Sandwiched between two lakes, the gridiron streets of downtown GRAVENHURST, some 170km north of Toronto, are surprisingly leafy, but the busiest part of town is down by the harbour, where cottagers whizz in and out to collect supplies. In its early days, the town prospered from logging and for a while it was even called “Sawdust City”, until the local council had second thoughts.

Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site

Gravenhurst’s prime historical attraction is the recently upgraded Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site, the birthplace of the remarkable Norman Bethune (1890–1939), a doctor who introduced Western medicine to the Chinese in the 1930s and invented mobile blood-transfusion units. The house has been restored to its appearance in 1890 and has displays on Bethune’s considerable accomplishments – he was even praised by Chairman Mao – all detailed in English, French and Chinese.

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