Gravenhurst and Muskoka Lakes Chamber execs promote local business at provincial conference

Two Muskoka Chamber of Commerce executives were representing Muskoka business this week at the Chamber Executives of Ontario conference in Kingston.

As new Chamber executives, Sandy Lockhart, Executive Director of the Gravenhurst Chamber, and Norah Fountain, General Manager of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, were both awarded bursaries to attend the event.

The twice-a-year meeting of Chamber minds offers way to increase value to member businesses while sharpening the skill set of the executives attending.

“Being at this conference helps make our Chamber part of a bigger network of knowledge to draw on,” Lockhart tells Muskoka News Watch. “It was a great learning opportunity, as we got to hear from other new Chamber executives and from some who have been in their positions for decades.”

Strive Presentation

It also gave the Muskoka executives an opportunity to showcase business in Muskoka.

“Now it would be wonderful if Muskoka could host one of these provincial Chamber events,” reports Fountain, “as it would also act as a familiarization tour of Muskoka for people running visitor centres across Ontario. Certainly the connections made for our Chamber are invaluable.”

Inset Photo: Joe Shuker of Strive giving presentation on healthy organizations.

Top Photo: Norah Fountain and Sandy Lockhart with Chamber Executives of Ontario Chair Greg Webb

CRTC approves new country music FM station for Bracebridge/Gravenhurst

It’s sweet music for country music fans in Muskoka.

The CRTC has approved an application for a broadcasting license for a new country music station for Bracebridge/Gravenhurst.

Details about the approval can be found here.

On its website,, Country 102.3 FM pledges to be unlike any local radio station you’ve heard in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, and Muskoka.

With a focus on local news, weather, sports and road info, airtime will be offered to community groups and individuals for drop-in interviews and spontaneous comments.

Also planned is a 1-hour interactive open line program each day between noon and 1pm to discuss key topics and issues important to those listening in the coverage area.

It’s currently not known when the new station will start operation.

(Photo via

Gravenhurst garage fire caused $75,000 in damages

A Gravenhurst firefighter was taken to hospital Wednesday after fighting a blaze that caused $75,000 damage on Canning Road.

At 3:20 p.m., Wednesday, Gravenhurst Fire crews were alerted to a structure fire at 1056 Canning Road. Crews from Stations 1 and 2 responded to the incident and found a garage burning upon their arrival.

Firefighters made quick work of extinguishing the fire and prevented it from spreading to the attached home. Crews conducted extensive overhaul operations that continued until about 9:00 p.m. because of the nature of the contents in the building.

One firefighter was taken to hospital as a result of exertion, and was later released. Damage was contained to the garage and is estimated at $75,000.

The cause is not considered suspicious.

Gravenhurst Santa Claus Parade happens Nov. 26th

Gravenhurst’s annual celebration of the holiday season is set for Saturday, Nov. 26th.

For 2016, the theme of the parade will be “dreaming of a white Christmas.”

“This year we want to take Gravenhurst back to those classic Christmases of yesteryear,” says Sandy Lockhart, the executive director of the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce which organizes the annual parade. “We can all picture those traditional Christmas scenes – the family gathered around a roaring fire, decorations placed with care, ornaments on the tree and the snow softly falling outside. Where the float ideas go from there is only limited by imagination.”

The annual Gravenhurst Santa Claus Parade has drawn hundreds of people to downtown Gravenhurst for the past 62 years. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m., heading out from the Gravenhurst Legion, before proceeding down First Street and then onto Muskoka Road. Afterwards, Santa himself will be available to meet the young ones (and the young at heart) in the Terry Fox Room at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre.

• Entering a float in the parade is free of charge
• Registration packages are available at the Chamber office located at 275 Muskoka Road North, or on our website at
• The parade is organized and operated by the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce
• Contact the chamber at if you are interested in parade sponsorship opportunities.

About the Gravenhurst Chamber: The Chamber works to develop and grow many local events, including the Gravenhurst Santa Claus Parade, Gravenhurst Car Show and Dockside Festival of the Arts. The Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce serves as an advocate for member businesses, working to promote and enhance our community.

With over 300 members, the Chamber of Commerce is Gravenhurst`s largest business advocacy organization. The Chamber collaborates with community groups and organizations on initiatives and growth opportunities to benefit the town and businesses.

As a common voice, Gravenhurst Chamber members impact and establish the business community`s priorities.

