Muskoka Lakes Mayor Elect Don Furniss thanks the voters

Don Furniss thanks supporters; promises constructive work at Council

October 28, 8am: The first thought for Muskoka Lakes Mayor Elect Don Furniss last night was to express thanks to the people of the township he will now serve for the next four years.

“I would like to thank all the great people of the Township of Muskoka Lakes who voted, especially those who had the confidence to elect  me your mayor,” said Furniss. “It is a great honour to be the chief custodian of your township for the next 4 years.  I intend to  work constructively with the new council to develop the strategic initiatives, that were promised in my election platform.”

Featured photo: Don Furniss (in back) with supporters at Moon River home in September.

“Election campaigns to be successful, involve a wide complement of volunteers and supporters,” he added.

Don Furniss, Mayor Don Furniss, Furniss running for Mayor of Muskoka Lakes
Don Furniss on day he announced he would run for Mayor

“I want to thank them all, from the bottom of my heart for their tireless work to make this campaign a success.”

Muskoka Lakes Election – New results show Furniss will be new Mayor

Furniss new Mayor of Muskoka Lakes, District incumbents hold seat, newcomers include Sandy Currie, Lynda Barrick Spearn and Terry Ledger

October 27, 10:30 pm: Muskoka Lakes, your new Council for the next four years:

Don Furniss, Mayor


Ruth Nishikawa
Donelda Kruckel
Sandy Currie


Allen Edwards
Gault McTaggart
Lynda Spearn


Phil Harding
Terry Ledger
Jean-Ann Baranik

For the vote counts as of 10:07pm, please click here or view below

muskoka lakes


Muskoka Lakes Municipal Election: Nailbiting Races to keep watching, including for Mayor

Votes still being counted could change hotly contested seats in Muskoka Lakes

Updated October 27, 10:20pm: Unofficial partial results showed Furniss leading Murphy in Mayoral race, Harding leading Brent in Ward C for District and Kruckel just 5 votes ahead of Davidson for Councillor, Ward A.

Yet with a reported 6700+ votes cast, things could change drastically and sources say Ward A votes are still being counted. Ward A includes the Bala, Torrance & Walker’s Point area. Partial results as of 8:45pm shown below had Furniss leading Murphy by 988 votes. There could be another potential 2,000 votes outstanding.

Muskoka Lakes partial results



Another term for Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith; Scott Aitchison new Mayor of Huntsville

Municipal election results in Bracebridge and Huntsville. Graydon Smith earns another 4 years as Bracebridge Mayor, Scott Aitchison successful in his Mayoral bid in Huntsville

RESULTS (UNOFFICIAL) FOR HUNTSVILLE AND BRACEBRIDGE. Please click on images to see larger view.

Featured picture: Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.24.01 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.22.13 PM








Muskoka Lakes Municipal Election: Furniss leading Murphy (unofficial results)

Update 10:15pm, Ward A could decide mayoral race and close councillor races. Reportedly, about 6700 ballots cast across Muskoka and Ward A still being counted.

Don Furniss may be new Mayor of Muskoka Lakes – unofficial results as of 8:45pm…more results to come

Note: at 9:34 votes still being counted in Muskoka Lakes.

Furniss beats murphy



For unofficial results to 8.45, click here

Bird Lake Road now open in Bracebridge; youth ambassadors sought for Norway visit

UPDATE October 21, 2:30pm: As of just after 2pm, Bird Lake Road is now open again in Bracebridge.

Road closure notice issued October 21, 11am: Effective immediately, Bird Lake Road at civic address #1320 has been fully closed to vehicular traffic due to the undermining of the road. The road closure will also affect Bird Lake Crescent, Bigwind Lake Road, Seven Dwarfs Crescent, Timber Trail, Beattie Lane, and Boyes Heritage Road.

For updates as road could be fully open again at any time, visit

Bracebridge looking for youth ambassadors to represent town in Norway

Are you a Bracebridge resident, between 14 to 19 years of age with a strong academic background? Would you like to travel to Norway in August, 2015 as a Youth Ambassador representing the Town of Bracebridge? If so, you are invited to submit an application for consideration by the: Town of Bracebridge-Gol, Norway Friendship Committee.

An application package and details regarding the planned trip can be found by clicking hereApplications must be received by October 31, 2014.

Bala Falls Update: Approvals still needed, but hydro project will go ahead, says MNR

Approval still needed before work starts in Bala but hydro “project will proceed”, says MNR

Published October 19, 9:15am: While Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) has District of Muskoka permission to enter the proposed hydro plant site in Bala starting tomorrow (Monday), there are still some approvals needed before the company can enter the site.

Muskoka District Council set an entrance date for SREL of October 20 so work would not happen until after the Bala Cranberry Festival. But the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) says the District decision doesn’t give SREL a clear green light to begin work on that date.

“As the EA [Environmental Assessment] process is complete, SREL may proceed with the development of the Bala North Dam Waterpower Proposal,” says Dan Duggan, the MNR District Manager for the Parry Sound-Muskoka region. While saying the project will proceed, he did confirm that any movement on SREL’s part on the site is still subject to obtaining some remaining approvals. He did not elaborate on what SREL may be waiting on. Earlier this week, the MNR’s Jolanta Kowalski told Moose FM that any further authorizations fall under the approval of the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act.

Engineer Karen McGhee, the project manager for SREL, issued this statement yesterday: “Swift River is working with the land owner, MNR, on how best to proceed with the on-site works. Given the sensitivities around this situation, we are not at liberty to provide any further detail other than to say Swift River is proceeding with its preparations to get shovels in the ground at the site as soon as possible.”

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The Cellar Singers ‘Get Gigolo with it’ to close Jazz Fest and kick off their concert season

The Cellar Singers of Muskoka and Simcoe perform choral jazz Sunday, October 19, 4pm in Orillia with The Hampton Avenue 4

Sunday, October 19, 12am: Wrap up the 2014 Orillia Jazz Festival with a super power choral jazz experience performed by singers from all over Muskoka and Simcoe.  The Cellar Singers have the honour of being the final act of jazz fest: singing choral jazz arrangements with The Hampton Avenue 4, an award-winning a cappella ensemble featuring Orillia’s own Dylan Bell.

Bell’s star return is the reason why the first concert of The Cellar Singers’ 2014-2015 season is entitled, The Road Home, at St. Paul’s United Church, 4pm today (Sunday, October 19).

Featured pic: The Cellar Singers take time out from rehearsal at Gravenhurst High School last week for a picture. Photo Credit: Pitman Photography (or submitted photo)

So many of us took The Road Home for Thanksgiving and there’s a lot to be thankful for on this Sunday’s musical plate – inspired both by the talents of Hampton Avenue 4 and the timing of the 2014 Orillia Jazz Festival. Imagine classical favourites, such as Agnus Dei, Sanctus, Kyrie arranged with the Singers tackling 8 parts and the Hampton Avenue 4 of Bell, Debbie Fleming, Suba Sankaran, and Tom Lillington covering several more parts! The ensemble will perform some of their original works but will mostly sing together with The Cellar Singers their arrangements, including Dedication, a well known e.e. cummings poem recreated as a classical contemporary piece by Sankaran. She also serves up the enthralling Solkattu Choir, derived from ancient south Indian vocal percussion tradition. Solkattu means ‘vocal syllables’.

“It’s extremely challenging and exciting to sing as it is outside our classical comfort zone,” said Sara Conron of Gravenhurst, a Cellar Singers member for 12 years. “ The Hampton Avenue 4, who are singing with us, are an inspiration and leading us in a great new direction.”

The Cellar Singers then take yet another different turn on this fall musical journey, backing up Dylan’s fun solo rendition of Irving Ceasar’s Just a Gigolo, and performing an uplifting arrangement of River of Dreams written by Dan Hill and arranged by Fleming.

Hampton Avenue 4, Suba Sankaran, Debbie Fleming, Dylan Bell
The Hampton Avenue 4 features Orillia native Dylan Bell

Bell will even invite the audience to sing-a-long to his Tell No Lies. To make things even tastier, audiences will hear the Soweto Choir-inspired Make Lemonade and Shoo Fly Pie, a song about Amish cooking that was a big hit for Dinah Shore in 1945 and has been arranged by Fleming to celebrate a wide range of vocals from the deepest bass to the highest soprano highs. Everybody Sing fuses smooth and cool jazz with a bit of funk to boot.

It’s a simply delectable concert. Whether you prefer jazz to classical or vice versa, you’ll be fully entertained by the jazzy variety of choral expertise conducted by Artistic Director Mitchell Pady. It’s a great way to cap off Jazz Fest this weekend at St. Paul’s United in Orillia, and The Cellar Singers are thankful to Festival organizers for including us on their roster.

