked.48From Oka to Muskoka – Mohawks Under DuressArticle by J. Patrick BoyerEven before migrating to Muskoka, Mohawks faced unimaginable conditions and challenges throughout the European settlement of North America. e promise of land as a future home for their entire community, and generations to come, drew a small group to Gibson Township in the late 1870s. However, the promise of land and the truth of their experience were far different. 55What’s HappenedArticle by Matt DriscollHuntsville Festival of the Arts has announced a new fall concert series, Cranberry Festival is back and Oktoberfest is celebrated across Muskoka. Local municipalities pledge millions towards the new hospital while the condo development proposed at Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst is at a standstill. Coyotes and wolves have been seen in Lake of Bays, Muskoka Watershed Council moves ahead with the Muskoka Integrated Watershed Management Plan and a pair of skiers in Huntsville are raising funds to make the national team.58Cottage Country CuisineArticle by K.M. Wehrstein Photography by Tomasz SzumskiPulling out all the stops to create a four-star holiday meal may mean different things.Whether you want something you can prepare easily with less fuss or distinct and elevated flavour profiles for every dish on the table, several of Muskoka’s chefs have shared their recipes, tips and tricks for an unforgettable turkey dinner.[43][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 HolinsheadCathy KuntzJosianne 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 Fall / Winter 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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Fall / Winter 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 MattressBetween work, play and gatherings with friends and family, summer always feels full. e days and nights overflow with activities and visitors, and bring joy along with the chaos. However, I also very much look forward to the space fall and winter give to reset, recuperate and revisit things outside of the hectic schedule of the summer. is year has been busy for me. Busy in a way I anticipated – work, magazine, horses, family, friends. I filled my plate full and I’ve enjoyed all of it. As this is the last issue of Unique Muskoka for 2023, I’m given the opportunity to reflect on the year so far, even if it’s not quite over yet. I’d like to extend a thank you to everyone who has taken part in this first year of the magazine with me at the helm. I am grateful for the support, the kind words of encouragement, the critiques and everything in between. My adventures in publishing have only just begun and I look forward to next year, and beyond. Once this issue is out in the world, and after a moment to breathe, I’m eager to source new ideas and make plans for 2024. Fall and winter for some may seem like a time of stalling out; a holding pattern of waiting for spring, waiting for warmer temperatures, and waiting for the next adventure. A time to do less and wait until the seasons shift again. On days when the skies are grey and the temperature dips into the negative double digits, I may even be one of them. While the landscape may seem frozen in time, winter is an opportunity to consider your daily life from a different perspective. In the busyness of summer, it’s easy to put aside life changes or wait for a better time to make that tough decision. In winter, development and growth can be come the focus. Making time to plot your way forward in life is time well-spent. In this issue, the power of decisions, individual and collective, is at the forefront of regular contributor J. Patrick Boyer’s feature on the history of Wahta Mohawks. eir migration from Oka and subsequent years battling for the rights to live on their land, according to their way of life, were tumultuous. is history cannot be overlooked and I’m grateful for better understanding the challenges Indigenous People faced throughout Muskoka’s history. For artist Meghan Irvine, home is where the light is. As contributor Bronwyn Boyer shares, no matter the season, Irvine’s artistic expressions of her connection to nature shine through in her canvases. Drawing the viewer into a specific moment by revealing the relationship between every aspect of life brings hope, peace and comfort. Irvine’s art gives new perspective and appreciation for those quiet moments. In our community science feature, contributor John Challis shares the unsettling effects the overuse of road salt is creating in lakes and ecosystems throughout Muskoka. Winter driving and road safety are important in the region but the increased salination of our lakes and waterways pose questions that are yet to be answered. Friends of the Muskoka Watershed have activated their network of citizen scientists to collect data and monitor the impacts for our waterways. In every season, Muskoka is filled with adventures, such as those provided by Away We Go Trips and the Eclipse Walk With Light. Whether your interest is history, art, nature or just finding an activity to pique your interest, there’s always more to discover. As winter sets in, give yourself the opening to try something new and shake up your routine. Even if the pace is slower, enjoy the ride. Happy reading!Photograph: MacKenzie TaylorCUSTOM FURNITURE, MADE TO YOUR SPECIFICATIONS!Choose from 100's of frames, fabrics, configurations, and power optionsEnjoy shortened delivery times and lower pricing • Made in Canada or U.S.A.We oer the best selection of quality furniture backed by the largest furnitureretailer in Canada. Available only at Leon's in Bracebridge & Huntsville.Isn't it time you let us surprise you?

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Article by Kelly Goslin Photography by Josianne MasseauThe quaint communities encircled by lakes, the wide expansive forests and the connectedness of small-town Muskoka have provided a wellspring of inspirational settings for Christina Kilbourne’s writing.InspiredCHRISTINA KILBOURNECommunitybyAuthor Christina Kilbourne is known for her thought-provoking young adult novels that address important, often uncomfortable, complex social, political, and environmental issues. With a writing style that carefully combines empathy and realism, Kilbourne skillfully weaves stories that resonate with her young readers and quietly, sensitively instil activism and awareness. Born in the small town of Forest, Ontario, Kilbourne and her family moved to Muskoka when she was about six years old. Living on a heritage farm property in the small community of Barkway, she grew up surrounded by natural beauty, while her father relied on the land to sustain them for heat, food and income. Her mother, a teacher, fostered an enthusiasm for learning from an early age. And Barkway, with its 60-student schoolhouse, introduced Kilbourne to community. Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 11

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Powering your cottageand home – even duringa power outage.ELECTRICAL • HVAC • HOME AUTOMATION • SOLARECRA / ESA 7002295 • TSSA 000365522 12 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Christina Kilbourne was introduced to the world of literature by the travelling librarian that would visit her small schoolhouse in Barkway. The prospect of reading, including published poems and stories written by other children, enthused her and the possibility of writing professionally was exhilarating.“I would never want to trade the sense of belonging I experienced growing up in Barkway for any other childhood,” Kilbourne shares. e travelling librarian that would visit Kilbourne’s small schoolhouse when she was young introduced her to the world of literature, including published poems and stories written by other children. e prospect of reading enthused to her and the possibility of writing professionally was exhilarating. Muskoka has continuously afforded Kilbourne a space of inspiration, topographically and socially, and it remains an influence on her work today. e quaint communities encircled by lakes, the wide expansive forests, the connectedness of small-town Muskoka, these have provided a wellspring of settings for Kilbourne’s writing. She describes the “residential streets of older homes and the two lakes flanking town” of her fictional Port Hope in her book Dear Jo and Gravenhurst is the clear inspiration. Living now in Bracebridge, she remains deeply connected to her childhood experience, bonded to the land and its various

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 13HARDWOOD • 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.com705.645.2443705.789.9259beauties, and integrates those memories and sentiments in her writing. “I feel closely tied to the land, flora and fauna,” she explains. “In fact, although I have lived in other parts of Ontario, and in New Zealand, and travelled extensively through Africa and Latin America, nowhere feels like home the way Muskoka does to me. When I lived in New Zealand, I missed the granite so badly my then boyfriend, now husband, took me on a trip where I could see granite outcrops. It wasn’t the same as the Canadian Shield emerging across the landscape and peeking up from underfoot when you walk through fields and forest, but it did bring me some comfort.” Muskoka has furthermore been a constant source of community support and enthusiasm for Kilbourne’s work. In the face of adversity or criticism, at home Muskoka has continued to celebrate her literary achievements, a source of great pride for her community. “Years ago, the owner of the bookstore in Gravenhurst told me one of my books was their top seller,” exclaims Kilbourne. “It was even outselling Alistair MacLeod’s novel No Through her thought-provoking novels, encouraging critical thinking and empathy, Christina Kilbourne provides a compelling and inspiring forum for young adults to situate themselves in the world’s complex array of issues and wonders.

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14 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023INTRODUCING KIATHE21 Robert Dollar Dr, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1P9705-645-6575muskokakia.caMUSKOKA KIAThe 2023 Seltos.Great Mischief, which went on to win the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.”roughout her career, Kilbourne has demonstrated a keen interest in exploring issues such as mental health, addiction, trafficking, abuse, homelessness and other significant challenges faced by teenagers and adults alike in today’s society. One of Kilbourne’s most celebrated novels is Detached, which delves into the sensitive topics of self-harm, mental health, loss, and addiction. Kilbourne handles this difficult subject matter with grace and sensitivity, crafting a narrative that sheds light on the internal struggles of individuals battling their own depression or that of a loved one. e stories Kilbourne crafts are visceral but are woven with an unparalleled craftsmanship that manages to create relatable and authentic teenage characters. Kilbourne captures the voices, emotions, and experiences of young people, which allows her readers to connect with her stories on a personal level and creates a platform for youthful discussion. Her most recent and highly celebrated book, e Limitless Sky, is situated in a dystopian, post-climatic disaster landscape, where two young protagonists desperately seek truths from the past to save their families and communities. is setting is not only deeply symbolic and sensory, but it is disconcertingly realistic in light of our current global climate crisis. “Some days when I scan the news, this past summer especially, my heart lurches because

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 15Christina Kilbourne’s upcoming young adult novel, 40 Days in Hicksville, is coming out October 14. With a writing style that carefully combines empathy and realism, Kilbourne skillfully weaves stories that tackle important topics and resonate with her young readers. 705.645.4294 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 YEARSof the similarities to the ‘time of the floods, fires and winds’ that I reference in my most recently published novel, e Limitless Sky,” shares Kilbourne. “In this dystopian world, society is fractured and struggling because humans did not heed the scientists’ warnings of the pending impacts of climate change.”Kilbourne makes it clear that the book does not explicitly aim to incite activism amongst its readers. However, it carefully draws attention to the environmental realities of our ever-fragile world, providing a space for young readers to consider their own relationship with nature and their agency as environmental stewards and seekers of truth.“I don’t purposely set out to write books on social issues or social justice – or to promote awareness,” says Kilbourne. “It just seems that is where my interests lie.” rough her thought-provoking novels, encouraging critical thinking and empathy, she provides a compelling and inspiring forum for young adults to situate themselves in the world’s complex array of issues and wonders. In the tenacity of youth, Kilbourne feels inspired. “In my experience, young people are activists at heart,” she shares. “ey carry with them so much passion and energy, knowledge and know-how, that I should probably be looking to today’s youth to inform my own awareness and inspire my passion”.Kilbourne was recently informed her book e Limitless Sky is a finalist for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as for the 2023 Snow Willow Awards. Throughout her career, Christina Kilbourne has demonstrated a keen interest in exploring issues such as mental health, addiction, tracking, abuse, homelessness and other signicant challenges faced by teenagers and adults alike in today's society.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 17Photograph: Friends of the Muskoka WatershedArticle by John ChallisThe Friends of the Muskoka Watershed recruited their rst 10 community scientists to run a pilot program in the winter of 2022-2023. Local residents, testing for evidence of road salt in urban runo, added signicantly to our understanding of where and when road salt is problematic. In July 2023, Gravenhurst Town Council passed a bold resolution recognizing road salt as a toxic substance, echoing a 2004 addition to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Council vowed to reduce its use “as much as possible while maintaining safety on roads and sidewalks.”Road salt, of course, is seen as an absolute winter necessity. Since the 1950s, it has been used to make icy roads safe, at the speeds we all expect we should be travelling. But it creates more problems than it solves. It’s costing billions to fix

