2008 Ontario Marina Guide Features a Story on Lake Huron Written by Stephen Weir
Every year for the past five years I have written travel stories for the annual 2008 Marinas and Destination Guide - Boating Ontario. Late last year I updated last year's story for the annual guide. That small format magazine came out in January and made its debut at the annual Toronto International Boat Show.
HEAD: Lake Huron and Area
DECK: Catch the sun on a sandy beach. Cruise and fish the open water. Lake Huron is ready to thrill with every visit.
By Stephen Weir
What was once called La Mer Douce (the fresh water sea) by early French explorers and later, Lac des Hurons (The Lake of the Huron Indians), by the First Nations people, is a vast on-water playground where excitement is king. The second largest Great Lake with a surface area spanning 23, 010 square miles, approximately the size of West Virgina, Lake Huron is considered the third largest lake in world (if the saline Caspian Sea is included) and boasts a shoreline spanning 6,157 kilometers. While the west coast of the Bruce Peninsula is generally uninhabited, with dark, dense forests and a rugged shoreline, Huron’s Sun Coast stands true to its name. The sunsets are absolutely stunning and it’s a common sight to see the sky light up with deep hues of red and orange on a warm summer’s evening.
What’s even more impressive are the series of activities that can be enjoyed here. On any given day in the summer, when the temperatures are ideal for boating, waterskiing, anchoring, diving, and of course, fishing, are just a few of the activities thousands of visitors enjoy here every year.
Many communities dot the shoreline and offer the some of most excitement anywhere. Whether it’s a competitive beach volleyball tournament in Grand Bend, or the majestic charm of Bayfield, there’s always something fascinating along the waterfront. Anglers, too, will find excitement. At almost every drop of the line, a relentless fight is almost guaranteed by chinook salmon, bass, pike, or catfish. Additionally, if there’s time for further exploring, go off Huron’s beaten’ path and check out the numerous rivers that can be accessed by either canoe or kayak.
Starting a journey on Lake Huron is often a difficult decision since there are many active communities. Consider Grand Bend, situated just north of London, Ontario. “The sun surf fun capital of Ontario” is a boater-friendly destination that boasts modern marinas that can accommodate even the largest power boat, while campgrounds, resorts, motels and bed and breakfasts are never too far away.
In addition to the endless activities, highlighted events this year include the annual Grand Bend Buffalo Burgerfest (June 21 & 22), Pinery Provincial Park’s Savanna Festival (July 19), and the 8th annual Mopar Canadian Nationals (July 18-20), the largest drag racing event in Canada. Local volleyball tournaments and several plays are also held throughout the summer. For nature lovers, Grand Bend is abundant with wildlife and its common to spot rare, exotic birds, free roaming deer and even world famous butterflies, all inhabiting the sand dunes of Pinery Provincial Park.
Another exciting and charming community, just to the north of Grand Bend, is the village of Bayfield. Named one of the 10 prettiest small towns in Canada, boaters will love Bayfield with its seven marine facilities within town limits and there are more slips (450) than there are people. The downtown district is just a short walk from the waterfront.
Just up the lake is Goderich with two marinas featuring transient docking and several marine services, and perhaps set a course north to Saugeen Shores, which includes the amalgamated communities of Port Elgin, Southampton and Saugeen Township. If you visit Port Elgin during the tourist season, the community operates a miniature steam train that can take you on a two-kilometer ride from the waterfront to the town site. The local marina offers countless slips as well as several services including laundry, transient docking, ice/water, gas/diesel and shorepower.
This area is also a terrific fishing district as Saugeen Shores is known for its Chinook, Coho and Pink Salmon, Trout, Walleye, and Whitefish. The Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby, held the last week of July 26th to August 9th, is a high-profile contest with big cash prizes. This derby is run by the Lake Huron Fishing Club volunteers, who also operate the Chinook salmon hatchery in Port Elgin. Derby profits have paid for a state-of-the-art fish cleaning station at the Port Elgin Harbour.
As you travel toward Sauble Beach, the Lake Huron shoreline morphs from sandy beaches to the emergence of the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Peninsula, one of the most unique parts of Ontario. This enormous finger of limestone juts approximately 60 kilometers north from Sauble Beach to Tobermory.
