Chi-Cheemaun Ferry Service Faces Multiple Threats
The iconic Manitoulin Island Ferry Service has been the Gateway to Northern Ontario since the 1930s. The current vessel, MS Chi-Cheemaun, was purpose built for the route in 1974 at the Collingwood shipyards — one of the last hulls built at that historic facility.
The Chi-Cheemaun has been everything her owners and crew could have wanted — comfortable, efficient, seaworthy, dependable. She is the largest passenger ferry on the Great Lakes.
She has become a huge part of the culture of the two ports she serves — Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. So it has been a source of stress on both “the Peninsula” and “the Island” that ridership has been dropping steadily for 20 years.
A market research study was commissioned in 2012 to find out why ridership was declining. In a nutshell, it came down to two things: alternative routes and lack of interest.
The progressive four-laning of Highway 400 and Highway 69 on the east side of Georgian Bay has made it easy to get to Manitoulin Island by road (across the swing bridge at Little Current). The other factor is that younger people in Southern Ontario do not share the Baby Boomers’ passion for the North.
The study predicts that unless something is done to change this pattern, ridership will continue to dwindle. This would be a serious problem because the Chi-Cheemaun has the lowest subsidy of any ferry service in Ontario — she is expected to pay her own bills with ridership revenue.
The market study offered two suggestions to reverse the decline: make it more fun to ride the ferry (especially for walk-on, round-trips) and make sure everybody knows about it. The Peninsula, the Island and the crew are all hoping that the Ontario Government (which owns the ferry service) will provide the budget to make these changes.
But just when the Ferry Service thought they had enough problems, low water levels made it worse. The beginning of the 2013 sailing season was delayed until spring run-off raised the lake into the normal range.
If you want to see her in action, the best place to watch from is the east side of Tobermory Harbour. During July and August the Chi-Cheemaun makes three turnarounds each day. She arrives at 10:55am or so every morning and departs again at 11:20am. She arrives at 3:15pm in the afternoon and departs at 3:40pm. The evening turnaround involves a 7:35pm arrival and an 8:00pm departure.
Come out and watch — or ride — the largest passenger ferry on the Great Lakes.
Tobermory – Paradise at the Tip of the Bruce
Tobermory is considered a paradise by naturalists, photographers, divers, hikers, kayakers, leisure-seekers, golfers and art lovers. It offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, rest and relaxation, sweet, clean air and water and a scenery that is absolutely breathtaking…
Hike the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment along the Bruce Trail or the inland trails of Bruce Peninsula National Park! A feast for the eyes – and camera lenses of the naturalist – Tobermory has the largest concentration of orchids in North America as well as many unique, one-of-a-kind wildflowers! Scuba-dive the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay and explore the many shipwrecks in Fathom Five National Marine Park! Enjoy a cruise on one of the glass bottom tour boats which leave docks in Little Tub Harbour several times each day! Enjoy a special adventure – canoe, kayak or sail around the many islands of Fathom Five or charter a boat for a day of fishing! Partake of the clean, fresh air of the Northern Bruce Peninsula while enjoying an invigorating round of golf at the Cornerstone Golf Club!
For the less adventurous, Tobermory offers a quiet stroll on the boardwalk overlooking Little Tub Harbour with views of luxury yachts and sail boats which visit each year. A most pleasant way to spend an evening! Tobermory has many places to eat – from take-out to fine dining – each offer the local white fish. Nothing beats ice cream on a hot summer’s day, a delicious cup of coffee or fantastic fudge – all available at several of our local shops or wander through the local galleries. Visit the local Museum or take a walk through the warm shallow water of Lake Huron at “Singing Sands” beach on Dorcas Bay. A paved and lighted airstrip is available for fly-in visitors wanting to take advantage of a restful and relaxing vacation or weekend!
