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Watershed Wonders Ribbon Cutting

Muskoka Discovery Centre’s newest interactive, permanent exhibit is now open to the public.

After six long months of fund raising, content development, designing and construction, Watershed Wonders was opened by Muskoka District Chair John Klinck and Mayor of Gravenhurst Paisley Donaldson, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Also attending the ribbon cutting were Gravenhurst Councilors, members of the Board of Directors of Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre and stakeholders and donor.

In her remarks, Mayor Donaldson praised, “...the holistic approach of it.” She continued, “We need to recognize that this exhibit is not just reflective of Gravenhurst. It covers Algonquin Park to Georgian Bay and all points in between.”

District Chair John Klinck noted, “…we all have a collective stake in the health of our watershed. Actions we take, as individuals, will have critical implications to our future.” Watershed Wonders, he explained, “…showcases lots of important local environmental stewardship efforts.” Mr. Klinck’s hope, “is that this Watershed Wonders exhibit will inspire us all, as individuals, to do our part and find ways to protect and enhance the health of our extraordinary watershed.”

Rick McGraw, Chair of the Muskoka Discovery Centre’s Revitalization Committee, praised four people in particular “who worked tirelessly week after week” to develop content for the exhibit: Anne Collins and Mara Kerry from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Rebecca Willison from the Muskoka Watershed Council for the District, and Shakira Azan from Friends of the Muskoka Watershed. Said Mr. McGraw, “All these folks parked their egos at the door and worked collaboratively for hours sorting through all the material and refining the message so that it was fact-packed. But totally digestible by the general public.”

Three others recognized for their dedication to the completion of Watershed Wonders: Ian Turnbull, whose experience on the Watershed Council proved invaluable; Ann Curley, Operations Manager of Muskoka Discovery Centre, who worked tirelessly; and John Miller, President, Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre, whose fundraising efforts exceeded all expectations.Gary Getson,
Chair of the Board of Directors of Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre opened the reception indicating the donors and supporters made this exhibit possible. He explained, “We had the financial support from FedNor with a $250,000 matching grant, the District of Muskoka, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry , Muskoka Lakes Association and over 100 members of the community to achieve $500,000 target.”

Watershed Wonders is the first new permanent exhibit at Muskoka Discovery Centre since 2006. Included in admission to the Centre, it is open seven days a week until the end of October. Discounted admission is available when a steamship cruise ticket is presented.
The new state of the art Watershed Wonders exhibit is designed to instill wonder through discovery. Visitors experience a dynamic, entertaining and educational journey that amazes and inspires by delving deep into the beauty and remarkable inner workings of the Muskoka Watershed.

Text, images and over a dozen audiovisual touchscreen units (AV) encourage the visitor to explore, discover and wonder. For example:
• At the entrance, an introductory AV unit showcases the size and complexity of the watershed, showing lakes, rivers, dams, wetlands, roads and communities.
• Within the exhibit, a virtual aquarium (96” screen) invites the visitor to touch one of the fish swimming by. A text screen then pops up describing the fish and its place in the watershed.
• A virtual aquarium is not filled with water and real fish. It seems incredibly real, courtesy of software.
• Visitors find in the aquarium: Lake Trout, Walleye, Northern Pike, Whitefish, Millifoid, ships, beaver and more.

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