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Muskoka Lakes Museum turns 60 this year

Muskoka is best known as a summer-time playground, but the history of the area goes much deeper than that.

That history is preserved, honoured, and exhibited at the Muskoka Lakes Museum in Port Carling, a venerable wonderland of interesting pieces of our past.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Museum is ready to party like it’s 1964, with a feature exhibit that looks at Muskoka in the ‘60s.

“I am very excited about this year’s feature exhibit,” says curator Sarah Sharpe. “It will have so many cool items from that era, including pictures from community members.”

Located in James Bartleman Park (between the locks) in downtown Port Carling, the Museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving.

Galleries and exhibits include the Catto Gallery in honour of Marion Catto, whose vision inspired the Museum’s opening; the Indigenous Gallery; Technology Then & Now; the Marine Room, and much more.

Indeed, the Museum is a place to get lost in – in a good way – as you get drawn to the handcrafted canoes and a restored Disappearing Propeller Boat. The popular “Dippy” was invented in Muskoka and many were built right in Port Carling, not far from where the Museum sits.

Keep going and you’ll see logging tools, phonographs, old washing apparatuses, and much more.

Sarah says it’s all about keeping Muskoka’s strong history alive. “Muskoka is known today as a place to come in the summer and spend time outdoors,” she says. “But there are thousands of years of history here.”

The Museum hosts several events throughout the year. Some are major fundraisers, such as the Diamond Anniversary Cruise on July 19. (The Museum is a registered charity that can issue tax receipts and relies on memberships and donations.)

Other events are about opening up to the community, such as the Canada Day Open House and Turtle Day on the August civic holiday. There is an evening lecture series running throughout the summer, featuring area notables such as author Patrick Boyer, Muskoka Lakes Mayor Peter Kelley, and more.

“You can come to Muskoka and only see the surface level, but you miss so much that way,” explains Sarah. “We want to help people see much deeper into Muskoka by understanding its past.”

TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI
PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN

www.MLMuseum.com

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