How about an LED ‘Huntsville’ sign in Hunters Bay? ~ Brian Tapley


I’ll probably get yelled at like the inventors of “Pipe Man” for this idea but here it is anyway, just for consideration.

Every time I drive North on Highway 11 (especially at night) and pass over the bridge I glance to the right and look up the expanse of Hunters Bay. You know Huntsville is one of the very few towns that has such a view of its town site from the main Highway 11 corridor roadway. It is quite a beautiful view.

When I was younger there was the saw mill and flooring plant there, always putting out smoke in a sign of the industrial strength of the town.

Here is my idea.

You know how Hollywood has its sign on the hills in Los Angeles? This sign is world famous; puts them on the map everywhere. You can show the Hollywood sign to virtually anyone the world over and they know it is in California.

So my idea is to put a sign that says “HUNTSVILLE” in letters big enough to read easily from Highway 11 as people in their hundreds of thousands each year pass by.

I don’t suggest a gaudy or ugly sign, but I think a classy and well designed sign could look good from the highway and be virtually invisible from the town site itself. With modern LED lighting it could be illuminated at night in a variety of colours to suit the seasons or special days of the year and this lighting could be adjusted in intensity so as not to be obnoxious to anyone. It could be made to gradually fade down to a minimal or no lighting at all say after 1 am so as to not bother people’s sleep for example.

The lighted sign would reflect off the waters of Hunters Bay in a very pretty way on still nights.

I think such a sign could be a valuable way to promote the town for a minimal cost on a long term basis. It might even become an icon like the Hollywood sign is and that would be an amazing publicity coup for Huntsville.

We have the technical expertise in this town to build and illuminate such a sign and I’m sure a group of business leaders could find a way to fund the cost of hydro so that the Town cost would be very small.

I think this is worth a look!

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Brian Tapley attended school at Port Cunnington, then Irwin Memorial in Dwight, then Huntsville High, and then Queen’s University, where he graduated 1973 as a Mechanical Engineer.
He worked for Kimberly-Clark for a short time before ‘retiring’ to help his aging parents run the family resort, Bondi Village Cottage Resort in Dwight.
Brian, who says he’s getting old, too, is joined at the resort by his son and his lovely wife, as they start to take over the reins.
“We have been here since my grandfather purchased the original farm in 1905 and I always add that we have managed this feat despite the best efforts of our various governments to help us out.”



  1. James Solecki on

    I think that an illuminated sign in Hunters Bay, as described by Brian would be problematic for many reasons. It would also be very expensive to assemble and install. Such as sign would be perceived as a visual blight on the nighttime environment by many, and would be virtually impossible to make such that it meets Dark Sky requirements. As such, it would contravene the Town’s outdoor lighting guidelines and regulations.

  2. Kathryn Henderson on

    Brian you are too sensitive if you were bothered by disagreeing opinions. You put all the blame on the majority of people who’s opinion differed from yours. Why is there blame and shame still being put in the people who didn’t think Pipe Man reflected Muskoka and trees and rocks which are beautiful. I’m tired of the pot shots. And while I’m at it the town does everything possible to keep our lights low for Muskoka so we dont look like a big city. I don’t agree to putting a light out in the lake. Just my opinion.

  3. Kathryn Henderson on

    I hope I don’t sound like I’m knocking all ideas. I appreciate the thought that went into this idea and hope people will continue to think of ways to improve our great town

  4. I wonder if he has ever been to Hollywood and realizes how far away that sign actually is? Think “a sign” is a great idea…..but leave the waters of our town alone! How about up on the top of the look out? Or in the middle of Pen lake… seriousness LEAVE THE BEAUTIFUL WATERWAYS ALONE!!!!!!!!

  5. We’ve been working toward less light pollution here in Muskoka, so while this is a well-thought-out idea, I agree with everyone who’s posted. No, thank you.

  6. Sandy McLennan on

    Having publicly-seen lighting dim when not needed, there’s an idea! In the past I could easily distinguish the Milky Way from where I live between Huntsville and Baysville. It’s been indistinguishable for some years now, no thanks to over-lighting and blue-white LED street lighting. I’m for the elimination of lights where not needed, and I include overnight advertising on my list.

