Chicora:
A Foggy Voyage - Part2

Chicora: a Foggy Voyage came to mind one foggy evening, when I was driving along the Georgian Bay shoreline and I noticed the lights of a large vessel making its way towards the harbour. I stopped to get a better view of the vessel. In the mist, I could barely make out the outline of the vessel, only the lights were clearly visible. The ship seemed to be moving very slowly, perhaps due to the thickness of the fog which covered the bay. 

You will recall from "Chicora:Touring the Great Lakes -Part 1" the Chicora had made it to the north shore Georgian Bay in the first leg of its 1871 cruise on the Great Lakes. The second leg continues from that point.

After leaving Bruce Mines, the "Chicora" headed towards Sault Ste. Marie. During the day, they sailed through the channel which separates St. Joseph's Island from the mainland. The captain planned to spend the night at a small harbor known as Wood Dock. The reason for this overnight stay was due to the fact that the next leg of the trip was through a passage known as the Devil's Gap. This stretch of water was a narrow channel which required skillful maneuvering of the ship around several rocky islands. 

However, that evening, a dense fog settled over the area, and the "Chicora” could not find its way to Wood Dock. Finally, the captain ordered the vessel to stop and a small boat was sent ashore to find the pier. After an hour of searching, the boat returned and the captain cautiously with aid of making frequent soundings, brought the larger vessel safely to port. 

The Devil's Gap had a reputation which struck fear in the hearts of sailors. Probably because of this reputation, Coyne remembered that "some of the passengers had their imaginations so wrought up by the stories of the beauty and dangers" of the Gap that they arose at 3:00 a.m. the next morning to witness the "Chicora's" passage through the area. However, Coyne remained snugly in his bed until a more civilized hour. When he arose, his vessel was safely moored at Sault Ste. Marie. 

They docked on the American side and the four-hour layover allowed the passengers some time for sight seeing. His comments about the American troops stationed at Fort Brady is illustrative of the British sentiments, or perhaps prejudices, of that era. 

Coyne wrote that "A Canadian is at once struck by the slouchy, independent appearance and gait of these "boys in blue." The tunic is the only article of their uniform which looks at all becoming and neat. The shakos and trousers are models of ugliness. The garrison contains some stout, strapping fellows; but the men with exception seem to be awkward and loose-jointed." On the contrary he wrote "our volunteers compare very favorably to them". 


After leaving Sault Ste. Marie, the "Chicora" made its way to a native village on Batchewanaung Bay for another re-fueling stop. The "Chicora" sailed the final 160 miles to Marquette, the end point of their voyage. 

We are indebted to those early Canadians like Mr. Coyne, who took the time to write down their thoughts and experiences. These sources are not only entertaining, but also informative as they allow us to know more about early life in our part of the country. 

More Georgian Bay Sailing Stories

Recreational Boating on Georgian Bay  There is a long tradition of recreational boating on Georgian Bay. Reports indicate that regattas were being held at Owen Sound as early as 1852.

Great Lakes Recreational Boating  Great Lakes recreational boating has been a popular pastime in the summertime in the Georgian Bay region for many years.

Yachts on Georgian Bay  A history of yachts on Georgian Bay.

Georgian Bay Ferry Boat Service between Tobermory and Manitoulin Island has a history that is more than a century old. Today, the Chi-Cheemaun continues that tradition.

Ferry boat service after 1930 increased in activity between Tobermory at tip of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island

1867 Election Meant Sailing to the Soo. There was only one polling station in the Georgian Bay region in the first election after Canadian Confederation and that was in Sault Ste. Marie!

A Flowerpot Island boat trip takes you to one of the many Georgian Bay islands  dot the landscape of the waters around Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. One island features not only unique landforms and vegetation, but also a mysterious indigenous Romeo and Juliet tale of romance.

Georgian Bay's 1st Pioneer Settler In 1825 or 1826, depending upon the source, a lonely figure in a birch bark canoe could be seen paddling the waters of Georgian Bay. 

Chicora the first stage of an 1871 Great Lakes tour aboard a cruise ship on Georgian Bay.

Chicora the final stage of an 1871 cruise a foggy voyage on the Great Lakes.

Historic Vacations: King's Royal Park  Historic Vacations: King's Royal Park, opulent adventures for the wealthy of the day. It was the late 19th century and tourism was beginning to bloom.

Sailing the Lake Huron Shoreline is a step back in history and a delightfully scenic trip. But beware of the big waves that can arise anytime!

Sailing Lake Huron Shoreline Part 2 takes us through the most treacherous part of our voyage and also a most interesting part as we visit some unique islands.

Georgian Bay Sailing Georgian Bay Sailing history is a rich tapestry of tales of heroism, tragedy, and exploration. Sailing vessels traversing the rugged waters of Georgian Bay predate the arrival of European explorers and settlers.


  1. History Articles
  2. Georgian Bay Sailing
  3. Chicora a Foggy Voyage Part2