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Huntsville is the seat of Muskoka District Municipality, and was formerly the county seat of Muskoka County. It is named after a prominent early resident, industrialist and land speculator, William Hunts (1789–1864), who had been called "the father of townships". The town's motto: "Where Life Is Worth Living", reflects its natural environment that has made it a popular tourist destination for over 100 years. The area was first settled by Europeans in 1820 when John Davidson constructed his grist mill on Huntsville Creek. In 1855, Richard Broughall built another mill which attracted more settlers to the area during this time period; however these mills were destroyed by fire in 1862 and 1863 respectively. By 1870 there were approximately 25 families living in what would become Huntsville proper with most being engaged primarily as lumbermen or farmers although some worked at one of two sawmills operating near Lake Onaping (Onaping Falls).