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salt damage to bridges and roads. Our cars corrode, forcing major expenses. Salt has even been found in private drinking water wells. e environmental harms are every bit as problematic; dying pines facing Highway 11 are evidence of that. It’s been on the radar of the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed (FOTMW) for better than a decade. FOTMW calculates there are roughly 30,000 tonnes of road salt in Lake Muskoka. Dr. Norman Yan, founding director of FOTMW, worries about salt’s impact on aquatic life. He affectionately refers to the 80 known species of zooplankton in the lakes as “nature’s lawnmowers.” ey chow through algae in astounding volumes. But some are vulnerable to elevated chloride, the dissolved element from road salt.Too much reliance, Dr. Yan says, is put on the Canadian Water Quality Guideline, which sets a chloride limit of 120 mg/L in water bodies. FOTMW, working with Queen’s University researchers, conclude that concentrations of 10 mg/L are likely toxic to some key lake biota – the level present in 20 per cent of our lakes. It’s a warning that Muskoka’s legendary water Photograph: Friends of the Muskoka Watershed 18 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Dr. Neil Hutchinson inspects the auger he uses to break into the ice on Jevins Lake at Gravenhurst. Dr. Hutchinson has been monitoring the watershed for increased salination during winter months. Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, as part of their road salt monitoring program, have cups available to limit the use of salt causing environmental hazards.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 19We’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 CHOCOLATESquality is vulnerable.Municipalities haven’t been ignoring the issue. Gravenhurst has switched exclusively to sand on sidewalks and municipal parking lots and is working on reducing quantities on roads. e District of Muskoka has been monitoring chloride in our lakes since around 2004. But there’s more work needed. is is where citizen science comes in. e FOTMW feels recruiting local residents to test for evidence of road salt in urban runoff can add Photograph: Friends of the Muskoka WatershedSpencer MacPherson, citizen science coordinator with Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, is looking forward to gaining more volunteers, to collect more data and to provide ideas to improve the program.

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20 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023www.mikeslandscaping.cainfo@mikeslandscaping.caRoad salt is seen as an absolute winter necessity to maintain safety. However, oen areas are over-salted, creating numerous problems for the environment. While the issue has been on the radar of the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed for more than a decade, data to support changing the existing regulations is limited. significantly to our understanding of where and when road salt is problematic. FOTMW recruited their first 10 citizen scientists to run a pilot program in the winter of 2022-2023. Among the recruits were members of the Gull and Silver Lake Residents’ Association. Already concerned about road salt, the association was eager to take on the role of pilot monitoring. Joanne and Clarke Smith jointly chair the environmental committee with the Gull Lake group. ey’re a good fit for the portfolio: she a high school science teacher with training in zoology, he a retired lawyer. ey received test kits to use at three sites in Gravenhurst.“e main concern of the association has always been the quality of the water,” Joanne says. Chloride has become a growing part of that focus. ey discovered snow cleared from plaza parking lots on Bethune Drive was piled beside a storm drain that fed salt-laden meltwater into the lake. Highway 11’s bridge over the lake allows meltwater to drain salt into the water as well. And various municipal roads contribute more salt. Photograph: Friends of the Muskoka Watershed

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 21anks to newer technology, the citizen scientists’ task of measuring salt is not that complicated: Find some open water and pull out a cupful. An electronic probe does the analysis.e probe is a fascinating tool that provides accurate assessments of the chloride in the water. e salt in lake water is not something you can taste: the levels are in parts per million. Instead, Dr. Neil Hutchinson of FOTMW explains, the pen-sized electronic probe “uses conductivity, an accepted means to estimate chloride.” e chloride measurements the Smiths and others have compiled have them worried. “We knew the lake had soft water,” Joanne says. “But we never thought of the effects chloride would have on soft water.” e science has revealed a “multitude” of impacts in the lake. It’s exactly the kind of synergy the FOTMW was hoping for when this program was designed. “Citizen scientists are our eyes on the watershed,” says Dr. Hutchinson “ey live close to runoff areas and can mobilize quickly and take measurements in response to rain, snow or thaw events when they occur. ey are also proactive – making sure that staff and politicians hear the concerns from citizens as well as scientists.”Dr. Hutchinson has been monitoring a feeder stream leading to Jevins Lake, just downstream from Highway 11’s bend around the lake at Gravenhurst. He’s been using a slightly more sophisticated conductivity monitor, called a Hobo Logger, which Photograph: Friends of the Muskoka WatershedAmong the rst citizen scientist recruits were members of the Gull and Silver Lake Residents’ Association. Already concerned about road salt, the association was eager to take on the role of pilot monitoring. They discovered snow cleared from plaza parking lots on Bethune Drive was piled beside a storm drain that fed salt-laden meltwater into the lake and Highway 11’s bridge over the lake allows meltwater to drain salt into the water as well.

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22 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023remotely records measurements every five minutes. It’s been keeping a record for the better part of a year. Road salt runoff has easy access from the highway to the lake here, as well as from the town’s large south commercial area, with its major retail outlets. Dr. Hutchinson’s results show that during thaw periods from February to May meltwater created sharp spikes in chloride levels, approaching the Canadian Water Quality Guideline. Jevins Lake, Joanne Smith says, “is a red flag.” She and Clarke have measured runoff in a ditch leading from the commercial area, and last year recorded the highest readings of all sites. e ditch feeds water into a wetland complex that leads to Dr. Hutchinson’s “Hobo site,” which in turn leads to Jevins Lake. Clarke Smith says it’s understandable that salt gets a lot of use in commercial retail parking areas. It’s a liability issue. But Joanne points out the amount being used far outstrips what is needed.“It only takes a tablespoon of salt to melt a square metre of ice,” she says. And putting salt down in the coldest weeks is pointless: below –12°C, salt loses its ability to melt ice.Even in its infancy, the road salt pilot has had unexpected benefits.“In addition to more data being collected,” Spencer MacPherson, citizen science co-ordinator with FOTMW, says, “we have already seen benefits of creating a small community of motivated individuals with a common goal. Some of our volunteers have really stepped up and helped us make some positive changes to the program for this upcoming season.”e chance to play an important part in the project is what drew Joanne and Clarke Smith to get involved. It’s a commitment to community, Clarke says, a belief he holds that “by having people involved, change happens.”And, Joanne enthuses, “it’s practical research. I mean, how wonderful is that?”Other initiatives are also underway. Dr. Hutchinson, working with the Muskoka Watershed Council, has used the District of Muskoka’s data on chloride levels in more than 200 lakes to document the status of road salt for the Muskoka Watershed Report Card, released on September 18. He is working with the FOTMW to develop a recommendation for a more sensitive, Muskoka-specific water quality guideline for chloride, incorporating the enhanced toxicity of road salt in Muskoka’s soft water.If that comes about, it could dramatically affect the way road salt is used in the District of Muskoka. e program will continue to expand to new sites, with the help of new recruits. Dr. Hutchinson is working with the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed to develop a recommendation for a more sensitive, Muskoka-specic water quality guideline for chloride, incorporating the enhanced toxicity of road salt in Muskoka’s so water. Photograph: Friends of the Muskoka WatershedIf you’d like to become one of the citizen scientists working on this project, contact Spencer MacPherson at, or by phoning the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed office at 705-640-0948.

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24 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Dorset’s two museums bring their Lake of Bays community to life in ways that engage and reward the public. Both are easily accessible on the main street in buildings showcasing how heritage structures play roles intrinsic to their contemporary purpose.Dorset Heritage Museum, operating since 2001, occupies a re-purposed 1928 Forest Ranger building. Still anchoring spacious grounds adjacent to the tourist-attracting lookout tower, the place maintains the community’s link to forestry and Dorset’s historic role as the location of Ontario’s Fire Ranger School. Lake of Bays Marine Museum, opened Article by J. Patrick Boyer / Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsIn the Dorset Heritage Museum, visitors enjoy diverse artifacts, photographs and storyboards artfully presenting Dorset’s colourful saga from settlement to modern times. The museum occupies a re-purposed 1928 Forest Ranger building, still anchoring spacious grounds adjacent to the Dorset Lookout Tower.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 25in 2013 with legendary cruise ship Bigwin as its pivotal attraction, occupies the 1885 building and wharf where Huntsville & Lake of Bays Navigation Company and Bigwin Livery Company sold tickets. At that location, the company stored freight, distributed mail, operated the telegraph office and provided upstairs sleeping quarters for captains of steamships Mohawk Belle and Iroquois.ese separate and distinctive entities curating Muskoka heritage are complementary. In the Heritage Museum, visitors enjoy a modern, clean, welcoming space. Diverse artifacts, photographs and storyboards artfully present Dorset’s colourful saga from settlement to modern times. Specific areas feature Indigenous presence, wildlife, summer camps, schooling, logging, farming, trapping, firefighting, service in wartime, commerce and time’s parade of innovations, from cash registers and cheese slicers to motor vehicles and radios. Lighting throughout is soft, which adds a cozy atmosphere while effectively illuminating each exhibit. Glass panes encasing displays, for instance owls of North America, are immaculate. Most displays have no glass, allowing curious visitors to touch a turtle’s shell or a child’s schoolroom slate, a beartrap or snowshoe, achieving exceptional intimacy for a museum. e Marine Museum’s inauguration a decade ago brought to life the impossible dream of heritage-minded individuals. e elegant S.S. Bigwin had been, in the words of authors Marijane Terry and Jeff Gabura, “the hardest worker at Bigwin Inn,” ferrying passengers and luggage to and from the island resort for decades. Her pathetic demise, then miraculous resurrection to a second life as today’s popular Lake of Bays cruiser, is superbly documented in their book A Muskoka Century / e Story of the S.S. Bigwin. Built in 1910, the Bigwin’s engine was converted in 1956 from steam to diesel, while her recent restoration entailed conversion to electric power, in all, a stellar example of sustainable heritage. Because Bigwin’s role is best understood in her setting, the authors render a fulsome account of Lake of Bays history, just as the museum serves visitors with enriching artifacts and stories, selling pertinent books and providing helpful information with gift Dorset Heritage Museum and Lake of Bays Marine Museum are separate and distinctive entities curating Muskoka heritage. However, their operations are complementary, showcasing all aspects of Lake of Bays history. Most displays at Dorset Heritage Museum have no glass, allowing curious visitors to interact more fully with displays, achieving exceptional intimacy for a museum. The Marine Museum’s artifacts and photographs recall the height of S.S. Bigwin’s popularity when she rst set sail and makes the most of Bigwin’s new era on Lake of Bays.

