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October, 2000

This Week In Muskoka - October Edition

We're Number One! Talk about being on the leading edge of technology - it was recently announced that Bracebridge has been chosen for the site of Pizza Pizza's first drive-thru outlet! There must have been some high-level political wrangling for us to land this baby! Since I have never seen a line up at Pizza Pizza and there is always plenty of parking within 30 feet of the door, I can only assume the drive-thru is for people who find it annoying to have to get out of their cars and waddle in to clog another artery.

You may recall from last month that the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce was in hot water after contracting out the printing of its special millennium publication to a firm in Illinois. That project has now gone the way of interest in 'the new millennium' - straight down the tubes.

That said, this year's theme for the Bracebridge Santa Claus Parade is 'A Millennium Christmas'. The mind reels.

You may also recall that last month the humorless Bracebridge O.P.P. were hot on the trail of a local cabal of garden gnome-nappers. Well this month we can report that those with poor taste need no longer fear the night - the culprits have been caught and criminal records will abound. You know you're in 'northern Ontario'TM when what any other community would call a fraternity prank is billed as a crime wave. Anyone missing a dwarf, gnome, jockey or other small Disney-esque animal is asked to call 789-5551 to retrieve their property. Please!

You know you're in 'northern Ontario'TM when you read that someone sliced themselves up pretty good breaking into the back window of a coin laundry - that's open 24 hours! I guess walking in the front door takes all the fun out of it. Thieves stole all the money from the machines and all the toilet paper from the utility closet. Police are looking for a suspect with new Air Jordan's and an unusually clean butt.

When traveling in this neck of the woods, please remember that this is Bracebridge, not Mayberry. You can't just leave '98 Lincoln Navigators idling outside the hospital and expect them to be there when you get back. It's best not to leave garbage cans or dumpsters unattended for too long, either. Spontaneous combustion is more common these days. That or someone got ahold of dad's Zippo...

Speaking of delinquents, if you're cruising through Bracebridge some afternoon and see what looks like a herd of teenagers grazing in a parking lot - fear not. Bomb scares have now been declared an intramural sport at B.M.L.S.S.

While we're on the subject of cruising through town, please keep in mind that as Bracebridge continues to be the impaired driving capital of the north, drive defensively or drive a Hummer.

Bala's Cranberry Festival was its usual Madhouse in Plaid. This year even more so. I haven't fought crowds like that in Bala since The Stampeders played the Kee in '71 with Foot In Cold Water. But I can't say that the growth of the festival is all for the better. It has now mushroomed to a vendor-frenzy much like every other festival on the summer circuit. Topping the list of bizarro displays was the O.P.P.'s Rollover Simulator. I'm not sure how transforming a car accident into an amusement park ride is informative but I can guarantee that half the kids who took that thing are now looking forward to dad rollin' the Exploder! Enough of this Conklin Shows crap, guys - if you REALLY want kids to see what it's like to go wheels up you should get that mini car spinning on its axis and then toss in a bucket of broken glass and scrap car parts. Now THAT's informative - keep you mouth closed, Bobby!

You know you're in 'northern Ontario'TM when your barber shop is closed on a Thursday because it's Opening Day. I'm camo-deprived so I'm not sure if it was a bad day to be a duck, a deer or a moose but I've seen enough guys in the woods drinkin' Export on the tailgate of an F150 to tell you it's time to start wearing brilliant orange Kevlar coveralls on that evening walk. The woods is full of cuckoos...

To build or not to build. Drenth's YIG (Your Independent Grocer) beside Canadian Tire has been given the go-ahead to build a whumpin' big superstore behind Swiss Chalet (about 100 yards away from its present location). Meanwhile the folks at Home Depot face a none-too civil suit over their proposed store at the corner of Taylor Road and Hwy 11. It's a pine forest now but if Home Depot has their way it'll be paved and collecting SUVs by next fall.

