Muskoka’s Main Street: The Muskoka Colonization Road
This is the story of the historic Muskoka Road, as told through the eyes of the people who designed, built and travelled it over the past 150 years. Filled with personalities and perils, this historical adventure book reveals why the Muskoka Road was one of the most successful of Ontario’s colonization roads.
But although successful, the road was plagued with controversy from its very first days. Detractors of the Muskoka District condemned the road’s terrible condition and warned settlers they had been duped into coming to the area. Later, steamships usurped the road, as people happily chose this more comfortable method of travel. Later still, in Perry Township, entire towns picked themselves up and moved off the road, relocating closer to railway stations.
Yet also from the very first days, surveyors like Vernon Wadsworth began stellar careers by running survey lines for the road through the wilderness from Muskoka Falls to Dorset. Adventurers like James Bain from Toronto and civil war veterans from Pittsburg picked their way up the road between tree stumps, over ruts and sway-backed bridges, looking to escape the city and enjoy pristine lakes. And entrepreneurs like Thomas Robinson and A.P. Cockburn clung to the sides of stagecoaches, hurtled themselves up the road – and stayed to build the future.
From the 1860s to today and from the tip of Lake Couchiching to North Bay, surveyors, settlers and entrepreneurs all walked the Muskoka Road and changed the area from a raw wilderness to a thriving home and playground for many thousands. Through the tales of optimism and hardship in this book, readers will grasp more fully what it took to develop the province of Ontario, one road at a time.