A public domain image of Bracebridge in the late 1800s; from wikipedia.
Late 1800s (wikipedia)
Bracebridge is the little town in northern Ontario that's known for being the home of Santa's Village. Yes! Santa can be found just outside of the town limits - no need to go all the way to the North Pole.

But really, Bracebridge is so much more than that. It's main street is unique in many ways, even if it is small, but over the years, this town has grown from it's humble roots in 1875 to a permanent resident occupancy that runs between 15,000 and 16,000, and during summer and tourist months, can swell to the higher end of the scale. Being one of the most popular cottage destinations in all of Ontario has kept this town at the forefront of the Muskokas.

The dam, falls and power generation at Bracebridge.
Power Generation, Present Day "Lower Falls" (©J. Gracey Stinson)
Bracebridge's early development began with the proliferation of waterfalls in this area, and the resulting hydro generation that was attained by harnessing these waterfalls. The waterfalls are another of the popular destinations for visitors to the area, or for people just passing through town. It's surroundings are beautiful - rugged and natural, it has many outlying areas that are virtually untouched by development, and so they are a drawing card for hikers and backpackers. High Falls park just outside of town is a wonderful way to spend a little time in the great outdoors. There is access to view the main falls (High Falls), but if you hike a little way through the forested area, you'll find smaller falls scattered throughout the area. We've found early fall as the colours are beginning their change the most gorgeous time to visit this place. Pick a nice, warm sunny day and take a lunch with you, or ... nip into town and have your lunch at one of the eateries on the main street, and visit the Rotary Centennial Gardens. Make a day of your visit and the by the time you head home, you'll feel relaxed and peaceful.

The waterfront park as seen from the bottom of the Lower Falls in Bracebridge.
View of the waterfront park in Bracebridge, as seen from the bottom of Lower Falls (©J. Gracey Stinson)
The lower stepped falls at Wilson's Falls.
Lower Section at Wilson's Falls (©)
There's another area known for it's odd waterfalls that seem like low steps up the hillside - Wilson's Falls. There's a reservoir here if you take yourself up to the top of the hills. It's a bit of a hike, but not difficult to manage along the main trail. It isn't good for anyone with mobility issues, although one can view the lower area from the roadside.

For my husband and I, our visit here was interesting. There are several old pieces of equipment scattered along the trail that we stopped to ponder on, and then enjoyed a little respite at the top of the hill while gazing at the reservoir with the colourful trees reflected in in it's water.

We've got family in Bracebridge, and my sister-in-law married a fellow from Bracebridge, so we've spent our fair share of time here, with many good, fun memories of winters and summers at their old (very old) rural home, and with my brother-in-law's family. They're extended family I suppose, but we consider them family, none-the-less.

Waterfront Condos in Bracebridge.
Waterfront Condos, Bracebridge (©)
As Bracebridge grows, so do the offerings for housing types, with new waterfront condominiums ringing in the more modern touch, but I suspect that Bracebridge will always be that "little town in the Muskokas". Here, in surrounding hard-to-reach areas, several well known movie personalities own "cottages", but these are seriously not "cottages" as we normal folks think of cottages. Most of them are larger than most "big homes", and some are located in areas so secluded that you need to fly in and fly out - there are no roads into them. To some degree, that helps to maintain a certain amount of privacy so these "well-knowns" can relax away from prying eyes, and gawkers. After all, they are, underneath it all, ordinary folks when they aren't in front of a camera, and some just want a little peace and quiet while on their holidays.

The waterfront park in Bracebridge with it's boardwalk and grassy hills, and vintage style lighting.
Bracebridge Waterfront Park and Boardwalk (©J. Gracey Stinson)
It a way, the slightly more accessible locations still hold a bit of a risk ... people that travel by boat may easily recognize one of these folks sunbathing on their docks, so no, I wouldn't reveal any of these exact locations or names but a few are already widely known, and it wouldn't go amiss to say that Arnold has been seen in person in the Home Hardware in Bracebridge once or twice!

A view of the river as seen from the top of High Falls, Bracebridge.
River view from the top of High Falls (©J. Gracey Stinson)