Friday, November 30, 2007

Girls Out For A Swim

Summer. Lake Rosseau. Boys gone fishing. The ducks and the water remind us of a permanent time. Like in Europe for centuries when life was steady for most people and the past was like the present. A better example, the so-called primitive cultures who had respect for their environment, the indigenous people around here, the Indians. Were they stupid about progress or wiser than us, knowing in their shamanistic way that a future based on the domination of the planet by man, spells death for the planet. Their culture was unchanged as was their land for perhaps 60,000 years. At the current speed of Science and Technology we could wreck our planet in 150 to 300 years. At least they'll be no more troublesome people. If we're lucky, it's back to the Stone Age, The Sequel. Get that in movies a lot, the doomsday scenarios. For all the troubles of the past we can say maybe people were better off than we are and certainly better off than they thought. For our ancestors, a relief, in hindsight, not having to live with this constant hankering for the past, this feeling of loss that engulfs the modern world. Or with a fear of the future if they'd known what we're doing today. For us, life always, a bittersweet memory. And the future clouded and uncertain. We go back there to the natural world of the Muskokas, as long as it lasts, to shed some of this angst, cottagers and locals, and tourists from all over. At least it gives us a chance to think and breathe the fresh air of the past.

Kids And Boats And Steamships

Summer. Lake Rosseau. Could be the old days, except for the boat and clothes, when there were more families. In back, an original boat works of which there were a lot. Muskoka was famous for canoes and launches. You should check out an exceptional boating museum in Gravenhurst, Grace and Speed, the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre, down at the newly redeveloped wharf, a pretty classy affair. Loads of perfectly preserved boats and canoes, some in water, a 6 million dollar jaw dropping experience. Also commemorates the old steamships and grand hotels in Muskoka. While in Gravenhurst, a bustling metropolis in comparison to most other Muskoka towns, like they say on game shows, you've just won a fabulous boat trip on a real STEAMSHIP! Check out the RMS Segwun from 1887. Sail to delightful Port Carling and Millionaires Row. And you can, for real.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

From Our Friends The Birds

Summer. In Parry Sound. Even if there aren't any celebrities, we can make do. The birds have the right idea and they still raise big families. If you look at modern people, strip away the technology, what is it that makes us so lonely and miserable? Small and even single parent families are the biggest difference of all, between us and our ancestors. Now about as common in the country as in the city. But the Media are nagging us about Carbon Footprints and the flavor of the day, like overpriced iPhones and Terrorists. Fine but what about western societies burning to make a buck? So they can afford to have children. Imagine birds building a nest in a tree after a forest fire. Maybe we should turn back the clock or the planet will. Politicians and businessmen won't do it. There's some vague hope that scientists will. But aren't they the ones who pushed us over the brink? Remember the world a hundred years ago? An appalling lack of scientists. Now we're making up for lost time and saturating the place with them. Once they goof up big time, that could change the contract between them and us. Better not to wait for that. Add up all their clever goofs to date, thousands of them. Those fires are still burning. Why people come to the smoke-free Muskokas, to get away from it all and watch the birds.

Bird On A Wire

Summer. Magnetawan. Only because Goldie Hawn lives a stone's throw away. If you listen closely you can hear a $5,000 wine cork popping. Celebrity watching is more meaningful when you find them live and not just on TV. Though why we bother at all is another modern mystery. Scholars and Social Scientists would say that glamour and pageantry go way back before Elvis. It's a proven social need to see Kings And Queens among us. Since we knocked them on the head to make way for rather dull democracies and even more lackluster politicians, we've had to reinvent them as folkloric heroes, Captain Ron, a scallywag who makes good. Or Kurt the knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel Goldie even if his faithful charger, the Mighty Dakota, breaks down and his trusty cell phone is rusty without a brazen tower in sight. It's their movie personas larger than life on the big screen that blaze somewhere in our imagination. If you bumped into them before Laugh-In, or if you'd left the TV off since then, would they stand out in a restaurant? Not unless Goldie dropped every plate in the house. In real life the breakables would have been soberly added to their bill in the best case scenario. Funny, we can't seem to have any fun in public. Seems we pay other people to have fun for us and laugh in anonymity in a darkened theater or in our private living room world. Or pay them to be glamorous for us. Locals like anyone, love these Real People from Hollywood a heartbeat away, but they can easily tough it out on Hockey Stars alone. And we've got 'em. Check out the 8X10 b&w glossies at the bars, autographed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Small Town Hassles And Scandals

