Located on the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula the small town of Tobermory is best known for its proximity to ship wreck dive sites in the surrounding waters where Georgian Bay and Lake Huron converge. In fact some refer to Tobermory as the "fresh water scuba diving capital of the world". Many of the wrecks are situated in the Fathom Five National Marine Park but there is at least one good diving wreck right in Big Tub Harbour - one of the two harbours associated with the town of Tobermory.
Tobermory, more than any town in Ontario, reminds me of Canada's east coast. It is a quaint little harbour town that overflows with tourists during peak season. Tourists are attracted to the beaches, scuba & snorkeling tours and the east coast natural feel. It is also home port to the massive MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry which plies the waters between Tobermory and Manitoulin Island.
Owen Sound is the closest city to Tobermory and it is 100km to the south. When driving up the peninsula please be aware that off season the gas stations close early and they are few and far between. Most businesses in Tobermory close after Thanksgiving and don't reopen until mid May. There are a few motels and coffee shops that are the exceptions. The famous flower pot standing like sentinels on Flowerpot Island are located in the Five Fathom National Marine Park not far from the town of Tobermory.
There are some other reasons you should get to know Tobermory if you are a cruiser. For starters it has two excellent sheltered harbours with full protection from the storm ravages of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Many yachts cruising north from Lake Erie to Lake St Clair (Detroit, Sarnia, Windsor, etc.) must stop to refuel at Tobermory.
It is one of the first places you can buy diesel fuel in the spring when cruising up the shores of Lake Huron. It is also a main jumping off point for those continuing across Georgian Bay to either the Midland marinas or for those heading up to the world famous North Channel cruising grounds. Tobermory offers safe harbour, provisioning, some marine services and in general it is just a great place to hang out. The Bruce Trail also runs through Tobermory and it is ancestral home to the Chippewas of Nawash First Nations people. The Neyaashiinigaamiing Chippewas community is unceded land, as it was never given up by treaty. The aboriginal origins add much to the culture and fabric of the area. The scenery, the light house at the entrance to Big Tub Harbour and the clarity of the water make Tobermory a must see Georgian Bay boating destination. There are a number of docking facilities in both Big Tub and little Tub harbours. (See marina section for details)
Lions head is a small community on the 45th parallel named after a limestone bluffs visible to the northeast that resembles a lion's head. Lion's Head has a small protected harbour with town docks accommodating over 200 slips.
The harbour has 25ft of depth and is protected from all winds by a break wall. The Bruce Trail runs through Lions Head and the town boasts a nice sand beach and the largest concentration of geologic sinkhole features in Ontario. Between the limestone cliffs and the harbour lighthouse, Lions Head is one picturesque community with lots going on during the summer months. There are several restaurants and limited land based accommodation in the town.
Home of the famous spring predicting ground hog Wiarton Willy this community has both a marina and yacht club located beside each other. Willy even has his own statue. The settlement began in 1866 and was the birthplace of Sir Edmund Head a Governor General of Canada.
The population of 2,300 people is about the same population as it was before the 1900's. It is considered the gateway to the Bruce Peninsula and it is a Bruce trail community. Historically the community was founded on the lumber and fishing industries. The Wiarton marina has over 225 slips. The yacht club next door offers reciprocal privileges to some yacht clubs. Wiarton has full provisioning and there are a number of restaurants and accommodations available in the town. Beside the town dock there is a restored 1904 railway station which is worth exploring.
Owen Sound is a city with a population over 20,000. Owen Sound is known as the fern capital of Ontario. World War 1 dog fighting pilot Billy Bishop and famous Group of Seven Painter Tom Thompson were both born in this community. Owen Sound was once a major port city and was known as "the Chicago of the north."
