A Good Town Grew Here

The Story of Bracebridge, Ontario, 1860-1914 / 2nd edition

A Good Town Grew Here
by Robert J. Boyer



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A Good Town Grew Here provides a richly detailed, well illustrated chronology of the struggles and growth of Bracebridge up to the First World War.

In 1860 when the first permanent settler arrived, unbroken forest surrounded “the North Falls” on the Muskoka River, and crossing the river meant balancing precariously on a felled pine tree. But the falls had been chosen as the crossing point for the new Muskoka Colonization Road then being pushed north into the wilderness, and they also provided a splendid source of power for industry and created a head of navigation on the river. It was an ideal place for a town to grow — and grow it did!

By 1864, when the fledgling community got its first post office and its new name, "Bracebridge," a sawmill was busily making lumber at the falls, and a grist mill was under construction. Incorporation as a municipality came in 1875, and by the end of the 19th century the town was prospering with sawmills, tanneries, a woollen mill, impressive public buildings, and its own water-powered electric generating plant.

This year-by-year unfolding of Bracebridge history, interwoven with world, national and provincial events that touched the local community, offers a wide-ranging and comprehensive account as diverse as the town itself: governnance and politics, industry and commerce, development of schools and library services, formation of sports teams and churches, newspapers and cultural organizations, crimes both grizzly and humourous and their punishment, tragedies and triumphs for individuals and for the community alike, all are recounted in an unvarnsihed manner to portray the reality of life in a go-ahead Canadian town a century and more ago.

In compiling this community narrative, author Robert J. Boyer drew upon newspaper files, town council minutes, and personal knowledge as a member of one of Muskoka's pioneer families. His grandparents on both sides came to Bracebridge in the 1860s.

Originally published in 1975 to commemorate the town’s centennial of municipal incorporation, A Good Town Grew Here is regarded as the most accurate and comprehensive compilation of early Bracebridge history. This second edition includes a fine index compiled by Bracebridge residents Brenda Clark and Donna Ivey.


Publisher: Oxbow Press, 2002

Category: Communities and locales

ISBN: 978-0-9688671-1-2

Price: $29.95 CDN

Format: Paperback, 215 pages 8.5 x 11 in

Features: 242 B&W photos, map, complete index