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Heritage Books

Books about Lake of Bays Heritage

Numerous books have been published or self-published about our area. Many of them can be found in our local community libraries in Baysville, Dorset and Dwight. We hope this listing gives you ideas for your reading about our rich heritage. Newer books may also be on sale at local stores. Please contact us if you know of other books that should be included.
An Evaluation of Wildlife Habitat in the Lake of Bays Vicinity.
In 1988, the Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation commissioned Kenneth Towles to assess the lake. Sixteen sites are discussed including Langmaid Island, Lower Oxtongue River, Baysville Marsh, Dreamhaven Lake, Menominee Bay, St. Mary Creek, Port Cunnington Wetland and Bigwin Island.

Natural Heritage Evaluation of Muskoka.
1994, by Ron Reid and Bonnie Bergsma. Part of the Muskoka Heritage Areas Program a project of the District of Muskoka and The Muskoka Heritage Foundation. The text of all the site evaluations can be found on the “Muskoka Water Webmap or Heritage Areas site.

Report of the Master Plan of Archeological Resources of the District of Muskoka and The Wahta Mohawks
February 1994, 3 volumes.
This is a partial list of books about the history of Lake of Bays and Muskoka. These are only the books on the area that I know about. I have included a brief description of the contents and whether they are obtainable. Many of these books are in the collections of our local libraries.

By Wagon and Water.
A Tweedsmuir History produced by the Haystack Bay Women's Institute focusing on the areas of Port Cunnington, Foxpoint and Birkendale.
Originally published in 1951 with reprints in 1980 and 2008 with some additional 20 pages of family histories. The book was not set in type; instead all 167 pages were elegantly handwritten by Elizabeth Hungerford and Ethel Bedat. “By Wagon and Water” is an excellent reference and can be purchased at Robinsons in Dorset.

Baysville Area Tweedsmuir History
by the Baysville Women’s Institute.

Dwight Memories, 1875-1985, Dwight Women’s Institute, 1989.

Muskoka’s Grand Hotels by Barbara Boyer, 1987 Boston Mills Press
This book gives an idea of the extent of the tourist industry in Muskoka with 143 resorts; many long vanished such as the Wawa. It offers brief histories of 21 resorts on the Lake of Bays. This is a useful and well researched book.

Enchanted Summers, The Grand Hotels of Muskoka by Cameron Taylor, 1997.

The Steamboat Era in the Muskokas, volumes I and II
by Richard Tatley.
An exhaustive study of the steamboats, big and small, when and how they were built, operated and, in most cases, sank or burned. The book discusses the development of Huntsville and Lake of Bays Navigation Company from Captain Marsh to C.O. Shaw.

Guide Book & Atlas of Muskoka and Parry Sound Districts 1879 text by W.E. Hamilton.

Lorin and the Juanita by Merrill Orne Young.
Privately published in 2004 to mark the centennial of Savage Den, the Young’s cottage. The author tells the story of his father and his long connection with the lake and with a 22 ft. gasoline powered launch, the Juanita. Told with great warmth and wit.

The Ruth Martin Papers
This collection of four volumes, plus a volume of photographs, contains over 900 pages of typewritten information on the history of the settlement of Lake of Bays. Ruth Martin collected every written history that pertained to the area, transcribed many of them, and between 1966 and 1974 conducted 55 interviews with descendants of homesteading families. She taped the interviews then typed a transcription. In 1995, Margaret McBurney, a director of LBHF and herself a notable historian, arranged to have the papers copied and the originals deposited with the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library at U of T. Copies were given to the Dwight, Dorset and Baysville libraries.

Looking Back In Time: Picture Memories from the Area, 1890 - 1990
by The Port Cunnington Centennial Committee.

My Happy Years at Lake of Bays by Jessie Garratt, 1988.
Charming book about the author’s memories about of her time spent on Lake of Bays beginning in 1905.

Lures and Legends of Lake of Bays
by Mary Lynn Findlay, 1973.
A small book worth reading if you can find a copy.

Baysville: Photos from The Past by Mervyn Kelly, 1996.

Adventures of a Bigwin Postmistress by Maryleah Otto, 2004
A charming little book about the author’s summer working at Bigwin in 1949 when Frank Leslie owned the resort.