Beaver Creek Prison under lockdown in Gravenhurst

Officials at Beaver Creek prison in Gravenhurst are keeping mum about what’s prompted a lockdown at the facility.

On September 27th, at about 8:40 p.m., the lockdown was put in place in the medium security unit at the prison to enable staff members to conduct an “exceptional search.”

Officials say the search was ordered to ensure the safety and security of the institution, its staff and inmates. Normal operations will apparently resume as soon as it is considered safe to do so.

Regularly scheduled visits may be affected. Visitors who have already planned a visit are asked to contact the Institution directly.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) says it is committed to preventing the entry of contraband into its institutions. CSC also works in partnership with the police to take action against those who attempt to introduce contraband into correctional institutions.

Historic Gravenhurst Albion Hotel getting heritage plaque

The Albion Hotel is getting a heritage plaque.

The public is invited to meet with Town Councillors at the Hotel, located at 100 Muskoka Rd N, Gravenhurst on Saturday October 1st, at 6pm, as the historic landmark is recognised.

The ceremony will follow the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s General Meeting, which chose the Albion for this year’s meeting backdrop. Archivist Judy Humphries will be on hand to conduct a history of the Gravenhurst Albion Hotel starting at 5:00 p.m.

“It has been an exciting journey so far and we’re at a point where everyone is thrilled to see what has become of the Albion Hotel,” said Hank Smith, Chair of the Gravenhurst Municipal Heritage Committee. “The unveiling of the official bronze plaque will be the final step in recognizing this important heritage building in our downtown.”

Guy Gagnon, the hotel’s current owner, refurbished the exterior or the building in 2013, these renovations helped to secure a Built Heritage Award from the Municipal Heritage Committee.

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, the Albion Hotel was named a heritage site in 1983, giving it designation as a building of Cultural Interest. The hotel, which was constructed in 1888, replaced the original Albion that burned in the Great Fire of 1887. The Albion was constructed in the Gothic Revival period and is one of the few remaining examples in Muskoka of Century Hotel architecture. Special features of the building include the double window dormers, decorative rounded brick arches over the windows with wooden carved inserts which are all well preserved to this day. The structure was an important part of life during the lumber and steam eras.

Today the Albion is home to ‘The Arts at the Albion’ which moved into the Hotel in 2013 and occupies the area which was originally the kitchen and dining hall.

The building also contains a number of apartment units, David Dawson’s studio and the Albion Tavern.

Dog walker attacked in Gravenhurst park

by Matt Sitler

Bracebridge OPP and the Muskoka Crime Unit are investigating an assault which happened at a park in the town of Gravenhurst.

On Thursday September 22nd, sometime between 7:30pm and 7:45pm, police say an unknown male assaulted an individual who was walking their dogs at Gull Lake Park.

Police say the victim received no injuries as a result of the attack and they are now asking anyone with information about the incident to contact Bracebridge OPP at (705) 645-2211 or to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Muskoka locations streaming the Tragically Hip farewell concert

The Tragically Hip Live from Kingston concert is being streamed at several locations throughout Muskoka and surrounding areas this evening. The concert airs at 8:30pm but people should arrive earlier to get a good spot.

Here’s the list of locations that will be streaming the concert:

Bracebridge at Annie Williams Park
Huntsville’s River Mill Park
The Huntsville Legion
800 Degrees in Orillia – 99 Mississauga Street
The Stockey Centre in Parry Sound
The Muskoka Drive In – Gravenhurst
Sawdust City Brewing Co – Gravenhurst

*A Tribute to the Tragically Hip is also happening at Clear Lake Resort in Torrance near Bala between 4pm and midnight which includes live bands, food and then the airing of the Hip concert on an outdoor movie screen. All proceeds to local charities. Free shuttle ride home. Tickets are available at PIE Muskoka

Ontario’s first craft shandy hits LCBOs in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge & Port Carling

The team that created the first ever Canadian Pale Ale has just launched a new style of beer cocktail, bringing a bit of British culture to Canada.

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is Ontario’s first craft shandy and carries on the tradition of the shandygaff, the British drink which originated in the 1850’s and is a blend of beer and ginger ale.

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is easy-drinking with an invigorating zesty ginger flavor that is both satisfying and thirst-quenching.

It will be available for a limited time exclusively in selected LCBO stores, including those in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Port Carling.

Old Tomorrow’s shandy was created in collaboration with Muskoka Springs, using its century-old Pale Ginger Ale recipe, which is packed with botanical extracts.