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26 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023shop wall panels describing currently operating resorts. Passengers aboard Bigwin also relish commentaries by Captain Chuck McClelland, who draws from his seven decades of experience on the lake, and Captain Jim Spier, also the museum’s hands-on general manager, who explains how the vessel was updated for safe operation while maintaining her classic authenticity. e Marine Museum’s artifacts, photographs, and even the 1930s movie “Pleasure Island” shown in American theatres to attract guests north to Bigwin Inn, make the most of Bigwin’s new era on Lake of Bays. Gaining considerable media interest, its popular routes include ursday evening dinner cruises to Port Cunnington Lodge. “We are having an excellent year,” smiled Captain Speirs early in August.Dorset Heritage Museum came into being when permanent and seasonal residents realized that Lake of Bays’ rich history would be lost if 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.The elegant S.S. Bigwin ferried passengers and luggage to and from the island resort for decades. Built in 1910, the Bigwin’s engine was converted in 1956 from steam to diesel, while her recent restoration entailed conversion to electric power. Her miraculous restoration is the work of dedicated, heritage-minded individuals.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 27Muskoka's Largest Home Service Company!No job is too big or too small! 705.687.9143 315 Industrial Drive, GravenhurstDorset Heritage Museum came into being when permanent and seasonal residents realized that Lake of Bays’ rich history would be lost if nobody acted. A combination of donated artifacts and items claimed from the closure of the Leslie M. Frost Natural Resources Centre, such as a birchbark canoe, art and educational exhibits of birds, turtles, sh and animal skulls, now make up the displays at the museum.

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28 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023nobody acted. “We were fortunate to get the Lands and Forests Fire Ranger Station,” explains Norm MacKay, a past chair of the museum committee. “We converted it with free labour. Stu Barnes, employed at Beaver Creek correctional facility, brought minimum-security prisoners to work under direction of a carpenter, a drywaller, an electrician and a roofer to fashion a contemporary museum.”Numerous artifacts were donated by Muskoka and Haliburton individuals and families. On July 6, 2004, when the province closed the Leslie M. Frost Natural Resources Centre (operating in the former Forest Exhibits within the Dorset Heritage Museum feature Indigenous presence, wildlife, summer camps, schooling, logging, farming, trapping, reghting, service in wartime, commerce and time’s parade of innovations, from cash registers and cheese slicers to motor vehicles and radios.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

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 29Ranger School), MacKay and John Clayton, another pillar of the museum’s development, went to the Centre and staked claim to a birchbark canoe, art and educational exhibits of birds, turtles, fish, and animal skulls – now exhibited in the museum.ematically displayed, “Each item and picture tell a story,” notes MacKay. His father’s book Early Days in Dorset, among titles on sale, records many such stories. So too do knowledgeable volunteers available as docents who answer visitors’ questions.Both these new and vital heritage centres in Dorset are emblematic of the creative possibilities when citizens care about their community’s past, present, and future.The former Forest Ranger School is well represented at Dorset Heritage Museum, with exhibits showcasing the incredible history of the location and school as well as operating from a renovated building formerly part of the Forest Ranger School. The place maintains the community’s link to forestry and Dorset’s historic role as the location of Ontario’s Fire Ranger School. Considering renting your cottage? LET’S CONNECT.Full Service 4-Season waterfront cottage rental management agencyFind Us1-877-788-1809• Inquiries & Reservations• Marketing• 24/7 Guest Support• Checking and Assessing• Detailed Cottage Listing• Professional Photography• Cleaning & Check-UpsOCR_MRA (2.3755x9.875).indd 1 2019-05-31 3:41:20

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32 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Article by Bronwyn Boyer / Photography by Kelly HolinsheadPainting is something Meghan Irvine does for herself because it’s what makes her creative spark shine the brightest. Irvine manages to walk the line between realism and abstraction, particularly in her ability to capture the energy of water in her paintings.To look at Meghan Irvine’s paintings is to get lost in the experience they capture, the characters portrayed and the stories they tell. Irvine’s work delves much deeper than the aesthetic beauty of the natural world around her; ultimately, it’s about the relationships she forms with each tree, rock, animal, leaf, stream she shares with her viewers. e way the light accentuates features of nature only experienced in fleeting moments, if at all, can be found in Irvine’s brush strokes and conscientious use of colour.Irvine grew up in Waterloo but spent her summers in Muskoka at her family’s cottage. Home is a prevailing theme in her paintings and her connection to the area is what gives them so much meaning. “Muskoka always felt like home to me,” Irvine explains. “It’s where all my best childhood memories happened.” Irvine studied fine art at the University of Waterloo and Western University, where she also completed Teacher’s College. Her first area of study was kinesiology, as a career as an artist was not her original plan. “I’ve always done art,” she shares. “I always had a sketchbook and pencil with me. I was always drawing. When I was a kid, I’d go to my mom and say, ‘I need to make a craft, right now!’ ere was an urgency about it that never went away. But I just thought it was something all kids do, so it took a long

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 33time to realize it was my passion. I went into kinesiology because I didn’t want to try to be an artist. But I realized during the program that I was the only one there who didn’t really love kinesiology. I knew I wanted to teach, so I decided I wanted to teach art and math.” After teacher’s college, Irvine and her partner moved to Muskoka and she taught at Tawingo College in Huntsville. But Irvine’s destiny as a painter found a way to shine through her other plans, like the rays of the sun through a forest canopy. “When I had my first child, I decided to stay home with her and pursue art as a full-time career,” she recalls. “I could only balance so many things and art was really important to me, I didn’t want to lose it. It’s funny how I accidentally spent my whole life trying to be an artist while I was trying to do other things.”Although Irvine displayed her paintings in Waterloo in her early days, it wasn’t until they were hung at the Silver Bridge Gallery in Bracebridge that she considered herself an artist. “Labelling myself that way has always been a challenge,” she says. “I always considered myself a painter but there was a sense of legitimacy when my work started appearing in galleries. And taking the leap to prioritize my art as a source of income definitely changed my focus.” Irvine paints from photographs that she takes on forays into the natural world, sometimes at a specific time of day with the intent to capture the light she wants to paint. A prevailing theme of comfort, home and safety flows through Irvine’s canvases like a gently winding river. Showing the connection between every aspect of life in a way that brings hope, peace and comfort is her artistic modus operandi. She gives her paintings titles that emphasize nature being a safe haven. This past spring, Meghan Irvine held her rst solo show at Coles Art Market in Huntsville called Light Shines Through. The experience was a landmark moment for her, being able to return to the moments depicted in her 27 original paintings. Rather than looking out over a lake, Meghan Irvine’s paintings makes the viewer feel like they’re in the water. She credits having spent much time in the water as a child and with her own children for providing her the connection to the element and the perspective of being immersed in water.

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34 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Her wildlife portraits personify the creatures being show-cased as relatable characters. A fox stretching its front legs is called is Moment, while the one stretching its back legs is called, Another Day. A painting of an empty nest called Everything We Need, is juxtaposed with a nest containing eggs called, e Simplicity of Importance. A study of four dying leaves on a twig called Somewhere Between shines light on the smallest, seemingly insignificant moments in the cycle between life and death. What most people miss, Irvine sees. Titles like Safe Harbor, Lullabies, and Home for e Night, evoke the feeling of comfort found in the golden hour, when the setting sun transforms the colors just right. “ere’s something beautifully symbolic to me about the setting sun,” Irvine explains. “It’s when everything gets touched by a beautiful golden light for a while. I find a lot of solace in the dependability of that repeating cycle. It’s not only beautiful but it feels like everything is going to be okay.” Irvine’s work is a celebration of the dichotomy of the vastness of the world and humanity’s place in it. “e way birch trees shed their skin in layers… I know that feeling,” Irvine says with a laugh. “It’s a metaphor for how we transform and evolve. It’s not so much about painting the tree so much as seeing ourselves reflected in it, in ways we can resonate.”Irvine’s portraits of water are perhaps her strongest body of work. Rather than looking out over a lake, she makes the viewer feel like they’re in it. “I spent so much time in the shallow water, as a kid or with my kids,” she says. “We can only take in so much with our vision, so I loved trying to capture one close-up view of the water. I try to paint how water feels, the experience of being immersed in it. I’ve always been interested in our relationship with it. e more I paint it, the more I realize our physiological connection to it. It’s comforting to me to think that the lake is the same water I swam in as a kid. It feels like home.” Irvine captures the energy of water in a way that is equally realistic and inventive. She manages to walk the line between realism and abstraction thanks to her fascination with the element. “I also love finding water in the forest,” she says. “I love to watch the strength and movement of a waterfall or a stream, the way it fluctuates and adapts. How it finds its path and the connection between the water and the rocks. ere are lessons in it, I think.”rough her paintings, Irvine pays homage to the emotional experiences of the places she’s been, and wherever she lives. “ere’s something interesting about the familiarity of visiting the trees I’ve painted,” she explains. “A horizon line becomes familiar too, like a friend. It’s an unexpected relationship to the space I’m immersed in that I just can’t get enough of.” is past spring, Irvine did her first solo show at Coles Art Market in Huntsville called Light Shines rough and it was a landmark moment for her. “I hadn’t had the experience before of standing in a room surrounded by my own art,” she recalls. “It was a Evoking the feeling of comfort found in the “golden hour,” when the setting sun transforms the colours just right, is present in much of Meghan Irvine’s art. Irvine clearly feels at home among nature. The warmth and relaxation she experiences in Muskoka shine through in her paintings.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 35BATH & 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 Centrereally incredible experience to spend eight months creating a body of work around a theme and then seeing it all together in one place. It was like re-experiencing a part of my life that I’d documented, culminated in twenty-seven original paintings and it felt like I was experiencing those moments all over again. I don’t always get to meet the people who buy my paintings, so it was amazing to see people interacting with it. I rode that high for a long time.” ough Irvine’s lifepath as an artist has eclipsed her teaching career, she will always love teaching, regardless of the subject matter. “I love observing how brains work – how we learn,” she states. “Being able to expose people to something that I had gotten so much joy out of was a wonderful experience. e most I enjoyed teaching art was at the Grade 7 and 8 level, helping students create a painting and discover their own inspiration and voice, to start them on their own artistic journeys. I also enjoy teaching math, helping people discover that they can do something they always struggled with or understand something they didn’t think they could. I Meghan Irvine paints from photographs she takes on forays into nature, sometimes at a specic time of day with the intent of capturing the light she wants to paint. A prevailing theme of comfort, home and safety ows through Irvine’s canvases like a gently winding river.

