Fenelon Falls Reinvents Itself with the Help of the Community

Daytripping – The Renaissance of a Village

Fenelon Falls is bounded by two lakes – Cameron on the west and Sturgeon to the east, with TSW Lock 34 connecting the two. Historically, the village grew out of the lumber trade in the 1800’s, and was incorporated in 1875. Now part of the amalgamated City of Kawartha Lakes, the population of Fenelon Falls is about 1,800.

Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Kawarthas”, it has traditionally been a tourist destination – cottagers, casual vacationers and day-trippers swell the population from Victoria Day Weekend through Thanksgiving – and the beauty of the area, including the falls themselves, makes it a popular overnight spot for boaters coming through the locks.

As with all tourist towns, Fenelon’s viability is dependent on the economy – as it waxes and wanes, so does the success of the businesses who rely on the summer trade. In the last couple of years, a confluence of “new blood” and new initiatives has given the village renewed energy, which has resulted in a forward momentum and an unprecedented optimism.

The local Chamber of Commerce and its Events Committee run a series of successful events, beginning  on

Easter weekend, and concluding at Thanksgiving. The Kawartha Lakes Country Living Show has built on its 30-year history, and now features a three-day showcase of vendors, community groups and local artists.

Other events throughout the year which contribute to the vibrance of the community include:

  • Snowshoe Kawartha’s Winter Festival and 5K / 10K Ontario Cup Snowshoe Race – February 2020
  • Kawartha Yarn & Fibre Festival – June 2020 – vendors and classes.[easy-image-collage id=1773]
  • 20th annual Fenelon Falls Santa Day – always the last Saturday of November – a full day of free family activities throughout the town, culminating in the nighttime parade and fireworks.

Maryboro Lodge – the Fenelon Falls Museum – has become a hive of activity for kids and families, with programs and events running year-round, often in cooperation with other events in town.

Service clubs include the Rotary Club of Fenelon Falls, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and which was instrumental in the construction of the Splash Pad at Garnet Graham Beach Park; the Fenelon Falls & District Lions Club, best known for the Car, Truck & Bike Show; Fenelon Falls Legion Branch 238, which donated $21,000 back into the community in 2018; and the newly formed PROBUS club, which boasts over 200 members.

Fenelon Live is dedicated to fostering live entertainment of all forms, and works in conjunction with various events to bring performing arts to town. The Senior Citizens Club of Fenelon Falls provides activities and programs for the well-being of our senior population. The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society is 100 years young, and going strong.

Several years ago, the historic Fenelon Theatre was demolished, but not before the marquee was carefully removed. Through the efforts of a dedicated committee and with the support of the community, the marquee has been restored and erected along the canal, quickly becoming a popular place for Fenelon Falls selfies.

Another historic icon, the former railway station, is now the Station Gallery, a cooperative of local artists open from May to October.

The Colborne Street Gallery opened last year, featuring Canadian fine artists, with an emphasis on local works. Another “new kid on the block” is the Fenelon Falls Brewing Co., currently renovating the historic Livery Stable, with plans to be open this summer.

No longer confined to the main street, the business section now spans both sides of the bridge – there is lots to see and do, from one end of town to the other. It’s a great walk, or you can hop on a bike from the new Bike Share rack by the locks.

Driven by forward thinking, and with the support of the community, Fenelon Falls is undergoing a renaissance, and the future looks bright once again for The Jewel of the Kawarthas.

For more information check out www.explorefenelonfalls.com

Marquee Photo by Karen Suggitt

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