HUNTSVILLE - Muskoka Heritage Place has a brand new exhibit that officially opened on National Parks Day.
Muskoka Heritage Place staff Ron Gostlin and Sara White (from left), Friends of Muskoka Pioneer Village president Tricia Markle, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement and Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty put a twist on the traditional ribbon cutting with a ceremonial rope chopping to signal the opening of the new exhibit at the heritage village.
Photo by Alison Brownlee
Ron Gostlin, manager of Muskoka Heritage Place, welcomed the roughly 20 people who attended the opening of Parks 101: A celebration of federal, provincial and municipal parks on Saturday, July 21, in the heritage village’s museum.
He explained that the 100-year anniversary of Canada’s national parks system was last year, as the museum was in the throes of another exhibit.
“We were unable to celebrate, in the way we wanted, this important milestone,” Gostlin said of the anniversary.
But, he said, when it was time to swap exhibits, Huntsville manager of arts, culture and heritage Teri Souter came up with a tongue-in-cheek concept called Parks 101. It would celebrate the 101st anniversary of the parks system and provide some useful and quirky information about parks systems within the region and across the country.
Gostlin said all three parks systems are important in Muskoka. And he thanked the Friends of Muskoka Pioneer Village for funding the exhibit.
“Without them it would not have moved forward,” said Gostlin.
The friends received a hearty round of applause.
Tony Clement, member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka, said he was excited to dovetail the opening of the exhibit with a national day of celebration.
Clement explained that Canada was the first country in the world to have a dedicated national parks strategy and system.
“And we’re very proud of that,” he said.
Someone in the audience let out a boisterous cheer at Clement’s remark, which led to kind-hearted laughter from others.
Clement noted that the federal government continues to expand the national parks system, giving Labrador and the Northwest Territories as examples of areas that have seen new parks established.
“This means that the parks system will be alive and well to shape future generations,” he said. “It’s an outstanding parks system and it’s something Canadians can be proud of.”
He said he wanted to encourage an exhibit in the area that would tell the story of a part of Canada’s national framework.
“Our park system is part of the fibre of being Canadian,” he said.
Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty said the town had been working toward building a stronger relationship with the federal and provincial parks systems.
“We’re one of the few communities that has a provincial park within our borders, at Arrowhead (Provincial Park) — a great provincial park,” said Doughty. “And we are a gateway to Algonquin Park.”
He noted that more than one million visitors pass through Algonquin Park’s west gate via the Highway 60 corridor, and those visitors have a significant impact on Huntsville.
He said the town is working closely with researchers in Algonquin Park as well as others in an effort to encourage collaboration with the research facility at Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment in Huntsville.
Muskoka Heritage Place is located at 88 Brunel Rd. in Huntsville.