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especially enjoy teaching art and math. Art is subjective, but math isn’t. I like striking that balance between the creative and logical sides of my brain.” Painting is something Irvine does for herself because it’s what makes her creative spark shine the brightest. e tension between art and business is a common struggle for artists that feels like walking a tightrope. “I try to keep them separate from each other,” Irvine explains. “I don’t think sales are what makes an artist successful. I think if you’re making something you love, that’s success. If no one ever bought a painting, I would still paint. ere’s a tremendous amount of external validation when someone buys a painting that feels amazing but ultimately, I paint because I need the creative outlet to feel healthy.” Irvine’s paintings can be found at Coles Art Market in Huntsville, Britton Gallery in Bracebridge, e Algonquin Art Centre in Algonquin Park, e Ethel Curry Gallery in Halliburton, Paula White Diamond Gallery in Waterloo and Crown and Press Gallery in Hamilton. Irvine is doing two group shows in October at Crown and Press Gallery and Paula White Diamond Gallery. On November 4th, she’ll be in the “6x6” group show at the Huntsville Festival of Arts studio with Helena Renwick, Stephanie Aykroyd, Roxanne Driedger, Sylvia Kerschl and one more artist, to be determined. While studying ne art at the University of Waterloo and Western University, where she also completed Teacher’s College, becoming an artist was not part of Meghan Irvine’s original plans. It wasn’t until she had her rst child and chose to remain at home that she truly began to lean into art as her career. Delving much deeper than the aesthetic beauty of the natural world around her, Meghan Irvine’s work is ultimately about the relationships she forms with each tree, rock, animal, leaf, stream she shares with her viewers. The way the light accentuates features of nature only experienced in eeting moments, if at all, can be found in Irvine’s brush strokes and conscientious use of color. 36 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023

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38 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023There are many places to go for a hike or walk in Muskoka, each with its own distinctive signature. One such walk however stands apart from the rest and offers visitors a truly unique experience. e Eclipse Walk With Light in Huntsville, which opened in November 2021, takes one through a memorable interactive journey of artistic lights and sounds. During COVID-19, when social distancing was still a concern, Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce conceived the idea of a safe outdoor activity that could be enjoyed by all and encouraged physical movement as well. Designed in collaboration with Limbic Article and Photography by Andy ZeltkalnsThe Eclipse Walk With Light in Huntsville provides an experience unlike any other in Muskoka. Participants walk through installations with over 20,000 lights and are greeted by illuminated soundscapes linked to the seasons of the year and cycles of the day and moon.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 39Media, visitors were “invited to lose themselves and experience the non-linear nature of time.” Formerly located inside the grounds of Muskoka Heritage Place, participants walk a circular path through the forest and were greeted by illuminated soundscapes linked to the seasons of the year and cycles of the day and moon. Along the path of 20,000 lights, the walk was interspersed with illuminated pioneer buildings and structures in combination with music and spoken words. roughout the journey several stops allow people to interact with lights by creating their own sounds. At one of the elements, Awaken, ringing a bell wakes and lights up the flowers. Twilight encourages one to try out different sounds to influence the intensity and pattern of light. Creating a shadow on the surface of the moon is even possible at Moonrise where images of light were projected on the side of a barn. Local or visitor, the experience is a memorable one. Jacqui Golsby from Vancouver Island who was visiting family describes the Eclipse Walk With Light as a “sensually rich experience of sound, light, texture and scent of fresh, wintery air.” “My anticipation was piqued as we climbed the hill and above us, we heard haunting music and sounds with flashes of light illuminating the trees,” shares Golsby. Joan, Golsby’s 90-year-old mother, found the trail easy to negotiate with her walker and enjoyed the music and narration, stating “It was an activity enjoyable for all ages. I Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce conceived the idea of the Eclipse Walk With Light during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing was still a concern. Designed in collaboration with Limbic Media, the result was a safe outdoor activity that could be enjoyed by all and encouraged physical movement as well.Returning to Huntsville with a new format in November 2023, Eclipse Walk with Light is an opportunity to step outside of time and immerse oneself in an outdoor experience for all ages and accessibilities. Formerly located at Muskoka Heritage Place, this year the experience will be interspersed throughout downtown Huntsville during the winter months.

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GET 1000L OF FREEPROPANEWhen you makethe switch fromoil with Sarjeants*Terms & Conditions Apply.Book your no-cost consultation at 705.728.2460Book your no-cost consultation at 705.728.2460Proudly Serving Simcoe County & MuskokaPropane - Heating Oil - 40 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Participants of all ages and mobility can enjoy the Eclipse Walk With Light. Throughout the journey several stops allow people to interact with lights by creating their own sounds. The walk is interspersed with illuminated buildings and structures in combination with music and spoken words.came not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.” Ellen Yeo from Bracebridge visited the event for the first time found it a “nice evening out” and thoroughly enjoyed the wintery night atmosphere in the forest of lights. “My 8- and 10-year-old cousins loved running along the trails and interacting with the lights,” shares Yeo. “It kept us all busy and interested for the full hour we spent there.”Truly an experience for anyone to enjoy,

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 41this writer also had the chance to visit the Walk With Light with his wife, Jayn, and their special needs daughter, Aleksandra. Soon after the start of the walk, entering an enchanting tunnel of lights immediately caught Aleksandra’s attention and made her look up at the magical display. e light and music along the way kept Aleksandra fully engaged in the experience.For the 2023/2024 season, starting in November, the Eclipse Walk With Light is changing locations. e experience will now be found interspersed throughout the downtown area of Huntsville. According to the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce, future plans are to “change up the event” and possibly increase the size of it at a later date.While there may be changes in the future, this coming winter plan to visit downtown Huntsville for a thoroughly noteworthy experience. e Eclipse Walk With Light displays are accessible to the public at no charge. e immersive magic of the lights and sounds will continue to captivate people as they stop, participate and enjoy. The immersive magic of lights and sounds, coupled with the wintery night atmosphere, creates an unforgettable experience for all ages at the Eclipse Walk With Light in Huntsville. Whether local or visitor, a trip through the Walk With Light is a memorable one. RESIDENTIAL • COMMERCIALINDUSTRIAL519.865.6209ARKLTD.CAGENERATORSSMART HOME SYSTEMSNEW CONSTRUCTIONLIGHTINGECRA/ESA #7010474With 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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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 43Article by Bronwyn Boyer / Photography by Tomasz SzumskiWhen Jacki MacPherson was a little girl, her grandparents took her on trips from where she lived on the outskirts of London, Ontario to her aunt’s cottage on Lake Huron. ey would take a different route each time, making the journey fun and exciting. Her grandmother sang the nursery rhyme “rig a jig jig and away we go,” creating a happy childhood memory that has now blossomed into a successful business. Away We Go Trips provides unique curated daytrips for people to experience Muskoka adventures off the beaten path. Even for seasoned natives of Muskoka, there are still many places to discover. Away We Go guides people to local independent businesses, historical monuments and hidden gems that are often overlooked. e trips are designed to help people form deeper bonds with their families, the community and the natural environment. But most of all, they’re designed to be fun. MacPherson created Away We Go Trips in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when she and her kids were stuck at home. “I had a new baby, and we weren’t allowed to do anything or go anywhere, so I felt like I was losing my mind,” she recalls. “I wanted to take my kids on a new outing each day but I was quickly running out of places to take them.” Away We Go Trips was founded by Jacki MacPherson in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic while she and her kids were stuck at home. As a teacher, MacPherson was searching for activities she and her kids could do together, even with pandemic restrictions. MacPherson’s research on Muskoka’s historical landmarks gave her new places to explore.

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44 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Operating all year round, the stops and places to visit along each Away We Go Trips route may vary due to road closures, weather conditions and the operating hours of businesses on the routes. Regardless of conditions, MacPherson nds a way to give travellers a unique and varied experience. The trip options and descriptions are mostly shrouded in mystery, with many fun surprises in store.As necessity is the mother of invention, MacPherson’s research on Muskoka’s historical landmarks gave her new places to explore. “I was able to access books because I was on the library board, so I started learning about historical sites I didn’t know existed around here,” she explains. “I wanted to teach my kids about it in a way that was fun for them, so I started planning day trips. People became interested as I posted about it on my social media and it became a way to help families rebuild their connections while giving small businesses a leg up at the same time.” MacPherson credits Bracebridge historian Patrick Boyer for a large part of the historical information she uses for the trips. In particular, his podcast, Boyer’s Modern History of Muskoka, gave her valuable material for the adventures she crafts.In addition to operating Away We Go Trips, MacPherson is a co-operative education teacher at Gravenhurst High School. “It’s a good balance for me,” she says. “I need to keep my brain active, so it keeps me busy in the summer. And it’s an amazing opportunity to work with small businesses as I send people to them. Forming those symbiotic relationships

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 45has been really rewarding.” Indeed, while locals have their favourite spots, most are likely missing out on the fascinating things that happened on that soil. Learning the hardships of the settlers, soldiers and citizens that built the region’s many communities provides a much-needed sense of perspective anyone can benefit from. As for those who don’t live in Muskoka, Away We Go provides a more accessible and varied way to experience the area that’s truly unique. “I think people want to be able to discover Muskoka on their own terms without breaking the bank,” says MacPherson. “ere are so many places in the region that don’t get talked about or enjoyed as much as they should,” MacPherson adds. “ere are historical monuments, prisoner of war camps, beaches, forest waterfalls and beautiful spots to discover.”Each trip is $35.00 per vehicle with no limit to the size of the group. It includes 10 stops geared towards travellers of all ages, with consideration for the needs of each group.“I give people all the information people may need, like which spots are most suitable for dogs or if they’re suitable for small children, the elderly or physically challenged travellers and how long each route will take,” shares MacPherson. “I provide the template but people can go at their own pace; so how long they stay at each destination or how long the trip takes is up to them.” Away We Go operates all year round but some of the stops change due to road closures, weather conditions and the operating hours of businesses on the routes. Regardless of conditions, MacPherson finds a way to give travellers a unique and varied experience. “Each trip has a good mix of different destinations,” she explains. “For example, one of the stops is a boatbuilder’s shop so people can go and have the authentic experience of learning and watching someone build a wooden boat. Another is a farm on one of the older historical land grant properties in Muskoka. Most people don’t necessarily think of farming when they think of Muskoka but it is an important part of industry in the region. I think now more than ever, we need to help each other out. at’s the kind of Muskoka I want to live in.” Away We Go Trips provides curated day trips for people to experience Muskoka adventures. Each trip includes ten stops geared towards travellers of all ages, with consideration for the needs of each group. Even for seasoned natives of Muskoka, there are still many places to discover.Connecting You to Hospice Muskoka 24/7 705-204-2273 (CARE)for more information, visit hospicemuskoka.comAdvance Care PlanningGrief & BereavementCaregiver EducationShort Stay/ RespiteCaregiver SupportVolunteer Home VisitsAndy’s HousePain & Symptom Management

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46 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023MD 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.e trip options and descriptions are mostly shrouded in mystery, with many fun surprises in store. Trips include e Wild North, Fallin’ and Farmin’, Escape to the Lakes, Lumber and Lakes, Forces in Nature and Muskoka Pride, where all proceeds are donated to the advocacy organization.“When I created the routes, it was for locals,” MacPherson continues. “I wanted to ignite that sense of adventure again. ere’s so much to learn and share here and I wanted people to be inspired to get out and explore Muskoka and form a deeper appreciation for it.”Travellers choose the theme and are given details about the trip upon purchase. It can then be downloaded either as a PDF file where all the stops are mapped out or on a phone where each stop is given along the way. e smart phone option is for those who like the element of surprise since they don’t know the route ahead of time. However, looking at what’s ahead is always an option. And although trails are just one ingredient of the trips, the website also has a handy resource for information about trails in Muskoka that is hard to find anywhere else.In addition to operating Away We Go Trips, Jacki MacPherson is a co-operative education teacher at Gravenhurst High School. The combination of the two keeps her brain active and creatively occupied year-round.

