Huntsville (Canada 2011 Census population 19,056) is the largest town in the Muskoka Region of Ontario, Canada. It is located 215 kilometres (134 mi) north of Toronto and 130 kilometres (81 mi) south of North Bay.
Huntsville is located in the hilly terrain of the Canadian Shield and is dotted with many lakes. Due to its natural beauty and abundant natural resources Huntsville is known as a major tourist destination drawing people from around the world. The Toronto Star ranked the town the #1 place to take a summer trip in 2011.
Huntsville also acts as a western gateway to Algonquin Provincial Park and was host to the 36th G8 summit in June 2010.
The area was first settled and founded in 1869 by George Hunt, who built a small agricultural centre there. In 1870, a post office was built and the area was named Huntsville after Hunt, who became the first postmaster. Huntsville's economic development was stimulated by the engineering of a navigable water route north from Port Sydney to Huntsville which opened in 1877. A railway route from Gravenhurst was built by the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway in 1885, which encouraged development and resulted in Huntsville becoming officially incorporated in 1886.
In the following year, the Muskoka Colonization Road reached this area. The central Ontario community became an important industrial area in the late 19th century and had several saw, planing and shingle mills, as well as a tannery. Today, the many lakes and hills in the area, combined with the town's proximity to both Algonquin Park and Toronto, make Huntsville and the Muskoka region a major tourist destination.
On October 8th, 2009 Huntsville lost one of its valued landmarks, the Empire Hotel. The first building erected at the site of the Empire Hotel was Jacob's Hotel, built around 1875 by James W. Jacobs. He later renamed it Dominion Hotel. Jacobs died in 1890 leaving behind his wife & eldest daughter, who both were named Emma. It is unknown which of the women married a McLaughlin man, but the McLaughlin family renovated the building after the horrible Main Street fire of 1894. A July 26, 1906 issue of the Huntsville Forester reported the sale of the hotel to Robert T. McNairney and D. Kehoe, who demolished it so as to expand it three stories. By 1922 the Dominion was owned by Bruce Simmons. Organized in 1933, the town's rotary club began to meet at the hotel, and would for many years. In 1945, the hotel was bought Louis Mascioli of Timmins. In 1947-1948, the Mascioli brothers renovated and expanded the facility, removing the porches, adding street level retail units and erecting the adjoining four-story red brick building. They also renamed it the Empire hotel. The first shops were a barbershop, a jewelry store and also a shoe store. Beilhartz shoes remained in business in the Empire Block until 1985. In the mid-80's, Jim Tumber, who acquired the building along with Gary Macklaim, obtained a grant from the Government of Ontario to help convert the now derelict building from a hotel into an apartment building. Dave Keay, the building's last owner, bought the Empire in 1999. Over the next 10 years he refurbished the basement bar and the 52 apartments, doing most of the work personally. The day the fire happened was the day that Keay had just finished the outside painting. The fire was believed to be caused by an electrical problem but the exact determination is still unclear. As of August, 2014, the lot is empty.
In June 2010, Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville was host to the 36th G8 summit.
There are three large lakes within the city boundary, Mary Lake, Lake Vernon, and Fairy Lake, as well as countless smaller lakes. Peninsula Lake, Skeleton Lake, and Lake of Bays lie directly outside the city. The Muskoka River winds its way through the cities downtown, while the Big East River empties into Lake Vernon. The picturesque Arrowhead Provincial Park is also located within city limits.
The Canadian Shield causes many scenic hills and sweeping landscapes throughout the region. The city centre is full of hills and steep roadways and while there are flat low-lying areas much of the city lies on uneven terrain.
Huntsville experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), with warm, humid summers and cold winters. The city experiences four distinct seasons, with considerable variance in day to day temperature, particularly during the colder weather season. Huntsville is located in the snowbelt region of Central Ontario, near the Great Lakes, so experiences snowy winters. The city has comfortable summer temperatures and occasional heatwaves accompanied by high humidity and active thunderstorm weather. Huntsville and the Muskoka region have the highest annual precipitation of any region in Ontario.
Huntsville is a magnet for and home to many acclaimed visual artists. Famed Canadian artists Tom Thomson and his successors, the Group of Seven painted here frequently. Huntsville boasts a Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery with over 40 outdoor murals celebrating the work of these Canadian heroes. Local community visual arts group The Huntsville Art Society hosts many annual shows, exhibits & skills-sharing workshops throughout the year.
