You don’t need a time machine to travel back in time in Huntsville—a visit to Muskoka Heritage Place will accomplish that without any science-defying feats.
There you can immerse yourself in the pioneer village and experience what life was like for Huntsville’s early settlers from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The village includes both original buildings that were relocated to the site, as well as reproductions true to that time period. It’s a unique museum experience—the buildings are filled with artifacts from the MHP collection that were used by local families who inhabited the area.
And unlike in many museums, it’s not an entirely hands-off experience, either. Although the artifacts themselves are for viewing only to help preserve them, there are plenty of hands-on activities.
Costumed narrators in period dress bring the village to life. They’ll lead you through a variety of pioneer activities—sample scones baked in a pioneer kitchen at the Maw House, attend a class in the one-room schoolhouse, help the blacksmith to forge some tools, wash clothes by hand, and have some fun with pioneer games. Activities vary by day—pick up a schedule at the admission desk when you arrive. And don’t forget to say hello to the farm animals.
Have you ever wondered what health care was like in decades past? Find out at the feature exhibit at the Muskoka Museum. Healthy Huntsville: A Brief History of Health Care in Huntsville showcases an assortment of medical instruments and remedies, some dating back to Huntsville’s first physician, Dr. Francis L. Howland. You can also learn more about Huntsville’s first peoples in a permanent year-round exhibit at the museum.
Or have you thought about how people got around in a time when cars were a rarity? In Muskoka, the Portage Flyer train helped get people to Lake of Bays before there were roads to take them there. The open-air train carried passengers up the steep incline at North Portage from Peninsula Lake to Lake of Bays. It was a short ride between steamship ports, and passengers often had to hop off and help push the train to the top. Now that this heritage train is at Muskoka Heritage Place, you can enjoy a leisurely ride along the tracks with a beautiful view of the Muskoka River—no extra effort required.
The Portage Flyer’s steam engine makes its season debut on July 1 during the Dominion Day and Steam-up Day celebration. The gates to Muskoka Heritage Place open at 9:00 a.m. and admission to the village is free until 11:00 a.m. Enjoy Canada Day cupcakes, celebrate Canada’s 152nd birthday with local dignitaries, and take in the historical demonstrations. The Portage Flyer runs on the hour from noon until 3:00 p.m. (Regular train rates apply.)
Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, Muskoka Heritage Place is the perfect location to touch the past and appreciate just how far we’ve come.
For more information, visit muskokaheritageplace.org.
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