Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Five Things Literary: Muskoka, with Lizann Flatt

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As part of our mapping of literary Ontario, we're highlighting five things about literary life in communities throughout the province. What do our cities, towns and villages have to offer writers, readers and the curious? Follow Five Things Literary to find out.

Today's feature on literary life in Muskoka was contributed by Lizann Flatt, whose book Counting on Fall, the first in a new Math in Nature children's series, has just been published with OwlKids Books. Lizann will be in the Children's Activity Tent at Toronto's Word on the Street Festival on Sunday, September 23rd. Find out more at the WOTS website.


Five Things Literary: Muskoka

Muskoka is officially made up of the towns of Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville along with three townships: the Township of Muskoka Lakes, Township of Lake of Bays and the Township of Georgian Bay. With its many lakes, iconic granite rock outcroppings and windswept pine trees, this region is known as cottage country. It has a long history as a vacation destination. Not surprisingly, it’s also a great place for writers and readers. Here’s why...

  1. It’s home to the Muskoka Novel Marathon. This annual July event brings writers from many parts of the province together to do nothing but write for three days while raising money for YMCA Literacy Services. In 2012 the event raised about $15,000 for adult literacy programs in Muskoka. This is an amazing event for writers to immerse themselves in their writing in a fun and supportive atmosphere of peers. You don’t even need to cook or do dishes! And writers are helping an important cause while working on their own projects. It’s a win-win.

  3. And all year long there are quite a few writing groups that meet to support and help each other write. The Blank Page Writer’s Group is in Gravenhurst, Word Swap takes place in Huntsville, and many groups meet at local libraries. There’s also the online Yahoo group listserv Muskoka Ink (or M’Ink) for writers to swap writing event news wherever they’re located in the district. Many local writers have published novels, books on local history or nature, or write for the several area regular newspapers, summer papers and magazines such as Muskoka Magazine or Muskoka Life.

  5. Book borrowing and buying are a high priority here. This region is full of libraries. Not only are there libraries in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge (an operating Carnegie Library), Huntsville, Port Carling, Bala, Baysville, Dwight, Honey Harbour, MacTier and Port Severn, there’s even a Little Free Library on Paint Lake in Lake of Bays near Dorset. And for book buyers there are used bookstores such as the Owl Pen in Bracebridge and So Many Books So Little Time in Huntsville, and new books for sale at the Gravenhurst Bookstore as well as Coles in the Huntsville Place Mall, to name a few. Many smaller town stores have book displays.

  7. With all this you’d be right if you think that Muskoka is a haven for readers. It must be because when you go on a vacation you want to read, right? In addition to all the above reading choices, two big literary events bring readers together with authors to celebrate reading. Muskoka Chautauqua is a revival of the original 1900s cultural conference in Muskoka, and part of the Chautauqua events in America. Their annual reading list highlights excellent Canadian literature. (Check out their Literary Landmark here.) Northwords Muskoka held at the end of September is a weekend literary festival that brings to Huntsville some of the top authors of today for readings, workshops, and school visits.

  9. When modern authors come to Muskoka they’re following in the footsteps of some famous authors from the past who also found their way here for rest or inspiration. Bigwin Inn on Lake of Bays is known for hosting Ernest Hemingway and H.G. Wells. And it’s said that Stephen Spielberg has visited Muskoka. While he’s perhaps not an author, isn’t it fun to think of him reading the book that will become his next movie adaptation right here in Muskoka?


Lizann Flatt has written many information books for children, including The Nature Treasury and Let’s Go!. A former editor of chickaDEE Magazine, her children’s writing has won many honors, including a Distinguished Achievement Award from The Association of Educational Publishers. She lives in Muskoka, Ontario. Visit her at her website,

For more information about Counting on Fall please visit the OwlKids Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Would you like to contribute five things about literary life in your community? Send an email with your ideas to [email protected].

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