Its main shipping port had rail connections to the south and open water connections to all major points on the Greats Lakes including the Thunder Bay port with its own rail connections to the Canadian prairies. When the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, major port shipping declined. Owen Sound has always been an important hub for the area farming community that surrounds the city. Until 1972 there was no booze available in the city due to a clampdown carried forward from the rowdy days of sailors and brothels going back to the late 1800's. The city is known for its beautiful gardens and a summer folk festival that attracts tourists from all over Ontario. For the boater, Owen Sound has complete provisioning available and extensive marina facilities with over 650 slips between the Owen Sound Marina and Georgian Bay Yacht Club. There is also a concrete city dock for day visits to the downtown core.
Meaford has a population of over 10,000. It has two large harbours with marina facilities at both. It is a former shipping port and an agricultural hub community. The area surrounding Meaford on Georgian Bay is an apple growing district.
The town's main drag is just a few minutes walk from the harbours. There are plenty of restaurants and accommodations right on the door step of the harbours. It also has a base for the Canadian military and target shooting at times along the shoreline. Both harbour offer 6 feet depth and marine services are available. Cliff Richardson Boats (almost 40 years in business) also has its own mini harbour and offers events and repairs. Meaford has several events and festivals, including the old Meaford Hall Opera House attraction. Meaford is getting near the bottom of Notawasaga Bay in the south of Georgian Bay and is a must stop to cruisers to visit or provision.
Thornbury is located at the base of Georgian Bay where the Beaver River flows into Nottawasaga Bay. There is a population of over 2000 and the community is effectively on the edge of Collingwood.
A large totally protected harbour has seven foot depth and space for 250 boats. The Thornbury Harbour is also home to the Thornbury Yacht Club. The marina has limited marine services but provisions are available a short walk from the marina. A walkway bridge spans the Beaver River and leads to a newly developed group of condominium corporations. Accommodation is available adjacent to the harbour on the west side. Thornbury's main industry is tourism but like Meaford the surrounding area boasts apple farms. There is a number of restaurants right in town and they are an easy walk from the marina. Thornbury hosts a number of special events from May through September.
Once a major shipping port, Collingwood is now best known as a destination tourist resort area. The Blue Mountains provide a backdrop for the town and the area is famous for its skiing. It is also a busy summer resort town with many resorts and tourists attractions. The combination of waterfront and mountains also means that there is a tremendous retirement boom in the area.
The Collingwood grain elevators are a major landmark when approaching the harbour. There are two docking areas. One is the Cranberry Resort Marina basin with over 100 slips, and there are limited public docking and yacht club facilities on the main spit of land that protects Collingwood Harbour. There are also several other protected marine basins but they are not available to transient cruisers.
Downtown Collingwood is hustle and bustle and is under a state of perpetual construction due to the massive retirement boom and tourist destination requirements of the Blue Mountain area. There are some land-based marine services in town as well as limited services at Cranberry Harbour. There are numerous restaurants and shops in Collingwood. They are walkable from various docking facilities but they are not right next door as you would experience in many other Georgian Bay communities. Downtown Collingwood, by the way, is the poster child for small town Ontario architecture while the surrounding sprawl is typical of fast growing satellite cities within two hours of Toronto.
Collingwood has been incorporated as a town since 1858 and its First Nations heritage is Iroquoian Petun nation. In addition to tourism, Collingwood also has a significant manufacturing base in the area. Collingwood has a population of about 20,000, and to me, is more city than town. There is no shortage of things to do and places to see in Collingwood but you might want to grab a cab to find your way around town.
Penetang, as the town is affectionately known, is one of the busiest marine communities on Georgian Bay. The town has a wonderful French history that carries forward to this day. Although officially bilingual, many of the year round residents living in town and to the west retain their French culture for both business and pleasure.
It is both an intriguing and interesting community with a real Gaspe Bay feel to the town. Penetanguishene comes from the Ojibwa vocabulary meaning 'place of white rolling sands'.
The town started as a settlement that supported a naval base for sailing warships that protected the northwest Great Lakes trade routes. This historical naval base is preserved today and is known as Discovery Harbour. Discovery Harbour is home to two tall ships that are reproductions of the original war ships. It also hosts the popular King's Wharf Theatre which presents live theatrical and musical performances throughout the season.