Old Tomorrow brewed its beer, blended it with Muskoka Springs unique ginger syrup and water and then added natural honey and lemon flavours. The result is a light and zesty ginger flavor that is truly refreshing.

“We wanted to create a truly unique fun product with a kicked back summer vibe,” explained co-founders Pat and Ian Macdonald. “Muskoka Springs Pale Ginger Ale has outstanding flavour and effervescence – perfect for making Ontario’s first shandy.”

They went on to add that Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is a salute to the great Canadian summer and it’s perfect for chilling out or cooling down on a hot summer day.

“Our Shandy lets you soak up the ultimate taste of summer,” explains Pat. She added that its cool zestiness makes it a great alternative to sweeter radlers and lighter beers.

The low alcohol level of only 3% is perfect for parties and social gatherings.

Scott Moffat, partner at The Rosseau Group which owns Muskoka Springs, commented on this unique collaboration. “We are thrilled that Old Tomorrow approached us to feature our Pale Ginger Ale in this exciting new beer beverage. Our Pale Ginger Ale recipe has a unique tang and produces a cool crisp flavour that is a perfect match with Old Tomorrow’s smooth beer.”

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is enjoyable on its own or an ideal companion to BBQ’d foods, spicy ethnic dishes, salty snacks and lighter fare.

About Old Tomorrow: Old Tomorrow is an Ontario craft beer company aiming to create distinctive flavourful beers that celebrate iconic moments of Canadian greatness and tell authentic Canadian stories. Old Tomorrow was the nickname of Sir John A Macdonald. Its first craft entry, Old Tomorrow Canadian Pale Ale (CPA), has won numerous awards and is now in the top 10% of Ontario craft beer brands. Track 85 Lagered Ale, recently launched in June, is a lager style beer made in the traditional German way with specialty German yeast and hops. Track 85 delivers a cool crisp flavor and celebrates the last spike of Canada’s national railway. Monty’s Golden Ryed Ale is a silky smooth, limited edition ale aged in rye whisky and oak and made in collaboration with Olympic Champion Jon Montgomery, telling his gold medal story.

About Muskoka Springs: Muskoka Springs Natural Spring Water Inc. is a diversified beverage service company serving Central Ontario. Established in 1873, Muskoka Springs has been producing bottled beverages since Sir John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister. In the 19th century, the founder, Dugald Brown, started bottling natural spring water in hand-blown glass bottles packed in wooden crates. Shortly thereafter, the new firm began its foray into carbonated beverages. Muskoka Springs Pale Ginger Ale was originally marketed as Nickel Dry – and then Muskoka Dry – over 100 years ago. Muskoka Springs Natural Spring Water Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Rosseau Group.

Gravenhurst issues EOI for Muskoka Regional Centre property

The Town of Gravenhurst has issued a formal Request for Expression on Interest (EOI) for the Muskoka Regional Centre property.

The intent of the document is to seek qualified proponents to create a partnership to acquire and redevelop the site located at 2000 Muskoka Road N, Gravenhurst.

“We are pleased that this process is picking up momentum,” said Glen Davies, chief administrative officer. “We look forward to acquiring a strong partner who will come to the table and help us work towards making this property a prominent and prosperous part of this community once again.”

To see photos of the centre property as it stands today, visit

The EOI proposals are due Friday, September 16th, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) and should be no longer than 10 pages including appendices.

Each proposal shall include:

Proposal to Purchase – This is a detailed outline for a proposed development concept, agreement of purchase and sale, Town partnership and economic and employment creation impact.

Qualifications of the Respondent – The proposal shall outline the qualifications and experience of the respondent.

Expressions of interest will be evaluated on a number of points including but not limited to the proposed development’s sustainability, the proposed developments ability to create employment opportunities, compatibility with the values expressed in the Official Plan, qualifications of the respondent, quality of the proposal, knowledge of Gravenhurst and planning regulations, creativity, achievable time-lines and financial capacity.

In addition to submissions, potential respondents will have the opportunity to participate in a site tour of the property. This tour will take place on Wednesday, August 17, between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

“Council has been waiting for some time to see something meaningful happen on that property and we are thrilled to be able to start to think about the possibilities,” offered Mayor Paisley Donaldson. “This will be a very positive change for the community.”

Following the September 16, deadline, Council will approve a preferred partner. Negotiations will take place with the successful partner(s) and further discussions with Infrastructure Ontario will follow.

