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World War I: Muskoka

November 2, 2017


World War I - marching to warSteamers in service during World War I were on reduced services and routes. The overnight train was cancelled and only eight steamers ran. Only three trains a week were scheduled to Muskoka Wharf. The Sagamo was laid up from 1917–1919.

The prosperity of the Laurier Era ended in 1912 and the tourist economy declined. The Navigation Co. was successful until 1912 but in 1913 a world depression set in and this, plus very bad weather caused a plunge in the tourism economy.

No dividends were paid out to shareholders of the Navigation Co. during the war. Prime Minister Robert Borden was recalled to Ottawa from the Royal Muskoka Hotel in Muskoka, just days before the outbreak of war.

Illegal alcohol was easy to obtain, so the effect of Prohibition on the resorts was reduced.

Carefree days at a comfortable summer resort or cruises on a sedate steamer were no longer in fashion during the War years.

Qualified engineers and good crew members were scarce.


Income tax was imposed in 1917 to pay for the War effort. Prohibition was implemented in 1916 until 1927. Bars, clubs, and stores could not sell liquor. Ontario wine was exempted.

Daylight Savings Time was implemented to save electricity. The great influenza pandemic, the Spanish Flu, of 1918 affected 30 to 100 million people worldwide. 50,000 Canadians died.

Half a million Canadian soldiers some with their families were in Britain during the War.

It was not unusual for people to run into old acquaintances in London.

Groups such as the IODE, the Red Cross, and the Patriotic Fund prepared Care Packages for the boys at the Front. The women rolled bandages, knitted socks, and raised funds for the War effort.

Canadian soldiers in England were welcomed at Maple Leaf Clubs where in a homey atmosphere they could have a good meal, a hot bath, a clean bed at a small cost. Contributions from Canada financed the Maple Leaf Clubs.

Sylvia Purdon, Archives Volunteer