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MUSKOKA’S MAIN STREET: 150 Years of Courage and Adventure Along the Muskoka Colonization Road

Lee Ann Eckhardt Smith


soft cover, 7.5" x 9"
xxii + 199 pages
150 photos and maps
ISBN 978-0-9864867-5-3
retail $24.95 Cdn

published by
Muskoka Books



Sold in stores that carry local history titles in Muskoka, Parry Sound, and the Almaguin Highlands.

Available online at


FRONT COVER: In 1905 the Muskoka Road was still mostly a rough, dirt track when the Milne brothers and Emma Anderson tackled it in a sixteen-horsepower Rambler manufactured by the Jeffrey Motor Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin. photo courtesy Cathy Anderson


For more information about Muskoka’s Main Street, and to enjoy an INTERACTIVE MAP of the Muskoka Road, go to the author’s website:

Muskoka's Main Street cover


In 1858, the Muskoka Colonization Road began to twist its way north into the rugged Canadian Shield wilderness that is now Muskoka, part of grand but misguided government plans to open up this rocky, forested tract for agricultural settlement.

Settlers followed in the wake of the surveyors and road builders. Some hacked farms out of the bush; others established fledgling villages such as Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, and Burk’s Falls at strategic points.

With the advent of steamboats on navigable waterways in the region, and subsequently the construction of a railway that paralleled the pioneer “main street,” it seemed by the late 19th century that the Muskoka Road had outlived it usefulness.

But with the 20th century came automobiles, and roads regained supremacy. Much of the corridor served originally by the Muskoka Road became the route of Highway 11 through the region.

In Muskoka’s Main Street, Lee Ann Eckhardt Smith traces the evolution of the Muskoka Road from a rough bush trail to a four-lane highway. The emphasis, however, is on the early decades—1850s to 1890s—when the road was helping to open up the region, and on the eclectic cast of surveyors, contractors, settlers, entrepreneurs, and adventurers who “crossed paths” with the historic route.

For Muskokans who wonder what happened to the Muskoka Road after it headed north into the bush from Huntsville, the answer is in this book—and it may come as a bit of a surprise.


Muskoka’s Main Street was designed for the publisher by Fox Meadow Creations.


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