Many summer camps for children such as Camp Wabanaki (on this site since 1971 and operated by the Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA - http://www.kwycamps.com/en/wabanaki ), Camp Tawingo, Camp Mini-Yo-We Muskoka Woods, Camp Nagiwa, Ontario Pioneer Camp and Olympia Sports Camp are within a few kilometers of Huntsville. Resorts such as Deerhurst Resort, where Shania Twain was discovered in 1988-1989, Hidden Valley Resort and Cedar Grove Lodge are located within the town's boundaries.
Huntsville supports a number of arts festivals, including Huntsville Festival of the Arts. The Huntsville Festival of the Arts recently provided a seed grant which enabled a book of poetry entitled Fringe Festival Poetry, Poems from the Poetry Cafe, edited by June Salmon and Marta Mirecki-de Roode. Other arts activities include the annual Muskoka Novel Marathon, started by Canadian authors Martin Avery and Mel Malton in 2001; the Film North - Huntsville International Film Festival which had its inaugural year in 2010, and most recently Nuit Blanche North, produced by the Huntsville Festival of the Arts and Edge of the Woods Theatre.
There are also many new arts organizations and associations. The Huntsville Art Society is a not-for-profit membership of local visual artists. They recently opened up a new art gallery called 'The Art Space'. Edge of the Woods Theatre presents artistic works for, with and by the community in Huntsville. They produce an annual traveling outdoor theatre event, as well as facilitating many different community and arts education projects with local seniors and youth.
The town has a new municipal centre and performing arts theatre, the Algonquin Theatre. The theatre provides space for local dance, music, and school activities. For profit venues are also scheduled, and most of the labour is provided by local volunteers.
Keith Bellows, Editor In Chief of National Geographic Traveler and Vice‐President of the National Geographic Society has included Huntsville and the Muskoka region in his recently released book "100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life."
Public education for students from kindergarten through high school is administered by the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, which oversees the town's single high school, Huntsville High School, and six elementary schools. Primary Catholic education at a single school is administered by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. There are several private schools that serve students through elementary and high school ages.
Post-secondary education consists of the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment, established with funding provided by the 2010 G8 Summit Legacy Fund as a partnership between the Town of Huntsville and the University of Waterloo. This facility is utilized by researchers and students of the University of Waterloo and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
The Huntsville District Memorial Hospital is a community teaching hospital affiliated with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
Due to the influx of tourists during the summer months and the abundance of seasonal residents, Huntsville's economy is primarily service based. There are also many people employed in construction trades. Although there is progress being made, Huntsville's unemployment rate has long been above the provincial average. This is largely due to the seasonal nature of its tourism industry.
Major employers in Huntsville include Deerhurst Resort, Panolam, KWH Pipe, Cansua, MBRP, Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, Trillium Lakelands District School Board, and Kimberly Clark.
Huntsville is accessible through a variety of roadways, including Highway 60, Highway 11 and Muskoka (Regional) Road 3. Buses to and from Toronto come into the city daily.
Passenger train service to the city from Toronto was provided daily by the Northlander at the Huntsville railway station, until Northlander discontinued train services in September 2012.
Huntsville Transit provides local bus service in the town.
Hockey and lacrosse are popular sports in Huntsville. The town is the hometown of sports icons such as Jack Bionda, for whom an ice surface in Huntsville's municipal arena (The Canada Summit Centre) is named. Don Lough Arena is the name of the Olympic ice surface in the new Canada Summit Centre.
Huntsville is home to one of the largest running Girls Hockey Associations Huntsville Girls Hockey Association. This association has been in existence since 1971/72, and is home to Huntsville Honeys Senior C Team, and the Huntsville Sting Bantam BB team.
The town has a lacrosse team, the Huntsville Hawks of the OLA Junior C Lacrosse League as well as a full complement of Minor Lacrosse, from Paperweight to Midget age players,Huntsville Hawks Lacrosse for all the information. The town also had an Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League team called the Huntsville Otters, which has had players move on to major junior A in the Ontario Hockey League. There has been a new Junior C Hockey team reintroduced to the town as of 2012 season.
Huntsville is one of three Canadian towns hosting Ironman 70.3 triathlons.
Huntsville also has a large soccer community, run by the Huntsville Soccer Club with over 1,000 participants in total. Over 800 kids aged 2–19 play with the rest being made up of adult players.
Huntsville is home to many prolific Golf courses and as such is a Golf destination for many Golf enthusiasts. Courses in or close to Huntsville include Deerhurst Highlands, The Mark O'Meara Course at Grandview, and Bigwin Island Golf Club