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Susan Pryke

Huntsville never had an easy time during its formative decades. Founded in the 1860s amid the picturesque lakes and rolling wooded hills of northeastern Muskoka, the hamlet struggled in competition with nearby settlements. The arrival of the railway in 1886 brought major industry and soon the local economy was humming on the region’s bountiful timber resources. Its future assured, Huntsville was incorporated as a village — only to burn down eight years later. The citizens rebuilt, but in the ensuing years they had to cope with two world wars, the Depression, industry upheaval, and the constant battle to secure their share of the lucrative and growing Muskoka tourism trade.

Despite the many challenges, Huntsville’s energetic citizens made it onto the national and even world scene with such achievements as an early form of medicare, a first-rate band, a thriller ski jump, one of the largest leather tanneries in the British Empire, the world’s “shortest commercially operated railway,” and a series of splendid Depression-banishing winter carnivals.

Huntsville: With Spirit and Resolve captures in vivid detail the challenges and successes from pioneer days to the mid-20th century.

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