Spring. Parry Sound, Coast Guard Station. A modern statement, rather at odds with the old town and the beaches. Trees were planted on the Waubuno Beach side, but they're still not big enough to screen an architect's lack of imagination. Here at least there was a need for a modern facility and it serves Georgian Bay and its ships and boats well. But functionalism can get out of hand. One aesthetic mistake leads to another. Like in the New York subways where the stations and trains, never pretty, were vandalized by graffiti artists and remarkably the more damage the more crime. It took an astute commissioner of the Transit Authority to figure out the connection based on an academic paper on a new theory of urban decay. Vandals plant seeds of lawlessness, when they deface an environment, the Broken Window Theory. If you don't fix it, that signals no one cares and it's alright to break another one and another. Whole neighborhoods go up in flames thanks to neglect, but first because they're often an eyesore to begin with and an easy target for distressed people. Quick cleaning and repainting, replacing even cracked windows in the subway system actually reduced crime considerably. But it's an uphill battle. Same goes for our big and small towns. What happened to them anyway? These charming towns we remember. Was there a war? Concrete parking lots covering nasty craters from all the shelling? A nice neighborhood crushed by a Seniors Rec Center and concrete condos. Condos in the country? A giant ugly hospital sold for a song to a big city developer who turns it into a slightly uglier retread for a condo complex. This make any sense? Sure. We needed the rec center, depressing though it is, and we need more condos because there's a housing shortage and prices are high and I suppose this will keep them high. A lot of prime land available too, and nothing gets done. The only place for kids to go, the ones who throw rocks, is the hockey rink and church bingo. So they get into trouble or leave town, just like in the movies. Is there some sort of anything goes business and politics in bed together, or in a small town, a game of Monopoly where a few high rollers call the shots? Looks like it anyway.

Spring. Parry Sound, Seguin Bridge and Tower Hill. Why not a charming bridge over an idyllic river? Everyone can draw up a long list of eyesores and missed opportunities for any town. In a small town you can't miss them. They're everywhere. Not much discussion or input on anything in most of them, just like in big city alienation. With big city thinking applied to small towns, from malls to strip malls, to dumb ugly buildings, people get the idea that's all you're going to get. The reminders are everywhere. A minor hassle like no real downtown which big city visitors love and the locals now miss. There was one until the malls came. Shopping, apart from the basics, is an exercise in futility. Try to find any shoe that fits at any price. One shoe store in town and plastic leather everywhere else. A nice friendly coffee shop? Closest thing open is at the mall food court or the Drive Thru. The old town newspapers used to be concerned. Not so much now. They've been bought up, imagine, by media giants. Their local flavor is the local advertising. What they splash on page one is Council Agrees To Hike Parking and Water Main On South Street Needs Repairs. Inside on page 3, some harmless gossip everybody knows anyway masquerading as human interest stories, and sensational articles like Fall Is The Time For Canning. Anyway, who do you know who does canning? In Parry Sound it's Crofter's, the jam factory. Good jam too, organic. Even mango. It's not that warm here, if you're looking for a mango tree. Globalization, from California. Though, what the local rags are good at is flooding the towns with flyers and free guides and magazines that give you 5th graders' reports on all the fun tourists and locals can have, with hardly a word of useful or honest information, but plenty of wall-to-wall paid advertising. No wonder that cottage lakeside life in the Muskokas is the big thing and many small towns are treading water or slowly going under.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Cottage Town Establishment

