Celebrate Bala 150! • Muskoka Lakes, Ontario 2019-01-18T16:41:50+00:00

Bala is celebrating its 150th birthday with events all through 2018

Hundreds of people came to our big birthday celebration on Saturday, July 21 and joined in a massive group photo. Can you see yourself in it? Photo is below.  And we’re still gathering Bala memories. TIME CAPSULE: Drop your 2018 memento in to the Chamber office in Bala to add to our time capsule to be opened in 25 years’ time. We’ll be taking items until July 2019.

Also, please send us your Bala memories.

This year we celebrate the founding of our great community!

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Share a Bala story from your own experience, or something passed down from a previous generation!

Send in your “I remember when” or thoughts about why you love Bala, and we’ll post it online for our community to enjoy.

Your Bala Stories

Story from Mary Carr: Remembering Carr’s Ice-Cream Parlour

My recollections of Bala date back to my very early childhood when during summer vacations my Father (Stan Carr) and Mother (Sally) visited my Grandparents, William and Katherine (nee Burgess) Carr at their residence and place of business, Carr’s Ice-Cream Parlour overlooking Bala Falls. The top floor housed a dance pavilion that preceded Dunn’s, but I was more interested in the array of soda fountain pumps and the wonderful selection of ice-cream hidden beneath the marble counter. I can still recall the wonderful scent of pine that wafting through my bedroom window! Unfortunately, this piece of Bala history had to make way for a new bridge.

Dad later assumed the management of Carr’s Cosy Cabins where we stayed first in cabin number eight and where I was intrigued by the ice-box that served as a refrigerator. A huge block of ice was replenished each week by the “ice man” on his wagon. These housekeeping cabins eventually increased to thirteen, but have since been demolished. Highlights during these summers included almost daily visits to Don’s Bakery and to the Burgess General Store, as well as daily dips in the Moon River across the road – all making for idyllic vacations!

Story from Vern Rice: Bala, the nicest spot in Muskoka

I have many good memories of Bala. Although I wasn’t around when my father canoed the Moon, I saw many of his black and white photos and heard many stories of the Moon River.
When I was 16 I worked on the dock at Port Sandfield and lived in Port Carling for the summer. My friend and I hitchhiked to Bala many times on the weekends.
After I got married my wife and I spent several Thanksgiving weekends in resorts in the Minett area with friends. We always came back to Toronto through Bala to admire the beauty. We decided to buy a vacation home in Muskoka and saw several places. Our agent took us to 1021 River St., Bala, an old house on the river. I wanted a cottage on the lake but my wife wanted that house! Thanks goodness she won out. We bought it in April 1988 and used it as a family vacation home through the years until July 1999 when we moved there permanently. The family thought it was great, especially after we bought a pontoon (party) boat and plyed the river.
My wife and I got involved in the community by working with the Cranberry Festival, Holy Walk, Curling Club, Christmas in July, Boy Scouts and other activities. They were very enjoyable times. I came out of retirement for a year and got involved in the construction of the Gravenhurst Library and renovations to the Bell building in Bracebridge. It was great living and playing in the same area we loved. Unfortunately times changed and in the spring of 2004 we sold (much to the displeasure of the family) and moved to Port Perry.
At least once a year we take a day trip to Bala to refresh our memories and visit my sister who has a cottage across the river. The nicest spot in Muskoka.

Jeanne and Vern Rice.

Jaspen Park Beach, Bala

Story from Sue Oosterhuis: Bala is truly a special place

Although I am not a cottage owner, our family has been coming up to Bala for almost 30 years staying at the lovely spot at Trafalgar Bay Cottages.

We have made many friends there and many of our fellow cottages have been coming just as long. I love this piece of heaven and have instilled this love of nature and beautiful surroundings in our children who are now grown and have their own families. They now rent their own cottages and we all continue to enjoy our time together.

One of my daughters loves it so much she got married at the public beach and had her reception at the Bala Bay Inn. Bala is truly a special place and I treasure the memories we have made here and look forward to many more.

Happy Anniversary Bala!

Sue & Larry Oosterhuis

Story from Linda Jackson-Hutton about her more than 100-year-old Bala home

Built in 1917, our cottage has been here for our family during two World Wars, the Depression and the changing of generations. Its shoreline has changed little, its roof line is the same, upstairs is still vintage but the plumbing has changed.  Originally, the first cottage in Bala with a concrete septic tank (brought up by train) and probably the first indoor bathtub, the cottage now boasts of having ‘town’ water, a sewer line and hot and cold water in the kitchen and bathroom. This, in its self, is cause for celebration.

The 100th Anniversary Party has to say it all.  The antique and vintage bathing costumes are coming out of storage and will be displayed on mannequins – unless family members can be
coerced into wearing them for an impromptu fashion show.  The gramophone will be carried down to the porch and Uncle Mal’s records, mainly Fox Trots, will be dusted off and played. This Grafonola, advertised to be portable, was taken in the rowboat with a stash of 78’s and a pail of lemonade while uncles and aunts-to-be drifted around Bala Bay sharing their kind of music with everyone along the shore.  Remember not to crank the gramophone too tightly!  Decorations will be red, white and blue bunting strung along the wide front porch interspersed with Union jacks that were flown with pride and patriotism during the Great War.

Food will range from the early days when Taffy Pulls were evening entertainment, to the present day.  Old family cookbooks will be searched for well thumbed and loved recipes.  Perhaps food from each decade will be highlighted for a grand Pot Luck.  Johnny Cake made from Great Aunt Molly’s recipe served with bacon and maple syrup. (I’ve now forgiven Aunt Molly for snatching and eating the bacon on my plate when I was a youngster. “I was saving the best to the last!” I sobbed.)

Ice Cream came in ‘bricks’ when I was a child and our tiny Frigidaire freezer could barely keep it frozen. Always bought just before dinner was served, Daddy sliced the brick in 5 so that each of us had a portion the same size.  Note to self: Must put my thinking cap on for molding ice cream into a nostalgic brick.  Did you know that when you say you need to get something out of the Fridge, that you are really saying the Fridgidaire? All other appliances are refrigerators.

And scone sandwiches.  Don’s Bakery opened in 1947 and I’ve had a lifetime of summer lunches made with scones.  We were allowed to eat in our bathing suits, still damp from a morning of swimming.  Bologna tasted especially exquisite on a scone.  It was Schneider’s and the bologna slab had been cut to size by the Butcher at Burgess’s. After lunch the deal was we had to wait a whole hour, not 58 minutes, before we resumed swimming. Would the latest generation be offended if I served mere bologna at our party?

All the food will set up in the dining room, buffet style.  This is the same dining room that at supper time in the 1950’s , the Segwun passed blowing its horn as it approached the channel between the two islands. The rule was that we children could leave the table in a mad scramble to get down to the dock to wave to the Captain and passengers as they steamed by.  We didn’t even ask to be excused.  Mommy had done the same thing when she was a little girl.

The planning of this party has evoked so many memories.  I can’t wait to share them with everyone at the 100th Anniversary Party of the Cottage.

Linda Jackson-Hutton

Story courtesy of Unique Muskoka