Penetang's main business now is not war but tourism. 30,000 Island boat tours depart from the main town marina and its easy drive from the greater Toronto area means it is home base to a number of large full service marina facilities and yacht clubs. There are a total of six large marina facilities in the inner Penetang Harbour. Combined, these marinas boast well over 1,000 slips. There is every available marine service, either at the marinas or available to the marinas in Penetang.
The downtown is quant and hilly and is a short walk from the main town port marina. From the other five marinas, you'd be best to take a cab. The town has everything to provision the cruising boater but some of the main stores are up top of the hill so you'll get your exercise. Penetang harbour is very sheltered and all the marinas are further break walled. Penetang has a beautiful and historic Catholic church which is a must stop when touring the Georgian Bay region.
Midland must be considered the yachting and boating capital of Georgian Bay. In fact it might be considered the yachting capital of the great lakes. To cruisers coming from afar it is seen as the jumping off point to the 30 thousand islands and the North Channel. Midland gets some very large transient yachts, certainly not in the quantity of Fort Lauderdale, but some of the biggest private yachts in the world stop off in Midland to provision on their way up the North Channel for the summer months.
I remember coming down the main street hill in town towards the city marina and thinking somebody built a new condo tower down by the water. As I got closer I could see it was a large ship. I assumed a cruise line had sailed into town. Once down at the marina it became apparent this was a private yacht, likely out of Chicago or coming up from a southern salt water port.
Midland started when the railway dead ended at the soon to be developed port in 1871. The area is rich in history. The Saint Marie Among-the-Hurons Indian Village and Martyrs Shrine, a majestic spectacular Catholic church are both must visit attractions. The area is the location of the Huron - Iroquois wars and a number of priests were martyred at this location.
Midland is a rapidly growing community so it's hard to know what the current population is. It is somewhere over 20,000 and many new condo developments and retirement homes are springing up around the area. During the summer tourists season the town explodes to 90,000 people. I'm not sure why they still call it a town. The old downtown section is historic, interesting and as cute as bugs ear. There are many quaint shops and cafés to spend an afternoon strolling. And out by the main highway (a cab ride away from the town docks) it's a lot like the suburbs of any large city with your industrial malls, Canadian tire, and Walmart. Midland has every type of shop and service you could want, including a West Marine. There are dozens of inland and on water marine services available to boaters.
Midland still has some commercial ship traffic. There is fuel oil shipping and silica rock used for manufacturing glass and toothpaste located in the port. When approaching the town you will see the largest outdoor mural in North America painted on grain elevators by Fred Lenz. In fact historic murals are painted all over the town. While Midland had always been a lumber, fishing and transportation port it is now best known as a tourist economy. There are plenty of restaurants on the water, in the town and out of town. Midland is right beside Penetang, together the area is a boater's paradise.
Midland is home to some of the biggest marinas in North America in fact Doral marina in Tiffin basin is the largest fresh water marine in the world with 1000 slips. Doral also has a 50 tone travel lift. And Doral isn't the only big marina in the area. Bay Port Yachting Center has 650 slips. So let's take stock of the area marinass; there's Doral Marina Resort, Midland Marina, Midland Harbour Town Marina, Midland Bay Sailing Club and Bay Port Yachting Center. All told they represent nearly 2000 boat slips. Midland Harbour can accommodate boats to 500 feet with up to 25 feet of draft. Because of Midland's direct proximity and easy access to the GTA, it is the home port of choice for many boaters. Easy access to the 30 000 Island cruising grounds, the North Channel, and Lake Huron make this a very attractive home base. When your cruising, Midland is a must stop. Pull into Doral Marina Resort and have a lunch or dinner at Henry's South of Sans Souci known for their famous fresh pickerel dinners or tie up at the town docks and tour the main street or wander into Scully's Waterfront Grill for a seafood dinner on the patio.
