|Celebrating 125 Years|
Welcome to visitors and residents alike, we ask you to join us to celebrate
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DID YOU KNOW……………?
In this Gravenhurst’s 125th Anniversary Year, the Municipal Heritage Committee (MHC) challenges you to test your knowledge of our community’s past.
- In 1875 the railway first arrived in Gravenhurst. The original railway station, terminus of the Northern Railway line for a decade or so, was known as Muskoka Junction and was located 200m southwest of the current level crossing on Muskoka Road South. A spur ran down to Muskoka Wharf where passengers could alight and transfer to the steamships which plied the Muskoka Lakes.
- The current railway station in Gravenhurst is now an inter-modal centre serving Ontario Northland trains and buses. The station was built in 1919 to replace the original (by then) Grand Trunk station aka Muskoka Junction Station, which burned down in 1913. In February 2012 Gravenhurst Railway Station was officially designated a heritage structure by Town Council. On Sunday afternoon June 24th 2012 the community is invited to the station for the unveiling of a municipal heritage plaque, the first to be erected upon recommendation of the present Municipal Heritage Committee.
- Gravenhurst has had a glorious steamboating history. By 1905 the Muskoka Lakes Navigation and Hotel Company, founded by A.J. Cockburn, had eight steamships in operation. RMS Segwun was one of these, although it only received that name when overhauled and renamed in 1925. RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship. Segwun is Ojibway for “Springtime.”
- Gravenhurst has had three downtown fires on its main street (Muskoka Road) in the past decade. Unfortunately fire is not a new experience for the community. In 1887 “every business place in town was destroyed” according to newspaper reports of the day when fire, fanned by winds, started at the Mowry Foundry and spread rapidly. The foundry was located on a lot where the Salvation Army Thrift Store now stands, just north of the post office.
- “Sawdust City” is a former nickname for Gravenhurst. This moniker was tagged to our town owing to the predominance of the lumber industry. Between 15 and 20 sawmills or shingle mills coexisted in the community circa 1880.
- Just a block or so south then west of the Opera House is arguably the most notable historic residence in the community. In 1877 James Clipsham established the first carriage works north of Orillia at the corner of Phillip Street and Muskoka Road. His workshop was consumed in the Great Fire ten years later but his brick family residence alongside (with its distinct gable windows) is now one of Gravenhurst’s most venerable heritage assets based on its architectural merit and historic association.
- Gravenhurst has seen 7 arches over time which welcome visitors from the south, hence our motto “Gateway to Muskoka.” To-day’s arch, the7th, has retained the appearance and wording of that erected in 1925. The 1st, constructed in 1874, was actually a double one of pine bows and flowers situated at present day Hotchkiss Street and Muskoka Road S. It welcomed Governor-General the Marquis of Dufferin to the community. The 2nd, the Lumbermens’ Arch, was erected in 1885 by lumber barons Mickel and Dyment and it greeted train passengers alighting at the wharf.
- As recently as 1960 Gravenhurst had an ice harvesting industry. Blocks of pure ice water were sawn from frozen Gull Lake to be used in iceboxes for the summer preservation of food. Sawdust from the lumber industry insulated the ice. Canadian National Railways got in on the act and transported ice from here to depots across the province. The widespread introduction of electric refrigeration supplanted the industry.
- In the early 20th century Gravenhurst was the place to come for a cure for tuberculosis, Canada’s number one killer disease of the era. Fresh air and enforced relaxation were considered the best antidotes to this infection of the respiratory system. Five sanatoria at one time or another were established in the community. In 1897 The Muskoka Cottage Sanatorium (The Main) was built on Muskoka Bay at the north end of town. It was eventually to be absorbed into the more elaborate Muskoka Hospital aka “The Gage” or “Muskoka Centre,” now abandoned. The Muskoka Free Hospital for Consumptives (1902), Minnewaska (1908) and Calydor (1916) were the other famed institutions.
May 16th – October 13th
Join us for our Farmer’s Market Every Wednesday!
Gravenhurst BIA Fashion Show
Antique & Classic Car Show
Train Station Dedication
June 23rd -24th
Toronto Outboard Race Club Boat Races
June 29th – 30th
Celebrate Segwun 125
Canada Day Celebrations at Kilworthy Park
Antique & Classic Boat Show
Bethune House Grand Opening
July 14th – 15th
July 27th – 29th
In Water Boat & Cottage Show with Muskoka Ribfest
August 4th – 5th
Piratefest and Fireworks Show
August 17th – 18th
Steamship Festival including
Gravenhurst’s 125th Birthday Party!
August 17th – 19th
Dockside Festival of the Arts
139th Annual Severn Bridge Fall Fair