The tourists have gone home, since most stores are closed after our BIG Cranberry Festival (2007 photos of the bog), which ran this past weekend (the w/e after Canadian Thanksgiving in October). It draws hundreds of thousands (2008 photos) of tourists in town --population of 650. The history of Muskoka revolves around cottagers who come north from the big city to play in the water.
I worry about our town. There are several shops and a restaurant for sale, including our big parking lot. Other shops are quite successful; General Store, LCBO, and the stores along the main street. We have a library (open Wed/Sat.), and a bank (only open 3 times a week in winter!). With several stores being closed, people speed through and pick up food at Don's Bakery, or the grocery store, but tourism dollars are down by 30%. We have some terrific shops, with specialty products, and they sell well. But it is a limited season and business owners are dependent upon summer dollars. For this reason townspeople are worried about the Hydro Dam Project.
The Kee, which used to be a dance hall in the big band era (Jimmy Dorsey, etc.), draws a different crowd. Nowadays, it is not always open on a Saturday night. When it is, there is a lot of heavy drinking and incidents have occurred. It was not licensed when I was young, and we visited it every Saturday and saw the bands that we listened to on the record player (how I date myself) and radio.
The Bala Bay Inn is another great spot. Formerly known as the Swastika Hotel -- they changed the name after it became politically incorrect and the swastika symbol was adopted by Hitler.
- Bala semi-official website
- Bala unofficial website
- Bala’s Museum featuring Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Bala Cranberry Festival
- Wahta Mohawks