There's always something going on in Midland and there is enough infrastructure that you have all the benefits of a southern Ontario city with a marine atmosphere located at the gateway to the best cruising in North America.
Port McNicoll is a small, century old port nestled at the south end of Georgian Bay. Established in 1908, this port is brimming with an amazing sense of history and nostalgia. It was originally used as the Canadian Pacific Railroads Great Lakes service port, but now has become a much more recreational port.
The port is the new home to the SS Keewatin, a ship once used as a passenger liner travelling between Port Arthur and Fort William to Port McNicoll. Port McNicoll is currently under a $1 Billion redevelopment plan headed by Skyline International Development Inc. This will add a great deal of commercial space to open up the area for new boutiques and restaurants to add to the atmosphere of Port McNicoll.
The SS Keewatin was first launched in July of 1907, running passengers from port to port for close to 60 years. The SS Keewatin was manufactured in Scotland by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. It was retired in 1966 and has since been preserved as a tourist attraction, and will be moved back to Port McNicoll in June 2012 to be on permanent display to be a marine museum and for events.
With the recent investment made by Skyline International, Port McNicoll could soon be one of the most sought after ports along the coast of Georgian Bay. The new developments are adding a new and extravagant residential area as well as a 50,000 sq. ft. shopping complex. These new additions to the town are sure to bring in a new crowd of yachters and make Port McNicoll another Georgian Bay class port.
In addition to Skyline’s new developments, Crate's Marine is locating their new Flagship Marina to Port McNicoll. Crate’s new 800 acre marina will feature a new yacht club, among new waterfront homes, stores and hotel accommodations.
Victoria Harbour is located in Hog Bay which is a small bay off southeast Georgian Bay proper. Victoria Harbour was a shipping port basin. It had some public docking with depth limitations.
In town there is a grocery store and a few other shops for provisioning. Now condos have been built along the harbour beside Queens Cove Marina. Queens Cove Marina has 300 protected slips with 8 1/2 minimum water levels. The marina is protected by an old breakwall off Bergie Point as well as a marina barrier wall. Queens Cove offers full marine service. There is the Quarterback restaurant, only steps from the marina, and the Tay Shore Trail runs through the area. Across Hog Bay is Port McNicholl which was also a deep water commercial port that is currently being converted to homes and condos. There is a plan for a marina in this facility but at this time there is no public marina facility.
Waubaushene is a small hamlet intersected by highway #400. The local marinas are located on Matchedash Bay right beside the # 400 bridge. Navagating Matchedash Bay to get to Waubaushene can be tricky and depths vary. It is not a recommended journey for boats travelling with more than 5 feet draft and boats should enter exercising caution at all times.
Tay Shore Trail comes through the area and there are a couple of convenience stores but no full provisioning. It is a popular base for smaller recreational fishing boats. There is a public dock with 8 feet of water reported. There are four marinas - Bridgeview Marina, Pier 69, Marsh's Waubaushene Marina and Twin Bridge Marina. Combined they have over 150 slips but only a few transient slips. Some of the docking is east of the bridge which requires clearance of under 13 feet to get in. Bridgeview and Pier 69 are the best bets for cruisers but depths vary in slips and 4 feet is probably the only guaranteed minimum docking depth. This of course may vary year to year according to Georgian Bay water levels.
Port Severn is at the north end of the Trent Severn Waterway which terminates there at lock 45. Port Severn like Waubaushene has highway #400 running right through the area. Most of the marinas are located on the Trent below lock #45. Therefore boaters must pass through a lock to get through to those marinas.
The town with a population of 12,000 has a First Nations history and historic enterprises of log transportation and mills. Now it is a tourist hub and its location on the Trent means that it is a must stop for most boats and yachts travelling to or from Georgian Bay via the Trent Severn Waterway.
