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Early Days, Early Ways

soft cover
10" x 8"
176 pages
97 historical pictures
6 maps
ISBN 978-0-9696976-3-3
retail $28 Cdn



Gravenhurst Bookstore

Steamboat Bay Gift Shop (at the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre)

Gravenhurst Opera House

Gravenhurst Public Library
(for mail orders, call
705-687-3382 for info)


The front cover features an 1880s photograph of the Fraser House hotel, located at the corner of Muskoka Road and Bay Street, the location now of the main post office. The hotel was originally opened in 1867 by Dugald Brown as the Steamboat and Stage House. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1887. (photo courtesy of the Gravenhurst Archives)


Also by Cecil Porter:

The Gilded Cage: Gravenhurst German Prisoner-of-War Camp 20, 1940-1946

Gravenhurst cover


Gravenhurst: Early Days, Early Ways

by Cecil Porter
Published by the Gravenhurst Book Committee

A strategic location on the colonization road at the foot of the Muskoka Lakes assured that McCabe’s Landing, officially named Gravenhurst on August 1, 1862, would become an important centre on the newly opened Muskoka frontier. This book affirms the contribution of those remarkable men and women who created a vigorous settlement in the bush between Gull Lake and Muskoka Bay. Gravenhurst: Early Days, Early Ways portrays the social and economic life of the emerging community up to the ruinous Great Fire during the night of September 2122, 1887.

Although the government had begun promoting Muskoka for agricultural settlement, the land around Gravenhurst was not well suited for farming. Navigation on the Muskoka Lakes provided the early impetus for Gravenhurst, with A.P. Cockburn launching the first steamboat on these waters in 1866.

After the arrival of the railway in 1875, Gravenhurst became a major sawmilling centre, for a time one of the busiest in the north country as more than a dozen mills processed the millions of feet of pine logs annually floated down the Muskoka River from as far away as Algonquin Park. The growing settlement also benefited from the increasing tourism industry on the Muskoka Lakes.

In this history of the formative years of his home town, Cecil Porter engages the reader with the same clear style he demonstrated in The Gilded Cage, his history of Camp 20, the German prisoner-of-war camp that operated at Gravenhurst during World War II.


Gravenhurst: Early Days, Early Ways was designed and produced for the Gravenhurst Book Committee by Fox Meadow Creations.


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