The Evolution of Progress in Baysville
Article by Judy Vanclieaf / Photography Tomasz Szumski
Baysville is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. With a population of close to 400 full time residents, the last few decades have seen new developments and new businesses popping up all through the village.
In 2004, the village began to see a major development shift that would change the dynamics of the once sleepy little village. Just to the east of Baysville, on the property that was once Birch Glen Resort and Random House, a major development broke ground and in 2006, Baysville became home to an elaborate four-season fractional ownership vacation spot called The Landscapes. This vast complex covering 50 per cent of the original Birch Glen property, offers a sports centre complete with a spa, an outdoor saltwater pool, hot tub, splash pad and a beautiful sandy beach along the Muskoka River. It definitely has an ultra-modern WOW factor when you first drive up.
Landscapes is one of the few resort developments in Muskoka to be serviced by a water and sewer treatment plants which are located at the south-east end of the property. The seven acres of land that the treatment plants occupy was provided by Landscape developers.
The Baysville (Birch Glen) Water and Waste Treatment operations, located nearby each other, are operated by the District of Muskoka. They provide safe water and sewage treatment to approximately 348 people in the village of Baysville, as well as to the Landscapes fractional compound next door. There are 57 fire hydrants around the village and five more privately owned at Landscapes.
According to the District’s website on the Baysville water treatment plant, “The treatment facility is capable of effective operation during emergencies, maintenance shutdowns and power failures and was built with room for 20 years of moderate growth with up to 750 people.”
In 2006, the same year the water plant was up and running, ground was breaking back in Baysville for a new craft brewery. On the corner of Bay and Highway 117, across the street from what used to be a little white liquor store trailer, now sits Lake of Bays Brewing Company.
What started as an idea by then 23-year-old founder Darren Smith has grown to be one of the top 10 by volume breweries in the Ontario craft beer industry.
In a building with less than 4,000 square feet, which is small to craft brewery standards, is where it all happens. The building is also home to a tap room and retail store and a more recently added licensed patio and food hut.
LOB Brewing Co. has continued to grow over the last 11 years and now employs over 50 people making it Lake of Bays’ largest employer. It’s a definite boost to Baysville’s economy. In 2018 and 2020, respectively, they expanded by opening a restaurant and microbrewery in both Huntsville and Bracebridge.
It didn’t take long for the LCBO to keep up with Baysville’s fast growing community. The LCBO first opened their liquor store in Baysville in 1974 in a little white trailer that had been stabilized on blocks. Typically, LCBO would only be set up in a town that had a bank and a supporting population but Baysville had neither of these. In 1983, the government decided Baysville’s population wasn’t big enough to support a year-round liquor store. The convincing efforts of the township council and a successful rally of the citizens of Baysville put the little LCBO trailer back in operation.
Fast forward 30 years and in 2013, the LCBO finally committed to a much larger location when it opened a 5,000 square foot cutting edge LCBO complete with a large parking lot. It was in a perfect location at the crossroads for people heading up to the top end of Lake of Bays.
Baysville continues to be a growing community with dining opportunities like Cast Iron Restaurant, Fork in the Road, Miss Nelle’s and the newly resurrected The Pav, all offering totally different food experiences. Added to the mix are two food trucks, located at each end of the town.
The two general stores, and the gas station have always been a staple for Baysville where the Humble Pie Bakery, Yummies in a Jar and Murden’s Art Gallery have all been here going on 30 years. Relatively new to the Baysville landscape is the Season-to-Season Garden Market and the Antique Cellar, not to mention the ice cream stand always has a line up, and on occasion, one may find a young entrepreneur in front of their homes operating a lemonade stand. All this is normal growth for a small town like Baysville.
In the last 17 years, Baysville has seen a substantial development and economic boost resulting in making it a destination spot for tourists.
The once sleepy little town of Baysville, which still holds its small-town charm, now has some bigger town choices.