04 Jul


On June 25th I had the opportunity to tour some of the interesting properties in this years Doors Open Ontario for the Muskoka area.  In 1929 twin sisters Marguerite Boyce and Violet Hobbs arrived in Bala, pitched a tent at what would become Jaspen Park on the Moon River near Bala and started to sell their paintings. A year later they put a $100 down payment on a nearby cottage called Hollyhock and started a love affair between themselves and Muskoka that would last for decades.

At first they sold their paintings, then expanded to a gift shop and eventually a tea room. One of the important features was the wishing well out front (still there) which was created at the beginning of WW II. Visitors were encouraged to throw coins in which helped send more than 1000 gift parcels to Canadian servicemen and prisoners-of-war during war time. They also developed children’s doll exhibits and several generations of kids regarded the Twins Studio as a very enchanting place. After Marguerite passed away in the 1950’s Violet renamed the studio Fairyland and would dress daily in organdy. Many children believed she was a real fairy.

While I was photographing the inside of the cottage two elderly ladies arrived and displayed gifts they had purchased as little girls. They were quite emotional as they described their Fairyland experiences and how magical it was for them to visit as children. It was the first time the doors of Fairyland had been open to the public since 1974.

For a more detailed story on Fairyland courtesy of Jack and Linda Hutton please Click Here

In: historic muskoka, in and around muskoka ontario, tripin around towns

5 Responses
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  1. Heather says:

    What an “enchanting” story…I would have loved to visit a place like that as a child. Such a loss it isn’t still open!


  2. Jenn Jilks says:

    How delightful! So many homes burned, or were torn down. Good to see some remaining.

  3. Steve Jeffery, Ottawa says:

    Great story. I was there so many times between 1950 and 1955. It was so magical, I loved the place and always made a wish at the well. I loved the little houses they had for little people like me (3 at the time). My grandfather the Rev. Charles Blake Jeffery had the cottage just up the road. My parents, Howard and Marian Jeffery were friends with Marguriete Boyce and Marguriete gave them a painting of little girls picking flowers. It was hanging on my mantel until a couple of years ago when we redecorated and the colours no longer matched. I just came across it this afternoon in the storage area and was about to put it out to the Sally Ann but thought I’d see one last time if her paintings had any collection value and came across this article. Anyone in Muskoka looking for one of her paintings let me know. – s_jeffery@hotmail.com Also, does anyone else have any of her paintings?
    I also have a set of snow shoes made for my dad and his sister by one of the local Bala native people but I’m so sorry I can’t remember his name.

  4. clyde chamberlain says:

    Send me an email. I have some historical info on the Twins.

  5. clyde chamberlain says:

    In 1929 when the Twins arrived in Bala one of the first people they met was my grandfather Charles Chamberlain who lived on the Bala bay and serviced the mahogany inboards that frequented Lake Muskoka. Though he didn’t have much, he gave them some money, and had them over to his house often for diner. He would supply them with hardware and wood that he scrounged around Bala. He also helped them with the river stone fire place. My father Joseph Chamberlain, who was a boy at the time, would help his father do odd jobs for the Twins.
    I was born in 1949 and very soon started to visit Bala from our cottage in Katrine, north of Huntsville. Our family became quite close to Violet. I was so excited by their Fairy Garden that I built one in my back yard with elves, houses, mirror pools, ferns and moss, and small bridges. I would take my family often to the Miniature Gardens in Whitby, Ontario, reminiscing about the long lost Bala gardens.
    My father gave the sisters three of our family heirlooms, a pair of jade pagodas and a miniature carving of the Taj Mahal in ivory. The twins gave us a pair of houses they had made and a small elf figure form their garden. We still have the houses made out of decorated bark and the small elf. I would send photos but they are at the cottage under snow at the moment.
    Glad to see that the house has been revived. We will visit.

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