(Main photo via

Gravenhurst artist Kevan Murray’s new show explores family, memory & identity

by Matt Sitler

A set of vintage black and white photos has inspired a Gravenhurst artist to delve deeper into the now threatened memories of her close knit family’s aging matriarch.

Kevan Anne Murray, 29, opens her latest show of acrylic paintings and ink and water colour illustrations at the Lee Contemporary Art  gallery located on the Upper Level at 5 Peter Street in Orillia.

Entitled ‘245 Lakeview Ave.’, the show, which started August 4th and runs until September 10th,  documents memories from her 87 year old grandmother Yvonne Jones’  life, which are ever the more poignant now due to Jones’ ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Murray named the show after the address where her grandparents lived for many years in Gravenhurst, which also served as the family’s main home base and hub of activity.

“It’s kind of ingrained in our family identity, that whole landscape and the memories connected to it,” reflects Murray. “Generally in the past I’ve done paintings that are more landscape and architecturally based, subject wise. (For this show) a conversation I had with my mother and a friend helped shift the subject  to this more personal territory, which was very difficult for me.”


“Tiger 2: Winter Driveway”

A few years ago Murray’s grandfather passed away and her grandmother  had to be moved out of 245 Lakeview into a smaller residence. She now resides at the Pines long term care facility in Bracebridge.

“It’s just been a really difficult thing for my family,” says Murray. “And it’s been very interesting for me to observe, both up close and at a distance – because I’m living in BC right now – just hearing the way my family now talk about her. And even when I talk with her, even though she’s not ‘her’ anymore, she still is ‘her’. I’m kind of obsessed with the whole identity thing. She’s still the woman from 245 Lakeview Avenue and we still have those memories and we don’t have to hold on to who we think she is, who she should be or who she was – she’s different now and the roles are evolving and its always on my mind.”

When her grandmother was being moved out of her home, Murray’s sister took the opportunity to scan and email all her old photos to members of the family.

“(The photos) are from when my grandmother was a little girl growing up in Gravenhurst,” says Murray. “They include some family members who I don’t know, but you can tell they are very meaningful to her, her memories, history and identity. She’s still here but I’m not going to get to hear these stories from her now, so it’s interesting to see a different side of someone (through the old photos).”



Tying the show’s paintings and illustrations together will be written material, including a poem that explains more to the viewer about Jones’ life and story.   Murray used this material and the feelings the photos evoked while choosing the colours  and moods in her interpretations. Altogether, she says there are about 30 pieces that will be on display.

Murray, a graduate of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University has been travelling during the last couple of years, with trips across Canada and Europe. Previously she has shown her work at the Silver Bridge Gallery and the Art in the Heart summer program in Bracebridge.

She says she is now more focused than ever on developing her skills.

“I’ve been in Nanaimo BC for a year now,” she says. “I have a studio there and I’ve really been able to focus more in the last year on my art and what I want to do with it.”


“Young Paddler”

‘245 Lakeview Ave.’ opened August 4th between 7 pm and 9pm.

Throughout the show Murray will be collecting donations from the gallery’s patrons  in honour of her grandmother for the Alzheimer’s Society.

To learn more about Murray’s art visit her website at

Lee Contemporary Art’s website is located at

(Main photo is of Murray with her painting “The Lake”)




‘Muslim Go Home’ found painted in Gravenhurst park

Bracebridge OPP are investigating an act of vandalism at Gravenhurst’s Gull Lake Park which involved racially motivated graffiti.

On July 23rd at 11:59am, police were called to investigate after the graffiti was found painted on a gazebo post in the park with lettering that read “Muslim Go Home”.

Police are now asking anyone with information about the incident to contact Bracebridge OPP at (888) 310-1122 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Attempted break and enter in Gravenhurst

A reminder for residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods.

Muskoka News Watch has received word of an attempted break and enter at a Winewood Avenue West residence in Gravenhurst that occurred overnight (July 8th).

Someone tried to pry open a door, but no entry was gained and nothing was stolen.

If you see or hear about any suspicious activity in your neighbourhood, contact the OPP immediately.

35 yr old Enniskillen woman facing charges following collision

Tips from the public led police to a suspect after a vehicle was seen leaving the scene of a collision on Wednesday.

Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers received complaints from motorists travelling on Highway 11 North in Gravenhurst of a vehicle that had collided with another while driving and had taken off on Wednesday, just before 5pm.