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48 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Freshly-built with sawn lumber, the 1888 Wahta post oce became a community hub. Attractive with board-and-batten construction, the fences and presence of a sheep also indicate community progress with land clearing for farming. Many wrote to friends and family still at Kanesatake, urging them to move to the new community but lack of clarity about title to the lands kept them away.Article by J. Patrick BoyerOn the morning of October 20, 1881, Chief Louis Sahanatien and Katrine, his wife, with their children Rebecca and James, left home after a sleepless night and led 130 other men, women and children through a gauntlet of chaos toward a waiting steamer. Mohawks lined the route down to the Ottawa River. Some faces were wet with tears. From others came taunting jeers. is evacuation from their home in Oka to Gibson Township in Muskoka was further splitting their tattered community.Since the 1570s the Mohawks, easternmost nation in the Iroquois Confederacy, had been the invincible keepers of “the Eastern Gate.” Occupying the strategic Mohawk Valley in what became New York State, their domain extended from the Hudson River to Lake Champlain and north to the St. Lawrence River. e Confederacy’s half-dozen nations were the most advanced hunters and farmers of eastern woodland peoples. Across the continent north of Mexico, Iroquoian military prowess, statecraft and political organization were second to none. Before Europeans introduced escalating warfare and fatal diseases, the Mohawk population ranged between seven to ten thousand people. As European disruption introduced strange languages and different religions, change, for better or worse, was inevitable. What began as normal trading turned to competition to provide European settlers with more pelts for firearms and alcohol, with Mohawks disregarding their traditional honouring of animals to killing only for their fur and conquering neighbouring First Nations in order to dominate the trade. Further disruption came as missionaries separated Mohawks from their deeply embedded spiritual life, induced them to All images courtesy of Wahta Mohawk First Nation

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 49The rather palatial-looking home of Chief Louis Sahanatien was not so grand in his lifetime. Pictured here late in life, Chief Louis Sahanatien was in his 40s when he began reading a Methodist Bible to his people at Kanesatake (Oka). Chief Sahanation was a leading gure in the 1881 Mohawk relocation to Muskoka.switch to Christianity and eroded tribal structures with alien social and cultural practices. French missionaries managed to draw many Mohawks from their homeland villages north into Canada for the benefits of Christianity.In 1718, a Sulpician order of priests was granted land west of Montreal near Lake of Two Mountains by King Louis XV of France. A condition was “the Indians be removed to this new location, that provision be made for their instruction and care, and that within seven years a fort, church and other buildings be erected.” Known as Oka (“pickerel”) to Algonquins and Kanesatake (“sandy place”) to Mohawks, the seminary consolidated Indigenous Catholic converts from the wider vicinity in one place. e migration from Oka to Muskoka was not as large-scale as others made by Mohawks throughout history but the move was an impactful one – for the Sulpician seminary at Kanesatake, the provincial government in Ontario, and the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa, all working to assimilate First Nations into settler society – and most critically for the Mohawks. In the 1870s, when Mohawks at Kanesatake obtained a Methodist bible and many found the communal version of Christianity more aligned with their egalitarian beliefs, a spark was ignited. e building and subsequent burning of a Methodist church and the retaliatory burning of seminary buildings divided the Mohawk community, while the strict-living Sulpicians, now wealthy and influential, coveted the prime Kanesatake lands on which the Mohawks dwelt. e king’s grant stipulated that should Indians “abandon” the seigneury, the land would revert to the state. However, if the Methodist Mohawks left in an agreed manner, the land ownership issue would disappear with them. e Sulpicians now saw they could benefit even more if the Protestant Mohawks took their Catholic confreres with them.In 1877 Indian Affairs consulted Mohawk leaders directly. One, Chief Joseph Onesakenrat, expressed his keenness and that of others to relocate to new lands in Ontario. But two years later, with nothing happening, Chief Sahanatien himself went to Ottawa accompanied by two elders to get an Ontario reserve.e Department of Indian Affairs suggested Rama, which was Ojibwe land and made no sense. Another idea was land in Ontario’s far north, utterly isolated from other Mohawks. A third possibility was territory in unsettled Gibson Township – unpopulated virgin land, large enough for the Mohawk community’s future generations, and reasonably close, as Canadian distances go. Chief Sahanatien explained the Gibson move plan to his council. Indian Affairs contacted Ontario’s Crown Lands Commission, which proposed land in Parry Sound District instead. A year later this stalling tactic ended when Ontario reluctantly agreed to sell Gibson land to the government Wahta Mohawks lived o the land by shing and hunting game, and Lyla Commandant was one of many who patiently sat by a hole cut in ice shing during winter. Around this time, a woman elder at Wahta chuckled telling how her husband got a letter from Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources about spearing sh. “He wrote back and said, ‘My grandfather speared. My father speared. I spear and hope my sons will spear, too.’ He sent the letter and never heard another word.”

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50 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Religion became the trigger for Mohawks at Kanesatake to leave their Roman Catholic enclave in Quebec. The interior of the church they built at Wahta in 1908 shows congregants, chancel wall imagery and hanging oil lamps for illumination. At le, a number of worshipers in traditional Mohawk dress oset the majority wearing formal settler clothing to comport with the style of those who introduced Christianity and its cultural disruptions.of Canada for Indian Affairs to resettle Mohawks. e layers of government jurisdictions and various parties ensured this could not be straightforward. Because the Sulpicians now ardently desired the Mohawks gone, they agreed with Indian Affairs to pay 50¢ an acre for the land. Additionally, they would compensate all departing families. ey would pay $30,000 for moving them to Muskoka, plus the costs of building suitable houses for each relocating family. e seminary gave the money to the federal government and Indian Affairs, which in turn paid the reluctant vendor its asking price for the acreage. On June 24, 1881, Ontario’s cabinet approved the sale, but with conditions.October was late in the season for a distant migration but after years of false hope and bitter recriminations, the Protestant Mohawks were anxious to leave. ey would be paid for their losses, had been told buildings awaited them and believed other Mohawks would follow. Names on the lists of those going had changed like the weather. In summer 1880, 60 people would leave. By February 1881, that had risen to 33 families, averaging about four members each. In March, the self-selecting refugee families numbered 39; by April, 44. On the morning of, who knew?As for their compensation, in February 1881, Indian Agent John McGirr appraised buildings and lands of the 23 families then intending to leave and placed their value at $24,240. e Sulpicians complained of the sum to Indian Affairs. When departing Mohawks were paid their money, promised as inducement to leave, it was only $3,005. e trade steamer Dagmar covered the two downstream miles of Ottawa River to St. Anne, where the émigrés transferred to a CNR train. McGirr accompanied them, tallying 70 adults, 33 youngsters not yet five-years-old, and 30 children between ages five to 15. Some families decided to over-winter in Gravenhurst. Most continued by steamboat to Bala, then downriver by canoe and scow as far as Red Rock on the Musquash River, where they made camp as October turned to November. Chief Sahanatien scanned dark clouds descending and gave orders to pitch tents in a winter pattern and gather firewood. ey awakened next morning to a foot of snow. Nobody stirred, except several hunters who killed a deer for venison.As winter’s first snow melted, families scouted their new territory. ey had been told, as an inducement to move, that buildings awaited them. Of course, none yet existed because the families first had to select locations. After erecting three shanties, they fashioned sleighs and hauled belongings from the river encampment. ose having no cabin lived in the Red Rock landing camp tents through winter. To their surprise, Mohawks discovered squatters with French names on this land. ey offered to sell or share their log cabins with the new arrivals. When those who moved in could not pay because their Two decades ago Wahta Mohawk First Nation adopted this crest to show the community’s name in Mohawk and English languages. The turtle represents both Turtle Island and the animal’s presence on Wahta territory, while the bear and wolf represent clans of Wahta Mohawks.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 51money had gone for food, the squatters felt jilted and threatened to destroy what the Mohawks had themselves built. Agent McGirr reported the deteriorating situation to Ottawa.As an Indian agent, John McGirr was a go-between, representing the department to the Indians and presenting needs of First Nations to Indian Affairs at Ottawa. But even when taking up issues, as McGirr was increasingly doing for the Mohawks in Muskoka, two basic hurdles existed. Governments, departmental officials and entities like the Sulpician seminary were implementing assimilation programs to make First Nations culturally white. Second, Indian agents themselves saw their charges through race-tinted glasses, treating them as children, often misreading stoicism and silence for lack of feelings like civilized white people experience.Living with the Mohawk experiences and away from the Sulpicians, McGirr became deeply troubled by their urgent needs. Earlier, when the Mohawks planned to relocate with Indian Affairs, they listed basics for establishing a settlement from scratch: farming tools, seed grain, cows, horses, bulls and a gristmill to grind flour from wheat. Also: food, stoves and clothing. A doctor, school, sawmill, road and woollen factory as well. Nothing had arrived. e Mohawks were destitute. McGirr implored Ottawa to send stoves, stovepipes and other promised necessities nowhere yet in sight. Some molasses and salted pork arrived but, instead of sending essential supplies or even enough food for the first winter, Ottawa instructed the men to find work in mills to earn food money. e closest Muskoka mill was 22 miles distant and closed for winter. Each family’s compensation for their homes went to food. People lived on the edge of starvation all winter. Six children perished.By spring, some layover families from Gravenhurst arrived, though others continued with town living. e relocating families settled in and worked to make a new home in Muskoka, clearing land, building homes and holding worship services. In 1882, several cabins were built to “seminary specifications” (two rooms, a loft and staircase, a window and door to each room) and paid for by Indian Affairs with Sulpician funds. Indian Affairs paid off the squatters directly for their buildings, in which some 16 resettled families now lived. Repairs Mohawks made to squatters’ shanties would not be paid. By 1884, fourteen more houses had been erected. Because of its hard maples, the Mohawks began using the distinctive name “Wahta” for their settlement, although “Gibson Reserve” also continued in common use well into the 20th century. Only one third of Oka’s Mohawks relocated to Muskoka. Several pioneering families who came in October 1881 went back, while others who temporarily wintered in Gravenhurst stayed there. Uncertainty about the land’s ownership overshadowed all else. Before relocating, Indian Affairs told the Mohawks they could manage their new Ontario land as an Indian Reserve under the new Indian Act of 1880. It had been surveyed into rectangles as township concessions and lots but Indian Affairs requested Ontario to treat the 25,582 acres it was selling as a single block for a traditional communal reserve, under one Crown patent for all the territory. When Ontario’s cabinet authorized the sale in June 1881, it stipulated the Mohawks had to comply with settler requirements under the Free Grant and Homestead Act, a statute applying only to prospective farmers trying to qualify for free land.Neither the Mohawks nor Indian Affairs sought free land. Ontario had received full payment of $12,791 for the 25,582 acres. e Mohawks had a lawful right to be treated like anyone else buying Crown land outright, free to develop it as they saw fit on their own timetable. Ontario’s Crown Lands Commission, in concert with other settler society public entities, sought assimilation of Indigenous cultures and eradication of First Nation practices. ey did not want another reserve in Ontario. Rather than allowing land-owning Indians to live in traditional ways on a new reserve in Ontario, the province demanded they fulfill Homestead Act settler duties because doing so would force assimilation. Under the statute’s provisions, only heads of families in Gibson would be issued a location ticket for their selected lot. After five years performing statute-specified work on their 100-acre parcel of land, the individual could be named owner of that specific property. Ontario’s stance was a direct challenge to the federal government’s jurisdiction for Indigenous Peoples. However, in autumn 1882, because Ontario immovably insisted the surveyed lots making up the Wahta territory could only be acquired by individual heads of families, Indian Affairs reversed its position that the lands had to be treated as a single block. Falling in line with the province’s assimilationist policy, Ottawa issued its own location tickets, called “certificates of possession,” under the Indian Act. ey had been distributed to 32 individual Mohawks for the far-flung 100-acre lots each had chosen. Mohawk houses were spread so widely that any location for the church, school or other communal place was inconvenient for many. For provincial Crown Land, to which the government asserted ownership based on treaties, Ontario for decades had been selling property in Muskoka and issuing buyers a Crown Patent (title deed) for their lots. e Mohawks, through the agency of Indian Affairs using Sulpician funds, similarly acquired Muskoka Crown land but received no Crown patent or any other Ontario deed The route between Wahta and Bala, nearest settler community, was a long poor road. Albert Commandant walked it regularly to deliver and fetch mail between the Wahta Post Oce and the Canadian postal system.