Provisioning is a 25 minute walk from most of the marinas but the town has groceries, inland marine services and lots of good restaurants. Your best bet is to grab a taxi if you plan on stocking up. There is also land accommodation including the luxurious Inn at Christie's Mill which has some dockage.
Starport Severn Marina is the only Port Severn marina that can be accessed from Georgian Bay with 5 feet of depth. There is some free docking right at lock #45 administered by Parks Canada. Other marinas on the Trent system include Bush's Boat Livery, Inn at Christie's Mill, Rawley Resort and Marina and all have some deep water transient docking. Two other marinas ... Severn Marina and Driftwood Cove Marine Resort have docking for shallow draft boats. Together all those marinas represent over 300 slips. Port Severn is more likely a docking point when transiting the Trent than a destination port while cruising Georgian Bay but if you already own a lock pass it's worth the visit.
Honey Harbour has long been known as an excellent base for yachting. It is favoured by many because it is only a few minutes extra drive up highway #400 from the south Georgian Bay marina district, yet it puts the boaters right in the 30,000 Islands.
Honey Harbour is right on the small craft route and it cuts down travel time for those that want to gunkhole minutes from their marina base.
Honey Harbour comes from the Huron aboriginal's description of "island of bees and honey." It has a history of wooden boat building and logging. The town of Honey Harbour is very small with only minor provisioning facilities but it is home to many marinas and a large resort called the Delawana Inn. The population is around 2,000 but the area swells in the summer as tourists and cottagers flock to the area. There are a number of good restaurants in the area. There are fourteen in-water marinas in the Honey Harbour vicinity and several inland marinas and many marine services.
The marinas are scattered about the many protected channels and bays connected to Georgian Bay. Collectively they represent some 900 docking slips. Not all of the marinas offer transient docking though (check our marina page). The marinas include Delawana Inn Resort, Brandy's Island Marina, Honey Harbour Boat Club, Admiral's Marina, Gerry's Marina, Honey Harbour Small Motors and Marina, Village Marina, South Bay Cove Marina, South Harbour Marina, Georgian Bay Landing, Honey Harbour Park Landing, Blue Water Resort, Paragon Marina.
I think Honey Harbour holds the record for the most marinas on Georgian Bay. It is worth noting that although it is a ways in from the small craft route, South Bay Cove Marina with transient docks, has a wonderful second floor dining room with a harbour view to die for. During peak summer months cruise carefully because with the cottagers out in full force and the boaters cruising about, it can be a very hectic and busy area on the waterways.
Sans Souci & Frying Pan Islands
Sans Souci is best known for Henry's Fish Restaurant (north). Boaters and pilots alike flock to the restaurant for fresh pickerel dinners. The portions are generous, the quality outstanding, and there's something special about landing on a remote island that serves 600 meals a day in peak season.
There is also limited provisioning on Sans Souci at Le Blanc's Marina (5 feet of water). If you are at Henry's to eat or dock overnight you can always whip over in your dingy to Le Blanc's to stock up or just pick up a newspaper. There is a path that connects the two on the mainland. Mind the rattlesnakes as they are protected... and you are not. The area is the gateway to Massasauga Provincial Park which offers many sheltered anchorages. From Sans Souci /Frying Pan you can take the interior waterway route northeast to Parry Sound. The whole area is a maze of waterways and islands. Tour boats full of friendly tourists from Parry Sound ply these waters as well, and they are bigger than most recreation boats... so be careful when rounding bends or heading through rock cuts on the waterways. While Henry's has overnight dockage, arrange ahead as it can be busy. The student dockmasters there are great and the whole enterprise is managed like clockwork.
Parry Sound is a popular cottage country area with a population of about 6,000. The population swells to over 60,000 largely during the peak months, much like Midland does.It is considered the world's deepest freshwater port. The name comes from the arctic explorer William Edward Parry and the town was established beside what was originally an Ojibwa village.
