Ian MacKenzie's
SO MUSKOKA - what you've missed
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August, 2002

August Edition

The Muskoka Wharf project in Gravenhurst has received another $20 million in funding from everyone's fav rav rich uncle - FedNor. You have to wonder where the logic is in tearing down the historic Ditchburn Boat Works to put up lots of faux Olde Muskoka crested sportswear shops. But rest assured the planners are top-notch - witness the one who gushed, "We're really excited about the people who are excited!" He's planning the future of Gravenhurst and he can't even put together a sentence that doesn't turn around and bite itself on the ass.

Lose your MOOSE? It moved to 99.5 and increased its power to 12,000 watts in an effort to reach more 25-54 year-olds. News flash: listenership isn't necessarily a function of wattage, guys. Try PROGRAMMING! The station owner says they play "hot AC". I thought that was an electrical maintenance term. I think we've found our problem.

The dunk tank at Bracebridge's recent Midnight Madness was a popular event. But forget dunking the mayor, local DJs and also-ran big fish from small ponds - guys wanna dunk chicks in white T-shirts. Ask one (one who's not standing beside his wife, that is)! Speaking of festivals, if I throw an empty Gatorade bottle into the river it's called littering. But if the Stephenson District Lions Club dumps 600 rubber duckies into the falls at Port Sydney it's called good clean fun for the whole family. Go figure...

Fed up with the cost of beer these days? Why not do what one enterprising customer of the Bala Beer Store did - steal the Variety Village donation box from the counter! Alas, video cameras never sleep. Look for our boy on the next FOX installment of "Caught On Tape: Stealing From Crippled Kids".

Own a particularly large zucchini? A two-headed piglet? A really ugly baby? Well come on down - the Bracebridge Fall Fair and Horse Show is soliciting exhibitors!

Ain't that a kick in the head - a Bracebridge man was fined $750 for kicking his cousin in the face over a beer. Do you get the feeling the postal code for this area ought to be EIE-IOA?

Bracebridge OPP are looking for a trouserless hodad who likes to jump out of wooded areas and startle women. Police have a sketch artists' workup of the man but it would be more at home in a Maplethorpe book than on the wall at the Post Office. If anyone gets a good look at his face it'll be a different story.

There's been an increase in 'bear incidents' this year and many towns now support the reintroduction of the spring bear hunt. George Dubya would call it a 'preemptive strike against lurking terror'.

Bear problems can give you environmentalist problems, too. Well, they will if your paper runs a picture of a previously bear-harassed homeowner sitting beside the severed, now-frozen head of the ex-harrasser. Yikes! You know you live in the sticks when people have the freezer capacity for a bear head.

Local MP Andy Mitchell wants to do something about boat noise. I read his entire discussion of the issue in the newspaper but I'm not able to report exactly what he wants to DO about boat noise because as a politician he is bound by law to talk in never ending circles. But trust me - he's mad as, well, heck and he's not going to take it... ah... much longer.

Attention cottagers: this year's cool wildlife to spot is the eastern hognose snake. It looks similar to a rattlesnake but it's harmless and when it's frightened it plays dead. So remember: if it bit you, it's a rattlesnake and you're screwed. If it rolled over on its back and stuck its tongue out it's a hognose.

The Township of Muskoka Lakes has turned down another application for a zoning amendment to allow a cottager to build a 150-foot-long dock - this time with a 1300 square foot boathouse at the end of it. What was wrong with this picture? The dock was over 66 feet long, the boathouse was further than 50 feet from the high water line, and the property owner was already notorious for brutalizing shorelines to flip properties for a profit. Council took a cue from Nancy Reagan and just said no.

A 34-year-old champion of self-control from Gravenhurst appeared in court recently for his SEVENTH drunk driving charge. He got six months in jail and two years probation. Tell me the guy's barred from driving for life... please!

Some area municipalities are demanding a more consistent use of fire bans - when one area has a fire ban in place tourists tend to head off to where fires are still allowed. Next year's Tourism Ontario ad: "Get That Burning Sensation at Algonquin Park!"

First the bad news - an early morning fire in Port Carling has destroyed two businesses. Now the good news - it might have actually been an accident! For Port Carling that's progress... The one fly in the ointment - the same building had a similar fire two years ago. So, the wiring was done by whom?

Vigilantism is alive and well - twice in one week private citizens have stepped in to help police nab drunk drivers. Two people have been charged and no one got shot. Charles Bronson does not cottage around here.

Today's $64,000 Question: What do you do with 6,500 cubic metres of treated sewage sludge? The District used to spread it on area fields but now that everyone is post-Walkerton hypersensitive they're looking for something else to do with it. My vote: compress it into 2X6s and sell it as 'green' deck material.

