Nestled in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country lies a historic company with a rich legacy of providing crisp and refreshing beverages to locals and visitors alike. Muskoka Springs’ story dates back to 1873 when the pristine lakes of the Muskoka region, which served as a vital source of drinking water, were endangered by pollution caused by the unregulated logging and tanning industries. For over 150 years, Muskoka Springs has been a vital part of Muskoka’s cultural and commercial landscape.
It was then that Dugald Brown, a visionary resident of Gravenhurst, recognized an opportunity to provide a solution. He began supplying refreshing and clean water from a nearby natural spring, laying the foundation for the business that would eventually become known as Brown’s Beverages, and then Muskoka Springs.
Over the years, Muskoka Springs has faced many challenges, including a devastating fire in 1917 that destroyed much of the bottling plant. However, the business survived and continued to thrive, even during the difficult years of World War I, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, and World War II.
In the late 1800s, Brown began selling carbonated water, “tonics”, and other exciting new beverages. By the early 1900s, Brown had settled on the “Muskoka Dry” brand for its Pale Ginger Ale and Stone Ginger Beer. Muskoka Dry beverages were made with premium soda water, lightly carbonated and infused with natural flavours, making them refreshing and thirst-quenching. The factory became a Coca-Cola bottler in 1926 (a relationship that continues to this day as Coca-Cola’s market execution partner in Muskoka), and according to archives, Muskoka Dry was so locally entrenched in cottage country that it was used to push sales of Coke to vendors.
As municipal water became potable, spring water products were phased out – replaced by a booming soft drink business. Decades later, as cottages sprouted across the lakes, demand for spring water returned, and the Muskoka Springs brand was born. Natural Spring Water has been the company’s top-selling product line since. 20 years later, the brand was so well established, the Muskoka Dry products were rebranded Muskoka Springs to unite the product lines.
Today, Muskoka Springs is one of the oldest businesses in Canada, and its history is deeply intertwined with the history of the country itself. The brand has become synonymous with crisp, refreshing beverages and has a rich history that spans generations. In 2015, The Rosseau Group, an investment firm dedicated to preserving Muskoka heritage, purchased Muskoka Springs and executed a comprehensive rebranding to breathe new life into the historic company. The company continues to prioritize using only the finest ingredients available, “bottling Muskoka” for one and all. Today, the company proudly boasts a wide range of products, including unique ‘craft’ beverages made from the trees themselves, including Silver Birch Beer and Maple Cream Ale (made with the company’s small-batch maple syrup).
The brand has a loyal cult following. Its branded clothing, glassware, and other products sell out every year.
To celebrate its 150th anniversary, Muskoka Springs has launched a number of initiatives, including limited-edition commemorative bottles that feature a retro design inspired by the Muskoka Dry branding from the 1950s.
The 150th anniversary is not only a celebration of Muskoka Springs’ longevity, but also a reminder of the importance of preserving Canada’s natural resources and the role that local businesses play in our communities. Muskoka Springs is excited to expand its presence in the community with plans for a Muskoka Springs General Store in the heart of Gravenhurst.
*This article is sponsored By Muskoka Springs