Arts and Culture

Arts, Culture and Heritage::Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre

Gravenhurst is proudly shaped by its vibrant Arts, Culture and Heritage community. From local artisans, to festivals and events, to heritage tours, museums, professional theatre and live music, Gravenhurst has no shortage of ways for locals and visitors to celebrate arts & culture! 

Home to the Gravenhurst Opera House , which is credited as the birth place of Canadian Summer Theatre, the unique Music on the Barge, situated on the water of beautiful Gull Lake and an artist-driven co-op named Arts at the Albion, Gravenhurst has a diverse offering of arts and cultural programs.

Explore a community that values its heritage and natural beauty by taking part in the Heritage Walking Tour visiting the boat museum at the Muskoka Discovery Centre or the legacy of Dr. Norman Bethune at the Bethune Memorial National Historic Site.

Please visit our Community Calendar for a complete and up-to-date list of festivals and events held throughout the year for the whole family.

Alternatively, check out some of the following links and resources for some fun and interesting ways to celebrate all of the arts and cultural samplings Gravenhurst has to offer.

A.P. Cockburn (Cockburn Square)

Photo of AP Cockburn Square at the Muskoka Wharf

June 2016 marked the 150th anniversary of when Alexander Peter Cockburn launched the first steamship in Muskoka. In commemoration of that historical moment, the Town of Gravenhurst re-named the gazebo and surrounding area at the Muskoka Wharf the A.P. Cockburn Square.

Learn more about the designation and history of the A.P. Cockburn Square through a video on YouTube.

Arts at the Albion

Scenic photograph of the Albion Hotel exterior

The Arts at the Albion is a co-operative art gallery space in the heart of Historic Downtown Gravenhurst that showcases the work of 20+ diverse and unique local artists. Featuring art from several mediums, including: painting, pottery, jewellery, basketry, clay, wood, metal sculptures, fibre arts, photography, soapstone carving, stained glass and more.

Learn more by visiting the Arts at the Albion website.

Artisans and Galleries

You can browse the diverse listing of artists and gallery spaces throughout Gravenhurst by visiting the Business Directory and searching ‘arts'.

Bethune Memorial House

Photo of the Bethune Memorial House and statue

During the early 20th century, Dr. Norman Bethune became a medical pioneer, advocate for Canada's universal health care system and revered Chinese cultural icon. Take a tour of Bethune Memorial House, a charming Victorian-era home set on a manicured property alongside an informative Visitor Centre, and immerse in an incredible legacy of accomplishment that strengthens the bond between nations to this day.

Learn more by visiting the Bethune Memorial House website.

Culture Days

Culture Days Logo

A national celebration of Canadian culture that takes place the last weekend in September. Gravenhurst is very proud to be among the communities coast to coast, participating in the annual event. Millions of Canadians engage in thousands of free activities and performances hosted by artists, cultural organizations and municipalities in communities across Canada. From Nunavut to New Brunswick, and from British Columbia to Baffin Island – and all points in between – we share all the inspiration, artistry, creativity and expression that reflects the mosaic of Canadian culture.

For more information, visit the Culture Days website.

Doors Open

Doors Open Ontario Logo

Doors Open is a province-wide celebration of community heritage. The Town of Gravenhurst has participated in the event since 2010.

Doors Open is designed to create access, awareness and excitement about our heritage. The event provides residents and visitors with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy the sometimes hidden, but always interesting, places and spaces in Ontario cities, towns and villages. This event is free of charge!

If there are buildings that you would like to see as part of future events, please let us know by contacting the Municipal Heritage Committee Staff Liaison

Browse the 2018 Doors Open Gravenhurst Brochure.

Learn more by visiting the Doors Open Ontario website.

Festivals and Events

Gravenhurst plays host to several unique events and festivals all year long.

From the Spring Into Summer Art Crawl presented by the Gravenhurst BIA, to the Gravenhurst Classic Car Show and Dockside Festival of the Arts hosted by the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce, the Antique and Classic Boat Show and more, there is certainly no shortage of fun and exciting events that is bound to offer something for everyone.

Don't miss a single event – visit the Community Calendar to stay up-to-date on events on the horizon!