How to buy tickets: at the door at least 20 minutes before the 4pm concert start.

About The Cellar Singers and Mitchell Pady

For almost 50 years, the 60 voices of The Cellar Singers have been enriching the cultural life of Simcoe County, Muskoka and beyond. The Cellar Singers perform both traditional Padydemonstratesas well as contemporary repertoire, setting a high musical standard unique in our region. By regularly commissioning and performing new works, the choir continues to support Canadian music.​ The Cellar Singers was founded in 1968 as a small group of music lovers rehearsing in the basement of Dr. William Monk’s home in Bracebridge, Ontario, hence the name.

Artistic Director Mitchell Pady, who is also the Artistic Director of the ORIANA Women’s Choir in Toronto. Pady sings with several choral ensembles in the Toronto area, including the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Amadeus Choir, the Aradia Ensemble and Choir 21, and has been featured as a pops soloist and a jazz singer. He has been a choral adjudicator for the Ontario Music Festivals Association, Music Fest Canada, the Toronto District School Board Music Festival and Kiwanis Music Festivals across southern Ontario. Since 2004 he has been the choral director for the Inter-Provincial Music Camp. The graduate of the Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario has also recorded for the Naxos, Perimeter Records and Centrediscs labels.

Know more about The Cellar Singers


Local Hospital Foundations gain from Lakeland Holding donation

Lakeland Donates $10,000 to the Huntsville and South Muskoka Hospital Foundations

Published October 18, 10pm: The South Muskoka Hospital Foundation and Huntsville Hospital Foundation received a $10,000 donation Thursday from Huntsville-based Lakeland Holding Ltd.

“It is important that our company contributes to the communities that we serve,” says Tom Peppiatt, Chair of the Board.

Feature photo (submitted), from left to right: John Crocket, Board Chair Huntsville Hospital Foundation; Tom Peppiatt, Chair Lakeland Holding Ltd.; Gerry Dearing, Executive Director Huntsville Hospital Foundation; Colin Miller, Executive Director South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Foundation; Margaret Maw, Chief Financial Officer Lakeland Holding Ltd.; Paul Hammond, Board Chair South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Foundation; and Chris Litschko, Chief Executive Officer Lakeland Holding Ltd.

“We are extremely grateful,” says Paul Hammond, South Muskoka Hospital Foundation Chairman, “to have community partners like Lakeland Holding supporting our hospitals.  They value health care initiatives and are willing to step forward and encourage others to do so as well.”  Hammond added that their $5,000 would be applied to the Foundation’s diagnostic imaging project which includes replacement of the hospital’s CT scanner and mammography machines as well as upgrades to the hospital’s x-ray suites.

“On behalf of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Board Chair John Crockett joined Hammond in expressing his thanks.  “Community and local business support from a great partner like Lakeland Holding truly makes a difference in supporting the hospital and patient care,” he says. The $5,000 will be used to support the Diagnostic Imaging CT Scanner in Huntsville and for other priorities such as upgrades to the Chemo suite and digital communications stated Crockett.

“Due to our continued growth, I am pleased to report that our company has increased annual contributions to $50,000 within our local communities. These consist of financial donations and in-kind contributions to assist a variety of charities, events and organizations,” adds Chris Litschko, Chief Executive Officer of Lakeland Holding.

Lakeland Holding Ltd. is comprised of subsidiary companies: Lakeland Power, Bracebridge Generation and Lakeland Energy.

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About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Your support is needed and appreciated. Thank you!

Muskoka small business showcase on Monday in Bracebridge

21 small businesses taking part in Open for Business Expo in Bracebridge

Submitted Release published October 17, 1pm: Monday October 20th is fast approaching and the 21 small businesses that are participating in the Open for Business Expo at the Rotary Centre for Youth in Bracebridge, are getting excited.


  • Date: Monday, October 20, 2014
  • Time: 1:00p to 6:00pm
  • Presentations and Ribbon Cutting: 5:00pm
  • Location: Rotary Centre for Youth, 131 Wellington Street, Bracebridge.

Starting at 1pm and featuring guest speakers from successful businesses throughout the area, this event is sure to open eyes to new businesses in Muskoka. From design to retail, health and fitness to services, repairs to bookkeeping, organization to consulting; everyone attending this innovative event is sure to discover a new business that could help them in the future.

The ‘buy local’ mantra has never rang more true than with this spectacular event to kick-off Small Business Week taking place across the Province. Muskoka Small Business Centre, Business Enterprise Resource Network (BERN), and Muskoka Futures have joined to offer new businesses the opportunity to showcase their goods and services in a presentation to the community.

With numerous door prizes to win, new businesses to meet, and some munchies and refreshments available, this exciting event will prove to be inspirational and engaging for all. Come and meet some new businesses in Muskoka. We all look forward to seeing you there!


High waters and more rain through Tuesday prompt MNR to issue Water Safety statement

MNR issues Water Safety notice that water levels and flows have been higher than normal due to rain and more rain in forecast; lower levels presently reported for Lake Muskoka could rise in coming days

Updated October 16, 11pm with comment on Lake Muskoka: October 16, 3pm: The Ministry of Natural Resources – Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety is in effect for all watersheds within the district which includes District Municipality of Muskoka, the Territorial District of Parry Sound and a north-west portion in the County of Haliburton.

Water levels and flows in local lakes and rivers have been higher than what is normally expected or experienced at this time of year due to rainfall amounts received including isolated but extreme rainfall events that have occurred across the region over the last few weeks.

MNW NOTE: This advisory is despite reports that water levels presently in Lake Muskoka appear lower than normal for this time of year. One MNW reader points out Lake Muskoka in Bala is approximately 12″ BELOW normal for this time of year, and the Bala dam is wide open. Still, the key is that water levels across the watershed are expected to rise. 

Residents and those visiting the area are advised to be aware of current watershed conditions, regularly check for updated messages, exercise caution while around waterbodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets.

Water levels and flows are expected to rise in the coming days as a result of the forecasted rainfall amounts and the current saturated watershed conditions.

MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions. Further notifications will be issued prior to the expiry date of this Watershed Conditions Statement should conditions warrant.

Expiry Date: This message will remain in effect until (or updated before) Monday, October 20, 2014, 5pm.


Description of Weather System

Current weather forecasts are variable but some are calling for up to 60mm of rain possible from October 16th though October 21st for parts of the Muskoka and Parry Sound area with widespread accumulation of at least 30mm likely.

Description of Current Conditions

Flows and levels in local watersheds are currently rising. Forecasted rainfall amounts will result in additional runoff into local waterbodies.

Terminology: Notification Levels

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – WATER SAFETY: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for such users as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected.

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions

FLOOD WATCH: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities

FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

Bala Falls Update: Moose FM interview with proposed Bala hydro facility architect

Bala Falls Update: Design progressing on possible look and feel of proposed hydro plant: Interview with Stevens Burgess Architects’ Karl Stevens on Moose FM

Published October 16, 2.30pm: Moose FM’s Matt Sitler interviews architect Karl Stevens (of Stevens Burgess Architects) on the possible future look of the proposed hydro facility at north Bala Falls. Muskoka News Watch will also request drawings to share in future articles, but for readers interesting in following this issue, click here to hear the Moose FM exclusive interview today.


Municipal Election: Mail ballots by October 18th latest in Muskoka Lakes; candidate profiles

By now, October 15, you should have received your ballot to vote for the next Muskoka Lakes Council. Most residents received their ballots around October 1.

You should mail your ballot back in by October 18 latest. If you do NOT have a ballot, bring ID into Township Office in Port Carling to get a ballot which you can fill out and return to the Township Office after October 18 and right up to and including election day, October 27..

Please find below the Muskoka Lakes Ward Map links to all candidate profiles submitted to Muskoka News Watch from the candidates. A handful of candidates did not supply any information.

Muskoka Lakes ward map of Ward A, B and CFor Ward A Township Councillor candidates, click here

For Ward A District Councillor candidates, click here

For Ward B, click here

For Ward C, click here

For Mayoral candidates, click here



Money going to the dogs – in a good way in Bracebridge

Bracebridge Dog Park gets funding from TransCanada PipeLines

Published October 15, 1pm: The Town of Bracebridge Off Leash Dog Park Committee has received a $15,000 grant, from the TransCanada PipeLines Limited Community Investment Program. The money will go tho help in developing a Dog Park at James W. Kerr Park.

The estimated cost to construct the 1.7 acre (approximate) Dog Park, is $40,000, and includes fencing, gates, hardware, drainage, garbage receptacles, and signage. The Dog Park will be divided into two sections, one for large dogs and the other for small dogs and will be in the southwest corner of Kerr Park.

