About Us

Muskoka Chautauqua is a not-for-profit organization offering creative, multi-disciplinary arts-based programming that engages, innovates and transforms.


To be internationally recognized as a leader in the provision of creative arts-based programming for entertainment and lifelong learning that enhances and enriches our communities.


To design and deliver multi-disciplinary arts-based programs that inspire personal growth, enrichment and renewal by celebrating creativity, the human spirit, and Muskoka’s unique heritage and natural environment while contributing to the economic and social vitality of our communities.


The Chautauqua movement has a long history in Muskoka. At the turn of the 20th century, Muskoka was known as Canada’s Literary Summer Capital. In the years 1916 and 1917 conferences were held at Windermere House and Elgin House to provide study, sport and spiritual uplift.

Chautauqua was part of a larger American movement established to bring education, religion and the arts to communities, most often in beautiful outdoor settings. Tobin Island, Lake Rosseau, Muskoka, post World War I, was the location of the first permanent Canadian Chautauqua Institution.

A day at Chautauqua would be divided into education in the morning, recreation in the afternoon and entertainment in the evening. It was an opportunity for rejuvenation in a beautiful natural setting, through intellectual challenge, physical workouts and artistic and spiritual enlightenment.

In Muskoka, an extremely important part of this movement was the Reading Circle, whose intention was to introduce and advance the works of Canadian authors. Chautauqua weeks featured famous authors of the day such as Bliss Carman, Charles G. D. Roberts, E. J. Pratt, and Dorothy Livesay reading from their works and discussing current issues.

Visit Muskoka Chautauqua’s Wikipedia page to read the full history.

The current iteration of Muskoka Chautauqua grew out of the Muskoka Lakes Music Festival, which began in 1997. Out of a need to expand beyond musical offerings, and upon the discovery of the historical Chautauqua in Muskoka, a multidisciplinary arts community was formed.

Today’s Muskoka Chautauqua designs and delivers multi-disciplinary arts-based programs that inspire personal growth and enrichment by creativity. It is part of the international Chautauqua Trail, a network of Chautauqua communities located throughout North America.

Key People

Board of Directors

Glad Bryce (Chair)
Diane Adamson
Dr. Bernie Gosevitz

Stan Hunter
Douglas McIntyre (acting treasurer)
Beverlie Robertson (secretary)

Matthew LaCroix
Skylar Amaral


Marsha Skain
Michael Lawley
Leah Leslie

Executive/Artistic Director

Gary Froude

Director of Development

Gayle Dempsey


Gayle Dempsey
Gary Froude

Founding President
Fraser Fell, C.M., Q.C.

Founding Director
Marie Mahovlich

Annual Reports

Click on a cover to download the full report.