Tobermory is part of the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada – a strip of land separating Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. With its frame houses and twin harbours of “Big Tub” and “Little Tub” the atmosphere is one of a quiet urban village. Looking for a venue to host your small conference? Tobermory has the accommodations, restaurants and the meeting facility – Tobermory Community Centre that may suit your needs.
But there is so much more! Tobermory is a busy full-service resort town and a centre for underwater and outdoor adventures.
The unique geological formations of Flowerpot Island and the coastal cliffs are features that attract visitors from around the world. Tobermory is the core area of the UNESCO Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. A perfect getaway spot for naturalists, photographers, divers, hikers, kayakers looking for that special place.
Tobermory offers visitors a full range of accommodations – Hotels, Motels, Bed & Breakfasts, Cottages and Campgrounds. Reservations are highly recommended during the very busy summer months and during the long-weekends.
Tobermory is also the home of the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry, the southern terminus to Manitoulin Island. Reservations are definitely recommended for the 7:00 am sailing in July and August. Or take advantage of the incredible Chi-Cheemaun Dinner Cruise – you won’t be disappointed!
The Port Village of Lion’s Head
One visit to Lion’s Head and you will want to make it a regular stop when visiting the Bruce Peninsula. When locals and visitors are asked to describe Lion’s Head they typically pause and say you can’t it is a feeling. There is a sense of serenity like you have just come home. The views are nothing less than stunning. The limestone cliff rises from the turquoise Caribbean coloured waters, at sunset and sunrise they turn an amazing pink with the suns reflection.
Remember those days when a vacation was just that, a time to relax. There is no better place to do that than Lion’s Head.
Hiker? One of the must do’s is the Bruce Trail. You can park at Moore St, see the Indian Potholes and continue your hike. Be sure to stop at the Lion’s Head lookout and prepare to have your breath taken away. The shear height and sweeping vista is unbelievable. If you are looking for a shorter hike then park at the beach and walk along the boardwalk to the Marina hang a left or a right. If you go right stop and have a photo op in front of the lighthouse, skip a rock and have a look through the mechanical binoculars on the observation deck. Can you see a Lion’s Head in the cliff face? You know that is where we get out name from. If you can’t that’s okay some of the locals don’t know where it is either. If you go left follow the Bruce Trail and check out the caves. Loop around and you will end up back on the Main St where you can get a bite to eat or tour the shops.
Beach Bum? Build a sand castle, spread a blanket out on the grass or hunt for crayfish not of it is hard work.
Stargazer? Lion’s Head is a designated Dark Sky community. The stars are so bright and plentiful you think you can touch them. See how many falling stars you can count and don’t forget to make a wish. On Friday and Saturday nights (July and August) be sure to take in Bayside Astronomy. Take a closer look through the telescopes, local astronomers explain the wonders of the night sky.
Music and the Arts? There are several artist studios in the area showcasing some extraordinary talents. Depending when you are visiting you may be able to take in the art show or a studio tour. Ask around or check out the schedule of events. During July and August be sure to take in Harbour Side Music. It is a series of free concerts held on Friday nights down on the grassy area near the beach. Thursday and Saturday nights there are also jam sessions. Times and locations vary so ask around. A must do as well is the Farmers Market held at the beach Sat Mornings from Victoria Day weekend to Thanksgiving.
We aren’t just a pretty face either. Lion’s Head is small but mighty. We offer almost every amenity you could want grocery Store, hardware, bank, LCBO/beer store, hospital, pharmacy, garage ,chiropractor, dentist, restaurants and some great shopping. Accommodation to suit every one as well. Campgrounds, B&B’s, motel and cottage rentals.
Come visit sometime and don’t be shocked if strangers say Hi, that is just what we do. They are many other events happening throughout the year so be sure to check out the schedule of events.
Sauble Beach – Voted Ontario’s #1 Beach
Sauble Beach is a resort area on the eastern shores of Lake Huron, located along the south-west border of the municipality of South Bruce Peninsula, on the north edge of the Saugeen Nation.
