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Muskoka Roadshow

Lounging in a Muskoka chair gazing at the sunset, paddling slowly around the lake, reading in the hammock; these are the joys of a leisurely summer holiday. More and more vacationers are adding antiquing to their list of holiday pleasures-paw through some old magazines, check out a stack of dishes, buy a pine flat-to-the-wall when you see the sign antiques on your next drive around Muskoka.

There are three antique malls at consecutive exits off Highway 400: the Roadshow Antique Mall (65 Reive Blvd., 705-458-9898) at Exit 75, the 400 Antiques Mall in the 400 Market (2201 Industrial Park Rd., 705-436-6222) at Exit 85, and the Barrie Antique Mall (272 Innisfil St., 705-726-1663) at the Essa Road Exit. These three malls represent several hundred dealers and are great if you are looking for old dishes, books, kitchen collectibles, vintage furniture, or just want an outing.

Cookstown is a five-minute drive west of Highway 400 and has a couple of antique shops to look through. The Cookstown Antique Market (5108 Hwy. 27, 705-458-1275) could be considered the best-kept secret north of Toronto. The market is a 6,000-square-foot barn filled with collectibles and antiques. If you hanker after Coca Cola or movie memorabilia or vintage toys, head over to Rus in Urbe Haberdashery Antiques (9 Queen St., 705-458-1387).

Further north, find the Orillia Antique Mall (61 Mississaga St. E., 705-329-2118), which celebrated its 10th anniversary last July. You’ll come across a great selection of Royal Albert dishes as well as a booth filled with Muskoka memorabilia. Nearby, Cindy’s Antique Mall (35 Mississaga St. W., 705-325-4088) has a great collection of ephemera. Wainwright Antiques (138 Mississaga St. E., 705-326-6200) opened this spring and as you might expect from the owner of the near-by stereo store, Werner Rohmann, the shop has a fabulous collection of early music machines including an $850 Edison Diamond Disk.

Don’t miss Generations Antiques (2368 Hwy. 11 N., 705-684-9113), just south of Gravenhurst on Highway 11. Dave and Francie Smith have a shop full of country furniture including a pine pie safe perfect for the cottage kitchen.

From Gravenhurst there is a lovely circular route around Lake Muskoka past a surprising variety of antique shops. Driving out of Gravenhurst on Highway 169 you can’t miss Ditchburn House (811 Bay St., 705-687-2813). From the porch of this century home you can see the smokestack of the Ditchburn Boat Works across the bay. Regular customers from North Bay to Toronto drop in to visit with dealers Doug and Sharon Smith and maybe pick up a milk can, a piece of country furniture, or a vintage fishing rod. The truly fortunate might spy a twig chair marked Old Hickory Furniture or a bit of ephemera from the Royal Muskoka or Bigwin Inn.

From Ditchburn follow Highway 169 to Bala and watch for Crow Things Antiques (3125 Muskoka Rd., 705-762-1576). Also in Bala, Jasmine’s Arts & Antiques (1035 Bala Falls Rd., 705-762-2363)-housed in a former church-has a cosmopolitan mix of ’60s vintage and primitive pine charmingly displayed between the original church organ and the pews. The downstairs gallery showcases the work of local artists.

From Bala, continue on Highway 169 to Glen Orchard and then follow Highway 118 into Port Carling and look for Yellow House Antiques (Hwy. 118 W., 705-765-3315). The Yellow House, one of Port Carling’s oldest structures, houses six antique dealers. Following Highway 118 to Bracebridge will bring you around the top of the lake. Several antique shops have opened in Bracebridge within a five-minute walk of one another. Wendy Smid at Masters & Moderns (166 Manitoba St.; as of press time no phone number is available) has a good eye for the perfect mix of contemporary and antique. Decorative button pillows are displayed with vintage folding chairs rescued from the Chesley Theater near Paisley. Down the street at Wild Flower (3 Manitoba St., 705-646-8771), you can buy a seven-foot-long floating-top harvest table for $4,500 or wander into Worth Repeating (27 Manitoba St., 705-646-1246), a consignment shop with a constantly changing inventory. Trudy Niezen opened an antique shop so tiny she called it The Mouse Hole; years later she has a much larger shop with the original sign over the door (10 Manitoba St., 705-645-0177). Around the corner on Ontario Street, Granny Had One (9 Ontario St., 705-646-8977) opened last year and owner Grace Pervis collects and sells ’50s and ’60s kitchenalia including the ever-popular jadite and Fiesta Ware.

The antiques trail into Baysville along Highway 117 is definitely worth a day trip. Past & Present Antiques (RR 2 Hwy. 117, 705-645-2679) is a couple of kilometers east of Highway 11. Doug Patterson has an eye for what cottagers want and a long waiting list for the harvest tables he builds from old lumber.

In Baysville, Crosscut Antiques (18 Bridge St., 705-767-2500) closes for the winter while Ted Jones goes hunting for pine furniture, coal oil lamps and nostalgia to attract cottagers in search of the perfect piece during the summer season. Ask Jones to show you his collection of 40 pedal cars or one of the pine cupboards he just brought out after 20 years in storage.

End your day at Miss Nelle’s Antiques (2 Bay St., 705-767-2181). Built by one of Muskoka’s entrepreneurs, Captain Marsh, in 1873, the building became Langmaid’s General Store in the 1920s with an attached butcher shop. Nelle Connelly, still living in Baysville at 101 years old, was a teenage cottager in those days and worked summers in the shop. Miss Nelle bought the building in the late 1960s and ran it until she was 86. Mardi Barker and Don Corey fell in love with the building at first sight and have recently opened Miss Nelle’s Antiques. Langmaid’s Butcher Shop may have long since closed its doors, but Langmaid’s CafZ is scheduled to fill the vacancy when it opens in May.

Take an afternoon and drive up to Baysville, wander through the general store, now filled with antiques and collectibles, and have a coffee in Langmaid’s. I guarantee you will hear the echo of Muskoka summers past.

Susan Scott has been an antiques and collectibles freelance writer for 15 years and for the past several years has been creating antiques trails across Canada

  • Antique Shows Muskoka’s 19th Annual Summercade of Colour Antique Show June 28: 6-9 p.m. June 29: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 30: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Bala Sports Arena, Maple St., Bala Info: 705-484-1668
  • Bracebridge 19th Annual Antique Show & Sale July 4: 2-8 p.m. July 5: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. July 6: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Memorial Arena, Bracebridge Info: 705-764-0939
  • Flamboro Antique Show at Molson Park July 13: dawn-4 p.m. Molson Park, Barrie Info: 1-905-685-1225
  • 20th Annual Muskoka Antique Show July 19: 7-9 p.m. July 20: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 21: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Bala Sports Arena, Maple St., Bala Info: 1-800-667-0619
  • Muskoka Heritage Antique Show Aug. 2: 5-8 p.m. Aug. 3: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 4: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Centennial Arena, Park Dr., Huntsville Info: 1-519-536-9821
  • 31st Cavalcade of Colour Antique Show Oct. 5: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 6: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Bala Sports Arena, Maple St., Bala Info: 705-484-1668

—Susan Scott

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