One other interesting area on Lake Huron is the region north of Sauble Beach known as the Fishing Islands. This archipelago of rocky land and shoals is well named, as it offers both the best sightseeing topography and perhaps the best bass fishing in North America. Have you had your fill of salmon? The islands are boating friendly – stop for a picnic and a dip in the warm shallow blue water.
If your course takes you from the eco-rated marinas of Sauble Beach to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, be aware there are no full-service marinas along the way. But docks, government operated lighthouses and gas pumps at fishing lodges from Stokes Bay to Cape Hurd are available.
SIDE BAR #1
SIX REASONS TO VISIT SARNIA
13th Annual Kids Funfest
Showcasing more than 80 activities for the kids!
For more information call (519) 332-0330 Ext. 20 or visit www.sarnia.ca or www.tourismsarnialambton.com
46th annual Sarnia-First Nation ”AAMJIWNAANG” Pow Wow
A insightful dance competition for ages 7 to 50+. For all dancers & drummers.
For more information call 519-336-8410
Sarnia’s Garden Tip Toe Tour
A self-guided tour of approximately 10 fabulous and groomed gardens.
For more information call 519-542-3435
Sarnia Kinsmen Ribfest
Vendors from as far away as Florida come to boast their secret rib recipes. A carnival and entertainment are other highlights.
19th Annual Hobbyfest
See a vast display and demonstration of various hobby and leisure activities.
For more information call (519) 332-0330 or visit www.city.sarnia.on.ca
A cultural celebration highlighting Greek food, music, dancing and more!
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 1299 Murphy Rd., Sarnia, For more information call 519-542-1142
SIDE BAR #2
Three transient marinas await boaters in Bayfield. And once your lines are tied, it’s advisable to stay for a while. In addition the quaint hotels, and inns, Bayfield is known for its first-class shopping with its numerous boutiques, shops, and galleries. If it’s dining you’re after, there’s a several restaurants are never too far away. Bayfield is also known for its spectacular summer theatre scene with the acclaimed Stratford Festival, the Blyth Festival or the Huron Country Playhouse.
For more information about Bayfield and its 2008 events and attractions visit www.villageofbayfield.com
SIDE BAR #3
Port Elgin is part of the district of Saugeen Shores, which consists of the amalgamated municipalities of Southhampton and Saugeen Township. The local marina has transient docking and is a gateway to many amenities. Dine or shop in its exciting downtown district, stroll a sandy beach or visit any one of the exciting festivals or events. Countless spectacles take place between Port Elgin and South Hampton all season including:
• The 14th Annual Cruisers Nights – every Thursday night from May 22 to September 11
• The Huron Fringe Birding Festival – May 23 to June 1
• The Burkes Feast On The Beach – June 29
Port Elgin Antique Show and Sale – July 18 to 19
• Port Elgin Flea Market – July 25 to August 27
• Chantry Chinook Classic Fishing Derby – July 26-August 9
• Southampton's 150th Anniversary Weekend – August 14 to 17
• Canadian Big Band Celebration – September 19 to September 21
For more information on the local and upcoming events visit www. www.saugeenshores.ca
SIDE BAR #4
DOUBLE YOUR SUMMER DELIGHTS
Why not try someplace new this summer? Here are two other communities that can perhaps make you stay a little longer than planned:
Goderich – Shop in its unique, Octagon-shaped town square, enjoy one of three of the sandy beaches or visit for the summer events and attractions. Be sure to check out the Festival of Arts and Crafts July 4 - 6, the Goderich Farmer’s Market (every Saturday, Victoria Day to Thanksgiving), or the annual Celtic Festival. For more information about Goderich and its events visit www.goderich.ca
Kincardine – While Kincardine is acclaimed for its sunsets, the town also offers three beaches, a vibrant downtown, plus many things to see including a wooden lighthouse built in 1881, the mysterious Madisons Haunted Inn plus the Flea and Market in Victoria Park. There are also many exciting events including the Kincardine Summer Music Festival August 3-16, Kincardine Scottish Festival July 4 – 6 and the Fish Kincardine Derby scheduled for May 2008. For more information visit www.kincardine.net
1, From the water or on the extensive chin of sand beaches, spectacular sunsets can be enjoyed all along Lake Huron in the summer.
2, Bayfield is a shopper’s delight with its series of boutiques and shops.
3, There’s always plenty of action in Grand Bend, including competitive beach volleyball throughout the season.