Summer. Parry Sound, the Fitness Trail. Locals and cottagers, locals claim, are elbow to elbow in the summer. Only at the A&P I'd say. Generally they don't mix much, with cottagers being city people and in a hurry to shop and get back to their monstrously expensive cottages. Cottagers are friendly as they are supposed to be having a good time. With locals it depends. There are all sorts of things going on, under the placid surface of any town. People are cogs on various wheels. Some are strictly family people and that's all they want. Some are family, old school friends, maybe buddies at work and neighborhood people. In most neighborhoods you would connect eventually even if you're a dreaded foreigner from the big city. Business people naturally make an effort to be more expansive. Real Estate and Insurance Agents which make up half a cottage town's business are ubiquitous. Any event, function, restaurant, club, golf course, junior league hockey hockey game, they're there, supporting the community and drumming up more business. The other professional class, the only one you'll find in dusty history books, is the lawyers, mostly real estate and estate lawyers, but somewhat scarcer in public as they already have a lot of work in retirement towns. Some of them are straight out of Dickens, with musty old files stacked to the rafters. The bankers' boxes full, not in the basements because nobody has basements in bedrock, but in storerooms and cupboards that would would require an archaeological dig to recover a missing file. Computers, bah humbug. Cottages change hands like Russian revolvers playing Russian Roulette. The aging cottagers and locals and the widows about, make for a lot of office rummaging in estate work. Going down the main street you'll see their shingles, so many you might think you've stepped into a Litigious Twilight Zone where lawsuits and juvenile crime must be really big. Lawsuits are always big, even in small towns. But most juveniles have already left town with or without a high school diploma to work in the big city. Then there's quite another class in each town, the Old Establishment.

Summer. Parry Sound, near the town dock. The Old Establishment who own most everything and who are largely invisible, the Five or Ten big families. They came first. They built the first hotel, or sawmill, or warehouse. And they bought all the land and they've been doing it for generations, even though many of their siblings only touch base at the family manor, before they're off again to Florida. Florida's popular. Respected by some. You might need to buy gas at their gas station or see their lawyer or rent an apartment or house from them. Sometimes liked well as benefactors to the community, sometimes idolized as the families who made it, and sometimes despised. Even despised for generations because of some swindle or other touching wounded families still living in town generations later. No feuds and brawls that you'd notice, but a certain coolness and distance, a certain resentment you might not fathom in the city, where of course you don't really know the transient population around you, or the big shots who pull the strings. This bears on how friendly everybody is in a small town. Places with a better history are obviously happier. Places where there's a strong middle class, where there is a general prosperity. Perhaps the people who are the most disliked aren't any of the above, not even rich bastard cottagers or noisy tootin' tourists. It's outsiders living in the town, especially big city outsiders working at the best jobs in town, the professional level government jobs the disadvantaged locals don't have the qualifications for. You want to work at the hospital and they want a diploma from a community college in Hospital Reception Clerk or they get a used, but experienced, Hospital Reception Clerk from Toronto or Barrie or Hamilton.

Living In A Small Town

Summer. Walking the dog, Fitness Trail, Parry Sound. Besides born and raised in, or back home to retire, who else chooses a small town and a bungalow when you could have a real country place or a cottage? Retired cottagers sometimes. If you look out your window everyday from November to March and all you see is snow, you might get tired of it, or at least tired of shovelling it. Besides, you're unlikely to lose your dog. If you see a stray, ask anyone nearby and they'll say oh, that's Caruther's dog. He's finding his way home, more or less. And you're close to the hospital just in case. And getting to the mall is easy. And they plough the streets same day. And if there's nothing to do, you can shop or get a doughnut and coffee. See a friend down the street. City types would say, after watching a nasty movie, well the spoiled and rich get paranoid every time their magazine cottage life creaks at night, or you know how dangerous it is in the country when everybody knows you've got a new F150 in your driveway, a home theater with plasma, and you're so alone and isolated you can't even get a pizza delivered. Nah, that's not it. Come to think about it, maybe that's why city people come to the country nowadays, not for a rest or for the fresh air, the water, the beaches, the boating, but to get away from edgy paranoid city lives. Though not after they've seen, say Harrison Ford in What Lies Beneath. Fortunately most of the crime movies and crime TV are set in the big city. But like dummies in the city, cottagers and locals rent the same DVDs. I guess we're all bored everywhere.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bala, The Magic Of Small Town Muskoka

Summer. Bala, next to The Kee. You might wonder why there aren't more photos of towns on this blog. Problem is they're rarely picturesque. Blame it on history. After the fur trade boom and bust, the loggers moved in and cut down millions of trees. So trading posts turned into sawmill towns and nothing much was built to last. Fires burned the rest of the old growth forests and fires also claimed the early cabins and houses. A few brick buildings like a courthouse and jail, a post office or church, survive. After the money was made and no more to be made, these towns dwindled and some even turned into ghost towns like the barren landscape around them. In the 1800's settlers were brought in from Germany with the promise of cheap land, farmland they thought. Forest scrub looked rich and easy to clear and more fires burned. When it finally came down to ploughing, the soil was pitifully thin with solid rock below. Their farms failed and the winters did them in. What kept some towns alive were the steamers and then the railroad. But they never found another vocation until big city people slowly pushed north to get away from it all, and built cottages on every piece of lakefront they could find. Small towns didn't interest them either. Is was the magic of the wilderness they wanted.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cooling Off In The Creek At Bala

