Haliburton County was established under modern government in 1983, but the community itself has existed since the 1800's. The area has an extensive history and local culture based on the Native Americans, and also of the European settlers. The region is known commonly as the Haliburton Highlands, which is a name given to it due to its placement in the highest ground of the Canadian Shield, and Scottish ancestry. Within the county are areas such Algonquin Park, which pay more homage to the Native tribes of the area. The County includes of the towns of Haliburton, Minden, Dorset, Wilberforce, Gooderham, and a few other small hamlets. It is a well-known tourist and cottage area, so much so that the population exhibits a huge increase in the summer months, fueling the economy and waterfront development of the area. The tourism industry in both the summer and winter months keeps local economy growing, with many resorts and tourist service businesses to provide for visitors. Places like Haliburton Forest and Sir Sam's Ski and Bike offer year round activities for locals and vacationers, making Haliburton County one of the top destinations for an Ontario vacation.
The area of Haliburton County has several public elementary schools, but only one public high school. The elementary schools in the area are Archie Stouffer Elementary School, JD Hodgson Elementary School, and Stuart Baker Elementary School. Stuart Baker is a primary school, providing education for Kindergarten through grade 4, and is a French emersion school. The area's high school is Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, and is located on the opposing shore of Haliburton on Head Lake. The schools are all part of the Trillium Lakelands School Board, which covers the Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and the Muskoka District.
The town of Haliburton is located along the western banks of Head Lake, one of the many beautiful lakes in the area. It runs heavily on the tourism industry, with a number of resorts and businesses in the area to cater to cottagers and visitors. The town, and county, is named for Thomas Chandler Haliburton, a popular author in the 19th century and the chairman for the Board of Directors of the British Land and Immigration Company. They were one of the largest developing companies in the area, and so it was named for him. The town of Haliburton has a permanent resident population of 5966 as of the 2011 census, and a population density of 4 people per square kilometer. This population of course increases greatly during the summer months due to cottagers and resort tourists.
The town of Minden is now known as Minden Hills, which is a combination of the townships of Anson, Hindon, Lutterworth, Snowdon and Minden. The Town of Minden was named in 1858 after the village of Minden in Germany, and prior to that was just known as the Gull River settlement. The areas original industry was logging, as it had ample forestry and rivers to transport the logs. Now, the area's main industries revolve around tourism, and construction. The secluded lake and rugged terrain have made it one of the most popular areas in Ontario for cottagers and vacationers from Southern Ontario. Cottage properties are often being bought in the area, and most often it is local workers who build the new cottages and homes or take care of the maintenance. Minden's population is very close to Haliburton's, and as of the 2011 census was at 5655. Although there are marginally fewer people in the Minden area than Haliburton, the population density is higher, at 6.4 people per square kilometer.
Dorset is a small town to the North of Minden. It borders two municipal districts, the Algonquin Highlands Township of Haliburton County and the Lake of Bays Municipality of the Muskoka County. The town was originally named Cedar Meadows, but took on the name Dorset from settlers who came over from Dorset, England. It was originally founded as a trading post in the 1800's, but also became an area for logging companies. The town is now famous in the area for its fire watch tower, which offers cottagers and tourists a beautiful bird's eye view of the forestry on the Canadian Shield. The population of the area is much smaller than that of Minden or Haliburton, as it only has a permanent population of 400 people.
The Eastern towns of Haliburton County form what is known as Highlands East. The towns include Cardiff, Gooderham, and Wilberforce. Cardiff was originally founded as a mining town, with Uranium being the primary mineral being mined. Wilderforce was founded as a station on the railway for Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa (The IB&O Railway). It was originally called "Pusey" after the president of the railway, Charles J. Pusey. The railway was set up as a transport for iron which was mined out of the pits in Irondale. The mines in the area eventually closed, but a Sawmill was opened up which kept the local economy going. Today, Wilberforce is known as the geocaching capital of Canada. The community of Gooderham is on the Irondale River in Haliburton County. It was located on the IB&O Railway. As with many of the other local communities, Gooderham's original industry was logging. The population of Highlands East is 3249 people; with a population density is 4.6 people per square kilometer. Of course, there are many additional seasonal residents.
Haliburton County is known world round for its crystal clear lake chains and rivers. Many people spend their summers on the waters in Haliburton and surrounding towns. Whether they spend their time on the water boating, skiing & wakeboarding, fishing, or just enjoying the beaches and relaxing in the sun, people have been attracted to the lake lands in Haliburton for generations. There are several businesses in town to help people better enjoy the local lakes by offering fishing trips and tours, and also places to take water ski and wakeboard lessons. These local businesses are overflowing with customers throughout the summer months. The lakes in Haliburton are also home to children camps. Camps like the YMCA Wanakita and Kilcoo have been in operation in the Highlands for years, always having new and returning kids for their summer programs. Even in the winter, the lakes don't slow down attracting visitors. The ice on the lakes provides fisherman a place to venture out into ice huts for ice fishing. Snowmobiling is also a very popular sport in the winter time in Haliburton. Snowmobilers need the frozen lakes to complete their trails, providing hundreds of kilometers of scenic wilderness trails to sled on.