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On Site: Old school goes new in the heart of Ontario cottage country

A three-storey, 85-year-old brick schoolhouse in Bracebrige will be refurbished with modern suites and recreational facilities.


LOCATION: Bracebridge, Ont.

DEVELOPER McMurray Street Investments Inc.

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SIZE 583 to 1,580 square feet

PRICE $225,504 to $624,900

SALES CENTRE 28 McMurray St., south of Manitoba Street in Bracebridge. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CONTACT Phone 705-646-2333 or visit

While cottagers may be sad to see summer end, house hunters will be happy to head back to school. That is, a former educational institute that McMurray Street Investments Inc. will convert into a loft project anchoring a new master-planned community in Bracebridge.

"This is the first of its kind in Muskoka," marketing manager Sarah Davies says.

"It has a little bit of everything for everybody … whether you have a cottage and want to downsize and don't want the maintenance of a cottage any more … or whether you're in the city and you don't want to spend $2-million on a lakefront home."

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The Toronto-based developer, John Davies – who has a place in Muskoka – will create 90 suites within the old Bracebridge high school and three new low-rises on McMurray Street in the heart of the small town, about 90 minutes north of Toronto.

"A lot of people were nostalgic about their old school," Ms. Davies states. "Other than local [interest], we've had a great response: the finishings are fantastic, the suite designs are great and there's lot of outdoor and amenity space."

For instance, the original brick structure will be refurbished with modern suites and recreational facilities, such as a fireside lounge, virtual golf simulator, gym and resistance pool.

An adjacent building, known as the Library North Residences, will provide a rooftop terrace and party room with a lounge, bar, kitchen, dining and games area.

"The amenities alone are fantastic," Ms. Davies states. "The schoolhouse and library buildings will be connected via a bridge and all other units have access through the parking garage."

Residents will also be close to restaurants, shops and services, as well as golf courses and waterfront parks and beach. "We're about one block away from the main strip in Bracebridge," Ms. Davies adds.

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"[Plus] we're the waterfall capital of Canada, so there are tons of waterfalls to visit and hiking, biking and snowmobiling trails. Pretty much anything you want to do outside, you can do in Bracebridge."

The 85-year-old schoolhouse, which was vacated several years ago, is a three-storey structure with brick walls and 10- to 14-foot ceilings. "I love the character of the schoolhouse with the exposed brick, high ceilings and wooden beams. That kind of stuff is very cool and it's something we don't have in Muskoka."

Gabriel Bodor Architect Inc. will give a country modern feel to the new additions, which will encompass the Grove Residences and Library Residences, which will be a four-storey building and pair of five-storey structures respectively.

The Library Residences will feature conventional one- and two-bedroom suites, while the Grove Residences will also offer two-storey units with balconies and rooftop terraces accessed from fireside Muskoka rooms.

"The Grove is quite unique because of the amount of outdoor space," Ms. Davies says. "And some units in the Grove building have private elevator access into your suite, which is a really cool feature we've added."

Bryon Patton and Associates will oversee interior appointments, such as marble, ceramic, porcelain and laminate flooring; granite or quartz kitchen counters; and stainless-steel appliances.

Units will come with monthly fees of 42 cents a square foot, plus a locker and one parking spot owing an extra $7 and $23 respectively monthly. Second parking stall will cost $20,000.

Occupancy will begin fall 2016.

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