Summer. Bala, kids swimming in the creek at the height of summer. This is the real Muskoka pulled out like a weed from the resorts. Bala always has been the heart of cottage country with its graceful Victorian charm. You can't do better for a vacation. You could get your bearings in a day or two at one of the B&B's or if they're full, the Bala Bay Inn, the right place for lunch on their big patio. Don't miss The Kee To Bala, a Big Band dance hall from 1942 and still authentic. All the greats have played The Kee, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, The Dorsey Brothers, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, The Glen Miller Orchestra and Louis Armstrong. Since the 60's it's Rock and Roll with a great patio on the water and first class rock bands on the weekends, like The Tea Party. A 2007-8 New Year's Bash with Colin James. Nearby there's a funky bar and a coffee house. Walk around. It's still a small town of 500 permanent residents, not trendy like Port Carling, nor burgerized and stripmalled. If you have time you could look for a cottage to rent or buy. $2,000 a week or $500,000 and up for something memorable.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shoehorned Into A Tourist Brochure

Summer. The Muskoka Resort Experience. It's one way to smooth down those big city jitters, shoehorned into a tourist brochure. Ahh, the good life. The satisfaction rating is 90%. I know from friends who work in the industry. The other 10% gripe all the time about everything, usually to get an upgrade, a discount or a freebie. Mind you an oasis of grass in the woods, does depend on its own infrastructure, and is subject to things like storms that knock out power, so no TV, no Internet, even cell phones can go dead. Water can start to gurgle out of your tap and go rusty brown, cold and brown and trickle to a stop. Toilets don't flush. The local fauna can also intrude. A strange animal in the night scratching your window, a creepy nerve wracking growl, a friendly mouse scurrying over your bed, and especially in spring, wasps, mosquitoes, blackflys and noseeums can find their way in. Even with all that, spring is as busy as summer, and if you don't have a reservation, you could spend all night and all day looking for another place. Accommodations vary greatly. In keeping with the cottage theme, you can get bungalows masquerading as double cottages, or strips of motel units dolled up like the royal stables, or in the better spots a real cottage of your own, or at the lower end a corner of a 4-plex cottage or maybe a cottage suite with Muskoka room they didn't explain, wasn't cottagey, except for the Muskoka room, and not in the woods but in the reception center, the actual hotel part. All this can be forgiven once you're there, especially if they give you an upgrade, a discount (very rare, so don't make a scene) or a freebie. Another thing that can knock your socks off is the high end pricing for everything extra, whether it's orange juice and a bag of chips at the tuck shop, or of course the restaurant, where you can't say no thanks to the prices. Beware the ruinous game of golf at their club, usually somewhat discounted since you're a guest. And there are rules. If you've rented a powerboat, your resort might not let you dock it. They're noisy after all. If you're thinking of dropping in on another resort down on the same lake say, well their guests come first, so wait in line or don't bother because they're very exclusive. Even with blazer and captain's cap and your yacht in tow many won't let you dock for lunch. If you're driving it's not going to help unless you squeeze a reservation out of them on the phone first. The smart thing to do is, if you're in the lurch, tip big. The fun thing I'd say would be to hang out at two resorts and golf courses, so split your party and put your friends in the other one so you can pull off the guest of a (temporary) member.

Getting Lucky At Snug Harbour

Summer. Meandering through Georgian Bay, sometimes there is only one place to go. In Snug Harbour you'll get lucky at Gilly's. The town's no bigger than a boat launch, some cottages for rent, and a few locals who shoot ducks in the fall. Spooky hearing gunshots over the water, but then by that time Gilly's isn't open. Not much is in cottage country after Labor Day. The towns amble on while about half the cottagers who've winterized and retired, hang on until the New Year when many skedaddle down south. Here you get fish and chips, the local pickerel when they haven't run out. Occasionally you'll spot celebrities just about anywhere. There's a Hollywood contingent around Lakes Muskoka, Joseph and Rosseau. Snug Harbour is in the sticks, but there she was, Demi Moore. And then she came over after I gawked at her. Are you ready to order? So there are extra perks in avoiding the fast food corporations. Of course they have muscled in and there are fewer spots like Gilly's and the Magnetawan Inn, and more burgers in the ones left. Before you plunge for one of those, take the time to explore some real Muskoka charm so there'll be some left for your kids.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lots Of Coffee And No Rush To Go

