Making Muskoka traces the evolution of the region from 1870 to 1920. Over this period, this rocky section of Ontario underwent a profound transition from Indigenous homelands to a settler community and a part-time playground for nature tourists and wealthy cottagers. But what were the consequences for those who lived there year round?
As the late nineteenth century turned into the early twentieth, settler colonialism upended Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee communities through homesteading, steamboat navigation, commercial logging, and industrial leather tanning. The region was unsuited to farming, however, and within the first generation of resettlement, tourism became an integral feature of life. Andrew Watson considers the impact of this development on rural identity, tensions between large- and household-scale logging operations, and the dramatic effects of consumer culture and the global shift toward fossil fuels on settlers’ ability to control the tourism economy after 1900.
Making Muskoka uncovers the connections between lived experience and rural identity in communities shaped by tourism at a time when sustainable opportunities for a sedentary life were few on the Canadian Shield.
Scholars and students of environmental history, Canadian history, and historical geography will want to add this book to their libraries, as will permanent and part-time Muskoka residents.
Andrew Watson is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. His work has appeared in publications such as Agricultural History, Scientia Canadiensis, Regional Environmental Change, and Canadian Historical Review. He has also served as editor-in-chief of The Otter, the blog of the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE).
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