Tag Archives: Sarah Ryeland

Happy birthday, Sideroads!

Turning five is a big deal.

For most of us, it’s when we embark on one of the biggest adventures of our lives: school. We’re young and impressionable, soaking up information on a seemingly never-ending basis. We haven’t yet discovered our academic or artistic talents and there’s so much to take in, so much talent to uncover.

We face challenges and roadblocks, setbacks and major victories. We make lifelong friendships and start to gain independence as we step out into that great big schoolyard of life.

Here at Sideroads, we’re proud to celebrate our fifth birthday. Over the past half-decade we’ve met so many fantastic people and seen some incredible places. We’ve made new friends and said goodbye to treasured colleagues.

And just like all five year-olds, we’re still learning.

In this fifth anniversary issue of Sideroads, we celebrate learning and growth. From an automotive history lesson to a horsing around with self-discovery, a pilgrimage that tests the physical body to breaking down an artist’s creative process, we learn about the amazing people and opportunities Muskoka has to offer.

There’s nothing greater than feeling like you’ve got the whole world ahead of you, just waiting to be discovered. So join us in our quest to learn more, experience more and enjoy more of Muskoka. It’s your anniversary, too.

–       SR


The Drivers

Photo submitted by David Johns

By Sarah Ryeland and Pamela Steel

In 1854, the Ontario government reached a decision that changed the face of the landscape forever: Muskoka was opened up for settling and free land was now available, up to two hundred acres per family. A route had to be built so that the Europeans could find and claim their land.

 – W. David Johns

And the rest, as they say, is history.

David Johns is an accidental author, his book Pathways to Highways; The History of Huntsville’s First Roads and Automotive Industry, a labour of love.

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Around the World and Back Again

Story and photo by Sarah Ryeland

Most of us dream about travelling around the world. We long to stand at the foot of majestic mountains, feel the spray of a thunderous waterfall and feel our feet sink into the warm sand of a tropical beach. We want to experience the traditions of another culture and greet the unexpected on the road less travelled.

We might not get the chance to visit all the places we long to see, but we can appreciate the world through the eyes of artists who capture the essence and beauty of our environment on canvas, film and beyond.

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Back of Beyond

Photo by Alison Withey

By Sarah Ryeland

Equine assisted learning. Equine experiential learning.

When you hear those terms, what comes to mind? Last week I would have said something along the lines of “using horses to help people with disabilities” or “helping those with challenges overcome their fears” or something like that.

How right I was. And how mistaken.

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Beneath the surface

Our world really shifts when winter rolls around. A fluffy layer of white covers all that we see and we don thicker, warmer clothing to keep us cosy and warm. The landscape changes with the weather patterns, keeping us on our toes whether we’re heading out to play, or braving the roads for some winter driving.

But what’s beneath the surface doesn’t really change – it’s just frozen for awhile, waiting to be rediscovered when the time is right.

In this winter’s Sideroads, we remember what lies just beneath the surface. Sometimes it’s a forgotten history – one like the tale of the Bondi Bay Vikings – that you have to choose to believe. And other times it’s the discovery of what we thought was lost – like the warplane at the bottom of Lake Muskoka – but has been found, solving a mystery more than half a century old.

We’ve got the story of an abandoned inn, behind whose resurrected walls an intellectual community is being fostered. A tale of an artist whose talent was buried beneath years of challenge and hardship, only to be reborn as one of Almaguin’s star painters.

One of the great pleasures I get out of winter is how it completely reinvents our landscape. It always surprises us with its beauty and power and we can never really predict what tomorrow’s going to look like. In the following pages, read about the surprises and discoveries your fellow Muskokans have made, and feel inspired.

Rediscover your Muskoka this winter. And most of all, enjoy your winter Sideroads.



Rescue Remedy

Photo by Pamela Steel

By Sarah Ryeland

It’s in Michelle Ainsworth’s nature to help.

From a very young age, Ainsworth knew she wanted to devote her time to helping people and animals live the best life possible. Now, she puts her considerable skills to work in Muskoka to do just that.

Two years ago, having recently moved to Muskoka from Toronto, Ainsworth saw a need for an animal rescue organization in the area. With colonies of feral cats causing problems in Muskoka’s neighbourhoods and pet owners abandoning and mistreating their animals, Ainsworth knew she had to step in and take action.

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An artist’s rebirth

Artwork by Alana Boyd

By Sarah Ryeland

Some people are simply born to do what they do. They’ve been blessed with a gift and no matter where they go or what circumstance they find themselves in, they always come back to what they love.

For Alana Boyd, that passion is art.

Focusing on the natural world, Boyd loves to paint animals. Her horses are a great source of inspiration, as are flowers, landscapes and everything in-between. But she doesn’t limit herself. She can find inspiration anywhere.

That broad scope can be attributed to the wide variety of life experiences she’s had.

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