Sawdust City – A Haven for Brewing and Artistic Creativity
The town of Gravenhurst has gone by many names and nicknames over the years. It is commonly known as the “Gateway to Muskoka,” as it is the first town visited in the area as you head north from Toronto. It was also once called Sawdust City, because in the mid-late 1800s, lumber was big business in these parts.
More than a dozen mills operated here, and as much as 30 million feet of lumber a year was sent off to locations further south. Indeed, Sawdust City was a thriving place! (Today I believe only one mill remains.)
At the Sawdust City Brewing Co., they have TV screens up showing images from those days of yore, when life was a bit tougher in this beautiful part of Canada. The bar in the Saloon at the brewery is made from a massive pine tree and they have little touches here and there to connect to the past. It’s a massive, impressive building they’re in – with open views to the brewing operations and a huge retail shop selling everything from cans and coasters to t-shirts and glassware.
While paying homage to the history of the town, Sawdust City is also tapping into the current vibe of Gravenhurst, which has a very thriving creative arts community. It seems that creative mindset has brushed off on the brewers at Sawdust City, as they have a constantly changing tap list of oddball, exciting beers that they call “fun offs”.
When I visited they had an alt beer brewed with salt and caramelized sugar – a sort of Alt Gose beer, and it was great. They also had a coconut lime beer and some other interesting stuff. With up to a dozen beers on tap here, you’re going to need to stick to samplers or plan to visit Sawdust multiple times. This place is fun and can get packed at night, as it is in the heart of downtown.
Do yourself a favour and pay them a visit. They have plans to add a full restaurant and plenty of other developments too, so it’s only going to get better.
As for that creativity and history that can be found all around town, there are plenty of arts shops, galleries and museums to be explored. Gravenhurst is a bustling little town with a much more creative side to it today than 150 years ago. If you’re curious to see what local artists are up to, then Arts at the Albion is the spot to go. A relatively new art co-op, located in the historic Albion Hotel, the group showcases works by dozens of local artists. Everything from oil paintings to weaving to metalsmithing can be experienced here.
While the Arts at the Albion may mostly be about our modern era, head over to Muskoka Wharf and you’ll quickly be thrown back in time at the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre, Steamship Heritage Building and RMS Segwun. There is so much boating history here that you’ll spend hours learning about steamships in Muskoka – amazingly the RMS Segwun is the oldest operating steamship in all of North America, having been built more than 125 years ago!
If you’re considering a trip to Muskoka and wondering where to base yourself, then this is the town to call home. A great wharf, plenty of arts and history, plus the most creative beers in cottage country make for a winning combination.
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About Red Hunt
Red Hunt is a veteran travel writer who has written over 600 articles and newsletters to date about his adventures all over the world. Though he enjoys discovering lesser-known spots across the globe, he also enjoys trips into Ontario’s great outdoors. A big fan of craft beer, Red is known to sample local brews wherever he goes. For more information, visit www.redhunttravel.com