A short time later, officers received information from concerned members of the public that the suspect vehicle was in a nearby parking lot on Talisman Drive in Gravenhurst.

Police attended and as a result of their investigation arrested and charged 35 year-old Danielle South of Enniskillen Twp with the following offenses:

Impaired Operation
Over 80
Fail to Stop at the Scene of Accident
Dangerous Operation of a Vehicle
Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Insurance
Driving a Motor Vehicle with Open Liquor

The accused will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on July 19th. Further, the accused received an immediate 90 day driver’s licence suspension and had her vehicle towed and impounded.

Police would like to thank the members of the public who were attentive to their community and took that time to call police with their concerns, ultimately taking an impaired driver off the road.

One person airlifted from Hwy 11 accident scene in Severn Twp

Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is currently investigating a serious collision on Highway 11 at Southwood Road.

At 12:40pm  emergency services were called to attend a collision at Highway 11 Northbound at Southwood Road in Severn Bridge.

There were two vehicles involved in the collision, with one person having serious injuries. The highway was temporarily closed by the OPP to allow the person to be airlifted to the hospital for immediate medical attention.

One lane in both Southbound and Northbound directions of Highway 11 has been re-opened to traffic.

The investigation is currently ongoing and an update will be sent out when the Highway is completely re-opened.


Gravenhurst Fire Chief praises team effort at battling recent wildfires

Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard is singing the praises of area firefighters for their team efforts when the township was threatened by four recent wildfires.
“On Thursday May 12th, the Town of Gravenhurst was threatened by four significant wildfires that erupted and had to be battled concurrently,” he writes. “In the hours following these events, many people offered up very supportive comments, praising the work firefighters did in controlling and extinguishing these fires. Various media outlets also reported that we were ably supported by our friends from the Muskoka Lakes, Bracebridge and Severn Township fire departments, and I would like to publicly acknowledge the great work these departments did working alongside our crews. It was truly a team effort.”
“It’s important for your readers to know that many others stepped forward last Thursday to help as well. Our 9-1-1 dispatchers answered numerous calls and managed hundreds of radio transmissions and requests for contacts to allied agencies. The O.P.P. facilitated safe working sites for our firefighters along Highway 11 and Winhara Road. At several sites, members of the public stepped forward to help pull hose or carry equipment. Other Town of Gravenhurst staff and several of our past members stepped forward to help, as did a member of Town Council who also served on the department for many years. People brought water to thirsty firefighters and helped out in other ways too.
Many, including me, had the fresh images of the devastation of the Alberta wildfires in mind as the day progressed.”
“Thankfully, the collective efforts of a community contributed to a better outcome here. To all who lent a hand to keep our community safe that day, I express my heartfelt thanks. Gravenhurst truly is a wonderful place to call home!”
Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard
(Photo via @HollyMatrimony on twitter)

Gravenhurst bridge replacement pegged at $1.1 million

Gravenhurst’s Pine Creek Bridge is being replaced and it’s going to cost at least $1.1 million to do it.

The proposed construction contract goes before the District’s Engineering and Public Works Committee for approval today.

The bridge is located on Muskoka Road 169, 7km northwest of the town and it’s being recommended that the replacement contract be awarded to Coon Brothers Sand and Gravel in the amount of $861,647.00 excluding GST.

District staff say that beyond the construction cost, another $225,114 in project costs and $13,239 for consulting will be needed, bringing the total to $1.1 million, to be paid for out of the District’s Roads Capital Reserve fund.

A 2013 bi-annual bridge inspection revealed its T-beam and deck soffit showed extensive spalling, which was causing the steel reinforcement to become exposed and rusted. The original centre span bridge was also found to be in poor condition with no waterproofing on the entire bridge deck. Water is leaking through the joints between the original bridge and the two widenings, causing continual deterioration of the beams.

It was concluded it would be most cost effective to replace the bridge. Temporary lane restrictions to replace it would also be less disruptive to traffic than a closure for rehabilitation followed by a future closure in 10-15 years for an eventual replacement.

You’re invited to the 32nd annual Gravenhurst Mayor’s Tea

Join Mayor Paisley Donaldson and members of Council at the Gravenhurst Opera House on Tuesday May 31st to celebrate the ’32nd Annual Mayor’s Tea’.

The Mayor’s Tea is held in recognition of  Senior’s Month, but it’s an event the entire community can take part in.

