Port Carling, Ontario Canada

Discover Port Carling, Ontario: A Historical and Touristic Gem

Port Carling, an unincorporated community in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, is a charming destination with a rich history. Serving as the municipal seat of the township since 1971, it is home to several hundred year-round residents and serves as a service centre for thousands of seasonal residents in the area.

Attractions and Venues in Port Carling, Ontario

Port Carling, Ontario, is not just a residential hub but also a cultural and tourist hotspot. The town has preserved much of its older architecture, adding to its charm. Visitors can explore the Muskoka Lakes Museum, attend the Muskoka Lakes Association Antique Boat Show held every other year, or visit the Muskoka Lakes Library. The Port Carling Memorial Community Hall and the CrossFit Muskoka Fitness Community are also popular venues.

Geography and Transportation in Port Carling, Ontario

Located on the Indian River, Port Carling, Ontario, owes its significance to its strategic position on the water routes of the area. A set of locks connects Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau, making it a key passage for boat and ship traffic in the township, earning it the nickname "Hub of the Lakes". The community is directly located on the two-lane Muskoka Road 118, and improvements to Highway 69 now link it to the controlled-access freeway Highway 400 and the sometimes divided Highway 11. This has greatly facilitated its increasing role as a tourist destination from the Toronto area.

History and Economy of Port Carling, Ontario

The history of Port Carling, Ontario, dates back to the 1850s when the Ojibway settled in the area, calling their settlement Obajewanung or Obogawanung. Europeans referred to it as Indian Gardens. The Ojibway moved to Parry Sound before white settlers moved into the newly surveyed Medora Township in the 1860s, but they continued to summer in Port Carling.

In 1869, Benjamin Hardcastle Johnston established a post office in Port Carling. The locks between the lakes, completed in 1871, led to an economic boom fuelled by tourism and logging. This resulted in the building of four resorts, two sawmills, and three Protestant churches in the 1870s. The Port Carling Boat Works Ltd., which traces its origins to an enterprise started in 1868 by William J. Johnston, captured a niche market after his relatives developed the disappearing propeller boat.

Port Carling was incorporated as a village in 1896, a status it maintained until 1971. As it grew, the locks were widened in 1903 to permit steamship traffic and in 1922 smaller pleasure boat locks were installed. The Port Carling Volunteer Fire Department began in 1912 and got its biggest workout in 1931 when a series of fires ravaged the boat works and much of the downtown.

James Bartleman, a part-Ojibway man who served as a diplomat and lieutenant governor of Ontario, has been Port Carling's most prominent government official outside the community. He wrote "Out of Muskoka", a personal reminiscence of his upbringing and some of the less savoury aspects of local history.