Gravenhurst's tradition runs deep, dating back to the 19th century. With lumber being high in demand, settlers began coming to Muskoka for the bountiful forests. Lumberyards and railways were established around 1875 to transport lumber to other parts of the province.
Hotels and resorts were constructing throughout the lakes and a booming tourist trade developed. A huge boat building industry began to transfer guests to and from these resorts.
Muskoka Wharf is the homeport of the R.M.S. Segwun. Made in 1887, it is the oldest operating steamship in North America. The Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre is also situated at the wharf.
In 1896, Gravenhurst became a haven for tuberculosis patients, several hospitals and sanatoriums were built along the shore of Lake Muskoka.
In 1901, the Opera House was established to house the town offices and council chambers, as well as the Magistrates Court and provide a scene for live entertainment.
Several of the original churches, homes and downtown buildings still remain in Gravenhurst today. Many are labeled as historic buildings and maintained to their former glory. Buildings such as the train station, the post office, the Albion, St. James Anglican and Knox Presbyterian churches, buildings in the downtown core and the homes along Bay St. are evident reminders to residents and visitors of the history of Gravenhurst.