Ghost Towns of Muskoka

Many streets laid out with promise amounted to little more than paper plans filed in the Registry Office. The coming of the railway turned struggling settlements like Huntsville into a thriving centre, but bypassed others and led to their demise. Other Muskoka communities never grew because surrounding farms failed, so its general store was boarded up and people moved away, their buildings initially erected with great hopes abandoned to Muskoka's resurgent bush.

Because history also consists of that which never was, Maria Da Silva and Andrew Hind render a valuable service to Muskoka heritage in Ghost Towns of Muskoka by recapturing dreams that never became realities. Some communities lived vibrantly, if only for a brief time.

Black and white period photographs give evidence of what was, of ghost towns now merely a shadow or spectre of what they once were. Some have disappeared entirely, swallowed by regenerating forests. Others are reduced to foundations, forlorn buildings, and silent ruins. Some settlements covered by this book still support a handful of inhabitants, a diminished scattering of seemingly indestructible families. Yet even these are, the authors suggest, "wrapped in a ghostly shroud."

Ghost Towns of Muskoka restores, at least on these printed pages, the early heady era of Muskoka settlement when the forests were flooded with loggers and land-hungry settlers.

Da Silva and Hind, regular contributors to a number of Muskoka periodical publications, not only document the history of Muskoka communities long since faded away or at least greatly diminished, but also tell of the people who once, briefly, lived, loved, laboured, and ultimately died in these small settlements. Welcome to Muskoka's twilight zone.

— Review by J. Patrick Boyer

ISBN: 978-1-55002-796-9
Dundurn Press, 2008
272 pages 6 x 9 in
50 photos and maps
$24.99 CDN/USA paperback


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