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52 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023or document evincing their ownership. In 1887, to address this overarching dilemma, Indian Affairs requested the province issue a patent for the Mohawk lands in Gibson. e request was repeatedly ignored that year. Asked for again in 1888, and then in 1889, Ontario did nothing. In 1889, twenty-three heads of Mohawk families who had been issued certificates of possession joined in by petitioning for deeds to their Gibson land. e only reply to the requests and petitions was taunting silence.While the province wanted settlers farming Muskoka, it simultaneously granted logging companies the cutting rights to local forests, creating additional chaos. When challenging a logging permit for a non-Indigenous man to cut timber on the lands Ontario sold the Mohawks, the province upheld his right to harvest trees because the permit was issued prior to the land sale, without making compensation to the Mohawks. To further hem in the hard-pressed Wahta settlers, Ontario twice refused Indian Affairs’ request to waive provincial royalty fees for pines they felled on their lands.Intrusion on a grand scale resumed with new squatters. In the 1880s Muskoka’s vacation economy was taking hold. A northern section of Wahta lands began filling up with trespassing cottagers who had not paid the Mohawks nor even sought permission to occupy their land and build on it. is new battle front of brazen intrusion posed an additional challenge because it was waged over lands the Mohawks could not prove they owned. Putting a stop to squatting should have been handled by the Indian Agent. But in April 1884, the Indian Agency for Wahta was transferred to the Northern Ontario superintendency, Division 2, running from the shores of Georgian Bay up to Lake Nipissing.eir new Indian agent at Parry Sound had almost no contact with the orphaned “Muskoka Band,” but the provincial government had plenty of connections with city voters asserting it was wrong for Indians to hold prime cottaging land. Pressure mounted for Ontario to reclaim some of Wahta’s fine Muskoka vacation territory. In 1914, the First World War began and Wahta lands came under further assault. As wartime recruitment began, Ottawa discouraged enlistment of Indians, offering paternalistic excuses to camouflage racist mindsets. Yet as the bloody slaughter continued, Britain wanted more Canadians for its war and, in 1917, Canada began conscripting soldiers. Using the cloak of mandatory military service, which applied to all males 18 to 40, Canada’s recruiting agents began forcing Indig enous men into the army. For Wahta Mohawks, forced enlistment was uniquely bizarre because it came wrapped as a reverse land claim. e Ontario government wanted back 10,808 acres of the Wahta lands, leaving the community with only 14,795 acres. is 42 per cent reduc tion of the lands sold to them in 1881 would have been more readily defended had the province not cleverly refused for a third of a century to issue a patent. For many valid reasons, the Wahta council refused to approve any such surrender of land.But as war lurched on, two Indian Affairs representatives from Ottawa arrived at Wahta with two provincial Crown Lands officials from Toronto. Gathering together the few band councillors on site, they threatened that unless the council returned 10,808 acre s, their sons would be dragged into the war. “If you don’t give up that land,” recalled one elder about the edict, “we’re going to pull all the boys, put them on the front line.” Zebede Road came home from the meeting, furious about what hap pened. “We lost the land,” he told his young son Frank. Remains of a bridge connecting north and south sections of Wahta Mohawk territory, prior to Ontario’s Government taking northern land from the reserve and Ontario Hydro reconguring the reserve’s waterways for its Big Eddy generating station.Ontario Hydro’s two generators in its Big Eddy powerhouse, rated at 3,825 kilowatts each and spinning at 200 rpm, produced 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. Behind, a large reservoir of water, built up by a 400-foot-wide dam, ooded extensive sections of Mohawk land. More land was lost to the wide corridor for high-voltage transmission lines carrying the electricity to southern Ontario.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 53BRACEBRIDGE GENERATION LTD.Water Power Generating a Cleaner EnvironmentInterested in more information or a free tour? www.bracebridgegeneration.comstoneway marble & granite inc.Les and Renata Partyka1295 Muskoka Rd. 118 West, Bracebridge | 705.645.3380 | 1939, the Second World War brought new problems to Wahta. With the province rapidly industrializing, Ontario Hydro needed to supply more electricity to factories. Without consulting the Mohawks, the provincial power utility used powers of expropriation and dammed Musquash River waters flowing through Wahta to Georgian Bay, pooling water to drive turbines at a large generating plant it built at Big Eddy. e backed-up waters flooded large sections of Wahta land, including the Mohawk cemetery. In addition, more forested land was clearcut to create a wide swath for Hydro’s high-voltage transmission lines. Just as the end seemed in sight for incursions into Wahta lands, Ontario’s program of building 400-series highways took a westward turn from Barrie up to Sudbury through Wahta. at left Wahta council to sort out claims for the land used by the highways department and the high-speed road system’s detrimental impacts on their community, alongside claims against Ontario Hydro for its vast projects on their land. After extensive research in the 1970s, Wahta’s claim upon the Government of Canada was made in the early 1980s for the land Ottawa returned to Ontario in 1918, without consent of the Wahta Mohawks. Negotiations did not begin until 1993, as the governments stalled. By 2002, an agreement-in-principle was reached that a majority of Wahta members ratified in an October 25, 2003 referendum. In 2005, the final agreement was reached. Wahta Mohawks received $9.7 million plus 8,300 acres of vacant provincial Crown land beside their existing Wahta territory which is now part of the reserve. Some Wahta lands claimed could not be returned because Ontario had sold them, leading to financial compensation instead. Ontario contributed the land and $3.45 million as its share of the settlement, the federal government $6.24 million. Chief Blaine Commandant said Wahta members were “glad the land has been repatriated to our territory.” He then added, “e land is the land and as First Nations we have a significant appreciation for that.” e wrongs committed against the resilient Mohawks through their onerous and polarizing migration from Oka to Muskoka had become history – not forgotten, but no longer unreconciled. Barb Sachs, raku pottery Canadian Craft & Original ArtOpen weekends to December 23 1073 Fox Point 28 MANITOBA STREET, BRACEBRIDGEAvailable atThe Iconic T1 Bucket Hat

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think ReStorecleaning out the cottage? the QR code or visitto learn more scanHabitat ReStores accept donations ofnew and gently used home furniture anddécor, appliances, kitchen and bathfixtures and other renovation items.Free pickup available.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 55Huntsville skiers target national Nordic teamA pair of skiing sisters from Huntsville are hoping to take their skills all the way from the trails of Arrowhead to Olympic tracks around the globe.Sophia and Mya Marshall were recently selected to join the country’s best nordic athletes at the National Centre in under Bay. Sophia has been training at the centre since May 2023 while her sister joined her in July. e sisters got their start in cross-country skiing via the jackrabbit programs at Arrowhead Nordic Ski Club and a lifelong love affair was born. “As we grew and started competing, our passion only became stronger and we quickly realized that someday we both wanted to compete for Canada on the international level and at the Olympics,” says Sophia.As they increased their training, the sisters regularly earned top 10 and then top five finishes provincially and nationally. Desire will take an athlete a long way but to get to the pinnacle of any sport, time and money are also required. With the girls training anywhere from 10 to 25 hours a week for 11 months of the year there’s little time left over to earn the money needed to train. In fact, the sisters were invited to a training camp in Germany with Team Ontario over the summer but had to turn it down due to lack of funding.“e total training centre cost is going to amount to around $15,000 for just one of us,” says Sophia. “e cost includes trips across Canada for races and training camps, coaching fees, and waxing fees for our skis and the integrated support team and that’s why we’re seeking financial support.”To help make their dreams a reality the sisters have been hosting community garage sales and unique fundraisers like a soup sampling and silent auction. ey’ve also set up a GoFundMe site to help them achieve their goals.You can find their account by visiting the GoFundMe website and searching for “Team Marshall National Development Centre Fund.”Huntsville Festival of the Arts announces fall concert seriesSummer has drawn to a close in Muskoka but events abound in the Huntsville area.e Huntsville Festival of the Arts (HFA) recently announced its 2023-2024 fall/winter concert lineup and it includes some of the biggest names in Canadian music.e season kicks off with a performance at Deerhurst Resort by Canadian rock-music legend Burton Cummings on October 12. On October 20 at Algonquin eatre, Evalyn Parry will take audiences on an uncommon theatrical and musical journey in Spin, her tour-de-force performance celebrating the Bicycle. Huntsville favourite Hawksley Workman returns on October 26 to the Algonquin eatre to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of his certified Gold Record Lover/Fighter.On November 11, multi-platinum, iconic Canadian country music artist Dean Brody rocks Deerhurst Resort. A passionate storyteller and unmatched lyricist, Brody has risen and continues to remain at the top of the Canadian country landscape.e holiday season takes off with Susan Aglukark’s Upinnaq Christmas on December 1 at Algonquin eatre, and on December 15, HFA continues the holiday spirit with A Ben Heppner Christmas: Featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers. e new year brings David Wilcox to the Deerhurst stage on January 18. Last but not least, on March 30, fans of rock and reggae will not want to miss Big Sugar at Deerhurst Resort.Coyote and wolf sightings in Lake of BaysA number of recent coyote or wolf sightings have Lake of Bays residents concerned. e reports came from the Finlayson Ward area and the Township of Lake of Bays issued a warning in response.e Township reminded residents that the Algonquin-area wolf, also known as the eastern wolf, inhabits regions including Finlayson, Franklin, and Sinclair wards. is species is protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007. As it is difficult to distinguish the eastern wolf from other species, Ontario has prohibited hunting and trapping of both wolves and coyotes in the core eastern wolf occurrence areas.e Township issued a number of suggested steps to prevent unwanted interactions with wildlife. ose include:• Keep dogs inside at night. • Clean up after your dog – coyotes are attracted to dog feces. • Spay and neuter your dog – coyotes are Whats HappenedPhotograph: OneSkate PhotoSisters Sophia and Mya Marshall from Huntsville are hoping to take their Nordic skiing skills all the way from the trails of Arrowhead to Olympic tracks around the globe.The Huntsville Festival of the Arts recently announced its 2023-2024 fall/winter concert lineup and it includes some of the biggest names in Canadian music, like David Wilcox at Deerhurst Resort on January 18. Photograph: Huntsville Festival of the Arts

