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Bracebridge, Ontario

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Bracebridge, Ontario

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

Town (lower-tier)
Town of Bracebridge
View of the road into central Bracebridge.
View of the road into central Bracebridge.
Motto(s): 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
District Muskoka
Incorporated 1875 (village)
Incorporated 1889 (town)
 • Mayor Graydon Smith
 • Governing Body Bracebridge Town Council
 • Federal riding Parry Sound—Muskoka
 • Prov. riding Parry Sound—Muskoka
 • Land 628.22 km2 (242.56 sq mi)
Population (2016)[2]
 • Total 16,010
 • Density 25.5/km2 (66/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Forward sortation area P1L
Area code(s) 705 & 249
Highways  Highway 11
 Highway 118

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 Inn at the Falls, 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 Cottage 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 town.[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 County, Victoria. It 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.

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 Towne Express trolley, sponsored by Santa's Village, provides the town with local public transport. However, it only makes trips to Santa's Village on Sunday afternoons during the summer season.

The Bracebridge railway station no longer receives service as the Ontario Northland Northlander line was discontinued by the Ontario government. Bracebridge receives coach bus service departing from the Riverside Inn that takes passengers as far south as Toronto and as far north as North Bay. Bracebridge is the home and main hub of Muskoka Transport, a successful shipping and receiving company owned and operated by the Hammond family.


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]

Nipissing University and Georgian College have a shared satellite campus in the town. Both Georgian College and Nipissing University expanded their campuses in 2008. Georgian has moved into the town's former swimming pool/recreation centre, the "Centennial Centre" on Wellington Street. Georgian's grand opening date was September 11, 2007. Nipissing University opened its doors next to Georgian the following year for the 2008 semester. Nipissing University has also completed a multimillion-dollar, on-campus expansion of its facilities by adding a 52-bed residence building. The residence also doubles as a hotel during the tourist busy summer months while school is out. However, in 2016, the Nipissing campus closed due to various reasons. Students were given an opportunity to complete their degrees at the main campus in North Bay.


Year Pop. ±%
1871 700 —    
1891 1,419 +102.7%
1901 2,479 +74.7%
1911 2,776 +12.0%
1921 2,451 −11.7%
1931 2,436 −0.6%
1941 2,341 −3.9%
1951 2,684 +14.7%
1961 2,927 +9.1%
1971 6,903 +135.8%
1981 9,063 +31.3%
1991 12,308 +35.8%
2001 13,751 +11.7%
2006 15,652 +13.8%
2011 15,414 −1.5%
2016 16,010 +3.9%
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. It was opened this summer on August 15. 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.

Attractions and venuesEdit

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, ice skating, s'mores, fire performances.


Bracebridge is served by the local radio station, CFBG 99.5 FM, a hot adult contemporary station that uses the on-air brand "Moose FM". Moose FM 99.5 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 residentsEdit

  • Irvin "Ace" Bailey, Hockey Hall of Famer
  • Patrick Boyer (born 1945), politician - born in Bracebridge
  • Frank Carson, former NHL player
  • William Joseph James "Doc" Carson, former NHL player, 1929 Stanley Cup
  • Roger Crozier, former NHL player
  • Gary Denniss, writer, teacher, historian, columnist, preacher
  • Marty Gervais, writer, journalist, historian
  • Kris King, former NHL player
  • Deric Ruttan, Canadian country music singer/songwriter
  • Liisa Savijarvi, downhill skier who competed at the 1984 Olympics
  • Zander Sherman, writer

See alsoEdit

  • List of townships in Ontario


  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.  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". Canada 2016 Census. Statistics Canada. February 21, 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  9. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". Canada 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  10. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  11. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". Canada 2001 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 linksEdit

  •   Bracebridge travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Town of Bracebridge
  • Town of Bracebridge portal