Bracebridge, Ontario

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Town of Bracebridge
View of the road into central Bracebridge.
View of the road into central Bracebridge.
The Heart of Muskoka
Bracebridge is located in Southern Ontario
Coordinates: 45°02′N 79°18′W / 45.033°N 79.300°W / 45.033; -79.300Coordinates: 45°02′N 79°18′W / 45.033°N 79.300°W / 45.033; -79.300
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Incorporated1875 (village)
Incorporated1889 (town)
 • MayorGraydon Smith
 • Governing BodyBracebridge Town Council
 • Federal ridingParry Sound—Muskoka
 • Prov. ridingParry Sound—Muskoka
 • Land628.22 km2 (242.56 sq mi)
 • Total16,010
 • Density25.5/km2 (66/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code(s)705 & 249
Highways Highway 11
 Highway 118

Bracebridge is a town and the seat of the Muskoka District Municipality in Ontario, Canada.

The town was built around a waterfall on the Muskoka River in the centre of town, and is known for its other nearby waterfalls (Wilson's Falls, High Falls, etc.). It was first incorporated in 1875.[3] It was named after a book, Bracebridge Hall by Washington Irving, that the postmaster in charge of naming towns was reading at the time.[citation needed]

The town is the seat of the district government, a centre of tourism for the Muskoka area, and home to several historical sites, such as the Clock Tower, Woodchester Villa, and the Silver Bridge, which joins Manitoba Street with Ecclestone Drive. The Silver Bridge was repaired in 2002. Bracebridge is also the home of the Muskoka Brewery.

Graydon Smith is the current mayor.


Bracebridge and Muskoka River circa 1880
View down Manitoba Street in Bracebridge circa 1910

The character of the town of Bracebridge is shaped by its proximity to Lake Muskoka to which it is connected by 6 miles of the Muskoka River, and by the promise of abundant water power afforded by the great waterfall at the foot of the downtown.[3] Early growth of the town occurred in proximity to the falls which powered the first factory. The arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway cemented the town's role as a transportation hub for the area.

Modern settlement of the town began in the 1860s, beginning at first with a few log huts. The Muskoka colonization road had been completed to the first falls on the north branch of the Muskoka River by 1862. Entrepreneurs began to take advantage of the area's water power. With the advent of steamship service on Lake Muskoka a few years later, Bracebridge prospered as the main distribution centre for the region.[4]

By 1869, Bracebridge was a village with a population of 160 in the Township of Macaulay, Victoria County. (In 1868 Macauley and six additional townships had been detached from the County and transferred to the new District of Muskoka, but were not withdrawn for municipal purposes until 1877.) The village was established on the Muskoka River. There were stages in winter and boats in summer from Barrie to Washago. The average price of wild land was $2 to $5 an acre while improved land was $10 per acre.[5]

By 1870 the village had a population of about 400, growing to reach a total of about 2,000 by the turn of the 20th century.[3] The village was incorporated in 1875 and became a town under an Act of Parliament in 1889. In 1894 Bracebridge became the first town in Ontario to have its own hydro generating station. In 1971 Macaulay Township was merged into Bracebridge.

The municipal boundaries of Bracebridge also encompass the smaller communities of Clear Lake, Falkenburg (ghost town), Falkenburg Station, Fraserburg, Germania, Lakewood, Matthiasville, Monsell (ghost town), Purbrook, Rocksborough, Springdale Park, Stoneleigh, Uffington and Vankoughnet.


The Bracebridge Town Express 'trolley'

Bracebridge is immediately adjacent to Highway 11, a major provincial highway that connects the community to Greater Toronto in under 2 hours, as well as to markets in Northern Ontario. Muskoka Airport, a Canada Customs Airport of Entry and a Transport Canada certified facility, operates a mere 5 km south of Bracebridge. Capable of handling aircraft as large as the Boeing 737, this airport operates 356 days per year and sees over 15,000 annual aircraft movements each year.

While rail service to Bracebridge has been discontinued, the community is serviced by coach bus line that departs from the Bracebridge Quality Inn and takes passengers south to Toronto and north to North Bay. In 2016 the municipality launched Bracebridge Transit, a one-hour, single-route schedule that gets residents around the urban core. Bracebridge Mobility also offers door-to-door service to individuals who are unable to access the regular transit service due to mobility issues.