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56 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023attracted to, and can mate with, domestic dogs that have not been spayed or neutered. • Keep pet food indoors. • Do not let your dog roam from your property. • Fence your property with a two-metre-high fence that extends at least 20 centimetres underground. • Always keep yourself, your family and your pets a safe distance away from wildlife. • Do not feed wildlife or touch wildlife droppings. • Leave orphaned wild animals alone. • Do not approach or touch a sick or dead animal. Local municipalities pledge millions for new Muskoka hospitals e local contributions are beginning to arrive for two new planned state-of-the-art hospitals in Muskoka.In September the Town of Bracebridge agreed to pay up to $10 million towards the local shares of developing new hospitals in Bracebridge and in Huntsville. Bracebridge’s contribution matches an earlier pledge made by the Town of Huntsville for the same amount. Over the summer, the Town of Gravenhurst also agreed to pay $1 million towards the local share and several other municipalities in East Parry Sound have made contributions totalling $9.5 million. Both the Township of Lake of Bays and the Township of Muskoka Lakes confirmed they will be contributing to the local share of the District levy.Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) plans to begin construction of the two new hospitals in 2029. In December of 2022, MAHC pegged the preliminary estimates for the cost of the new hospitals at $967 million. Based on that figure the local share of the cost is roughly $225 million. e new hospital in Huntsville will be built on the property of the existing hospital but MAHC has indicated the site of the current South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge is not large enough for a new facility. A potential new hospital site at 300 Pine Street was purchased for $1.3 million by the Town of Bracebridge. e property is one of three locations MAHC has identified as a potential site for the new hospital in Bracebridge. However, MAHC has said their current preference is the 1975 Muskoka Beach Road site. Cranberry Festival set for October A sure sign of autumn in Muskoka is the return of the always-popular Bala Cranberry Festival. is year’s edition of the festival will run October 13, 14 and 15. e festival draws thousands of guests to the Village of Bala every year to enjoy rides, live music, food, vendors and all things cranberry.Events run throughout Bala, but a key part of the festivities takes place at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery, where the harvest is well underway, as are many events to entertain the entire family. is year guests can pre-register for shuttle service from Gravenhurst and Bracebridge courtesy of Hammond Transportation.e Cranberry Festival started in 1984 as a way to extend the tourism season. Since then, organizers estimated they’ve drawn more than half a million people to the event, raised more than $100,000 in scholarships and been awarded as honours as one of Festivals and Events Ontario’s Top 100 events.Gravenhurst committee rejects Wharf condominumms A proposal for a new substantial condo development at the Muskoka Wharf was shot down by Gravenhurst councillors recently.A controversial proposal for a new condo development ended in a tie vote during the Gravenhurst planning council’s August Sightings of coyotes and wolves in the Township of Lake of Bays have residents concerned. The Township issued a number of suggestions to prevent unwanted interactions with wildlife. The always-popular Bala Cranberry Festival returns October 13, 14 and 15. Events run throughout Bala, but a key part of the festivities takes place at Johnston's Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery.Caption Local municipalities have pledged signicant contributions towards the required funding of two new hospital sites in Bracebridge and Huntsville. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) plans to begin construction of the two new hospitals in 2029.Photograph: Bala Cranberry FestivalPhotograph: Eleanor Kee WellmanPhotograph: Town of Bracebridge

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 57meeting. A tie vote means the motion is defeated.e proposal put forward by the Rosseau Group is for a mixed-use condominium building to be located on Cherokee Lane near the Muskoka Wharf. e project would have included a mixed-use condominium building with two levels of underground parking and a two-story boat house.Although Town staff indicated the proposal met the planning standards of the municipality, the District and the Province, the plans met stiff opposition from numerous community members and groups.ose opposed included the Muskoka Lakes Association and the Friends of Muskoka. eir concerns ranged from increased traffic on Muskoka Bay and the nearby roads, to urbanization of the area and the obliteration of the natural shoreline around the bay.Beer and bratwurst: Oktoberfest returns Muskoka embraces all things Bavarian in October as Muskoka Oktoberfest runs October 20, 21 and 22. e event is a musical, culinary and beer festival which takes place in participating breweries and restaurants throughout Muskoka.Local breweries provide tours with local chefs, retail vendors, food trucks and more to pair their beer with locally sourced products, ingredients and menus. e festival features a plethora of Oktoberfest standards like sausages, pretzels, potato pancakes, sauerkraut and schnitzel.ere’s music throughout the night as participating restaurants and breweries offer live entertainment. You can find more information at Oktoberfestmuskoka.caMuskoka Watershed Council pushes Integrated Watershed Management PlanAs the pressures of climate change and increased development continue to affect Muskoka, the region is looking to new alternatives.To that end, the Muskoka Watershed Council is spearheading a new Integrated Watershed Management Plan in partnership with various other community partners.“We need to be looking at addressing multiple problems at the same time and it’s going to take a coordinated effort across the entire watershed,” says Kevin Trimble, the past president of the Muskoka Watershed Council. e Watershed Council recommends an advanced form of integrated watershed management be implemented in Muskoka to drive all aspects of environmental management and land-use planning. Recognizing the strong dependence of the economy and community on a high-quality environment, the Watershed Council says integrated management can be designed to meet the needs and goals of every business owner, wage earner, property owner and visitor in the watershed. By integrating socio-economic criteria with environmental management, integrated watersheds are intended to create more sustainable communities.Trimble says the Watershed Council is currently ramping up its efforts to bring local municipalities, Indigenous groups, businesses and other organizations into the plan. To that end, they are delegating at municipalities as well as planning workshops and conferences for the upcoming year.“Most recognize that there’s something to this integrated management but there are still some who aren’t on the same page yet,” Trimble says.Muskoka Oktoberfest is a musical, culinary and beer festival which takes place in participating breweries and restaurants throughout Muskoka. The event runs October 20, 21 and 22 across the region. Photograph: Gravenhurst Chamber of CommerceFeature by Matt Driscoll28 MANITOBA STREETBRACEBRIDGE | 705-637-0204It’s getting cooler and we’ve stocked up with Tilley toques and Tilley winter hats It’s getting cooler (The warm hats with hide-away ear warmers – both stylish and practical.)KEEP WARM THIS WINTER

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58 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Article by K.M. Wehrstein / Photography by Tomasz SzumskiHoliday meals, like anksgiving and Christmas, are traditional times to pull out all the stops when preparing dinner. Our culinary pros pulled out the stops so much for this article that we are breaking a couple of our rules; normally we ask them for recipes that only require equipment and ingredients you would find in your average home kitchen. But, when you’re aiming for four-stars, you’re pulling out all the stops, right?All these recipes, however, are flexible. If you can’t sous vide, just roast. But if you want to pull out one more stop this year: “You can get a sous vide machine at Canadian Tire,” suggests Gustav Gulmar, executive chef at Deerhurst Resort. e advantage: “It preserves all the flavours and makes it juicy and more tender.” Gulmar’s favourite time of year is now. “In fall there are beautiful leaves all around us, decorations around us, pumpkins; it’s a good feeling,” he says.“Every year I like to put a little twist into the turkey,” shares Gulmar. “e stuffing recipe, I invented for this year. When I was back home in Hungary, the chef who taught me was doing this sort of thing. After 30 years in this business, I wanted to bring this back as a tribute to her.” With a sous-vide stuffing – also guaranteed never to be dry – using sous vide for the white and dark meat followed naturally.e spectacular result will be featured in all restaurants at Deerhurst for anksgiving. e meat is indeed tender, juicy and delicious in a subtly smoky way. e white meat is just as good as the dark. It’s served up with an awesome two-tone potato gratin, the recipe for which we do not have space to share (alas, this was the case with a number of dishes our sources Turkey dinner like a pro: How to prepare a four-star festive mealGustav Gulmar, executive chef at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, shares the secrets of cooking a turkey dinner with a sous vide but don’t fret. A four-star meal is just as possible without the fancy equipment.

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provided!).“My kids learned how to make a Hollandaise sauce when they were eight,” boasts chef John Cooper, who, along with his 15-year-old son Liam, began working in the kitchen of James St Retirement Living back in April.Liam’s recipes are complex and thorough and he has no fear of seasonings, even rather unconventional ones. e kid is into max effort, so be prepared to pull out, if not all the stops, a lot of them. He laid out a whole beautifully-presented turkey-dinner spread, not only with the dishes below but with a decadently-rich turnip/potato mash and wine-sauteed blue king oyster mushrooms – all the side dishes were created for this article.Did his dad teach him everything he knows? “He just teaches me the practical stuff. Most of what I learn is from the internet, and trial and error.” John adds: “Anything smoker-related is definitely him.”Is he set on cuisine – “an industry that you come into and usually can’t leave,” dad notes – as a career? “I’m still not completely sure,” Liam, who also pursues competitive swimming to the tune of eight practices per week, ponders. “I’m really into re-creation anthropology, which means rebuilding ancient things, as well as carpentry and welding.”He’ll be great at any of these things if he’s as talented in them as he is in cuisine. is Liam Cooper, son of chef John Cooper, has continued to experiment with his smoker in preparing a festive turkey meal. Liam’s recipes are complex and thorough. He has no fear of seasonings, even rather unconventional ones, such as using sumac to substitute for lemon. Liam’s Juniper Smoked Turkey – Liam CooperBrineIngredientsEnough water to cover the turkeySalt equal to 3 per cent of the water by weight4 to 5 bay leaves2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns3 Tbsp white sugar½ Tbsp baking sodaMethod• Brine the turkey 12 hours or overnight.TurkeyIngredients1 medium turkey⅓ cup olive oil½ Tbsp each sage, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, Italian seasoning (equal parts thyme, oregano, basil and rosemary) and crushed juniper berries3-4 bay leavesMethod• Brush oil over and inside the turkey. • Mix the seasonings except bay leaves and rub on and in the turkey. Place bay leaves in cavity and under skin. • Smoke for 1½ hours over a medium flame on a charcoal or at 300°F in a smoker, flip halfway through and spritz with water every few minutes. • Transfer the turkey into the oven, uncovered, on convection at 300°F for approximately five hours or until an internal temperature of 180°F is reached in the thickest part of the bird. Baste the turkey regularly (at least every 20 minutes).Cranberry Rhubarb SauceIngredients1½ cup cranberry juice1 cup of chopped rhubarb (fresh cooked soft or frozen)1 sprig of sage½ tsp each cloves and ginger powder1 tsp each nutmeg and allspice powderPinch of salt4-5 dried juniper berries Method • Combine in a saucepan and simmer on low for 15 minutes or until thick.Chef ’s Son’s Tips• Baking soda in brine tenderizes the meat.• Where to stick the meat thermometer for the thickest part of a turkey: into the breast beside the breastbone.• If you don’t have a smoker, add another 1½ hours, approximately, to the roasting time.Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 59