Summer. If you've found the right place to eat driving the long and winding roads of Muskoka, it can make your day. There aren't a whole lot of really great places, but a fair number that you'd feel good about. American, German and Italian restaurants are about what you find, some Chinese in the bigger towns. Count on lunch for the most variety when a lot of them are actually open. Tea rooms and delis vanish at 4:30 and 3:00 on Sundays. Family Restaurants are the mainstays, meaning respectable, no boozers and bikers, rather than kids throwing their food on the floor. Don't pass them up. Something more flashy or appealing is going to be hard to find. Besides, most of them deliver a square meal and the ambiance can be better than the steakhouse scene. But get there early, 8:00 at the latest. The best places are like this one, the Magnetawan Inn, been around a long time, homemade pies, lots of coffee, no rush to go.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Tourist Invasion

Summer. Fairs and Events and how to find them. Look for a lot of parked cars. Community Centres usually doubling as ice rinks are worth a detour just to see what's posted or maybe you'll get lucky and run into a dance or show. This one in Bancroft, hosts Canada's biggest Rock and Mineral Show, the Gemboree, a must for rock hounds who drive in from all over the continent. Tourist Info booths will load you up with brochures and booklets. When you wade through all the advertising, you'll often find something where the blasted date is missing, with no contact information. Or a number that doesn't answer. Talk to a live guide if there is one. Locals will oblige with approximations, like their street and road directions. Local newspapers are usually the best source for events and any large town's Chamber of Commerce. Better still, talk to the hotel or resort desk before you reserve and see how helpful and professional they are. In the country you're not going to find much, maybe roadside stands for berries and corn, and the occasional auction and artist's studio. High quality handmade pottery right from the potters themselves, with some interesting technical information on how your piece was made, will give you years of pleasure, as a genuine souvenir of Muskoka. Painters are even more numerous, but the emphasis is on fairly routine landscapes. Finding something great is the adventure. Consider yourself a treasure hunter and you will find one or at least some memories to take home. Good luck.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Little Daredevils

Summer. TugFest, Parry Sound. Tugboats from all over Georgian Bay, and that's as big as Lake Erie, chug into harbor to hang around and show their stuff. Retired now like most of their skippers who rescued them from the scrapyard, now carefully restored and freshly painted, they're back in action as little daredevils who can go just about anywhere. Friendly too. Climb aboard for your own personal tour. The Mink Isle is Parry Sound's own, the most photographed and painted. A score of amateurs retired from city and town, even cottagers retired from cottaging, have found a new life as artists, painting her and Ontario's longest train bridge, the one in back.

The Not So Wild Wilderness

Summer. Kids from camp, Bala Beach. Now that I think about it, the kids were only tired. I remember a camp like that where if you weren't huffing and puffing up the trail or you didn't get your lean-to up before dark, well, you weren't having any fun.

Bored or Exhausted

Summer. Kids from camp, Bala Beach. If you're a parent, then you know about all these weekend events for visitors, from family lunches and golf at the posh camps, to pork and beans and potato sack races. There's a score of camps and summer schools, and with water all around, the regatta is the big thing. Camps on a budget, it's two or three canoes and qualifying rounds. Here it's neither. A wilderness field trip in Muskoka, kids bored, not even parents around to make them embarrassed.

The Cardboard Canoe Race

Spring. White Squall Paddling Centre Open House, near Carling, and not Port Carling. If you're feeling reckless and you're handy with duct tape and cardboard, build your own canoe for the big race. Odds of sinking, about 50%. A fun day and kids welcome, plus coffee, food and a band, from the good people at White Squall Outfitters, Parry Sound. For May 2008 and beyond, it's going to be the big weekend deal, souped up to the Georgian Bay Kayak & Canoe Festival with hands-on workshops. Bring your wetsuit.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Surviving Your Wilderness Adventure

Spring. White Squall Paddling Centre Open House, near Carling, and not Port Carling. One thing you could do is try out a canoe or kayak at their idyllic paddling school or sign up for a course on surviving your wilderness adventure. It's the best place to buy your gear, small boating or camping, either here or at their store in Parry Sound, a half hour away.

