The history of the Muskoka chair

Is this chair the missing link between the Adirondack and the Muskoka?

By Martin ZibauerMartin Zibauer


Photo by Polly Naughton, published in Island Odyssey

A History of the Sans Souci Area of Georgian Bay by the Sans Souci & Copperhead Association, 1990.

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From the time of their revival in the 1980s, most Muskoka/Adirondack chairs have incorporated two vertical posts to support and stabilize the back and arms. Early versions did not. This image, circa 1950, is the oldest example of such posts that award-winning writer Douglas Hunter was able to find. The photo, however, is not from Muskoka or the Adirondacks: It was taken at the High Pine Island dock in the Sans Souci area of Georgian Bay.

We’ll probably never know who first added the posts, but Hunter suggests a possible inspiration in an icon of 20th-century furniture design. Did the avant-garde Red Blue Chair beget the modern mass-market Muskoka? Does a common association with tuberculosis treatment explain the cottage chair’s appearance in its namesake regions? Is the Muskoka moniker the product of a grocery store’s marketing campaign?

For more on Muskoka chairs, see the April 2009 issue of Cottage Life.

This article was originally published on April 5, 2009

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