Parry Sound was an important centre for manufacturing munitions during World War I & II. It is the birth place of hockey legend Bobby Orr and hosts the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame Community Centre. Both the Island Queen and MV Chippawa tour boats are stationed at Parry Sound.
Most marinas are only a short walk to the town centre and there are plenty of restaurants and things to see in Parry Sound. The area is host to many festivals and events including the Big Sound Sailing Regatta, Festival of Sound, Buskers Festival and Dragonboat Races.
The area boasts many marinas both in the town and along the way in Georgian Bay. Marinas include Big Sound Marina, Parry Sound Marina, Sound Boat Works, Holiday Cove Marina, Point Pleasant Marina and Georgian Bay Marina. Together they make up 650 slips.
Parry Sound is prepared for transient boaters and has many transient docks at Big Sound Marina and along the towns main pier. It is a stop-over for most yachts heading north to the North Channel.
Sixteen miles north of Parry Sound is Snug Harbour in Carling Township. It has a population of approximately 1,120.
There are town docks but no overnight docking is allowed. Past the town dock there is a marina with four feet of water. Gilly's offers fresh Georgian Bay fish dinners. Some limited provisioning is available. Snug Harbour is a jumping off point for fisherman and campers going to nearby Franklin Island.
Four miles north of Snug Harbour lies Dillon Cove. Dillon has a public dock (no overnight docking) and a small resort marina called Dillon Cove Marina & Resort. Only boats less than four feet draft can safely dock at the marina.
Pointe Au Baril
Pointe Au Baril has an interesting name that came from French mariners who started calling it that sometime after stranded fur traders left a barrel on the point as a beacon.
The barrel came from fur traders from Penetang who lost their canoe and barrel of whisky. The barrel was found washed ashore the next spring and after the big party, it was left on the point and later hoisted onto a pole. The lighthouse on the point did a better job in later years. At one point there was an eighty foot fire tower nearby as well but it was disassembled in the 1970's. Pointe Au Baril was a fishing community but commercial fishing ended in the 1980's. The population is currently about 300 and it balloons to 8,000 during peak summer months. There are a handful of restaurants in the area including Haven, Harbour View and the Shell Deli. Champlain originally explored this area and there is a monument to recognize his contribution. Minimum provisioning is available and there is gas - but no diesel. Several marinas offer transient docking with adequate depth except Beacon Bay which is on the shallow side at five feet.
Britt is located in Wallbridge Township on the north shore of the Magnetawan River at Byng Inlet, twenty-nine miles north of Pointe Au Baril. The community Byng Inlet is located on the south side of the river.
Britt was a sawmill lumber town that peaked in 1908 before the railway came to the area. Later Britt was a coal depot for the railway. The coal was freighted in by boat just as the lumber used to be exported by boat. There is plenty of overnight deepwater docking in the area including gas and diesel. Provisioning is also available.
Named after the town of Killarney in Ireland. It was first settled in the 1820's by French fur trader Augustin de Lamorandiere and his Anishinaabe native wife who established the area as a trading post.
Killarney was only linked by road in 1962. It has a population of 455 and is known for its' marine tourist and Killarney Park visitor driven economy. Killarney harbour area is basically a channel between George Island and Killarney on the mainland .Many boaters consider Killarney to be their favourite port to visit. There is lots of docking including the Sportsman Inn and Killarney Mountain Lodge ... but it gets very busy in peak months - so plan ahead. There are all kinds of marine services and dining options in the town located right at dockside. Herbert Fisheries is a well known local fish merchant that sells fresh fish or you can get takeout cooked fish dinners from their Mr. Perch bus. Killarney is truly a marine town in ambience and practice, but they also have an excellent hiking trail that runs from the town. No marine town would be complete without its lighthouse and Killarney has one.
YouTube Killarney Videos
Killarney Wood Boat Restoration
La Cloche Mountains Killarney
Killarney Provincial Park
Located on Manitoulin Island with a population of 914, Manitowaning was once a major schooner and steamer port.