An Ocean Liner Deep In Fresh Water

Summer. The Columbus at the town dock, Parry Sound. Every year the Germans land, twice in August going out and coming back from the Thirty Thousand Islands. It's impressive especially out of context, an ocean liner deep in fresh water a thousand miles from New York harbor. Would be nice if you could meet the Germans, but a Customs fence keeps them at bay during the 2 hour stopover. Probably it's the same Germans every year.

A Splash Of Color

Summer. Shriners in full regalia, Parry Sound. A monument dedicated to the Waubuno Shrine Club and members past and present. For a small town of 6500, there are clubs for everyone. The Lions, Rotarians, the Masons, the Optimists, and another half dozen big ones, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Curling Club and a few more purely local Friends Of and Seniors' Clubs, dominate the social scene like hockey does at the BOCC (Bobby Orr Community Centre).

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Being Spontaneous

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound. It's the spontaneous moments that make us happy. A vacation spot makes it easier. Travelling might be best. If you think back to your last trip and check your photos, you should find plenty to remind you of them. Since we can't travel all the time, though we need those bursts of fun, really we should try to be more spontaneous. In Canada, that's tough. Beyond a smile, nod or wink, maybe Canadians should rehearse or go into therapy, at least Americans tend to think so, but they say whatsamadder with these people? A one way conversation overheard outside a restaurant in front of the menu under glass: They got steak and seafood? Know this place? When was the last time you? Oh, so you're a tourist around here. Where you from? We came down from, where was it? As for packing in more memorable moments into an everyday routine, I've rediscovered taking a compact camera everywhere I go. Looking around for a subject to snap, you wind up finding them. It forces you to pause and think and sometimes meet people and share a little something beyond the weather. Plus you've got the pictures.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Blue Ford Pickup Is Blocking A Driveway

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound, Opening Ceremonies and the Dragons. Usually I tough it out on the bleachers with everybody else. Only chance to see certain notables in sweaty suits or the guy who needs to move his car, and chat under your breath with who's there. You can always check your watch every 5 minutes while the paper dragons are getting ready, kids supplying caterpillar feet for the dance.

Seen It All Before

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound. Gifts and souvenirs, the Chinese connection. I remember the good old days, Made in Japan.

The Kids Steal The Show

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound. The crowd, the beer tent, and band later. The kids steal the show. Volunteers put everything together. There's such a lot of volunteering going on that there aren't enough paid jobs and 20% of the town's on social assistance and unemployment benefits during the winter off season. A trend happening everywhere. Started with bored seniors and housewives in the '50's and now it's the leading growth industry. I have a feeling low unemployment statistics from Washington to Ottawa factor in working volunteers, inventories and projections nobody could trace. Now, of course, we need and appreciate these volunteers, government quite happy to cut back on social services to make room for them. With festivals it's a different story. Socializing the majority of people has never been a government priority. Perhaps the anti socials they are supporting in jails, on welfare, in therapy, wouldn't be so antisocial if there was a public social life for everyone. Thanks, volunteers.

And No Thai Food

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound. The ladies. Oops wrong festival, but top marks for trying. Who cares anyway. If you can mix the Bobby Orr Museum with the Bobby Orr Hockey Hall of Fame (so far so good) at the ahem, Arts Center for Wannabes & Soundalikes, how can you go wrong? Though there is a bona fide music festival early summer at the most 'pensive barn in these parks, as Charlie (Parry Sound's own, like Bobby and all the Orrs including the gang in Orrville) Farquharson would say, scratching his noggin on it. This is the one to fly to from anywhere you are, to hear Anton Kuerti play piano like Mozart, Chopin, Shubert, Beethoven, at The Festival of the Sound, in a splendid, once inside, boutique concert hall, The Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts.

Everybody Loves A Parade

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound, the parade, the teams, the Shriners, the Fire Department and friends. This looks great if you remember to go. The local paper will tell you about it afterwards. Even if it is a free event, somebody should pay for advertising.

Two Heads Are Better Tan One

Summer. Dragon Boat Festival, Parry Sound. An import from Thailand, and perhaps a dumb thing to do, when across the Sound you'll find Parry Island and the Wasauksing First Nation.
Pioneer Days with voyageurs in Indian canoes would be dicey as that's the French to boot. An authentic festival means a whole lot of birch bark and people who make canoes by hand. I suppose we could order them from China after about five years of committee meetings.