English Bloods: In The Backwoods Of Muskoka, 1878 by Frederick de la Fosse
Originally published in 1930, reprinted in 2004 with an introduction and helpful notes by Scott D. Shipman. Informative and amusing account of the author’s experience of being sent from England at 18 to learn how to be a settler in Canada.

Bigwin Inn by Douglas McTaggart, 1992, Boston Mills Press. This is the definitive book on the history of the Bigwin Inn. Lavishly illustrated and thoroughly researched.

Whiskey and Wickedness, Volume 3, Muskoka and Parry Sound Districts, 1850 to 1900
, 2004, By Larry D. Cotton
History of the taverns of the area and many stories of alcohol fueled mayhem taken from contemporary newspaper accounts.

By Steam Boat and Steam Train: The story of the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway and Navigation Company by Niall Mackay, 1982 and 1994.

Pictures from The Past: Huntsville, Lake of Bays, Boston Mills Press 1986 Muskoka Pioneer Village.

Camping in the Muskoka Region: A Story of Algonquin Park
By James Dickson 1886, reprinted 1960
Mostly about camping in Algonquin Park but the journey begins on Lake of Bays.

East Georgian Bay Historical Journal, volumes 1-5, 1982-1989
These issues are full of interesting and well researched articles about the history of Muskoka and Georgian Bay.

“Echoes of the Past” Resounding in the Present
A brief illustrated general history of a central region in Southern Ontario
Formed by Two Muskoka and Ten Haliburton Townships.

Post Cards from Lake of Bays. Published in 2008 by LBHF past-President Bruce MacLellan with160 pages of old post cards depicting the first half of the 20th century. For sale in local gift shops.

Back Again at Lake of Bays. This book is a sequel to Post Cards from Lake of Bays. Bruce MacLellan has assemble more post cards about the lake, covering places and resorts not included in the first book. It is for sale in gift shops around the lake.

Reflections: Muskoka and Lake of Bays of Yesteryear
by Sidney G. Avery, 1974.

My Sixteenth Winter: An account of logging on the French River by J. Mason 1974.

Muskoka Past and Present
, Geraldine Coombe, McGraw-Hill. A detailed account of history and present life in the whole region in 1976, including Lake of Bays. Rare.
Gilmour Tramway, Gary Long, 2003. An excellent account of the lumber scheme to transport logs from Algonquin through Lake of Bays and down to Trenton. Available at local book stores.
Steamboating in Muskoka, Richard Tatley, 1972. Anecdotes and information about the original steamships. Mainly about Lakes Muskoka, Rousseau and Joseph, but some connections to Lake of Bays.

The Night the Mice Danced the Quadrille, 1995. Written by Thomas Osborne in 1934, 60 years after his arrival in Muskoka, this book is a tale of pioneer hardship and ingenuity.A charming book narrated by the young boy who settles in Lake of Bays with his family in the late nineteenth century. He states Bigwin was connected to Port Cunnington due to pre-dam water levels. Out of print and selling on the Internet for $50 to $60.

Reluctant Pioneer. This book is a re-release of "The Night the Mice Danced the Quadrille" by Thomas Osborne. You can find it on the Muskoka Books website.

Our Results
  • Acquired over 50 per cent of the Lower Oxtongue River for permanent protection, including 6.5 km of shoreline.
  • Preserved one mile of natural shoreline and 47-acres of forest at Port Cunnington.
  • Partnered with the Ontario Heritage Trust to be the steward of the 100-acre Pyke property near Brown's Brae.
  • Recognized more than 30 building owners with plaques for heritage property protection.
  • Encouraged the Township to create a Heritage Committee of Council to encourage protection.
  • Rescued the Bigwin ferry from a sunken mooring in 1991 and conducted feasibility studies to transfer to the current Navigation Society for restoration.
  • Established the Harriet T. Weaver Memorial Trust which funds two bursaries each year to assist one student from each of Bracebridge and Huntsville high schools to help pay for their first year of university or college.
Bird Count - June 8, 2019, 8am
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Butterfly, Dragonfly, Damselfly Count - July 7, 2019, 9:00am
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Silent Boat Rally - Aug 3, 2019, 9am-1pm
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Annual General Meeting - Aug 17, 2019
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Mushroom Walk - Oct 12, 2019, 9am
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Contact Us

Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation
P.O. Box 81
Baysville, Ontario
P0B 1A0