The "Hub Of The Lakes"
Port Carling, Muskoka's oldest community, began as an Ojibway settlement. The natives called their village Obajewanung, meaning "gathering place.” Port Carling was incorporated as a village in June 1896, with a population of 110 people, named after the Honourable John Carling who ordered the locks built.
This charming town is located on the Indian River. Known as the "Hub of the Lakes", Port Carling has a key position due to the set of locks that join Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau.
Today Port Carling continues to thrive in its central location at the hub of the lakes. Large ships such as the Segwun and Wenonah II continue to pass through the centre of town, assuring a crowd of specators. For the discerning shopper, the village has a huge selection of shops and eateries – all of which make Port Carling a bustling town from May to October. The newly renovated Muskoka Emporium provides a special boutique shopping experience for tourists, cottagers and locals alike.
The 111-by-45-foot photo mosaic, known as The Wall, provides an awe-inspiring welcome to Port Carling. Made up of 9,028 pictures that together create the image of the RMS Sagamo passing through the Port Carling locks circa 1922. Take a closer look, however; and you will notice each individual photo captures a moment of time in the lives of residents of Port Carling during the village's first century (1860-1960).
The Wall serves as a spectacular tourist attraction and reflects the heritage of Muskoka Lakes Township. Located on the large south-facing wall of the former Hanna Co. store, currently the Muskoka Emporium, a building that is now owned by Tom & Angie O'Hara, The Wall is visible from District Road 118 and to boaters in the bay.
In total there are 905 individual photographs, which are all displayed in a nine-foot-high “viewing section” in the lower portion of the mural. Above the viewing strip the 905 photos are repeated over and over creating the bigger picture of the Sagamo when viewed from a distance.
The mural is owned and maintained by the Township of Muskoka Lakes. When it was officially unveiled on August 1, 2005, it was the largest historic photo mosaic mural in the world and received a Built Heritage award from the Muskoka Heritage Foundation.
In the last few years, Maple Street in downtown Port Carling has been the centre of major revitalization efforts. The Hanna Co. Store (pictured above) was the original building that currently houses The Muskoka Emporium. The store was destroyed in an October fire in 1931, along with more than a dozen other buildings, all but destroying the village core. The historic Emporium was rebuilt in 1932 and then taken over in 1961 for a Red & White store and later an IGA. Today, after extensive renovations, the Muskoka Emporium is home to five retail shops; Open Court, Red Bean Interiors, Lemonwood, Poppy's Collection and The Jewel Cabin by Miles Mindham, all offering products and services to complement your Muskoka Lifestyle.