by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
The Heart of Muskoka
The following is an excerpt from The Heart of Muskoka website - "Discover Bracebridge's beauty by visiting the natural attractions that make our town unique. Take the historical walk along Manitoba Street to learn about our past. This is where you will see many important buildings that our unique shops and restaurants reside in today. For the outdoor enthusiast, hiking, biking, cross-country and snowmobile trails are easily accessible throughout our four seasons."
"The following description of Bracebridge is base on our many visits to the town."
Like Bobcaygeon, I have been visiting Bracebridge for many years. First when we had a cottage in Baysville and now because our friends Ross and Cathy have a cottage nearby. Although Judi and I haven’t been to a festival or event (yet) in Bracebridge, I thought I would include it for two reasons. The first is likely obvious if you have small children and have traveled to Santa’s Village. Santa’s Village has been Santa’s summer home for over 50 years. Children of all ages love to visit the Village to enjoy their amusement park and Sportsland. My other reason for including Bracebridge is that this is the home base of Sunset Cruises and the M.V. IDYLLWOOD. If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that Sunset Cruises is owned and operated by Captain Randy Potts and that he currently has one boat in service, the Idyllwood. You will also know that he is in the process of restoring the historic PEERLESS II. This boat roamed the Muskoka Lakes for many years delivering gas and oil to the area’s cottagers. Randy is now turning the Peerless II into his second cruise ship. I will be writing more about Randy and his restoration this coming spring! The Town of Bracebridge is located in the “Heart of the Muskoka”. The Muskoka River runs through the town and flows into Lake Muskoka. This leads into cottage country and a lot of summer fun! Bracebridge is the “hub” for summer cottagers. This is where they meet, eat and buy groceries and other supplies. The town caters, not only to the needs of its 16,000 permanent residents, but to its 1000’s of transient cottagers and visitors. The downtown shops that line the main street are plentiful and fun to explore. The side streets hide many interesting attractions, including the Woodchester Villa (an Octagonal House Museum) and the Muskoka Rails Museum. Special events also add to the town’s charm. Festivals and events include Summerfest (held in early July), Art in the Heart (held on summer weekends), Bracebridge Highland Games (held in mid-August) and Santafest at Santa’s Village (held in mid-December).