Bracebridge is served by several elementary schools and two high schools: Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, and Saint Dominic Catholic Secondary School. Public education is administered by the Trillium Lakelands District School Board,[6] and Catholic education is administered by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.[7]

Georgian College operates a satellite campus in the town with programming that supports the local labour market. Nipissing University operated in Bracebridge for over 21 years but chose to consolidate its operations in 2016 resulting in the closure of the local campus. The facility was purchased in 2018 by Dewey College, an independent high school registered with the Ontario Ministry of Education that offers international students a range of programs from high school to ESL and AP programs.

Contact North provides academic degrees, diplomas, certificates or skill development through online learning from a huge variety of Ontario colleges and universities.


Historical populations
Note: 2011 census population
corrected by Statistics Canada[2]
Canada census – Bracebridge, Ontario community profile
2016 2011 2006
Population: 16,010 (3.9% from 2011) 15,414[2] (-1.5% from 2006) 15,652 (13.8% from 2001)
Land area: 628.22 km2 (242.56 sq mi) 625.66 km2 (241.57 sq mi) 617.42 km2 (238.39 sq mi)
Population density: 25.5/km2 (66/sq mi) 24.6/km2 (64/sq mi) 25.4/km2 (66/sq mi)
Median age: 47.2 (M: 45.6, F: 48.5) 44.5 (M: 43.1, F: 45.7)
Total private dwellings: 8874 8519[2] 8568
Median household income: $59,193
References: 2016[8] 2011[9] 2006[10] earlier[11]


The Town of Bracebridge built a state of the art Sportsplex in 2006 which contains a rock climbing wall, indoor track, eight-lane swimming pool and fitness studio. The town partnered with the Muskoka Limberettes Gymnastics Club to create a gymnastics facility in the same building. The Sportsplex is part of the same complex including the Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School and Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre.[12]

Bracebridge also opened a new 3.75 Million dollar softball venue called Peake Fields at Verena Acres. This facility supports a Men's League, Women's League, and Minor Ball, as well as slow pitch. The Men's fastball League has been running for some 35 years, and has produced 4 Ontario Intermediate Fastball Championships, and 3 Canadian Championships, with all local players.

Plans are currently in place for a new Arena/Fieldhouse/Library complex that is expected to be constructed in the next couple of years.

Attractions and venues[edit]

Bracebridge is the home of Santa's Village, a Christmas theme park, established in 1955. It was inspired by the town's location at 45 degrees latitude, halfway between the equator and the North Pole. Bracebridge also contains Woodchester Villa, an unusual octagonal house. In 2016, Bracebridge held its first annual Fire and Ice Festival, featuring a sledding hill on the main street, ice skating, s'mores, fire performances.


Bracebridge is served by the local radio station, CFBG-FM, a hot adult contemporary station that uses the on-air brand Moose FM. CFBG-FM is owned by Vista Radio. Prior to Vista Radio's ownership, the station was owned by Haliburton Broadcasting Group.[citation needed] Local newspapers include Bracebridge Examiner, District Weekender, Muskoka Sun and Muskoka Advance.

The first newspaper in Bracebridge was the Northern Advocate begun in 1870 by Thomas McMurray. It was joined in 1872 by the Free Grant Gazette owned by E.F. Stephenson. The Advocate ceased publication in 1874 and was bought out by Stephenson. Competition resumed, however, in 1878 when Mr Gaffe and Mr Oaten founded the Muskoka Herald.[3]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bracebridge census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  2. ^ a b c d "Corrections and updates". Statistics Canada. 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  3. ^ a b c d Hopkins, J. Castell (1896). Encyclopedic Canada or The Progress of a Nation. Toronto: Bradley-Garretson Company Ltd. pp. 346–350.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2011-03-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Ontario Heritage Trust Founding of Bracebridge
  5. ^ The province of Ontario gazetteer and directory. H. McEvoy Editor and Compiler, Toronto : Robertson & Cook, Publishers, 1869
  6. ^ "Schools". Trillium Lakelands District School Board. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  7. ^ "Our Schools". Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  8. ^ "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 21, 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  9. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  10. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  11. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  12. ^ "A Trip Around Lake Muskoka With Norman Bethune - And A Cure For Cancer", by Martin Avery, 2013, ISBN 978-1-304-60093-6

External links[edit]