Forget 'Walk Like An Egyptian'... this summer it's more like 'Die Like An Egyptian'. A dead crow in Parry Sound tested positive for the West Nile Virus. If I had to get some kind of disease I think I'd go for West Nile Virus. Hell, it used to be you had to worry about encephalitis - a disease that sounds like it would leave you looking like John Merrick. But 'West Nile' sounds pretty exotic to me - it's not like I'm likely to actually SEE the Nile or anything! Investment tip for 2003: Muskol futures are gonna go through the roof.

Bracebridge is moving up in the world! It used to be that some punk kid would steal your car and just take it for a joyride. Now they strip it for parts in your driveway! One local business opened on Monday to find their delivery truck was minus one driver's door and the rear view mirrors.

Moose tags are in the mail! If you're a hunter you know what that means. If you're not one, you'll think we license some pretty strange pets around here.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is hosting WOW - Women Outdoors Weekend. The courses they take on this little 'leave your heels behind' weekend (please direct all nasty letters to the 'Zamina, not me) include handgun, shotgun and rifle classes, archery, fly fishing, canoeing, backpacking, maps and compass classes, outdoor survival skills, and hunting. Either that's one very long weekend or these courses are each half and hour long. And when they graduate, are these women automatically enrolled as secret agents or do they have to apply?

Muskoka Driving Tip #702: Try staying in your lane. We've had an unsettling number of single vehicle rollovers around here this summer - I don't know if people's lack of attention is because they're soakin' up the scenery or drooling at stripper-attired daddy's-girls but the rest of the story is always the same: the right front tire slips off the road, the driver over-corrects to get back in the lane, there's another swerve to avoid on-coming traffic, and whoa, baby welcome to life in the rock tumbler!

The attempted hostile takeover of Santa's Village has failed. This means that Santa's Village will NOT merge with Muskoka Sands' TABOO theme to form "Santa's Taboo Village - an adult adventure of sexual exploration".

How many is too many? If you're calling your ex-husband... constantly... 25 times in one evening will enable you to become a guest of the crown. Gravenhurst has one less nutball to worry about. For now.

And speaking of too much, a Gravenhurst man has been arrested for his seventh DWI charge. And get this - they can't take away his license because he's never been licensed to drive in Ontario. Maybe that's why he's so bad at it...

You know there are too many art festivals in town when the latest one to be organized is called "Enough Art To Choke Nine Gophers". Not to sound too literal or anything but we don't even HAVE gophers in Muskoka.

The Boer War fountain in Bracebridge's Memorial Park has a new wrought iron fence around it. Sure, it looks nice but most of all it keeps late night marauders from vandalizing the monument. Again.

Remember The Grand Restaurant in Kilworthy - noted more for it's sudden vaporization than for any meal it ever cranked out? The Ontario Fire Marshall has determined that the explosion was deliberate. Whodda thought! The question, Marshall, is who wanted it turned into a mechano set?

Someone stole a Kia Sportage in Huntsville and pushed it off a cliff. Senseless destruction? Maybe. Or someone might have just made a bar-room bet that he could make it do 140 kph.

A Baysville resident with a swollen drunk driving record was nabbed again after the O.P.P. noticed he was "driving with undue care and attention". You know that the state of driving is deteriorating when people get pulled over for doing it too well... The Casino Rama Archeology Team has unearthed Styx, The Little River Band and a Grace Slick-less Starship this month! Keep digging, guys - Rick Springfield must be in that same layer.

What's in a name? About seven grand, that's what. Lake of Bays councillors recently entertained the idea of giving just one name to the Dwight Beach Road/ Dwight Bay Road/ Dwight Bay Road South navigational nightmare. One problem: it'll cost $6,600! That includes advertising the changes for four weeks ($2000), registering the changes with the municipality ($170), staff time ($600), sign installing labour ($600), MTO signage ($850) and sixty new 911 signs for residents at $40 each. It's like a one-night stand... always more complicated than you think.

The Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst is expanding - despite the fact that they burn it down on a regular basis. The expansion was, of course, linked in the press to the need for more firefighters "post 9-11". I have a friend who's a fireman in Mississauga. On September 10, 2001 he was a weight-lifting, porn-watching fratboy with a dream job - three days on... four days off. One day later he was noble, selfless hero to whom we all owe a huge debt of thanks. Ya gotta love a good media make-over!!

A Bracebridge man was charged with failure to remain at the scene of an accident after he collided with a shopping cart in a grocery store parking lot. The woman pushing the cart suffered only a sore wrist in the accident but several others were not so fortunate: Tony the Tiger, Aunt Jemima and Capt'n Crunch all received fatal injuries and were pronounced garbage at the scene.


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