The Home Depot question has made for much gnashing of teeth in these here parts. First the store was proposed. Then a group calling itself the My Muskoka Committee formed to fight the development. Sure they had some obvious conflicts of interest (it was no coincidence that these guys owned the local hardware stores, lumber yards, etc.) but they wrapped themselves in the banner of local pride, family values, and mom's apple pie and what kind of Nazi bastard is going to disagree with that kind of platform? But when that group started getting a lot of press, a group formed to counter its voice calling itself something like We Are Muskoka 2 (sorry, I forget their full name but I do recall it had an all-too-trendy numeral in it). Like the American Civil War, families have been split, brother has been turned against brother - it would be funny if it weren't so mean-spirited. Now a small but vocal band of locals has vowed to boycott all of the merchants in the We Are Muskoka kollectiv. Pretty soon there'll be a wall erected down the middle of Manitoba Street and we'll have to decide which side of it we want to shop on. One can only hope the prospect of cheap nails on Sunday is worth all this.

While we're talking building, get ready for Bracebridge's next mega resort monstrosity - The Royal Muskoka! When you own eight hundred acres of land you can call yourself Royal. The Royal Muskoka is going to be, naturally, a resort/ conference centre/ golf course. We need more golf courses like Atlantis needs rain but hey - if there's one thing that makes local councils up here hot & sweaty it's a developer spending truckloads of cash. Granted it may turn out in the end that it wasn't really their cash to begin with and... well.. maybe a bunch of local contractors will be left holding the bag as unsecured creditors in a half-finished project gone belly-up but hey - that's all armchair quarterbacking stuff. The town wants the developers to share the cost of some bypass roads because the development is going to cause traffic Hell in the already congested Wellington Street corridor. The developers' Toronto-based lawyer says we hodads oughta just get used to gridlock - after all, he has to put up with the Don Valley Parking Lot on a daily basis. The forward-thinking folks at Royal Muskoka hired this putz to represent them?? God help us all.

The residents of Port Carling put the Amish to shame this month as they got together over a five day period and built an adventure playground. I'm not sure what an 'adventure' playground is though... are we talking adventure as in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" or adventure as in "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane"? It would make a difference to my attendance.

Indoor walking season for the seniors has kicked off. Last year they were doing laps around Canadian Tire. This year they're at A&P. So I guess that means fewer seniors will end up with torque wrenches that were a bargain they couldn't resist at 50% off and more with expanding waistlines and skyrocketing cholesterol. Hey, if I had to walk past a display of Little Debbie goodies every day I'd be hard to distinguish from an elephant seal. If you want to take part in it, watch it for the crashes, or avoid it (your call) the walk takes place Monday to Friday from 8:30 - 10:30.

When they're not tearing up the aisles at A&P, Bracebridge's seniors used to be big fans of CHAY 93.1 FM and its Big Band/ Solid Gold format. But CHAY recently switched over and became a northern relay for Burlington's Energy 108. Guess how many of these folks are up for some techno/dance club music? Are they strong enough? They've probably (wisely) tuned out. But if you're in A&P and hear a senior humming The Thong Song you'll know why.

Attention all joiners! The Kiwanis Club is coming to Bracebridge. According to Leslie Gagne, club development manager for Kiwanis International, the club aims to make communities a better place by providing what's needed to the community. So I guess they'll be taking over zoning.

Speaking of joining, Habitat for Humanity had an organizing meeting in town recently. I didn't realize the meeting was going to be as revival-ish as it was. I hadn't set out to save my soul - I just wanted to pitch in and help build a house for someone. Jesus wheezing aside, I still think it would be interesting to take part in a project.

As an aside to local news, what is it with Wal-Mart? Is it just me or do their new ads on TV actually ridicule their own shoppers? In one ad a guys says, with a straight face, "I just like being able to get underwear and spark plugs at the same store - that's a great thing to me!" If that isn't the ultimate comment on American mall culture I don't know what is. In another ad a woman exclaims that she has purchased thousands of Transformers and assorted 'collectible' toys at Wal-Mart - all of which are going to be put away and presented to her children when they are older and can appreciate them (this gal is apparently able to predict her children's preferences ten years into the future). Why is she spending all this money on her kids? Because, in her words, "I just want to be able to give something back to them..." BACK to them? Tell me they're not claiming this woman is sane...

READ ON (November Edition)

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