From an aerial point of view the town is located in what seems to be the middle of nowhere Ontario, the urban boundary is small and the built up area is even smaller.
From a pedestrian point of view, density is relatively sparse for the most part and very low-rise.
But something more is happening in Huntsville other than lacking the basics for a typical interesting destination city (like rows of skyscrapers and intricate subway systems). Huntsville is a place to get inspired because it has an incredibly distinct, strong and consistent small-town sense of place. This persona can be sensed immediately from the groups of teenagers walking around and hanging out together, to the representative outdoor Group of Seven paintings and murals plastered in every dull corner or wall in order to bring it to life.
It can also be noticed by taking even a quick glance at the main downtown commercial strip – every shop is a family-run or small business giving the whole space a down-to-earth feel, and most of the shops have heritage facades with detail and effort put into the looks of every sign, entrance and awning – a breeding ground for strolls and window shopping.
The best part about Huntsville is the layering of multimodal connectivity, and the efficient use of unused space within the built-up boundary (even though there is a lot of room available in the outskirts). Facing the river at the swing bridge at almost any given instant, one can observe the following movements all at once:
- Cars [inconveniently trying to get through]
- Active and passive Pedestrians almost everywhere including the sidewalks, the public space in front of the river, and on patios
- Cyclists commuting or cycling for pleasure
- People passing by on boats
This kind of movement makes people from all levels feel like they are part of something – a community. And where the layers cross, life is bursting!
Neighbourhing the downtown core are several cottage-style resorts such as Hidden Valley Resort (for a more simplistic, natural and low-key, yet still beautiful and relaxing getaway) and Deerhurst Resort (for a more upscale experience). There are cottages and resorts for everyone’s taste, and they are a great place to stay overnight in order to access Huntsville by day or by night. These touristic accomodations are popular summer long-weekend destinations.
This place is like a little world on its own – truly a place to be inspired from and to grow fond of.