Old Muskoka

This is one of many fine books from Boston Mills Press, which under the leadership of publisher John Denison of Erin, Ontario, has for more than three decades brought into print a rich collection of large pictorial works known to some as "coffee table books" because their large format makes them fit better there than on small bookshelves. Whatever challenges their large size may pose for storage, however, is more than made up by the justice done to the splendid scale of the photographs, be they in colour or black-and-white.

The era photographs throughout Lundell's account of century cottages and summer homes in Muskoka are in the latter category because they predate colour photography, yet they are, by turns, breathtaking and heartwarming. Her thorough research and fine writing round out this 175-page volume by invoking, not so much nostalgia as admiration, for an era that in many respects has passed, even though elements of this "old Muskoka" still contribute mightily to the present day mystique of this district – as those who savour the lore and imagery of this valuable book will discover.

The summer places the author features fall between the big resorts and the simple cottages – all part of Muskoka's democratic offering of a place for people of any financial means. These are mostly the cottages of city dwellers who occupied prominent homes as clerics, educators, doctors, lawyers, retailers, accountants, manufacturers, financiers, and industrialists. Often their palatial year-round homes contrast starkly with their rustic summer residences, but in common they all shared, notes Lundell, "the desire and ability to escape the heat of the city to spend some weeks every summer in an outdoor setting."

— Review by J. Patrick Boyer

ISBN: 978-1-55046-285-2
Boston Mills Press, 2003
160 pages 10.25 x 10.5 in
$49.95 CDN/USA hardcover


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