How the Tradition Began. Part I
The history of The Muskoka Store is steeped in tradition. It was founded in 1979 by cottager and windsurfing fanatic Bruce Clark, thanks to a clever tip from his mother Barb. During a typical Friday drive from the city Barb spotted a small gourmet food shop for rent on Highway 11 and told Bruce it would be a perfect fixed location for his van based windsurfing sales business. Without hesitation, Bruce and Nancy took his mothers advice and moved the contents of his van into the shop. The Muskoka Store, originally named Muskoka Windsurfing, was born.
Since the gourmet food shop transformation in ’79, The Muskoka Store has evolved into a true cottage outfitter with over 45 000 square feet of items carefully chosen to enhance Muskoka traditions both historical and current. Products range from indoor and outdoor furnishings and accessories to clothing and sporting goods for all four seasons.
Walter Page, A Foundation of Muskoka History and Tradition
Although the store’s point of origin traces back to ’79, its’ foundation of Muskoka tradition reaches as far back as 1869. At about the time when Canada was sending Troops to fight in the Boer War, a 17 year old Walter Page, (Bruce’s great Grandfather) was arriving on Canadian shores from the British Village of Devon. From birth Page was drawn to outdoor adventure. Stories of a booming and scenic Canada during confederation flirted in the teenaged outdoorsmans’ mind. Canada had the adventure he craved so that’s where he went as early as he could possibly manage.
A stonemasons’ apprentice with a passion for building, Page earned a reputation as a prominent Toronto based builder in his early adult years. He is credited with major landmarks that include the University of Toronto’s Hart House and portions of Casa Loma. His hard work and success as a builder meant he could fully realize his passion for new, Canadian outdoor adventure. In 1899 he embarked on a canoe journey that led him up the Musquash River from Georgian Bay to Muskoka. The adventure quickly transformed into a full blown love affair when he discovered a 54 acre parcel in East Bay on Lake Muskoka. In similar impulse to his Great Grandsons windsurfing venture almost 80 years to the day later, Page snapped up the land without hesitation. He would build numerous cottages and outbuildings over the next several years on his property, known on maps and charts today as Page’s Point.
Cottage traditions of swimming, fishing, sailing, boating and summer fun would grow with Walter Page’s family through the next three generations. Today, more than ten cottage properties remain in the family on the original property at Page’s Point. This historical tradition has served Bruce well in his successful Muskoka Store venture as it is truly a business built by cottage tradition to better serve, preserve and embrace cottage tradition.
Join us back here soon, and learn how Bruce turned a 700 square foot windsurfing shop into a legendary 45 000 square foot cottage country destination, as the story unfolds in Part II of this three part series.