My wife and I came to the area quite by accident almost 20 years ago and it all started with a Valentine’s weekend at Grandview Resort. During the weekend we started talking about the possibility of renting a cottage for a week during the coming summer. So that Saturday afternoon while driving through Town we stopped at a local real estate office to see what they had to offer. Not satisfied with just looking at listings, my wife insisted that a sales representative show us where the few cottages that we were interested in were located. One caught her fancy and before I knew what was happening she made an offer to lease that cottage for 6 months. Of course the agent said the amount offered was much too low, but not to be daunted “the wife” wrote a cheque for the whole amount and presented to the agent and requested that an offer be put to the owner that weekend. We heard nothing until Monday. On Monday the agent called with a counter offer, same money, but for 5 months. All agreed, and that June first we took possession.

The cottage was a little old and a little musty, but it sat on the shores of Peninsula Lake, had great water for boating, swimming and fishing. Immediately we joined the ranks of the happy commuters leaving Toronto on a Friday and streaming back to Toronto every Sunday evening bumper to bumper down the 400.

Cottage life was wonderful and really felt special to be able to call such a beautiful area home. Cottage life has a few ups and downs, but none were daunting. Although, we did find out that, as soon it was known that we had a cottage in Muskoka we seemed to have more friends than I remembered and they all wanted to spend time with us. It was with the help of these friends that we soon started to find out about the local community; at first it was the liquor store, the beer store, the food stores and the hardware stores for fishing supplies. Our guests were very happy to tell us where these stores were and considerate enough not to take up car space when we went on buying expeditions.

I personally liked going to town, but my wife could never understand why it took four hours when we were only 15 minutes away. That four hours was taken up with meeting some of the nicest people that anyone would like to meet.

Huntsville is a small but dynamic town nearing a population of 20,000. The population is made up of local folks with multi generational backgrounds as well as new people and when I say new I mean people that moved here over the past 20 years to find a quieter, gentler life than they faced in the city. However, if they miss the city it is only a 2½-hour drive away. What does Huntsville have to offer? That’s easy, it can offer everything. Huntsville has many restaurants that will suit the most discriminating taste. If you’re looking for a varied menu, a complete wine list and superior service you could go to “Tall Trees.” If you were looking for a local dining experience you could go to “The Family Restaurant and Pizzeria.” This restaurant is almost a throw back to another era, tables and booths, tiled floors and arborite tabletops. Here you will find simple, basic, honest home cooking served to you with a smile by an amazingly personable wait staff from a kitchen that is second to none. Do you or your kids need the fast food chains – they are here. Do you need Wal-Mart, Home Depot, The Brick and Winners – here also. How about Home Hardware, Metro, the Loblaw’s independent chain, Freshco – yes! Do you miss your favourite auto dealer, never fear, they are all here too. In fact, it is quite difficult not to find representatives of all the major suppliers in the community.

During the writing of this piece I mentioned that it could sometime take up to four hours to do any business in town. That time is often taken up by friendly people that want to know how you are, how’s business, have you heard etc., etc. These people have become your new family and for a city person this level of openness can be daunting if not intimidating. But quickly it becomes obvious that people in the community really do care. Another highlight, and this might be any small community, it is possible to walk down Main Street and be greeted on a first name basis by the Mayor. Now tell me, how often does that happen in a large city?

Next Update: Getting Involved With The Community