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August, 2000

This Week In Muskoka - August Edition

September 1st? My God... it can't be September 1st...

There is nothing more haunting than Labour Day in Muskoka. There's a chill in the air, frost warnings at night, and a stream of southbound SUVs reminiscent of an upscale yuppie version of Saddam's troops heading home from their little stint in Kuwait. It's still officially summer until September 21st but you can save that kind of logic for the folks who insist that the next millennium starts THIS New Year's Eve - school starts tomorrow, the cottagers are out of here, and that means the fat lady that is summer has sung. So let's take a look back and see what August was all about...

Wakestock kicked off the month of August in Bala and I must admit that it was nowhere near as moronic as it was last year. Sure the place was wall-to-wall with hipster doofus bozos but hell, so's Memorial Park in Bracebridge - EVERYDAY! I dropped by for the pro finals and oh hey... there was a bikini contest going on! Whoda thought? Congrats go out to Earlene Samuels of Toronto who had enough blonde hair and cleavage to have the judges overlook her my-folks-is-frum-Arkansas moniker. My personal You-Were-Robbed award goes to a more-than-qualified Katia Corriveau who placed second. Oh yeah... a bunch of pretty gnarly guys won a fair amount of cash getting dragged around behind boats, too.

And what a summer it was. Cold, rainy, and generally a pain in the ass all 'round. A bad year to try to paint the cottage but a great year to sell gravel to the Township. After getting three months worth of rain in a little over three hours, the Township was looking at over $110,000 to repair washed out roads and eroded shoulders (note to those from more cash-laden municipalities: up here $110,000 is a ton of money).

It rained so much this summer that a Hamilton woman who fell off her Muskoka River dock in Bracebridge was immediately swept away by the current and ended up sleeping with the fishes. Death by deluge? Maybe. But don't bet the farm on it. The inquest continues. Not everyone buys her hubby's "I couldn't do nothin, honest!'" story.

The biggest buzz in the press during August had to be the age-old question:
Chris Yaneff - maligned artist or thin-skinned cry-baby? Who is Chris, you ask? He's the artist who came up with "The Leaning M" logo that has been used to promote Muskoka tourism since the early Eighties. Seems the new kids on the block at Muskoka Tourism wanted to update the logo and placed an ad in a few industry publications showing the logo and a banner headline that read, "This logo sucks!" They wanted visibility. They got it. But the outcry from Yaneff's supporters who didn't like his work being slagged filled the op-ed pages of every paper in town. But amid all this pity for Chris you have to feel sorry for all those local businesses that have incorporated the logo into their signs and letterhead. Guess their corporate identity sucks, too.

Then there was the big question of fishers: bloodthirsty killers or just misunderstood and hungry (Note: we're talking fishers, the weasel-like mammal, not fishers as in fish-catching sportsmen or Fishers as in the folks next door). Apparently cottagers' cats are disappearing with alarming frequency and the blame has been put squarely on the shoulders of a burgeoning fisher population. The newly cat-free want every fisher in the township hunted down and killed. The local Friends of the Fishers Society want the newly cat-free to wake up and smell the foodchain. Personally, I'd like to see fishers devouring house cats in RealTime Video on a newly-installed travel-to-muskoka live webcam!

Enjoy coming to Muskoka? Well enjoy it while it lasts because the word is out. Muskoka is a hot commodity. And the weasels are circling to ensure their percentage of the kill. Leading the pack is former Livent hot-shot Garth Drabinsky who wants to stage a series of Pamela Wallin Cultural Weekends at the Muskoka Sands Resort. And no... you don't get to practice the Posturpedic Polka with Pam - you stay at the Sands and attend intimate discussions/performances at the Gravenhurst Opera House hosted by Ms Wallin. Explains Garth, "It (Muskoka) has been seriously under marketed over the years". If that statement doesn't give you the midnight willies of impending doom, how about the news that some group of internationally recognized resort developing vermin has decided that the bay in Gravenhurst would be an ideal spot for an Olde Muskoka theme park exhibit with the Segwun as it's crown jewel. Think Port Carling's "Steamboat Bay" only bigger, gawdier, and in Gravenhurst. If that prospect gives you chills, don't worry - there'll be plenty of places to buy crested sportswear...

Speaking of Gravenhurst, the Little Town That Could made The Globe and Mail recently when town workers cut down two 300-year-old white pines in Gull Lake Park on the grounds their roots were interfering with the surface of a nearby tennis court. I can't see what the fuss is about - people come from as far away as Ohio to play tennis on that court. Three hundred year old white pine trees are everywhere.

If you're wide and smoke you have one less thing to do these days - the Olde Muskoka Bingo Hall has gone out of business after being torpedoed by a theft/ fraud scandal. Seems one of the employees was skimming from the take (the theft part), then confessed to the boss and promised to make the money back by concocting a scheme to sell expired Nevada lottery tickets (the fraud part with a side of 'accessory'). But in an effort to prove that old dogs rarely learn new tricks Ms. Budding Entrepreneur skimmed the money from the lottery scam, too, leaving the joint further in the hole and left looking dumb and corrupt for going along with the scheme in the first place. Charges are pending.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle... unless you're from Gravenhurst and Bracebridge and trying to dispose of organic matter. The Green Box program, in effect since 1998, has been discontinued due to the decomposition of interest.

Look for Bruce Simmons' car to be sporting a bumper sticker that reads, "The MNR Sucks". And he'll be meaning that literally, too. You may recall that Bruce, President and CEO of the insatiable, resort-hungry mega-pig ClubLink, has been in the news for the past couple of years ever since the Ministry of Natural Resources found him guilty of violating the Public Lands Act by dumping sand on his Lake Joseph waterfront. He called it 'beach augmentation'. They called it 'destruction of habitat'. They said get rid of it. He said, "I run ClubLink! We own half of Muskoka. Get stuffed!" You'd think that would have been the end of the story since ClubLink has a history of getting what it wants around here but the Ministry hunkered down on this one and Bruce found out what it's like to be Joe Average Schmuck and get slapped around like a red-headed step-child. Early one morning a barge pulled up to the Simmons' dock and the ill-gotten sand was hoovered aboard. It was an ugly scene that no amount of screaming into a cell phone could stop. There's a part of me that feels sorry for the guy. But still... ya gotta love it!

But with the passing of summer hope springs eternal that the herd of skidly disenfranchised yutes that have laid claim to Memorial Park will retreat to somebody's rec room where they belong. The noise and broken beer bottles was tolerable. The scratched cars and petty vandalism was a bit much. But when somebody got a jackknife for his birthday and started peeling trees... it became obvious that some puppies had a tad too much rope.

READ ON (September Edition)

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