2018 marks the 150th year of Bala’s settlement! Happy 150th Birthday, Bala!
Bala is the only official town in Muskoka Lakes and is located on the western coast of Lake Muskoka where it tumbles into the majestic Moon River.
It is marked by many bare outcroppings of the Canadian Shield as well as the famous Bala Falls. Bala was settled by Thomas Burgess in 1868, who opened a sawmill and general store to serve the settlers scattered among the area. Burgess named it after the town of Bala, in the Bala Lake area of Wales. Bala’s first post office opened in 1872, with Burgess as postmaster. Unsuitable for farming given its rocky Canadian Shield geography, Bala’s economy began to decline with a downturn in the logging industry. However, with the expansion of the railway bringing rail service to the area in 1907, Bala was reinvigorated as a tourist destination, and a popular location for summer resorts and cottages. The town incorporated in 1914, and A.M. Burgess, son of Thomas Burgess, became the first mayor of Bala, which was, at the time, the smallest incorporated town in Canada. It remained so until it amalgamated with the Muskoka Lakes Township in 1971.
In 1917 the Burgess family helped establish a hydroelectric facility on the site of Thomas’s original sawmill. This generating station supplied power for much of the Medora and Wood Townships.
Known to many as home of the Bala Cranberry Festival (always the weekend after Thanksgiving!), The Kee to Bala, and Don’s Bakery, Bala is a vibrant commercial centre. It has a large selection of unique shops and is home to a weekly farmer’s market in the summer season.
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