It was a scheduled stop for the Owen Sound Transportation Company and at the wharf now sits the SS Norisle in her permanent mooring. Nearby is the ancestral home area of the Wikwemikong First Nations on unceded native lands. There is a lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour opposite Fanny Island and deepwater docking is available at the town docks. Provisioning is also available at the town.
Also located on Manitoulin Island... on the northeast side, with an area population of 2711. It is marked to the east by the Strawberry Island lighthouse. The town officially was incorporated in 1998.
Originally it was named after the swift current between the North Channel and Georgian Bay. The "little current" can run at four knots with the right winds. It was a steamship stop for refueling the ships with wood. Later it became a lumber town. Land access for cars comes by road over the Little Current swing bridge. It is the only bridge to the mainland and it swings open every hour during the boating season. There are several marinas and town docks in the channel. Provisions are available. First weekend of August is the Haweaters Festival which celebrates the early settlers who survived partially by eating Haw Berries to supplement their diet. All native Manitoulins are officially considered to be Haweaters. There are a number of local restaurants. Boaters will know the Little Current Yacht Club from the cruising network that broadcasts via VHF radio frequency to boaters in surrounding areas who in turn pass info on to the further reaches of remote anchorages by VHF radio. This is unusual because not just anybody can legally group broadcast a radio station on a VHF frequency.
Located directly south of the Benjamin Islands, Kagawong has a population of 540 and is located in a harbour on Mudge Bay. The village lighthouse has been in continuous use since 1888.
The town was incorporated in 1884. Kagawong is Ojibwe for "where mists rise from falling waters" referring to nearby Bridal Veil Falls. There is limited provisioning, restaurant, municipal beach, log museum and some interesting things to view in town. The marina has seven foot depth with gas and diesel available.
Gore Bay has a population of 925 and oddly enough hosts Canada's largest trucking company - Manitoulin Transport. You may have seen their trucks anywhere throughout North America as they have a very large fleet.
It is a popular town for boaters and cottagers. It is also a yacht charter base - both power and sail boats. There is lots of docking with adequate depths and fuel. There is also a small customs airport. The town has groceries, restaurants and historic building architecture.
Spanish is at the mouth of the Spanish River with a population of 730. Its economic history like many towns along the shores of Georgian Bay was based on the fur trade and logging.
It is still a railway and lumber town. The name Spanish comes from the 1750's when Ojibwa warriors traveled to southwest territories and during one of their raiding forays captured a beautiful senorita who later married the local chief and named the settlement after her ancestral homeland. The first town homes were constructed in Spanish in 1942 and long distance telephone service came along in 1975. In 1997 a municipal marina was built. The marina has lots of transient docking with five feet of depth. Gas and diesel are available. The town proper, is a twenty minute walk from the marina.
Blind River started off as a fur trading post in 1789. Blind River got its name from the early traders because the mouth of the river was not visible from the main canoe trade route.
In its economic heyday, logging, copper mining and the railway were the main drivers. Blind River once boasted the largest sawmill east of the Rocky Mountains but it closed its doors in 1969 due partially to a massive forest fire that depleted much of the areas timber in 1948. In 1955 uranium was discovered there and a uranium processing facility is still in service manufacturing uranium trioxide from sources shipped from around the world. Blind River has a population of 3800 and is twenty eight miles west of Spanish. The name may sound familiar as it was used in the popular Neil Young song "Long May You Run" and this was the song Mr. Young sang at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The reference to Blind River came from Neil having a mechanical breakdown in Blind River on his way to Sudbury in the 1960's in "Mort" a funeral hearse that was his favourite ride. The town has a number of restaurants and provisioning. From the water it can be identified by a large wind turbine. The marina has six feet of water at the entrance.