Doors open for this annual tradition at 12:30 pm with entertainment starting at 1pm and tea to follow, (approximately 1:45pm). This is an opportunity for our community to enjoy a complimentary afternoon of entertainment, socialization, fellowship and of course tea and other refreshments in the stunning historical theatre located in the heart of downtown Gravenhurst.

“I look forward to seeing everyone’s smiling faces, especially after another long winter,” said Mayor Donaldson. “This is a great opportunity to catch up with community members and pay homage to all of our wonderful seniors, thanking them for their many contributions to our
Town,” added the Mayor.

This year’s high tea will also feature three types of finger sandwiches to enjoy; tuna, ham and cheese and of course egg salad. Sandwiches will be provided by Impact Muskoka. Don’t forget to try a cookie or square baked specially by Community Living South Muskoka! As for beverages, ‘tea’ will be the star of the party, but coffee and a refreshing homemade punch will also be served.

As part of the afternoon’s entertainment the Fernglen Fiddleheads will be performing live on stage. The band consists of fiddles, guitar, banjo, bass, percussions, and a piano. Traditional fiddle tunes such as jigs and reels form the foundation of the band’s repertoire. Music that is fun, spirited, and sure to set you in motion and your toes a tapping!

Immediately following the entertainment, everyone is invited to the Trillium Court for complimentary refreshments and an assortment of delicious desserts, served by Council and the Recreation, Arts and
Culture staff.

$36 million settlement includes money for Gravenhurst Muskoka Centre victims

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has approved a $36 million settlement that provides compensation to people who suffered harm while living at 12 former developmental services facilities, including the Muskoka Centre in Gravenhurst, between the 1960s and 1990s.  

The 12 former facilities, and the specific time periods to which the agreement applies, are:

  • Adult Occupational Centre (Edgar) – January 1, 1966 to March 31, 1999
  • Bluewater Centre (Goderich) – April 1, 1976 to December 20, 1983
  • D’Arcy Place (Cobourg) – September 1, 1963 to December 31, 1996
  • Durham Centre for the Developmentally Handicapped (Whitby) –  April 1, 1974 to September 28, 1986
  • L.S. Penrose Centre (Kingston) – April 1, 1974 to March 31, 1977
  • Midwestern Regional Centre (Palmerston) – September 1, 1963 to March 31, 1998
  • Muskoka Centre (Gravenhurst) – August 28, 1973 to June 30, 1993
  • Northwestern Regional Centre (Thunder Bay) – April 1, 1974 to March 31, 1994
  • Oxford Regional Centre (Woodstock) – April 1, 1974 to March 31, 1996 or in the “Mental Retardation Unit” – January 1, 1969 to March 31, 1974
  • Pine Ridge (Aurora) – September 1, 1963 to August 31, 1984
  • Prince Edward Heights (Picton) – January 1, 1971 to December 31, 1999
  • St. Lawrence Regional Centre (Brockville) – April 1, 1975 to June 30, 1983.

The 12 facilities closed between 1977 and 1999 in accordance with a government decision to close institutions and move adults with developmental disabilities to homes in the community with appropriate supports and services.

The settlement is the result of a class action lawsuit brought against Ontario by former residents of these facilities.

The claims administrator, Crawford Class Action Services, will inform eligible former residents about the claims process to apply for compensation.

Former residents of the 12 developmental facilities can receive a copy of their personal resident files at no charge by emailing or calling 1-855-376-9886. Class members (eligible former residents) will have four months after the court’s approval of the settlement to request their files.

“I’m glad that we were able to reach a fair settlement in this matter,” says Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur. “These individuals were harmed in a place that was intended to provide them with care, and while we cannot change the past, it is my hope that this settlement will help these individuals – and their families – to heal.”

Two Gravenhurst women face shoplifting charges

Two 52 year old women from Gravenhurst face shoplifting charges following a complaint from a local grocery store.

Bracebridge OPP say it happened April 19th at 1pm after store staff discovered two women stealing items. The women were confronted, took off on foot and were later located and arrested.

Police have charged both women with Theft Under $5000 and one with several counts of Failing to Comply with Probation.

They’ll face the charges in court later in May.

Orillia men receive jail time for Muskoka Centre break-in

Two men charged in the recent Muskoka Centre property break-in in Gravenhurst have received prison sentences.

Judge JD Evans heard guilty pleas to break and enter charges from 27-year-old Gaston Gagnon and 53-year-old James Mountney, both of Orillia, today in Bracebridge Court.