“This location is ideal because of its easy access from the parking lot, trees for shade, close to the Trans Canada Trail, and its access in the winter as the parking lot is plowed”, says Lori-Lynn Giaschi-Pacini, Chair of the Bracebridge Off Leash Dog Park Committee.

Adam Sheldon, Regional Land Representative for TransCanada PipeLines, is pleased to see this project come to fruition, “The Bracebridge Off Leash Dog Park Committee has worked hard to coordinate this project and they have nicely fit into the goals of the Community Investment program offered by TransCanada PipeLines which includes three key areas of focus: safety, community, and the environment. We are excited to be a part of this project with the Town of Bracebridge and look forward to seeing the Dog Park built”.

The Bracebridge Off Leash Dog Park Committee is launching a fundraising drive to raise the additional funding needed to build the Dog Park. Donations are being accepted at the Bracebridge Sportsplex, 110 Clearbrook Drive; the Town of Bracebridge Municipal Office, 1000 Taylor Road; or on-line at

Police searching for suspect in robbery at Port Carling home

Man invades Port Carling home, steals cash and prescription meds

Published Ocotber 14, 9:50pm: Bracebridge OPP officers are hoping the public can help them find the man who broke into a Port Carling home on Sunday.

Just after 5pm, police say the suspect broke into a house on Medora Street, encountered an elderly homeowner inside, and made off with cash and prescription drugs.

The suspect is described as a skinny white male in his early 20’s, approximately 5’10” tall and at the time he was wearing a long grey hooded sweatshirt to the knees, a ball cap, and blue jeans.

Police ask anyone with information to contact the OPP at (705) 645-2211 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477. You can submit your information online at if you have any information on this crime or any other crime. Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display and you will remain anonymous.  Being anonymous, you will not testify in court and your information may lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Celebrating 30 Years of Cranberry Festival Fun in Bala

The Bala Cranberry Festival has the hip waders ready for marsh pictures! 30th Annual Festival kicks of Friday, October 17

Submitted Release October 13, 2014: The 30th Annual Bala Cranberry Festival is inviting families and friends everywhere to come and experience three, fun-filled days on October 17, 18 and 19. Cranberry Festival is  Always The Weekend After Thanksgiving.

The festival kicks off on the Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and falls into Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy Muskoka’s fall colours during it’s cranberry season.

“All kinds of great new vendors and attractions for the 30th Edition of the Festival. THIS is the year to attend, you’ll be berry glad you did” says Melissa Whittle, Event Coordinator.

A highlight of the festival is always the cranberry vendors who gather to showcase their local products and recipes. This year a new activity added, that has been ‘ripping’ across the waters, is the Ontario Watercross Racing where snowmobiles race around the lake. The festival also includes the famous cranberry marsh tours, hands-on exotics, pig races, trackless train trolley, photo booth, face painting, balloon twisting, an interactive animal zone, and much more. In fact, the Dunk Tank on Bala Falls Road has invited all the local electoral candidates to participate as well as a few other local celebrities.

On Saturday night, guest 19 and older can enjoy a live show from The Stampeders at The Kee To Bala. With the purchase of the festival’s souvenir button the concert tickets can be bought for $20.00 per guest.

A button souvenir fee of $8.00 per person is required for participation in festival activities and attractions. The button can be purchased the day of at various button booths or prior to the date at locations listed on the event website. Children 12 years old and under are FREE.

Visit for a full list of events and more information about the 30th Bala Cranberry Festival. Discover the ‘Friends of the Festival’ accommodations and the many Cranberry Festival packages available.

Visitors are welcome to email or call the Bala Cranberry Festival at 705-762-1564 with any questions.

“The Bala Cranberry Festival gives the community of Bala, and surrounding areas, the opportunity to extend the tourist season and improves the quality of life in our community by providing financial assistance to organizations and individuals in need.”

ATV crash kills Mississauga man in Tiny Township, Georgian Bay; Another injured in crash in Muskoka Lakes

Update: Teenager reported injured in ATV crash in Muskoka Lakes on Sunday, the same day a man dies in ATV crash in Georgian Bay area

Updated October 14, 10pm: The Bracebridge detachment is reporting a 19-year-old suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries after an ATV crash in Muskoka Lakes on Sunday.

The accident happened just after 4 pm on Sunday, October 12, the same day a 20-year-old ATV driver died after hitting a tree in North Tiny Township.

In the Muskoka Lakes accident, police say the 19-year-old operator of the ATV was airlifted to a Toronto area hospital for treatment.  There was a passenger involved as well who was not injured.

The investigation is ongoing. See original post from October 13 (below) about crash that claimed the life of young Mississauga man on Sunday. 

Speed may have been factor in crash that killed 20-year-old Oskar Zaczek of Mississauga

Published October 13, 5:15pm: Speed could have contributed to yesterday’s ATV crash in North Tiny Township that claimed the life of a Mississauga man. OPP officers from the Southern Georgian Bay detachment have identified the victim as 20-year-old Oskar Zaczek. Police say his ATV left Champlain road (almost 2km north of Bush Road) and hit a tree, Zaczek was being followed by a friend on a motorcycle at the time of the crash. OPP officers urge all off road vehicle operators to ride in control and ride to the trail conditions.

Snapping turtle hatchlings to be released Friday in Gravenhurst area

Town, contractor and species at risk experts work together to ease impact of road work on turtle nesting; hatchling release this Friday at Riley Lake Road

Published Oct 8, 3pm: Seventeen  snapping turtle hatchlings will be given a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of the Town of Gravenhurst, C.C. Tatham & Associates Limited, Fowler Construction and Species at Risk consultant Michalski Nielsen Associates Limited. Since June, the turtles have been in the care of Scales Nature Park and on Friday October 10th, the newly hatched turtles will be released back into the wild.

“Snapping turtles have recently been added to the Species at Risk in Ontario list as Special Concern. Turtle populations in general have drastically been reduced over the last decade due in part to impacts associated with Roads,” says Kimberly Laframboise, a Species at Risk Specialist with Michalski Nielsen Associates Limited.

Featured photo: One week old Snapping Turtle hatchlings, a species recently designed as special concern in Ontario. Photo credit: Scales Nature Park

Snapping turtles get second chance at life

When the Town was looking at road improvements on a portion of Riley Lake Road, the effect of the project on turtle nesting activities was incorporated into the project. The works involved routine culvert replacement; while common in Muskoka, Laframboise explains that “getting townships and contractors to recognize, how these often routine activities can affect turtles can be tough.  It is an even bigger challenge to get the individuals doing the work to be invested in their protection while on the job. There are tight deadlines, budgets and other factors that tend to take precedence and this creates a conflict, with the turtles almost always ending up on the losing end”.
It was a simple mitigation plan, onsite training and education that prepared the team when the nest was encountered.  

“The crew was very enthusiastic and eager to learn during the training, one of the guys was on nest duty, and when the nest was uncovered, the crew took immediate actions to protect it.  They made the effort and it paid off,” says Ryan Mannins – project engineer with C.C. Tatham & Associates Ltd.

Like most turtles, snapping turtles reach sexual maturity later in life and can live up to 40 years or more. They lay between 10 and 30 eggs at once with very few surviving to adult hood making it even more critical to protect nesting sites.

“I’m pleased that a project like this can demonstrate how seemingly small actions can have a bigger impact. One of our goals at the Watershed Council is education and fostering stewardship, this is an excellent start,” explains Lou Guerriero, Vice Chair of Muskoka Watershed Council.
Councilors from the Town of Gravenhurst will be on hand with the project team members at Riley Lake Road in Gravenhurst for the turtle release. For more information about these efforts or other efforts to protect of Species at Risk, contact or visit The Ontario Road Ecology Group (OREG) online at (



Fall food drive on tonight in Bracebridge for Manna Food Bank

More than two decades on and going strong; Muskoka Oldtimers’ Fall Food Drive

Submitted release published October 7, 7pm: With the coming of the Thanksgiving season, the time of year is upon us for the Muskoka Oldtimers’ Fall Food Drive for the Manna Food Bank.

Tonight until 8pm, dozens of volunteers in hockey jerseys are going door-to-door around Bracebridge collecting grocery bags filled with non-perishable food donations for the Manna Food Bank, just as they’ve done every year for about two decades now.

Featured photo: Hannah and Abi (right) with Abi’s mom (left) picked up MNW’s donation tonight

“I love this night,” says Manna organizer Garry Thompson. “I feel more community-minded this night than any other time of the year. There’s a great energy to it.”

Over the course of two decades, the Oldtimers Fall Food Drive has become far and away the most important food drive in the year for the Manna Food Bank, which is particularly in need of the following items;

  • Canned: fish, fruit, meat, milk, pasta and pasta sauce, vegetables, baked beans
  • Rice, crackers, cereal
  • White sugar, flour
  • Pasta, macaroni and cheese
  • Powdered milk
  • Peanut butter, jam
  • School snacks

It gets easier each year, Thompson says, as more and more are giving foods that are needed rather than clearing their larder of obscure items (canned artichokes, anyone?), and many now set their bags of food out on the doorstep ahead of time, saving the volunteers’ valuable time.