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60 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 2023Festive Turkey with a Twist – Gustav GulmarSous Vide TurkeyIngredients1 large whole skin-on, deboned breast (about 5 pounds or 2.2 kg)2 each legs (drumsticks) and thighs4 oz of butter or duck fat2 stalks of celery, cut in 2” sticks1 carrot, cut in 2” sticks2 sprigs of fresh thyme1 sprig of fresh sage kosher salt and ground black pepperMethod• Season turkey breast generously with salt and pepper on all sides. • Place butter or duck fat on plastic film as well as half of the celery and carrots, fresh thyme and sage. • Place the breast skin side down on top of the mirepoix gently to form into an even cylinder by rolling the plastic film (make sure you leave enough film, about 3” on both sides). • Repeat with one more layer of film, than twist both ends evenly until you get a firm rolade. Repeat with aluminum foil, one layer only.• Repeat the same method with the dark meat using the other half of the ingredients.• Heat a sous vide water bath to 165°F (73°C) and slowly lower turkey into water. Cook for 2½ hours.Turkey GravyIngredients1 turkey breastbone1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil1 large onion, roughly chopped1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped2 ribs celery, roughly chopped1½ quarts (1.4L) turkey or chicken stock2 bay leaves3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter¼ cup (40g) all-purpose flourMethod• Using a cleaver, chop the breastbone into 1-inch chunks. • In a medium saucepan over high heat, heat oil until smoking, then lower heat.• Add breastbone, onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes total. • Add stock, bay leaves, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.• Simmer for 1 hour, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Yield is a little over 1 quart (900ml) of fortified stock; if not, add water or more chicken stock to equal 1 quart. Discard solids and set stock aside.• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about three minutes. • Whisking constantly, add fortified broth in a thin, steady stream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups (720ml). Season to taste with salt and pepper.Bread StufngIngredients1 fresh egg¼ cup butter or duck fat1 medium onion, chopped1 medium stalk of celery, chopped1 medium carrot, chopped8 cups dry bread cubes (about 11 slices bread)2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley2 Tbsp fresh sage leaves1 Tbsp salt¼ Tbsp ground black pepper½ cup chicken or turkey brothMethod• In a small skillet, melt butter or duck fat over medium-high heat. • Add onion, celery and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. • In a large bowl, mix bread cubes, parsley, salt and pepper. • Add broth, butter-onion mixture and egg, stirring until desired moistness is reached. • Use the same roulade technique used for the turkey, making sure it’s firm and around 2 inches in diameter. Add to the sous vide bath with the turkey and cook for about 45 min.To Serve• Preheat the oven to 375°F. Unwrap the turkey and stuffing roulades and place in a pan with left over drippings, butter or duck fat. Roast until golden brown. Slice turkey roulades into ¾ inch thick portions.Yield: six to eight servings.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 61Turkey Dinner – Aaron ClyneCut one whole raw turkey into two breasts, two legs, and bones and wings for stock.BreastsBrineIngredients4 litres water½ cup salt½ cup sugar4 cloves garlicPeel of 1 orange¼ cup torn sage leaves2 Sprigs fresh thyme1 sprig fresh rosemary1 Tbsp peppercorns3 bay leavesMethod• Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a slight boil and cool immediately as soon as salt and sugar have dissolved. Brine needs to be room temperature or colder before adding turkey.• Cover turkey breasts in brine in a sealable container and place in fridge for six to eight hours or overnight. • Remove breasts from brine and pat dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Place breasts in individual vacuum seal bag with 50g cubed butter and seal. Place in a water circulator or sous vide for 24 hours at 55°C.• Remove from bags, pat dry and sear in a heavy bottom or cast-iron pan over medium high heat until skin crisps and is golden brown, about five to eight minutes. Rest for 10 minutes, carve and serve.Legs2 turkey legs2 Tbsp canola oil4 Tbsp duck fat (bacon fat or more oil)2 sprigs each thyme and rosemarySalt and pepper to tasteMethod• Place turkey legs in a vacuum seal bag with oil, duck fat, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.• Sous vide for 24 hours at 65°C. (To sous vide both breasts and legs at once, bathe them at 60°C for 24 hours.)• Unbag, pat dry and low broil for eight to 15 minutes or until skin has crisped and turned golden brown. Basting is optional.Porcini Mushroom and Merguez Sausage StufngIngredients500 to 650 g day-old or stale bread, cubed200 g Merguez sausage, uncased50 g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked until soft in 500 ml of hot water, strained and chopped, liquid reserved50 g butter, cubed1 medium onion, diced2 ribs celery, diced50 g dried cranberries3 Tbsp olive oilSalt and pepper to tasteMethod• In a pot over medium high heat, crumble sausage into a pan and stir until cooked.• Reduce heat to medium, add onion and celery and cook until softened.• Add dried cranberries, porcini mushrooms and reserved liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add butter.• Once butter is melted, remove pot from heat, fold in bread, and season. Be careful not to over mix or break up bread too much. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. If mix is too wet, place in oven on low heat until mix is desired consistency.Yuzu Szechuan Peppercorn Cranberry SauceIngredients1 lb fresh or frozen cranberries500 ml water (250 ml if using frozen cranberries)1 cup sugar (or more if you like sweet cranberry sauce)4 star anise1 stick cinnamon2 Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns2 Tbsp yuzu juice (or mix of lemon, lime and orange juice)1 Tbsp fresh ginger, mincedPeel from 1 small orange or mandarin3 oz portPinch of saltMethod• Combine sugar, water, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, orange peel and yuzu juice in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes until fragrant.• Strain out aromatics and add cranberries. Add port and salt, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until cranberries are soft and blendable. If using fresh cranberries, add another 20 minutes of cooking.• Using an immersion blender (or food processor), puree cranberry sauce to desired consistency. Cook for another five minutes and adjust seasoning to taste. If consistency is too runny, reduce more over medium heat or add thickening agent.Yield: one litre.Note: is can be made ahead of time. Aaron Clyne, acting executive chef and regional director of culinary for Windermere House, creates multiple layers of avour prole within his dishes. Sweet, salt, fat and acid should all be present in a well-executed dish, with a chef aiming for multiple checks in each box.

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62 UNIQUE MUSKOKA Fall / Winter 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! • | 705-765-5565 | Inspired Naturebyfestive turkey with smoky skin, startlingly flavourful meat and lovely trimmings is amazing for a cook not even old enough to get his G1.BC-born Aaron Clyne is regional director of culinary for the group that bought Windermere House in April and acting executive chef for its two eateries. Food he sees as a topic as infinite as the universe, especially since he spent a year travelling in parts of Asia in 2019. “I could study it 24/7/365 for the rest of my life and I’d learn maybe five per cent of what’s there,” he says.Look for Clyne and his star-studded staff to add two new offerings at Windermere next year: tasting menus in the wine cellar and in a greenhouse to be built in 2024.A graduate of George Brown College, Clyne first worked as an executive chef at age 22 and currently lives on the Windermere property. “I love it, it’s amazing,” he says of living in Muskoka. “I get to wake up and have a coffee and look at that every morning - who really needs to take Highway 400 and 11? C’mon.”Clyne is the first chef who ever taught this food writer some key principles of the art of food, after I happened to mention that I always add a little lemon juice to my cranberry sauce, for a second type of sourness. “You have sweet, salt, fat, acid – all four flavour profiles but there are different layers,” he instructs. “For instance, cayenne, habaneros and serannos are three different layers of heat, which makes it multi-dimensional. A good cook puts a check in all four boxes; a chef tries to put multiple checkmarks in all four boxes.”About Clyne’s turkey dinner, there are a lot of checks in a lot of boxes to dazzle the tastebuds, including microgreen leaves scattered all over it as if fallen from trees. For this year, Cottage Country Cuisine is done, like dinner. [Daintily dabs lips with serviette.] Have joyous holidays and a delectable winter, and above all: bon appetit.

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Fall / Winter 2023 UNIQUE MUSKOKA 63CAPTURE THE SCENTS OF MUSKOKA28 Manitoba Street, BracebridgeA roulade of bread stung is prepared outside of the turkey and cooked in the sous vide, before pan-roasting to add a golden-brown nish, according to executive chef Gustav Gulmar’s instructions. 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 Fall / Winter 2023Muskoka MomentsArticle by Cathy KuntzMagical Muskoka: Through the Eyes of a VisitorSix years ago, after almost thirty years, my husband and I traded the freshwater lakes of Muskoka for the salty tides of Vancouver Island; the haunting call of the loon with the high-pitched trill of eagles, the rocky Canadian Shield dotted with hundreds of lakes for endless tidal beaches, towering mountains and lush rainforests.is summer we returned as visitors, eager to soak up the things we missed about Muskoka, especially the magic of Muskoka mornings by the lake. We weren’t disappointed. Splash! Rings of water fan out from where a fish has poked through the still surface of the lake in a quest for a breakfast of insects floating on the water or hovering just above. Another splash and then another interrupts the silence of the serene Muskoka morning. in, white branches lie scattered like bones along the lake bottom – abandoned by beavers who feasted on their tender bark.Small nests of rock lie in the shallows near shore – created in the spring when male smallmouth bass fan their tales to clear off silt and clay and expose the rocks underneath.Caw! e deep, throaty call of a raven announces its presence from its perch on top of a white pine. Caw! Caw! Caw! Its rhythmic call goes unanswered. Dragonflies dip, dip, dip across the still water, playfully skimming their tails along the water causing ripples that help them locate their next insect meal.Chickadee-dee-dees call from deep in the forest. Nuthatches yank as they hop, headfirst, down the ribbed bark of a maple tree that clings to the shoreline.A flock of acrobatic gulls perform in the middle of the lake, hovering then twisting, arching then diving as they kiss its surface and suddenly arch upwards – the kiss of death for unsuspecting fish.Voices of children bounce across the lake accompanied by splashes and shrieks of delight. e faint but familiar smell of bacon and coffee follows.I miss the sights, sounds and smells of Muskoka – the chorus of peepers in springtime. e ‘who cooks for you’ hoot of great horned owls in fall. e distant yelp of coyotes on a frigid winter night.I miss swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers. e layer of salt that dries on my skin after an ocean swim still feels strange. I miss the hot, humid nights and thunderstorms of a Muskoka summer. I miss our friends.“Why would you leave Muskoka,” some asked. Many were puzzled. It was difficult to explain. Looking for a change. Warmer winters. Following our children.A gentle western breeze sweeps across the lake creating washing board-like ripples on its surface. e raven launches from its perch above. Dragonflies and gulls disappear. Fish stop jumping.Muskoka is where we raised three daughters. ose fond memories remain in our hearts and beckon us from across the country.Our home is now on Vancouver Island but, every few years, those unique Muskoka memories call us back to the land of trees, rock and water.Cathy Kuntz and her family lived in Muskoka for almost 30 years. She and her husband, Mike, now live on Vancouver Island. She is retired from a career in land conservation and freelance writing and has recently published a junior historical fiction, Wenonah of Muskoka.Photograph: Michael Kuntz

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