Gravenhurst Opera House

Photo of the Gravenhurst Opera House exterior

Credited as being the birthplace of Canadian Summer Theatre, the 1901-built Gravenhurst Opera House is an architectural gem with some of the best acoustics in Canada and plays host to professional theatre and a broad variety of concerts and community events year-round.

Learn more by visiting the Gravenhurst Opera House website.

Heritage Walking Tour

Banner image for the Heritage Walking Tour showcasing the exterior of the Rosehurst House

The Gravenhurst Heritage Walking Tour takes you back in time and lets you explore 20+ heritage sites within Gravenhurst. Each site is unique and culturally significant in their own way and the Walking Tour celebrates and honours that rich history.

Learn more about the Heritage Walking Tour here.

Music on the Barge

Photo of the Music on the Barge stage and audience watching from the grassy hill

A tradition for over 50 years, Gull Lake has served as a breath-taking backdrop for Music on the Barge and a wide variety of concerts and community events. Boasting a visit from Queen Elizabeth herself and a long list of artists and bands for the last half century, this unique venue is the perfect way to spend a Sunday evening in the Summer in Gravenhurst.

Celebrating all genres, Music on the Barge has offered a wide variety of musical programming stretching from Country & Bluegrass to the Big Band era, tribute bands and Rock & Roll from the 1950's and 1960's featuring some of the finest artists this country has to offer.

Admission is by a free will offering; with collection typically being taken up during intermission.

Gull Lake Rotary Park is located at Brock Street & Bethune Drive in Gravenhurst, Ontario.

Learn more by visiting the Music on the Barge page.

Peter's Players

Photo of a concert performance at Peter's Players

Great shows always! Owned and operated by Peter Swanek and his wife Michelle, Peter's Players offers a unique concert experience that promises a ‘back stage feel' with every show. This intimate performance venue seats no more than 90-100 audience members, yet showcases some of the biggest names in the blues, rock and R&B industry.

Learn more by visiting the Peter's Players website.

Ryde Barn Quilt Trail

Photo of a stop on the Ryde Barn Quilt Trail; a barn exterior with the quilt on it

The Ryde Barn Quilt Trail is located in the former Ryde Township, now part of the town of the Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada. The quilts were erected in 2014 to commemorate 135 years of settlement in Ryde. Some buildings are historic, some are new; all have a story to share.

Learn more by visiting the Ryde Barn Quilt Trail website.

Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre

Photo of the Muskoka Steamships

Step into the past and explore the Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre - North Americas only in water exhibit of working antique boats. The state-of-the art exhibits capture the glory of the Muskokan experience, exploring the rich history of steamships, wooden boats and luxury hotels that helped define Muskoka.

The Grace & Speed Boathouse is a wonderful way to view up to 20 antique wooden boats in the water. Come celebrate turn of the century craftsmanship and the 11 wooden boat builders of the Muskoka area.

Experience what Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre has to offer - from permanent and feature exhibits, to meetings and conventions and even weddings and receptions.

Learn more by visiting the Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre website.

Segwun and Wenonah II Steamships

Photo of the Muskoka Steamships

Built in 1887, the Segwun is North America's oldest operating coal-fired steamship. Passengers truly "step back in time" as they board the Segwun and re-live the romance and nostalgia of Muskoka's past.

Launched in May of 2002, Wenonah II is Canada's newest passenger vessel! Combining all the style and grace of 1907 vessels and the modern conveniences such as air-conditioning and an elevator, Wenonah II truly offers a luxurious setting.

Both steamships offer sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises from June to October.

The Town of Gravenhurst does not take bookings for this service, you must call the Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre for cruise times and more information: 1-866-687-6667

Learn more by visiting the Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre website.

Spring Into Summer Art Crawl

Logo for the Spring Into Summer Art Crawl

Since the inaugural year in 2015, the Spring Into Summer Art Crawl is a unique community event that celebrates local artists from all mediums. Close to a hundred artists participate each year in a unique and exciting 'art crawl' throughout Historic Downtown Gravenhurst.

Painters, dancers, poets, potters, jewelry makers, magicians, actors, jugglers, singers and more all come together to share their craft with the community.

This event is organized and run by the Gravenhurst BIA.

For more information, please call Penny Varney at 705-687-2071 or e-mail Gravenhurst BIA Administrator Lindsay Fetterly-Coles at info@downtowngravenhurst.com.

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