The fall food drive is a tradition in the community. Most are aware of it, contributing food, cash, or cheques, and volunteers come out in droves, with long-term participants that include the Cadets, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides.

“We just do our best to help out,” said Troop Scout Leader Todd Wirth, whose 3rd Bracebridge Sea Scouts have been on-hand to help sort the food as it arrives at the Bracebridge Fairgrounds for four years now. The boys’ work contributes to their Citizenship Badge for volunteer service, plus, he says, “They know it’s for a good cause.”

“After the fact, we talk about it,” says Audrey Forth, who volunteers for Pathfinders (12-to-15-year-olds) for the Girl Guides. “We talk about, ‘How would you feel if all of the sudden your mom and dad aren’t working and you don’t have money to buy groceries and you have to go to the food bank. How would that make you feel?’” We talk about it because, you never know, next week it could be your family in need of some assistance getting groceries.”

Laura Pepper is a Second Lieutenant and Training Officer for 2250 The Muskoka Pioneers Royal Canadian Army Cadets, 12-to-18-year-olds who have been helping out, also sorting food at the Fairgrounds, for about seven years. “It’s a little bit of a social event for them; they love it, and they totally get it. We do so many community service events throughout the year. It’s a large focus of the program.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation who has been missed or wants to donate later can either drop their non-perishable food contribution off at YIGs or Metro in Bracebridge or phone the food bank at 705-646-0114 for pick-up.

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About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Your support is needed and appreciated. Thank you!


Another 34 acres preserved by Upjohn Nature Reserve, north of Bracebridge

Muskoka Conservancy celebrates Thanksgiving gift of 34 acres to protect as part of the Upjohn Nature Reserve and Conservation Easement.

Feature article by Cathy Kuntz, Photos by Tom McCabe

A canvas covered in bright reds, yellows and oranges set against the bluest of blue sky. Leaves twirling silently to the ground in a still, fall forest.

The scene is a lush pond surrounded by a mixed forest, perfectly decked out in its finest colours for Thanksgiving. It’s a 34 acre piece of land that is in the process of being placed under protection as a conservation easement by landowners, Guy and Sandra Upjohn. This property is treasured by its owners. Part of what makes this property both extra special and environmentally significant is that it’s located next to the 114 acre property the Upjohns donated to the Muskoka Conservancy as a nature reserve in 2011.

To learn more about the Upjohn Nature Reserve as it is today, click here

Woods of Upjohn
Woods of Upjohn

Located north of Bracebridge, the land was originally owned by the Crown. In 1882 it was partially cleared as a homestead and farmed until 1950. The Upjohns purchased it in 1969 and began the process of reverting it back to forest. Nature has done most of the work but the Upjohns, from the very beginning, understood their role as stewards and eagerly took on that responsibility.

“We’ve thought of it as a place where we would preserve the forest and natural habitat,” says Guy Upjohn. “We made trails down to the pond and to the back of the pond. It’s a nice little relaxing place to be.”

“We used to walk the trails almost daily,” he says. “We enjoy the birds and animals and keep the trails clear. There’s no running water, no hydro and it has an outdoor privy. It’s a big change from living in the middle of Toronto.”

The couple may call Toronto home but their hearts are also in this part of Muskoka as well Muskoka's Signaturesmallas in Algonquin Park, where they own another piece of property on a lake.

The Upjohn property has been designated as environmentally significant by Environment Canada’s Ecogift Program, which gives it an additional layer of protection. It contains a diverse habitat that is home for a variety of plants, animals and amphibians. Sandra has compiled an extensive list of species they’ve seen over the years.

“The conservation easement protects the northern part of the pond where there is a heronry that has been occupied the past two years,” says Bill Dickinson, Muskoka Conservancy volunteer. There are two or three hatchings every year. There are also wood duck boxes out in the pond that are being used.”

“The southern part of the property has very good biodiversity with mixed forest, little balsam pockets and mid tolerant species like yellow birch and hemlock. Additional species include Indian cucumber root and dwarf ginseng have been found. There are a few seepages where amphibians like salamanders make their home.”

“We would be puttering about doing something and a moose would walk by,” Upjohn says. “There was a time when Sandra was picking berries and noticed a bear across from her doing exactly the same thing. She retreated rapidly. Those kinds of experiences have been invaluable to the family.”

Three generations of Upjohns continue to enjoy the property. It’s been a place where Guy and Sandra have been able to share their love of nature with son, daughter and grandsons.

“A conservation easement is a covenant with a private landowner to put, on paper, their commitment to retain the ecological values of the property,” says Dickinson. “They retain ownership but there are specific values that must be protected forever. By signing this paper, they commit land to the dynamic equilibrium of nature forever.”

The Muskoka Conservancy currently protects almost 1900 acres including 21 Nature Reserves and 11 Conservation Easements. The area of protected land continues to grow as people, like the Upjohns, understand the importance of preserving ecologically significant areas.

Thanksgiving mushroom hike

“This Thanksgiving weekend we’ll be hosting a mushroom hike on the Upjohn Nature Reserve, the first property donated by Guy and Sandra,” says Kristie Virgoe, Executive Director of the Muskoka Conservancy.

“The Upjohn Nature Reserve and Conservation Easement is such a special place,” she says. “With this new donation almost completed, I think it is only fitting that we say, to Guy, Sandra and their family…Thanks for Giving!  Their vision and dedication to protecting Muskoka will impact all of us for many generations.”

For more information about the mushroom hike and the Muskoka Conservancy, please call 705 645 7393 ext 200 or visit

Feature article by Cathy Kuntz, Photos by Tom McCabe

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Muskoka News Watch Policy on Comments: we do not welcome Internet trolls

Want to express an opinion? Great! We embrace diverse opinions from real people who identify themselves and follow our democratic policy.

Or, are you an alias? A bot? Internet troll?  Sorry, you’re out of luck. Please review our Muskoka News Watch Comment Policy to understand our Comment Policy.

Dear readers and subscribers, at election time, tempers can run high. We are receiving comments from a number of people wishing to comment on articles, or posting news tips, or just telling us what they think of us — good and bad — and we would like to publish or act on all comments. But according to our policy, anyone who wishes to comment must provide, at a minimum, a first name and a valid email.

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Not only does requesting a valid name and email protect against spam, but it protects against one individual using several aliases to try and monopolize the conversations. There are also liability concerns to consider. Finally, if you feel strongly enough about something, you should be able to put your name to your opinion. We recognize this is hard to do in a small municipality and as a result, we publish using first names only — except in cases where the person making the comment specifically requests that a first or last name be used or they have also signed their comment using their full name.

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You can read our full editorial and comment policy under About Us. Below is an excerpt covering comments:

“Submitted Comments (to Readers Write, Speakers’ Corner or to any article) must contain the author’s name.

With Democracy comes Responsibility: About Speakers Corner (aka Open Mic) & Posted Comments

Want to post content, respond to a comment or sound off in our Speakers’ Corner? Great, we welcome interactive discussion. As a poster, you are responsible for all the content of any of your content that you or we publish. You must comply with any specific rules posted. MNW has the right but not the obligation to publish, re-use, archive, modify, delete or commercially exploit that User Generated Content in whole or in part as we see fit at any time without any requirement to pay you for this and with or without attribution to you. You specifically waive any moral rights that you may have in regard to the User Generated Content. You are financially responsible to us for any claim against us by any third party that relates to your User Generated Content. You agree that you will NOT post, link or publish any;

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About Letters to the Editor: Opinions and letters published are not necessarily the views of the Editor or Muskoka News Watch. We reserve the right to edit or omit copy for reasons ranging from length to being off topic to libel. Letters must be submitted and attributed with a name, address and contact phone number. Only names and location will be printed.

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Conversation with Chief about Bala Falls did happen: MP Tony Clement

Wahta Chief Franks confirms talk with Clement in September re Bala Falls after sending PM letter last week stating Clement unresponsive

Published October 7, 2014, updated with Swift River reaction 6:10pm: Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement today issued a statement in reaction to a letter charging he has failed to contact Wahta Chief Philip Franks to hear concerns about Bala Falls. In an October 3 letter to the Prime Minister and Ontario’s Premier (read letter here), Franks states Clement never called him in September despite media reports that he had. According to Clement, Franks now says the conversation did happen on September 13.

The statement from Clement’s office reads: “Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement would like to correct statements being reported today in local media regarding Bala Falls and Wahta Mohawks Chief Philip Franks. On September 13, 2014 at 11:07a.m. MP Clement and Chief Franks spoke over the telephone. The conversation was at the request of Chief Franks. This morning, October 7, 2014, MP Clement`s office contacted Chief Franks by phone. He confirmed the September 13 conversation, and noted MP Clement had offered his assistance in the matter.”

Swift River Energy also responded to the letter today. In a statement, the company wrote: “we would like to take this opportunity to dissolve further miscommunication and achieve clarity on this issue. We have responded directly via a letter to the Wahta Mohawks to address the inaccuracies revealed today in correspondence.  All information provided to the Wahta Mohawks in the May 2012 Addendum to the Environmental Screening Review Report was indeed factual and current.”

Also reported today by the radio station, The Moose, is the letter District Council (click here to read it) had been asked to draft in September asking Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) to consider not acting on its October 20th entrance permits to the North Bala Falls crown site. The company plans to begin preparatory site work and has the permits in hand. At the District Meeting September 17, Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty asked that the developer be requested to hold off on site work, saying his experience has shown him that the type of work that needs to be done could easily be completed “in five days.”

The request from Doughty came after a lengthy discussion, and after CAO Michael Duben explained that the entrance permits, which had already been delivered to SREL, could not come up for discussion again for six months. That’s according to the District’s procedural bylaw. Six months would push yet another District discussion (District has spent several hours of discussion about the permits at committee level and at at least two District Council meetings) about entrance permits to December 2014. In his delegation, Chief Franks had asked that District add a resolution to its agenda that evening that included a refusal of permits until Duty to Consult by the federal and provincial governments had been fulfilled, but no District Councillor made a motion to entertain the resolution. Instead, staff was directed to write letters to the developer and the province.

In that same September District meeting, Muskoka Lakes District Councillor Allen Edwards asked District to seek confirmation that the Wahta Mohawks have been consulted to their satisfaction.


Packing up for the season? Donate your summer leftovers through food bank program

Muskoka Lakes Association teams up with Oliver’s Coffee to collect food bank donations

Published October 4, 2.30pm: Tired of packing up your non-perishables and carting them back to the city? Consider donating your canned and boxed food to a local food bank.

The Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA), in partnership with Oliver’s Coffee in Muskoka, is encouraging cottagers who typically take their non-perishables home at the end of the season, to instead, donate them to local food banks.

Wendy Cameron, of the Manna Food Bank says, “708 families used the food bank last year, and this August saw an increase of 23% compared to last year, which is highly unusual. Local families are still reeling from increased propane and hydro costs made worse by the long and bitterly cold winter.”

From Friday, October 10 through Monday, October 14, Oliver’s Coffee in Bala, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and Port Carling will be collecting donations that the MLA will then deliver to local food banks.

The MLA says it appreciates the support of the Muskoka community in making this project happen. The Manna Food Bank gratefully accepts donations of cash and non-perishable food items.

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More rain adding to water levels, says MNR

Water Safety Advisory issued by MNR about higher than normal water levels

Published October 4, 9am: The Ministry of Natural Resources  is advising area residents that a Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety is in effect for Muskoka, Parry Sound and a north-west portion of Haliburton.

Featured image: North Bala Falls at noon on October 3

Please read entire advisory by downloading this PDF: ParrySoundMuskokaWatershedConditionsStatement_October_3_2014

Our regions could see about 50mm more rain through October 8.

It’s important to understand Water Condition Statement Terminology. A WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – WATER SAFETY advisory indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for such users as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected.


Municipal Election: Candidates for Muskoka Lakes Ward C Township Council and District Council

Baranik, Ledger, MacRae and Mole seek the two Township Council seats available; Brent and Harding seek single District Spot

This is the last of our articles displaying profiles of candidates for Muskoka Lakes Council. On September 16, Muskoka News Watch contacted each candidate and requested a picture, and self-written profile (any length but no longer than the 450 words) highlighting three accomplishments. A deadline of September 23 at 5pm was given — and that was extended with a reminder to those who had not yet responded. Unfortunately, some candidates did not bother to reply at all; one declined; and one said, ‘take it from my press release’ but that release never appeared. Ward C candidates were different: All candidates in Ward C responded promptly. Muskoka News Watch thanks those candidates who took time to give voters another way of gaining information about them. They are presented here, alphabetically, starting with candidates for Ward C District Council and followed by candidates for Ward C Township Council.

RON BRENT, Candidate for Ward C District Councillor:

Councillor Ron Brent
Ron Brent

I have been a resident of the Township of Muskoka Lakes for most of my adult life. I grew up in Toronto in a family with two younger brothers. My parents were business owners who taught me the benefits of working hard and trying to improve our lives. From my Dad I learned that no task is too difficult to take on. From my mom I learned attention to detail and completion of tasks are important. Until I finished high school I spent most weekends of the year in Muskoka.

Upon finishing school I moved to the Muskoka with my wife to make a life here. I worked in the building industry as well as the District Government in Public Works. At the age of 29 I returned to college obtain a Diploma in Electronic Engineering Technology. I worked for Rockwell International in the engineering field.

Coinciding with this with the help of my brothers we started Brent Quarry in 1990. From one small 80 acre site we have grown to be one of the larger aggregate producers in Muskoka.

In 2009 I was asked to compete for the position of Township Councillor to replace Councillor Stewart Martin who had passed away. Stewart had been a close friend and I initially said no. I then looked upon it as a duty to finish my dear friend and fellow pilot’s term. I was successful in the competition and completed his term. At that juncture I decided to see if I could win in an election. I won the seat as a Councillor in Ward C in 2010 and have been there for the past four-year term. I was the only councillor returning from the previous council.

I also sit on the District of Muskoka Airport Advisory Committee. Shaping the future direction of the Muskoka Airport.

I am asking the voters of this great township to support me for a third term so that I can make the Township of Muskoka lakes the best place to live and play.

Three accomplishments (as requested).

  • Instrumental in getting the Oka Trail snowmobile route re-opened. This allowed snowmobiles into the town of Bala.
  • Saved the grass runway at Muskoka Airport. They wanted to put buildings on it.
  • Stopped the establishment of year round half loads and blasting bylaws. These were attempts by the mayor to frustrate Swift River and stop the Bala Falls project.

PHIL HARDING, Candidate for Ward C District Councillor:

Phil Harding District Councillor
Phil Harding

Respectful dialogue between the ratepayers and fellow councillors is the cornerstone of effective Government.  I am thankful to have been able to not only be respected, but to “champion” many significant issues within the Township and at the District over the past term of Council including; MNR lake levels, garbage cost and allocations, Port Carling locks open 24 hours, accountability on spending, increased economic development, tourism roles and responsibilities, township branding including multi-generational approach and more.  My work on council has just begun and as a property owner both “on the lake” and “in town”, I am unique and able to represent and respect a balance between the divergent needs of both the seasonal and the permanent residents.

As a marketing professional with no vested business interest in Muskoka, I have been able to vote on virtually 100% of items that come to council. Unencumbered perspectives are essential when managing the affairs of the taxpayers, with my approach to problems often more creative or unconventional, allowing for solutions when often an impasse seems imminent.  I would be honoured to represent the Township of Muskoka Lakes for another four-year term as District Councillor Ward C.  For more information visit

Three accomplishments (as requested):

  1. MNR dialogue regarding water levels winter 2014.
  2. Maintain rights of seasonal property owners with garbage bag limits remaining at 3 (urban centres went to 2).
  3. Added Economic Development at Township with new “ED department”.


Jean-Ann Baranik: I have thoroughly enjoyed my position as a Municipal Councillor for the past 4 years. But we can do better.

Councillor Jean-Ann Baranik
Jean-Ann Baranik

Council’s job is to set policy and not to run the everyday events. We, the township are the keepers of the community’s revenue and entrusted to support all the community including staff.

Over the past four years I can say my greatest accomplishment was being Chair of Community and Volunteerism. With the help of Cathy Duck, the Lions Club, and the Legion we successful organized a Santa Claus Parade for Port Carling. It was great to see the creativity and enthusiasm from the community. And I certainly look forward to this years parade!!!! The Mayor’s Golf Classic with the help of township staff organized a successful event for the past three years that helped raise close to $80,000 for the nursing station. Our volunteers and our communities are very important component that helps make this township so successful.

In conclusion I can say that my proudest accomplishment is being a Municipal Councillor and representing my constituents of Ward C. If I have your support in the upcoming election, I will welcome your ideas and serve with passion and energy to ensure that our community develops in a responsible manner. I acknowledge that there are challenges facing council. I guarantee that prior to casting my vote I will receive and review all facts and provide relevant input around the council table. I want to make a difference and ensure the Township of Muskoka Lakes is a leader for the District Municipality of Muskoka.

Larrie MacRae: I am motivated to run for office in the Township of Muskoka Lakes by a

Larrie MacRae, Muskoka Lakes candidate
Larrie MacRae

desire to see the following qualities enhanced on our Council:

  1. A strong, independent voice, looking at issues objectively & thoroughly from all sides & making decisions based on merit
  2. Greater fiscal caution & restraint in budget matters
  3. Focusing on all important issues of members of the community, rather than focusing time, money & energy on only a few
  4. Honesty, courtesy & respect in all dealings with fellow Council members, staff & the public.

My Background includes being a Petty Officer, First Class, in the Canadian Navy; a Machinist Millwright First Class & Installer/Trouble Shooter for Large Newspaper & Printing Presses across North America; Business Agent & Chief Negotiator for 12 Unions for 8 Years, Representing 572 members & their families, bargaining across the table from Conrad Black & Roy Thomson of Fleet, with positive results for all; owner of 3 successful businesses, including Property Management; former President & Vice-President of the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce, for Ages 20 to 40) in St. Thomas & Mississauga, as well as of the Royal Canadian Legion of Port Carling; Booking Agent & Custodian of the Port Carling Community Centre for 14 years, working with individuals, governments, community groups & businesses, as a full-time, year-round resident of Port Carling since 1990.

The three key planks in my platform for office are:

  1. Good relationships between Council members, staff & the public, as individuals, organizations & businesses
  2. A full & balanced focus on all issues of the community, emphasizing careful, responsible fiscal spending
  3. Protecting our environment, including our water quality & key natural areas, first & foremost, as these are the features that draw residents, tourists, businesses & jobs, both present & future, to our beautiful and unique area.

I believe that commercial & residential development in the Township of Muskoka Lakes is fine provided that it does not harm or negatively affect the aesthetics, environment or precious lifestyle that we enjoy here in Muskoka. We also need to maintain our infra-structure & to provide adequate housing.

The characteristics and values that I consider to be important for an elected official are:

  1. A genuine desire to help the residents in the community, to make sure that their interests & concerns are dealt with in a professional, courteous & timely manner at all times
  2. Integrity and Honesty – to mean what you say & to say what you mean consistently & courteously
  3. The ability & commitment to work well with all people to find common ground & mutually-acceptable solutions
  4. Empathy – truly caring about every individual, group & business in the community

Three accomplishments (as requested):

1)  Business Agent & Head Negotiator for 12 Unions, Representing 572 Members & their Families, for 8 Years

2)  Former President & Vice-President of the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) for St. Thomas & Miississauga, as well as of the Port Carling Royal Canadian Legion

3)  Booking Agent and Custodian of the Port Carling Community Centre for All Activities & Groups for 14 Years

Thank you for your interest and consideration. Larrie MacRae contact:  705-765-0326

Jeff Mole: I am a candidate because it is my desire to responsibly protect the

Jeff Mole, Candidate, Township of Muskoka Lakes Ward C
Jeff Mole

environmental, cultural and economic interests of the residents of Muskoka.

My expertise includes: Community Enterprise development, small business ownership (Financial Services, Human Resources and Homebuilder), placement of executives at large enterprise.

As a community association executive, I have an extensive track record of community, economic and environmental advocacy.

Development in Muskoka Lakes must be sustainable and preserve or enhance the Muskoka character.

I am an independent thinker and not part of any reciprocal arrangement slate. I believe transparent cooperation and attention to detail will bring a focus to Ward C issues.


  1. In the short term: resolve the Bala Falls hydro proposal, with a view to providing benefits to the community. This proposal has gone on too long. I support working with the provincial government to have the developer’s proposal cancelled. I am neither pro nor anti-development of the Bala Falls. A safer & less destructive option could to create jobs, reduce taxes and improve services.
  2. In the medium term: resolve development issues in Port Carling, Medora Lake and Minett by encouraging those developers to negotiate approvals for sustainable development. Projects should enable our communities and economy to thrive without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy Muskoka and without creating a burden on the taxpayer.
  3. In the Long term: develop a community enterprise strategy so that we can create sustainable jobs, improve services and reduce costs to the taxpayers, while supporting sustainable development.

Characteristics and Skills:

Listening and Communication skills, Entrepreneurial Vision, Accountable, Co-operative, Civic engagement, Innovative, Excellent Research and computer skills.

Experience and Value Proposition

Visioning – I have unique expertise in creating a strategic vision in a social entrepreneur role.

Planning – My strong critical thinking and research skills make me an ideal candidate for this committee. I support development that respects Muskoka’s values & heritage as in the Official Plan

Economic Development – I have significant knowledge in the field of Community Enterprise to help this committee design a new strategy to create jobs and attract investment in Muskoka.

Community and Volunteerism – I am the second generation to serve as president of a local community association. I have received awards for my significant contributions in this area.

I have gained valuable experience in other areas while helping the community: Volunteer Firefighter, Natural Heritage Committee, Policy & Research Committee (Watershed Council) and I have been involved on other important matters such as Fair Property Taxation, Highway Improvements, Broadband Infrastructure, Muskoka Northern Status, Rural Investment, Energy Policy, Rail Safety, Invasive Species, Water Quality Testing and the Muskoka River Management Plan.

To learn more or contact, please visit:

Terry Ledger

I have been a cottager as well as a resident of Muskoka. For the last 20 years, I have lived and raised my three children in Milford Bay. I have recently moved to Port Carling where, for the past seven years, I have owned and operated fixtures with my husband Dennis Cubberley and t-squared design studio. I have worked as a waitress, cleaning person, property manager, project manager, and currently a building designer. My experience as a designer has put me in contact with the township and its day to day operations. Seeing the municipal process from my vantage point as a designer representing clients submitting for building permits and variances etc, I realized I wanted to know more, be better informed and felt the time was right to be a part of the process with the ability to better share and make available important information to the constituents of Ward C and beyond. This realization is the basis for my three key platform planks:

First I would like to make the political process and decisions made as part of it more available to the general public, whereby I deliver the information to them vs them having to know there is something they should be looking for and then, where to go to find it. I believe this will create a more active and engaged community which will only serve to benefit Ward C and Muskoka Lakes as a whole. Social media now offers us the vehicle to share information and exchange ideas, and will play a key role in my goals to provide current information to the constituents of Ward C if I were elected.

Second, we face a traffic safety challenge with pedestrian and bike traffic that I feel could be addressed by paving shoulders, and where possible creating specific pedestrian and bike paths. Further to this, if done correctly these paths could also accommodate snowmobile traffic in the winter months.

Third, we need to act in a more fiscally responsible way. Just because we are a wealthy township, does not mean we should be spending our wealth irresponsibly. My goal would be to again let the people of my ward have a greater say in the political process and through social media have a means to offer their opinions and suggestions. We should all have a say about the spending of our tax dollars.

I appreciate the opportunity to be a candidate in Ward C, encourage everyone to register, vote, and be a participant in the future of Muskoka.

Comments are closed on Candidate information. Remember, every vote counts and you should make sure your mail-in ballot is in the mail before October 18. After that, you’re better to deliver it in person up until election day, October 27.




Municipal Election: Meet your Ward B candidates for Township Council and acclaimed District Councillor

Barrick-Spearn, McTaggart and Towsley vie for two available Township Council posts; Edwards acclaimed for District

Muskoka News Watch requested self-written, 450-word submissions along with a photo that would not be edited. Two of three candidates for Township Council provided submissions; one declined. Allen Edwards faced no competition and was acclaimed as District Councillor (he also provided a submission which follows the candidates for Township Council). We thank those candidates who took time to provide information for voters in Ward B. As with all candidate information, MNW presents the candidates in alphabetical order.

LINDA BARRICK-SPEARN: I have been a resident of Muskoka since a child. I was

Linda Barrick-Spearn for Ward B
Linda Barrick-Spearn

born in Toronto and moved with my family to Muskoka at age 13. My parents owned and operated a tourist related business for over 30 years.

I graduated from Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School in the late 70s. I married and raised 5 children here.

My husband David and I reside in Muskoka Lakes Township and own and operate our own business. I have continued my education by taking business courses at Georgian College and Nipissing University.

I bring a sensible and level headed attitude to the council chambers. I have strong organizational skills along with my business skills which are transferable to the council table. The environment and economy of the area are issues that need to be addressed, to insure a strong future for generations to come.

Three top accomplishments (as requested):

  • Raising 5 responsible children, passing on strong morals, beliefs and honesty
  • Managing a successful business
  • Successfully organizing, clearing, brokeri nging private sale of elderly parents land assets while putting into place the proper estate planning on their behalf

GAULT MCTAGGART: I have been coming to Muskoka since the mid 1960s and moved here permanently in 2000: definitely one of our family’s “best ever” long-term decisions.

