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.

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