Crown Attorney Paul Culver told Evans the break-in happened February 24th at 3:30am.

A citizen called police about people banging on a locked gate that secured the fence surrounding the property – they also reported seeing a vehicle being driven on the property with no lights a short while later.

When police arrived, they found the would-be thieves had gained access by removing the gate’s hinges.

Police soon found Mountney in a van and Gagnon standing outside of it while two other men removed copper piping from a building. One of these others was throwing the piping down from the roof.

The total value of the piping would have been around $720 if it had been sold.

Mountney & Gagnon were arrested immediately – the others were taken into custody following an OPP canine unit search, said defence lawyer Robin Bellows.

Culver noted such thefts are on the rise these days due to the increasing value of copper.

Gagnon told Evans he’s since had nightmares about the abandoned property, which used to house a sanatorium.

“It definitely wasn’t worth it,” he admitted in a remorseful statement to the judge.

Evans sentenced him to five months in prison plus the time he’s already served, which amounted to 30 days since his arrest.

Mountney received a much stiffer sentence – he has a previous “lengthy and unenviable” criminal record showing similar offences, said Bellows.

Mountney told court: “it was a very stupid mistake – I didn’t know what we were getting into when we did it.”

Evans sentenced him to 15 months in jail, which includes the 30 days he’s already spent in custody since his arrest.

“You know darn well you shouldn’t have been doing what you were doing,” Evans told him.

Both men will also have to submit samples of their blood to police as part of a DNA order.

The other two men arrested in the case have yet to have their day in court.

56 year old Gravenhurst man charged with possession and distribution of child porn

UPDATE: The accused in the below case will be in Bracebridge Court next on March 29th. He appeared there briefly this morning (March 15th) and remains in custody. Court documents show that a publication ban is in effect covering details of the case at this time.

PRIOR: The OPP’s Child Sexual Exploitation Unit have charged a Gravenhurst man following a two month child pornography investigation.

In January 2016 the Unit received a complaint in regards to a child sexual abuse video uploaded to the internet. Upon further investigation, it was learned that the matter was traced to Gravenhurst.

On March 4, 2016, police executed a search warrant at a Gravenhurst residence. As a result, police say five computer devices pertinent to the investigation were seized containing images of child sexual abuse. These devices are pending forensic analysis.

Graham Peters, age 56 years, of Gravenhurst, is charged with two counts of Possession of Child Pornography and one count of Distributing Child Pornography.

The accused was held in custody and is scheduled to attend a bail hearing March 15th at the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge.

The investigation continues.

Three Orillia men charged after break-in at old Muskoka Centre property

Three Orillia men have been charged after breaking in to the old Muskoka Centre property in Gravenhurst.

Bracebridge OPP were called about some suspicious activity at the end of Muskoka Road North this morning at 3:30am.

A neighbour first noticed the activity and responding officers arrested four men inside the fenced complex stealing material from inside one of the buildings.

Police have charged 27 year-old Gaston Gagnon, 53 year-old James Mountney and 41 year-old Jeffery Temple all of Orillia, each with Break and Enter and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime. The fourth man was subsequently released.

The accused men will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on tomorrow to answer to their charges.

Several people charged with drunk driving this past week in Muskoka

Several people charged with drunk driving offenses this past week in Muskoka.

On Friday, police responded to a complaint from a homeowner on Raymond Road in Muskoka Lakes Twp at 5:35 p.m. regarding two trucks pulling trailers at the end of her driveway, one of which appeared to be stuck.

Police investigated and as a result, arrested and charged both drivers with alcohol related offenses.

60 year-old Rodney Hammond of Orangeville and 40 year-old Jason Hammond of Gravenhurst have each been charged with Impaired Operation and Over 80.

They’ll appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on March 15th to answer to their charges.

Upon their arrest, they each received an immediate 90 day driver’s licence suspension and further had their vehicles towed and impounded.

Then on Sunday morning, OPP responded to a traffic complaint that came in from a motorist travelling on Highway 118 in Bracebridge at 10:30 a.m.

Police located the vehicle shortly afterwards on Winhara Road and conducted a traffic stop.

In that instance, police arrested and charged 49 year-old Randolph Francis of Burlington with Impaired Operation and Driving with More than 80 mgs of Alcohol in his blood.

He’ll appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on March 22nd.

The accused received an immediate 90 day driver’s licence suspension and further had his vehicle towed and impounded.