Gault McTaggart, Gunta Towsley
Gault McTaggart

My background includes an MBA in 1971 followed by 29 years of senior management experience in the fields of logistics, product management, project management, and operations.

This has equipped me with a skill set to look at problems, situations and opportunities from many sides with an objective to finding the best available solution or outcome to a wide variety of issues.

The following criteria are, I feel, the ones that can be applied to nearly all projects, events, or zoning exemptions:

  • Applicable by-laws
  • Environmental impact
  • Cultural implications, and of course
  • Financial and risk consequences

Since moving here my local community involvement has included:

– Muskoka Lakes Museum – Director 5 years

– 5 years as Treasurer of Spinning Reels, a volunteer film organization which contributes about $2500-3000/year to the Muskoka Lakes Library forthe DVD collection

– With my wife played a key role in delivering a lake stewardship program to 400+ waterfront properties on Three Mile Lake –Treasurer 5 years

– Ongoing activity with an International Service group whose local motto is “Giving Back” to the community

Over the past four years on Council I have been a member of the Library Board for a year and since then Chair of Emergency Services and Vice Chair Administration.

Last year I had the opportunity to experience being a “fireman for a day” at the Ontario fire Chiefs Annual Conference and gained a hot, vivid first hand appreciation of the need for the extensive training and specialized equipment required to effectively providing Fire Service. I will be an ongoing supporter of the Fire Department.

Over the next four years there are a number of things that I wish to see continued and improved on:

  • First and foremost is, of course, the preservation of our environment – water and forest – through the judicious application of our zoning bylaw which is in the final stages of a revision after 25 years-
  • Improvement of the townships governance which I believe can be achieved with the development of a procedural and code of conduct bylaw-
  • As the Bala Falls small hydro project moves forward – to work with the proponent to achieve the best possible outcome for the Township with respect to minimizing construction time, traffic and business disruption, and the preservation of Margaret Burgess Park
  • Ensure that our financial plan will meet the necessary infrastructure spending needed as identified in the Roads Needs Study
  • Improve township communications via our website

Our updated, revised, and improved zoning bylaw will, I expect, bring a never ending stream of asked for exemptions as no two properties in the Township are alike. There simply is no “One size fits all” and judicious application of the bylaw will always be required.

I strongly believe that while we legally “OWN” the land we live on, we are in reality the guardians and caretakers of it for our children and future generations. I feel this is especially relevant in Muskoka, and is the guideline I use when considering exemptions to our zoning by-law.

It has been a pleasure to have been a conduit between members of the community and township staff in sorting out minor problems before they could escalate.

GUNTA TOWSLEY: Declined to respond.

Allen Edwards, Acclaimed District Councillor, Ward B Township of Muskoka Lakes

Allen Edwards, Ward B District Councillor, Muskoka Lakes Township, Municipal Election 2014
Allen Edwards, Ward B District Councillor, the only Muskoka Lakes candidate to be acclaimed.

It has been a pleasure to serve as your Township & District Counsellor for Ward B for the past 4 years. I am humbled and honoured to be acclaimed as your Councillor for the next 4 years. I would like to thank everyone for their support and all the offers to help campaign to get me re-elected.

I give you the same promises as the last election that I will be visible, and available to assist any way that I can. I will listen to your concerns. We may not always agree, but I will listen.

As you know I am only one vote on Council and I pledge to work cohesively with the new elected Council. I will work with the District to bring primary health care to the entire District of Muskoka.

Along with Brock Napier, my wife Linda, and the Community, I will continue to volunteer my time to bring the Muskoka Lakes Nursing to Port Carling, as well as Hospice Muskoka/Andy’s House and the Lions Retirement Residence. I want to see the Brock & Willa Wellness Centre completed. This project will bring over 9 million dollars of Economic Development to Port Carling and area and provide permanent employment when completed.

Work for a cohesive Council, by working constructively, not destructively. Council may not always agree but should not criticize Council’s decision publicly. Once again, thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Note: Comments are closed for Candidate information.


Municipal Election: Muskoka Lakes Ward A Candidates for District Council; One to be elected

Knight and Nishikawa seek single District Council position for Muskoka Lakes Ward A

Muskoka News Watch requested self-written, 450-word submissions along with a photo that would not be edited. Only one of the two candidates provided a submission. We thank all candidates who took time to provide information for voters in Ward A. As with all candidate information, MNW presents the candidates in alphabetical order. Ward A voters can only vote for one of these two candidates.

GREG KNIGHT: Like many of us who have made Muskoka home, I fell in love with Muskoka as a child.

Greg Knight, Ward A District Council
Greg Knight

I completed an undergraduate degree in Geography, a law degree at Osgoode Hall, and a Schulich M.B.A. before founding a development company focused on socially and environmentally responsible development projects throughout central Ontario.

During the last municipal term, I also served as a member of the District of Muskoka Attainable Housing Advisory Table.

As a developer and a volunteer, I have worked closely with several municipalities to create award winning development plans to achieve environmental conservation, heritage preservation and affordable housing initiatives. Exposure to many different Councils and senior staff has provided considerable experience that I look forward to bringing to Council.

I value long term visioning at the municipal level. Environmental conservation must be a focus of our local government. Muskoka’s natural environment is what we all love and cherish. It’s why we’ve put down roots here and why our children follow in our footsteps.

Environmental conservation is good for business.   Muskoka’s natural heritage is what draws visitors, new residents, and cottagers here. It’s what defines our brand and is what drives local investment.

Finally, environmental conservation is imperative to ensuring future water quality and a healthy ecosystem. It is our only means of ensuring we will leave our grandchildren the same stable environment our grandparents enjoyed.

We must create a friendly atmosphere that supports local businesses and the year round population. It is the restaurants, arts, culture, retail, recreation and personal service shops located here that complete the traditional Muskoka experience…all without eroding the natural heritage on our lakes.

In order to maintain and encourage vibrant towns, we must support the development of appropriate and attainable housing to create growth and foster a stronger sense of pride within our communities.

We must endeavor to implement these initiatives with a renewed, higher standard of governance, respecting township’s professional staff to implement policy in a responsible and cost effective manner while evaluating further efficiencies within our two tier municipal government system.

Finally, as is the case with the Bala Falls, we must have the courage to recognize when our ability to implement an environmental conservation policy is limited by matters beyond our immediate control. We must work collaboratively and be willing to negotiate for the benefit of our citizens.

As an experienced affordable housing developer, lawyer, and local small businessperson, I have the skills and knowledge necessary to help improve our community, particularly as it applies to water quality, stewardship, conservation, good governance, and fair taxation. I ask for your support as the new Muskoka Lakes Ward A District Councillor.

Website:  Email: Tel: 705-706-3199

Greg Knight, Candidate, Ward A District Council

RUTH NISHIKAWA: No response.

Note: Previously, Nishikawa has informed she will not conduct business by phone or by email.

Municipal Election: Muskoka Lakes Candidates for Ward A Township Council

Currie, Davidson, French and Kruckel seek two of four Ward A Township Council positions

Muskoka News Watch requested self-written, 450-word submissions along with a photo that would not be edited. Two of four candidates provided the following submissions. We thank those candidates who took time to provide information for voters in Ward A. As with all candidate information, MNW presents the candidates in alphabetical order.

NOTE: Candidates for District Ward A are featured in a separate article.

SANDY CURRIE: No information submitted. Note: Mr. Currie did respond with: “Thank you for the opportunity. Please use the material in my press release.” MNW regrets no press release was sent. Currie was given an extension on the submission deadline and he was given yet another opportunity to send a press release, as well as being asked at the Ward A candidate meeting, but there has been no response.

DIANNE DAVIDSON: I have had the opportunity and privilege of spending my life here in Muskoka from 3rd generation cottager, business owner since 1979, permanent resident since 1980, raised a family here, and have been a community volunteer for many local organizations over the past 35 years.

Dianne Davidson for Ward A Township Councillor
Dianne Davidson

I have enjoyed the Muskoka lifestyle in a broad variety of ways and feel I have a good understanding of what makes our municipality tick. I’m also very aware of some of the challenges of living in Muskoka and would like to have the opportunity to be part of a team that can move Muskoka into the future, responsibly, paying close attention to the protection of our natural environment.

I believe we must attract young families and new businesses to Muskoka while protecting what we cherish so much – our water, forests and granite. We must also address the housing shortfall and create new initiatives for affordable and sustainable housing options.

I believe in simplifying situations, not complicating them. I am honest and transparent and possess excellent communication skills which I believe are all charactaristics necessary for an elected official to possess.