The beach takes its name from that given by early French explorers to the sandy Sauble River, originally Riviere aux Saubles, that empties into the lake near Sauble Falls. The first settler is reported to have been John Eldridge, who built a cottage nearby in 1877, although most of the resort development of the modern beach area dates from about 1948, including still-surviving attractions like the Driftwood Cafe, Sauble Lodge Motel and the Crowd Inn hot-dog stand. The main street has remained relatively untouched in the past 50 years and still reflects a more relaxed and bygone days of the forties or fifties. People can be found swimming, watching the sunset, ice cream in hand, on the bench facing the water.
At over seven miles long (11km), Sauble Beach is said to be the second longest freshwater beach in the world after Wasaga Beach. A unique phenomenon of sandbar deposits building out along the Huron shore keep the beach at Sauble very shallow and warm, making this a popular destination for families with young children. With the beach facing west across Lake Huron, Sauble Beach is also the site of impressive sunset views that attract photographers and cinematographers.
Recreational activities include swimming, windsurfing, water-skiing, fishing, golfing, lawn bowling, tennis, street dances, beach volleyball, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, birding, an annual Winterfest and an annual sandcastle contest. The Canadian National (Beach) Volleyball Championships have been held there, and the local Steelback Sauble Speedway is on the CASCAR professional racing circuit. The Sauble Beach Festival of the Classical Guitar has been held there since 2007. The area is a popular destination among young people for their annual May 2-4 campsite revelries.
While a hot summer long-weekend can see the resident count soar to over 100,000, Sauble Beach is the permanent year-round home to approximately 2000 people. The cottage owners add thousands of seasonal community members, some who stay through the spring to fall time period and others who retreat to Sauble on weekends.Cottage owners are uniquely split between owners who own property outright and cottages that are located on the Native lands. A lease relationship between the Saugeen Nation and these cottagers have allowed for almost 3000 seasonal homes to be built and used at a fair market price. With the Sauble focus on families, this makes cottage ownership easier to achieve. The Saugeen Nation benefits from this land lease rental and cost sharing for services and is administered through the Band and Indian Affairs in Ottawa.
Local businesses offer retail and services for hardware, appliance and grocery shopping, restaurants and hotels, fire and police services, daycare and a medical clinic. These business provide year round support for the community but thrive for their summer business. High speed internet is available for free at a number of the eateries. Even with the lure of the beach, you can stay connected and find time to get away and enjoy the white sand beach.
Wiarton – The Gateway to the Bruce Peninsula
Wiarton is a community in Bruce County, Ontario, at the western end of Colpoys Bay, an inlet off Georgian Bay, on the Bruce Peninsula. The community is part of the town of South Bruce Peninsula, Ontario.
Wiarton is known for the Wiarton Willie Festival, in February each year, when national and international media cover Wiarton Willie and his Groundhog Day prediction
Wiarton began its existence in 1855, when it was surveyed and laid out on lands recently acquired from the First Nations in the area. It was named after the birthplace of Sir Edmund Head, the Governor General of Canada from 1854 to 1861. Settlement first began in 1866, and in 1868, a post office was established.
In 1880, Wiarton was incorporated as a village, then with a population of 750. By 1894, Wiarton had become a town with a population of 2,000, a number similar to its present population of 2,300.
Until 1996, Wiarton was known around Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, as the home of Wiarton Coast Guard Radio, providing continuous weather reports to mariners and residents.[
In 1999, Wiarton was administratively amalgamated into the new municipality of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.
In 2009, the debate to change Wiarton’s name to Peninsula Shores began. As of September 1, 2009, the town name has not been changed.
Geographically, the town is defined by the rugged limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve – one of only twelve such reserves in Canada), which bisects the town. The town rests on the picturesque shores of Colpoys Bay, part of Georgian Bay, itself part of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes whose waters are shared between Canada and the USA.
The town has long been known as the gateway to the Bruce Peninsula, the peninsula separating Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron.