Muskoka, Ontario – Wander down to the new waterfront wharf in Gravenhurst after dusk and you’ll notice that street lights face down, not out or up. Both Gravenhurst and Huntsville have dark sky friendly street lighting, so the night sky, which is often washout out by city lights, dazzles with ancient constellations, shooting stars and the Milky Way. In 1999 the nearby Torrance Barrens Conservation Area was designated as the world’s first permanent Dark Sky Reserve (includes directions). The 4,700-acres of Crown land is bedrock and wetlands, with trees and bushes that are stunted in height. For star-gazers this means a spectacular 360 degree view of the night sky, unhampered by light pollution. Even an amateur’s telescope can see the rings of Saturn. Late in the summer and in the early fall it’s possible the northern lights (aurora borealis) could put in an appearance. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources info including map
The town of Gravenhurst (pop 10,000) is about a two hour drive north of Toronto. It sits on the shore of Lake Muskoka at the gateway to cottage country. Visitors can explore Bethune Memorial House, take a lake tour on the historic RMS Segwen (1887), enjoy live entertainment at the Gravenhurst Opera House, and browse through the new Grace & Speed Muskoka Boat & Heritage Museum.
Southwood Road, Torrance, Ontario (near Gravenhurst / Bala)