Dianne Davidson, Candidate, Township Councillor, Ward A 


Matt French, Candidate, Muskoka Lakes Ward A Township Councillor
Matt French

Email:  Website: Facebook/ VoteMattFrench

As a resident and businessman in Muskoka, I recognize our area is facing many challenges. I believe we need to improve commerce, support our community, and protect our environment. I want to accomplish this in a collaborative, cost-effective, and productive way. I am running to help our community thrive in the short AND long term, for all our peaceful enjoyment.

  • I am my family’s third generation of cottagers in Bala, and the first generation of full time residents. I work year round in management at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh. I’ve developed award winning wines from local fruit, begun exporting our wines internationally, and helped promote Johnston’s as an iconic Muskoka attraction.
  • 2014 marks my second term both as Vice President of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and Chair of the Bala Cranberry Festival.
  • I am passionate about the environment, with a BSc. (hons) at Queen’s university in Evolution and Ecology. I also spearheaded a three year scientific study on controlling invasive species in an environmentally sensitive area.
  • I believe my life, work, volunteer and educational experiences make me an ideal candidate for Muskoka Lakes Town Councillor, as I can bring a balanced and rational perspective to the issues we face.

My Platform: Short Term: As the new council will meet AFTER Bala Falls construction begins in Oct 2014;

  1. Construct a widened shoulder on the highway, minimizing impact on traffic flow over two years.
  2. Allow Swift River to lease a township parking lot to park construction vehicles, in order to prevent the clear cutting of mature trees next to the Bala United Church.
  3. Work with community stakeholders to minimize negative impacts of construction.

Long term: Work WITH

  1. Local business to innovatively improve commerce (digital and shoulder season focussed)
  2. Community groups to leverage our strengths collaboratively
  3. Associations to protect our environment including water quality & invasive species preparedness.

Elected officials need to have integrity of character and balance our diverse needs. They must act with consideration, not out of emotion or self-interest. Our officials must work with their colleagues in a productive and transparent way to advance the best interests of our community. I have a track record, here in our community, of doing just this – I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk.

Muskoka Lakes is more than just one issue. Our town is angry, businesses are struggling, and residents are leaving. We need to choose to come together, roll up our sleeves, and get to work on the bigger issues. Please send in your ballot, and tell your friends and neighbours you’re voting for Matt French.

Matt French, Candidate, Township Councillor, Ward A 

DONELDA KRUCKEL: No response to request for submission.

Dianne Davidson, Donelda Kruckel for Ward A
Dianne Davidson and Donelda Kruckel

But Kruckel was a good sport at the Ward A All Candidates Meeting in Bala by agreeing to join a group photo, posing beside one of her competitors for Ward A Council (Kruckel’s show of good sportsmanship was head and shoulders above others who serve on Council who refused to join in a group candidate photograph.) As a result, we are including her picture among this group of candidate submissions for Ward A.

Donelda Kruckel (right), Candidate, Township Councillor, with fellow candidate Dianne Davidson, Ward A 

NOTE: Comments are not allowed on the candidate information supplied. Thank you.

Municipal Election: Meet Your Muskoka Lakes Mayoralty Candidates – Don Furniss and Alice Murphy

Furniss and Murphy face off for mayorship of Muskoka Lakes

Here is the information both candidates for Mayor of Muskoka Lakes have provided Muskoka News Watch for your information. Following this post will be information for other Muskoka Lakes candidates from each ward, presented alphabetically. Please scroll down to read both Furniss’ and Murphy’s submissions. Muskoka News Watch thanks them for their contribution.

DON FURNISS: For the past 4 years, I have served as your Township Councillor for Ward B, the entire eastern half of Muskoka Lakes.  I am currently chair of the Finance and Budget Committee and have responsibility for our Risk Management initiatives.

Don Furniss, Donald Furniss, Candidate for Mayor, Muskoka Lakes
Don Furniss

My wife Carol and I are passionate about Muskoka.  Ten years ago we moved to our summer home in Beaumaris. I got a real estate licence and became involved in many community service activities.  This has provided me with first hand opportunities, to interface with year round and seasonal residents and to better understand the challenges our township faces.

I have spent over 30 years in senior management for a multi-national company, including stints as CEO in Canada and South Korea. Also my experience on several boards, has provided me with the insight and skills to effectively lead our township for the next 4 years.

Our township has had a turbulent 4 years, administered under a dictatorial leadership style, occupied with one overarching issue –   stopping the Bala Falls small hydro project, at all costs.    Several senior managers have departed and we are now on our fourth Chief Administrative Officer in 4 years.   Something is very wrong and corrective action must be implemented.

Under my administration, one of the first orders of business will be the crafting and implementation of a Council Code of Conduct, with third party over sight. There must be consequences for substantial violations. Our staff, councillors and you the public must be assured you are treated fairly and your complaints are taken seriously.

We will also move forward to negotiate with Swift River Energy the best possible solutions to maximize the benefits and minimize the adverse impacts on Bala residents, such as the loss of Margaret Burgess Park.   Seven years of fighting, over a million of your tax dollars this term alone and the tearing apart of the social fabric of Bala, needs closure.

We also need to be respectful of your tax dollars and ensure you are getting value for your money.   Delivering value must start at the top, that is why I am committed to reducing the size of your Council from 10 to 7 members for the 2018 election.

Our slate of candidates, People for Probity has a list of 12 strategic issues that we are committed to accomplishing in this term of office.  I encourage you to visit our web site to learn more about our platform and our candidates.

Thank you for your support and please complete your mail in ballot well before October 27th.

Don Furniss, Candidate for Mayor – Township of Muskoka Lakes

ALICE MURPHY: Four years ago I was elected as your Mayor to bring positive change back to our Township. Under my leadership the new Council worked collaboratively with energy and focus, developing strategic priorities and achieving solutions that are sensible, balanced and transparent. Our list of accomplishments is extensive and detailed at

Outstanding litigation against the previous Council has been resolved and significant planning applications including Hanna’s Landing and Muskoka Woods have achieved successful negotiated settlements.

Alice Murphy
Alice Murphy

Our 1987 Comprehensive Zoning By-law was given a long overdue overhaul and our Ontario Municipal Board Hearings have decreased by 23% from previous Council. The Ullswater Community Centre was saved from demolition, and a cohesive strategy established to ensure the safety and training of our volunteer firefighters.

As a Chartered Accountant I worked with Council to bring our finances back on track.  We now have balanced budgets, healthy reserves and money in the bank. Further, I was able to successfully reverse a District garbage surcharge, saving our taxpayers almost $2 million each and every year.

Our prudent budgeting resulted in a significant District debt reduction and we will continue to bring in budgets at or below the rate of inflation.

My vision for our Township is based on planning, protecting and prospering where responsible, sustainable development is the only development.

Imagine living in a Township where your government continually engages with the community. Where every decision is well considered, and where your Mayor holds regular Town Hall Meetings, has attended countless community events and encourages full transparency by issuing frequent report cards to let the voters know how their Council is doing.

Imagine having a Mayor who actually listens to the voters and who is not afraid to fight for their hopes. A straight forward, common sense and inclusive Mayor whose independence and integrity is unblemished.

Imagine a Township where the Mayor’s financial management experience has produced balanced budgets, substantial surpluses and a low 1% tax rate, a fraction of our neighbouring municipalities.

This is Muskoka Lakes today.

Going forward, I am committed as your Mayor to balanced budgets and reducing the District debt by another 10%. Protection of our environment remains our ongoing priority and I will work with Council to ensure that our 2016 Official Plan update includes progressive policies supporting attainable housing and continued waterfront protection.

I bring a high level of competency, and will continue to dedicate all of my energy and focus, working with the community and for the community, so that Muskoka Lakes will continue to prosper, now and in the future.

I stand for Muskoka, and for all citizens who share my unshakable confidence in our future. I ask for your continued support for the next four years.

Alice Murphy, Candidate for Mayor – Township of Muskoka Lakes


South Muskoka Shield honours memory of OPP officer Brad Pearsall on Friday

The South Muskoka Shield will be honouring the memory of OPP, Senior Constable, Brad Pearsall on Friday Oct 3, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. at the Graeme Murray Arena in Gravenhurst.

Officer Pearsall was an avid hockey fan and a fan of the Shield. Officer Pearsall died while playing rec hockey in Bracebridge on March 2 this year.

The Correctional Services Canada Pipe and Drum band will provide an honour guard for a small presentation to the family / OPP at the beginning of the game. The team will extend free entry to all OPP officers and front line workers on Friday night and half price to all immediate family members.

All money raised from this night, will be donated to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust fund in Brad’s honour. Tema Conter is an organization that helps front line workers who suffer from PTSD and in the growing awareness of the presence of PTSD in our work places. There will be a collection of donations at the door. There has already been a private community member who has donated $1000.00 in honour of this event.

The South Muskoka Shield would like your support in this initiative. See you at the rink.