  7. No thanks. As you say, ” … Huntsville is one of the very few towns that has such a view of its town site from the main Highway 11 corridor roadway. It is quite a beautiful view.” So why ruin it with a cheap imitation of Toronto?

  8. Bonnie Branton on

    Hi Brian,

    Appreciate another ‘Huntsville Booster’.
    Jump in the ‘Talent Pool’! A Mechanical Engineer who owns & operates a Muskoka Resort probably has lots to contribute to Huntsville’s ability to thrive & survive.
    So, study the important ‘Night Sky’ recommendations and go ‘back to the drawing board’.
    Look forward to all your (unlit) ideas in the future!

  9. DianneDianne Adams on

    There are so many things out on the table right now that a sign illuminating Hunter’s Bay would really seem to be far down on the list. Leave our town the way it is – natural and serene. Let the natural light from the moon light us up on occasion, PLEASE???

  10. Please don’t be discouraged by the negative comments, Brian; even though I’m going to include a further caveat. The MTO would never approve such a sign because of their “cone-of-vision requirements”. I hope that you will lend your not inconsiderable creative talents to the Lake of Bays branding exercise; especially the wordmark and logo/crest.

  11. Brian Tapley on

    Oh well, another idea shot down in flames.
    Not to worry, the light haze from the rest of the town and all the car dealership lots, parking lots and that giant blaze of sodium glory called Highway 60 as it heads our of town have long ago taken care of seeing most of the star field above the town.
    For that matter, from my vantage point on Lake of Bays, my night sky has been obliterated by Baysville over the last 15 years, more each year and although I have a nice, cell phone blocking mountain between myself and Huntsville, I can still see Huntsville’s light cone from my place.
    Oh yes, forgot the nice brilliant white strobes on the TV, and Cell towers too.

    There used to be a big factory on the water front in this location. For a long time it was one of the largest producers of hardwood flooring in Canada. We all lived with this and I just thought a tasteful, low impact sign would be a neat idea.

    I remain of this opinion, thinking probably that most of my naysayers are not really aware of exactly what I was thinking it should look like and realizing that just because there is some by-law on the books now one must remember that all by-laws are retro in that they try to address an issue that has already happened. Few of them look to the future with any positive attempt to foster innovation.

    It’s ok, I know Huntsville is there, even though there is nothing to see except the obligatory Horton’s, Walmart, and Motel 6 from the road. If the majority don’t want this, that is fine, cheaper too and like most of these good folks, I too am already here.

    Now if we could just get mufflers for those big diesel pick up trucks and ATV’s.. we would be one more step closer to entering paradise.

  12. Craig Nakamoto on

    Brian, don’t forget that Doppler readers are probably only a small percentage of residents and it is only a small percentage of Doppler readers who will ever comment on an article. Of those who do, many likely only comment if they disagree with something.

    i suspect most readers do not understand what your suggestion could look like. I think it is a great idea.

    There is a big difference between an illuminated sign and an illuminating sign. if the letters were on the water and faced the highway, I can’t see how they would bother any residents since they would not be visible from the inhabited areas of Hunter’s Bay. You would see them from a distance looking up the narrows, but your view would be obstructed by a huge concrete highway / bridge with a lot of noisy and brightly lit (at night) traffic anyway.

    I find it amusing when people complain about keeping things “natural” in town. The Pipe Man was right in front of Boston Pizza. Hello folks, do you even stop to think about what you are saying? This sign would be right on the side of a very busy highway in town.

    I hated the first LED lights. Especially at night – I love the warm glow of natural or incandescent light. They still make those cool blue ones, but they have come a long way at making really nice warm LED lights too.

    The other aspect that people seem to keep forgetting is that we are a tourist town. I remember traveling to a small village in Peru near the Cordillera Blanca which was called Huarez. At the time, the town had recently built a large white statue of Jesus. There was a lot of controversy because the locals felt that the money would have been better spent on infrastructure. Being a tourist town, I thought the statue also held a lot of merit.

  13. I rather like the idea. It could stand out and be memorable, without being an eyesore as so many quickly think. Perhaps skip the water site for a location on the hillside between main street and the hill top. Letters would need to be bigger, but then it need not bother anyone and it could stand out. Nice original idea, a worthy successor to the old Archway in the west end. I have not lived in Huntsville for many years, but it is still home, although i visit and drive through regularly. Good luck.

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