masthead image

Muskoka Mills


Town site photo

Muskoka Mills or the mystery mill.

Source: Public Archives

Muskoka Mills, located near the Georgian Bay, began as a sawmill operation during the mid 1850s. The mill was plagued with series of ongoing financial problems for many years.

By 1867, when the mill finally reopened after several shutdowns, there was a small company town site that contained about 20 company homes. As production began to increase, the town site was expanded to include additional dwellings, a two-storey schoolhouse, and a company store. A post office was opened in 1875. By the 1890s, the population peaked at around 250.

Unfortunately for Muskoka Mills, dark clouds were looming on the horizon. The mill had been dumping sawdust into the surrounding lakes and streams for years, which eventually decimated the spawning beds of the local fish population. Charges were finally laid in 1884, following complaints to the government.

In 1895 the company simply shut down the operation and walked away. By 1896 there was nothing left except debris and the old structures. Over the next few years, the town site was gradually consumed by spontaneous combustion, likely the result of sawdust that was generating heat while slowly decomposing within a packed, humid environment.

Today little remains at the overgrown site other than some rotten timber, a few cellar holes, and a great deal of sawdust. The site is not currently accessible by road.