Visiting the Peterson Road terminus at Muskoka Falls, Ontario: remembering early settlers

Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Commemorative plaque for the Peterson Road, by the United Church, at Muskoka Falls, Ontario
Commemorative plaque for the Peterson Road, by the United Church, at Muskoka Falls, Ontario | Source
Map location of Muskoka District Municipality, Ontario Source: 'User:Gene.arboit', GNU / Creative Commons A-SA 3.0, wikimedia.org
Map location of Muskoka District Municipality, Ontario Source: 'User:Gene.arboit', GNU / Creative Commons A-SA 3.0, wikimedia.org | Source

Commemorating 19th century Ontario pioneers at the site of the United Church

The history of Ontario is marked by patterns of immigration, which may sometimes be traced at specific places. One such place is Muskoka Falls, near Bracebridge, in the Muskoka District Municipality; this village marks the end of what is known as the Peterson Road.

Some history

This road was intended as an early route for settlers in the mid-19th century. It was named for Joseph S. Peterson (1815-?), who as a Provincial Land Surveyor undertook a study of local lands. The road was built between 1858 and 1863, in the hope that agricultural development could be encouraged in the district. The building of the road is said to have cost about $39,000. Originally the Peterson Road linked the Muskoka and Opeongo Roads and was 183 kilometres long.

In fact, the hoped for large scale immigration of a permanent nature into the immediate districts along the Petersen Road did not occur because of the poor quality of soils in the Precambrian Shield area. However, it may be said that the lumbering industry did receive somewhat of a boost as a result of the Peterson Road's existence.

Plaque and pioneer memorial cairn

A plaque commemorating the Peterson Road was erected by the Archeological and Historic Sites Board, close to Muskoka Falls's United Church building.

Nearby, close to the entrance to the site of the United Church, a Pioneer Memorial Cairn has been established. This Cairn was erected by a local club in 1974. A plaque attached to the thick, solid stone reads simply:

'IN MEMORY OF THE PIONEERS OF THIS COMMUNITY'.

Also worth seeing

Bracebridge (distance: 8.5 kilometres); sights include High Falls and the octagonal Woodchester Villa.

Gravenhurst (distance: 12.3 kilometres); the Segwun regularly sails on Lake Muskoka from the town.

Muskoka Airport (distance: 4.4 kilometres) has an interesting display commemorating Norwegian aviators.

...

How to get there: Toronto Pearson Airport (distance: 173.5 kilometres) to which Air Canada and WestJet fly from many North American destinations, is the largest international airport within accessible distance to Muskoka Falls , which is situated north of Toronto by road via Highways 400 and 11. Car hire is available at Toronto Pearson Airport. Ontario Northland operates rail services to nearby Bracebridge from Toronto Union Station. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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