Seventy two miles west of Gore Bay with a population of 220 Meldrum Bay was the ferry terminal to Thessalon until 1962. It is famous for its Chinook salmon fishery. There is also a Dolomite mine which is quarried and shipped out by LaFarge. The town was named after a Scottish town in the 1870"s. Its history included fishing and lumber industries. There is minimum provisioning and several restaurants in town. There is transient docking with spotty depths ranging from three to eight feet.
Thessalon is on the shores of Lake Huron in Algoma district, at the top of the North Channel.
It has a population of 1300 with an economy based on lumber and tourism. The Thessalon River runs right through the town. Restaurant and provisioning is available. There is a ninety foot municipal wharf with adequate depth in the marina basin.
Bruce Mines was a copper mining town in 1846 named after the Governor General of the time - James Bruce. In 1876 the mines were flooded but resumed operation from 1951 to 1921 before closing again.
It was the first copper mine in North America and it was a mining marine port with shipping from the town to US ports. In 1907 the village built a lighthouse to serve the lumber shipping industry. The area is now an agricultural belt. There is a marina located in the centre of town with transient docking and five feet of depth at the slips. There is some provisioning, museum, restaurants and mine tours.
Hilton Beach - St. Joseph Island
Hilton Beach has been a popular tourist destination since the early 1900s with its first wharf built in the 1850s.
Many of the historical buildings in Hilton Beach are still being used today. The community hall, renovated in 1989, was originally built in 1896 and used as a schoolhouse until the 1960s. The old town hall, built in 1916, was used as a violin workshop for several years and is now for sale. The Hilton Beach General Store is over 100 years old and is still open for business. The village's location on Lake Huron makes it a very popular boating destination. The Hilton Beach Marina has over 180 slips with a number of small shops, restaurants and other business on hand or within walking distance. The excellent sailing in the St. Joseph Channel is the main attraction for many seasonal residents and tourists. The marina operates from May through to October.
Richards Landing - St. Joseph Island
The hamlet of Richard's Landing has a view of the Highway 548 bridge at the pier on the northern tip of town.
Highway 548 leads through the centre of the town and is its main thoroughfare. "The landing" is St. Joseph Island's business centre, offering grocery store, liquor store, gift shops and galleries, restaurants, accommodation, marina, 24 hour Emergency Department/hospital, medical centre, pharmacy and massage clinic, bank, parks, public swimming, beach and tennis courts, variety store, video rental and gas bar.
De Tour Village
This is a US port located on the west shore of De Tour passage. It is just north of Frying Pan Island. You must check in with customs by telephone. The marina has depths to seven feet. There is gas, diesel, provisioning and restaurants. There is also a ferry dock to Drummond Island.
Sault Ste Marie
Sault Ste Marie is a city of 80,000 on Ste Mary's River. It is the oldest European settlement in Canada. It has 91% European origin ... mostly Italian immigrants.
It started as a fur trading post where Lake Huron meets Lake Superior. It is ancestral home to Garden River First Nations and Rankin First Nations. Michigan USA is right across the river. Recreational boats use the Canadian locks and large commercial ships use the US locks to water transit between Huron and Superior. It is the world's busiest canal when measured by tonnage. The name Sault Ste Marie comes from French Jesuit missionaries in 1668 and before that was known in Ojibwa as "baawitigong" meaning "place of the rapids".
Sault Ste Marie became a city in 1912. It is a centre for steel making, pulp & paper, call centres, Ontario Lottery & Gaming headquarters and it has the diversity of all large cities. From a tourist point of view it has the Bush Plane Museum, casino, art gallery and the area is surrounded by Provincial Parks. It is the jumping off point for Ontario Northlands Agawa Canyon train tour which should be on everyone's bucket list of things they must see in their lifetime. The train excursion is one full day and takes the passengers through spectacular rugged backcountry and serves some small remote communities along the way. It demonstrates the immensity and sheer volume of the Ontario wilderness. Sault Ste Marie is also a University and College city that contribute to the vibrant economy of the area. A number of deepwater marinas are available including the Roberta Bondar municipal marina located right downtown.
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