Yours to Discover: Tourism in Ontario through Time: Impact of Improved Transportation - Cottages, Camps and City Parks - Page Banner

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As remote wilderness areas became more easily accessible, more people sought escape from the hurried life of the cities by building waterfront cottages. Some were grand second homes, such as the Brackens Cottage designed for the Hon C. R Breckinbridge in Muskoka, while others were much more rustic.

North and south elevations of the "The Brackens" Cottage for Hon. C. R. Breckinbridge. Lake Rosseau, Muskoka, October 21, 1904
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North and south elevations of the "The Brackens" Cottage for Hon. C. R. Breckinbridge.
Lake Rosseau, Muskoka, October 21, 1904
Burke and Horwood
J.C.B and E.C. Horwood collection
Reference Code: C 11-1091(876a)
Archives of Ontario, I0026637

Photo: Cottage and boathouse by the water [Kingston area], [ca. 1905]
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Cottage and boathouse by the water
[Kingston area], [ca. 1905]
Marsden Kemp
Marsden Kemp fonds
Reference Code: C 130-2-0-0-37
Archives of Ontario, I0003905

Photo: Two men and two women on rocky outcrop at Charleston Lake, [ca. 1919]
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Two men and two women on rocky
outcrop at Charleston Lake, [ca. 1919]
Marsden Kemp
Marsden Kemp fonds
Reference Code: C 130-2-0-0-108
Archives of Ontario, I0013677

Photo: Lunch for two, [1923]
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Lunch for two. This chipmunk joins the Muskoka cottager who is enjoying her afternoon tea. Peanut butter, it believes, is as nice for chipmunks as it is for humans. [1923]
John Boyd
John Boyd fonds
Reference Code: C 7-3, 18323
Archives of Ontario, I0026610

Hiking, fishing, and canoeing were favourite pursuits.

Photo: Two women in a canoe, [1903]
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Two women in a canoe, [1903]
John Boyd
John Boyd fonds
Reference Code: C 7-2-0-2-81
Archives of Ontario, I0003812


Higher incomes and new labour laws providing people with increased leisure time meant that tourism was no longer just for the upper middle class. The emergence of the automobile industry in the 1920s improved access to cottage country, and a service industry of motor camps developed that made travel less expensive for people.

Photo: Camp office at tourist camp in Midland, [ca. 1915]
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Camp office at tourist camp in Midland, [ca. 1915]
Ministry of Education
Black and white print
Reference Code: RG 2-71, COM-14
Archives of Ontario, I0004113

Campers could pitch their tents and make use of the cookhouse with firewood and running water.

Photo: Toronto's first tourist motor camp at the Humber River, Toronto, 1922
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Toronto's first tourist motor camp at the
Humber River, Toronto, 1922
John Boyd
John Boyd fonds
Reference Code: C 7-3, 17644a
Archives of Ontario, I0003627

Photo: American tourists, Midland, [ca. 1930]
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American tourists, Midland, [ca. 1930]
Ministry of Education
Reference Code: RG 2-71, COM-24
Archives of Ontario, I0012391


The love of the outdoors captivated everyone. With transportation easier, parents sent their children to summer camp for the fresh air and wilderness adventures.

Photo: Summering at Camp Wabi Kon, Temagami, [between 1910 and 1930]
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Summering at Camp Wabi Kon, Temagami, [between 1910 and 1930]
Ministry of Education
Reference Code: RG 2-71, CNT-25
Archives of Ontario, I0012371

There were tourist and recreational opportunities close by as well. Cities created parks and pavilions. In Toronto, residents could take short excursions by carriage or tram to the Lake Shore and High Park.

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Motorcyclists and sidecars, High Park, Toronto, 1904
John Boyd
John Boyd fonds
Reference Code: C 7-3, 0798
Archives of Ontario, I0003305

Photo: Motorcyclists and sidecars, High Park, Toronto, 1904

Children, adults and families appreciated a respite from school and work as they relaxed by the water of one of the province's many beaches. Toronto’s Sunnyside Beach is shown below in the summer of 1924.

Photo: Sunnyside Beach, Toronto, July, 1924
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Sunnyside Beach, Toronto, July, 1924
Melvin O. Hammond
M. O. Hammond fonds
Reference Code: F 1075-13, H 851
Archives of Ontario, I0001319