Chances are if you’ve spent time visiting Huntsville, you’ve heard the steam whistle from the Portage Flyer train as it makes its way towards Fairy Lake.
The Portage Flyer steam train began its proud legacy as the world’s smallest commercial railroad, operating from 1904 until 1959 in Dwight Ontario. Its role was to bring everything from mail, cargo, building supplies and tourists from North Portage on the shores of Peninsula Lake to South Portage on Lake of Bays.
If you were visiting the celebrated Bigwin Inn in the early 1900’s, you would take the train to Huntsville, transfer onto the Steamship Algonquin which would take you to North Portage. From there, you would move onto the Portage Flyer steam train and travel 1 1/8 mile on narrow gauge track to South Portage, before taking the Steamship Iroquois for the last leg of your journey. The journey bares some resemblance to catching transfers on public transit when trying to get around the big city.
The Portage Flyer moved to its current location in the 1990’s to ensure that its legacy and heritage were preserved and enjoyed for many decades to come. You can enjoy this Muskoka icon just minutes from Downtown Huntsville.
Visitors to Muskoka should make the Portage Flyer part of their fun-filled itinerary. The return train ride is roughly 30 minutes along, and takes you on a 1km scenic trip along the shores of the Muskoka River. The experience is a great one for families, or for the inquisitive that like interesting stories and museums. While you are visiting the Portage Flyer, be sure to check out the Muskoka Museum and the Pioneer Village and dive into Muskoka’s storied past.