I’m 73 years old, and an old phart. I grew up in small town of 16,000 and someone there had a dream, too!
In the 1960s while vacationing in Muskoka we visited a place known for its waterfall and a magical place on the 45th parallel. Too bad it didn’t last and work out, eh?
And as Ronald Reagan used to say: “Here we go again.” We’re going to rebrand Bracebridge.
Remember when Coke tried it? That sure as heck didn’t work. And yet, now we are asked to spend $10,000 to ascertain if there is a market for an arts and learning centre!
“Bracebridge: The Learning Capitol of Muskoka for the Arts, Cottage Country Cuisine and Muskoka Lifestyle.”
Heck, we even got an expert in to give us advice. I remember when an expert was a drip under pressure and a camel was a horse designed by a committee. Guess we got both in this deal.
Too bad we’re like the rest of the country and government where everyone is afraid to sit down and get a consensus between all the affected partners and concerned citizens.
Get an expert and when it all goes up in smoke there is no one to blame.
Sure, have a dream — but base it on reality. The learning capitol of Muskoka: will it rival the fame of all the art institutes in all the major centres of Canada? That’s a tough row to hoe.
Cottage country cuisine - are you going to teach them to throw something together over a fire or a cook stove, or in their million-dollar mansions?
Who are we more likely to attract? The people with a couple of million to spend on a patch of dirt and erect a humble abode or the ordinary folk looking for a great family vacation? You’ll also be competing with those folks that have spent lord knows how much at Algonquin Park promoting the outdoor lifestyle.
I’m not a townie as they call themselves in St. John’s on the Rock. I’m from Stratford where Tom Patterson had a dream.
Stratford was a railway town, home of the CNR motive power shops and considerable furniture manufacturers. Tom dreamed of a Shakespearean theatre tied to the city’s name and Avon River, like in England. It worked out pretty well. Now they have lots of tourist accommodations, fine restaurants, chef training schools and a world-renowned theatre.
What’s all this to do with Bracebridge? When I arrived to take up retirement at James Street Place, I made a grand entrance in a wheelchair van from Toronto. My driver, a recent arrival from Somalia, was going to take his directions from his GPS and come in Taylor Road.
I redirected him in and along and up the long winding road by the river. Ever since going through the rock cut at Severn Bridge he was overwhelmed by the beauty of the north, the rocks and the trees and now this beautiful river. Then the falls; we crossed the bridge and got stopped at the light. Well, we tied up traffic as he got out his camera, talking pictures of this pretty town that he just had to bring his family up to see.
Bricks and mortar, rocks and trees and water, and it’s halfway to the North Pole.
Remember the old advertising saw: You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.
So, someone over half a century ago had the prescience to establish Santa’s Village. Why in God’s name hasn’t the town got behind this enterprise and reaped a whirlwind of benefits from it? A cursory search on Google resulted in 72,200,000 hits for Christmas theme stores.
Looks like they’re popular. Christmas theme stores operate year-round in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Ever been to candle stores in Syracuse, NY? Christmas stores in Cape Cod? Why not special theme stores in the various plazas in Bracebridge?
Share the wealth, the world’s your oyster.
Get Santa working for you; a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.
That’s my two cent’s worth (which won’t be worth anything soon when the penny is gone).