The area was first settled and founded in 1869 by George Hunt, who built a small agricultural centre there. In 1870, a post office was built and the area was named Huntsville after Hunt, who became the first postmaster. Huntsville's economic development was stimulated by the engineering of a navigable water route north from Port Sydney to Huntsville which opened in 1877. A railway route from Gravenhurst was built by the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway in 1885, which encouraged development and resulted in Huntsville becoming officially incorporated in 1886.
In the following year, the Muskoka Colonization Road reached this area. The central Ontario community became an important industrial area in the late 19th century and had several saw, planing and shingle mills, as well as a tannery. Today, the many lakes and hills in the area, combined with the town's proximity to both Algonquin Park and Toronto, make Huntsville and the Muskoka region a major tourist destination.
Bears are smart, curious, powerful and potentially dangerous. They do not like surprises. If you are a hiker, cyclist, jogger, berry picker or you plan to spend some time outdoors in bear country, learn to be Bear Wise to avoid an encounter. A surprised black bear will give off warning signs to let you know you are too close. For example, a black bear standing on its hind legs is not a sign of aggressive behaviour. The bear is trying to get a better look at you or catch your scent. Unleashed dogs can make these situations more dangerous. Alert bears to your presence so they can avoid you. Make noise such as singing, whistling or talking while you are in areas with restricted visibility or with high background noise, such as near streams, waterfalls or on windy days. Cubs typically stay with their mother bear for 1.5 years. If you see a cub or small bear, there is a good chance that the mother is nearby. Take caution. Unleashed dogs can surprise bears and cause a defensive attack on dogs and their owners. Always keep your dog on a leash. To avoid attracting bears, do not leave dog food outdoors, in screened-in areas or porches. Mother bears with cubs will normally avoid interacting with humans. But if a dog is present this can cause a defensive attack.
Bear warning signs: There are two types of warning behaviours that you may experience during a bear encounter.
A defensive bear: When bears are surprised, they can become stressed. They usually just want to flee. In some cases, bears may become defensive. Female bears with cubs present tend to be more aggressive in defence of their cubs and should be treated with extra caution. A bear that feels threatened will salivate excessively and exhale loudly, make huffing, moaning, clacking and popping sounds with its mouth, teeth and jaws. He may lower its head with its ears drawn back while facing you, charge forward, and/or swat the ground with its paws (known as a ‘bluff’ charge).
A predatory bear: A bear that is predatory will approach silently and persistently, usually in rural or remote areas. He may continue to approach regardless of your attempts to deter them by yelling or throwing rocks. He may retreat if bear spray is effectively deployed but will return and continue to approach. If you successfully deployed bear spray, immediately leave the area
Non-Emergency Encounters: Call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327
For Emergency Encounters, Call 911