Book Reviews by J. Patrick Boyer

Land Use Controversy

The Free Grant Lands of Canada –Thomas McMurray
Guide Book & Atlas of Muskoka and Parry Sound Districts –W.E. Hamilton

Muskoka's land use issues began in the very opening days of settlement, logging, farming, and vacationing.

Because the politics and economics of land use, then as today, largely depend on one's appraisal of the "environment," 1860s Muskoka clearly faced fundamental problems: a number of dreamers and policy-makers jostled with incompatible visions of the district's future.

Let's Dance

A Celebration of Ontario's Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions

Peter Young

A village dance hall with international stars, Dunn’s Pavilion in Bala crowned the classic era of lakeside summer nights through the mid-twentieth century, "the place where all Muskoka dances."

Local History of Muskoka Townships

History of Cardwell Township, 1866–1950 –Hekkla Historical Society
Macaulay Township in Days Gone By –Gary Denniss
My Early Days as a Boy in Ufford –Kenneth Veitch

Local history is its own story, as three books about Muskoka townships remind us.

Six years ago in March 2006 at the Hekkla Community Centre in Cardwell Township, citizens wanting to preserve local heritage formed the Hekkla Historical Society. Under leadership of Doreen Nowak, Bruce Crawford, Earl Marchand, Bruce Wilson, and Ernie Sainsbury, with collaboration of many others, the Society then compiled stories and photos of Cardwell to mid-twentieth century. In 2011 the result was published as History of Cardwell Township, 1866–1950.

MacGregor's Book is to Canoeing What a Valentine is to Love

Canoe Country: The Making of Canada –Roy MacGregor

You can cover a lot of territory in a canoe and master story-teller Roy MacGregor does just that writing about this unique vessel in his new book Canoe Country.

Most Canadians have a connection, either personal or cultural, with the canoe. The number of this magazine’s readers linked somehow to canoeing must be close to one hundred percent. “The canoe,” observes MacGregor, “stands well above most other unifying symbols.”

Making His Muskoka Boyhood into a Universal Story

Raisin Wine: A Boyhood in a Different Muskoka –James Bartleman
Out of Muskoka –James Bartleman

For Jim Bartleman, growing up in Port Carling after World War II was to live in one village but inhabit many worlds.

For openers, there was the aboriginal community of his mother and her relatives, the Caucasian universe of his hard-working father and his wine-drinking philosopher friends. Even within these dual spheres, the boy encountered many additional worlds.

Micklethwaite's Muskoka

John Denison

Coffee table books by definition are so large that about the only place for them is face-up on a coffee table, but John Denison's Micklethwaite's Muskoka is in a class by itself. The book is so supersized that four legs were jokingly attached to one copy to make "a coffee table" itself.

The large format (a foot deep, 14½ inches wide) certainly does justice to its more than 200 photographs that dramatically evoke Muskoka in the era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The man who took these pictures was English-born Frank William Micklethwaite, himself the son of an itinerant photographer, who came to Canada in 1876 and soon emerged as one of Toronto's leading photographers.

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