Colpoys Bay Vista - Awesome! 

Colpoys Bay Vista - Awesome! A short drive from either Wiarton or Owen Sound is one of the most magnificent views to be found in the province of Ontario!

I have often written in this column that one of the most beautiful sights anywhere is the entrance to Colpoys Bay along the Island View Drive. This summer, I moved a short distance from this area. Between unpacking, we have travelled many of the roads in Sarawak and Keppel townships. 

One Sunday evening, my parents, who are the ultimate road warriors, when it comes to exploring the back roads of this area, dropped by and suggested that we go for a short drive. They had a surprise for us! 

We followed Grey Road No. 1 to Kemble, but instead of following the main route, we continued straight through on Kemble Rock Road. After climbing the steep and winding hill, we drove for a few kilometres until we reached an intersection where we turned left on Concession 24. At the next right, Big Bay Sideroad, we turned. 

When we reached the top of the first hill, before us lay an incredible view! The entrance to Colpoys Bay and the shoreline of Georgian Bay stretching northward lay below us. The panoramic vista was breathtaking! White Cloud, Griffith and Hay islands, the north shore of Colpoys Bay with its sheer cliffs looming large, like some prehistoric sentinels dispatched to provide a safe haven for seafarers and their vessels weary from battling the raging forces of a storm-frothed Georgian Bay. 

Descending the hill, we soon arrived in Big Bay. This picturesque village has a long tradition as an important way station for the early coastal vessels which plied the waters between Owen Sound and Manitoulin Island. 

These vessels stopped here to renew their fuel supplies or to load cargoes of timber for transport to sawmills. Some of the wood cut near Big Bay found its way to such far away ports as Chicago. While their vessel was loading its goods, the passengers strolled through the forests, often taking a picnic lunch, and picked the wild berries which were to be found in abundance in the area. 

Big Bay was a popular destination for early area travelers. Coastal vessels such as the Prince Alfred advertised charters to this 19th century resort. For many years, there was no direct road connection between Owen Sound and Big Bay. Therefore, it was dependent upon water transportation to bring visitors and cargo to the village. The Wiarton Echo often reported regattas, picnics and special events celebrating holidays such as Dominion Day and July 12 being held at Big Bay. Other area newspaper also reported various summer events being held at Big Bay. 

As the lumbering on the peninsula moved northward, fewer vessels stopped at Big Bay for cargo and refueling. With the onslaught of road building, it became easier for area travelers to travel to other centres. Area residents could travel to the larger communities of Wiarton and Owen Sound for their supplies. Gradually, commercial interest in Big Bay's port declined. 

In the past few decades, Big Bay has experienced a population growth. The picturesque scenery, water sports and fishing have lured year around residents as well as summer visitors. Cottages and new homes have been built and the once busy port community attracts visitors from far and near. 

Since I first found this new route to Big Bay and its majestic vista, I have returned many times. Each time I linger a little longer. Early in the morning, when there is a heavy mist over the water, I have caught myself straining my eyes looking for the image of an ancient schooner or steamer plowing through the waters. 

Perhaps one of these mornings, a ghost ship will appear on the horizon. Wouldn't it be the perfect way for a Georgian Bay historian to start his day by seeing an image of the Prince Alfred with Captain Port at helm emerge from the mists that shroud Colpoys Bay?

A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on August 17, 1996.

Discover More About the Bruce Peninsula

Getting to the Bruce Peninsula is a relatively easy driving trip. Here are driving directions from three regions to the peninsula.

Barrow Bay Ontario a Picturesque Georgian Bay Community owes its origin to the once-thriving Bruce Peninsula lumbering industry. Today it is a quiet summer get-away!

Bruce Peninsula Lumber History details the impact of the forest products industry on the development of the region.

Bruce Peninsula Lumbering provided the stimulus to develop and grow the pioneer economy on the newly settled Bruce Peninsula. 

Bruce Peninsula Municipal Politics: No matter what the venue, or the issue, seldom is a popular decision made that suits everyone. 

Bruce Peninsula Travel Routes were often a matter of debate because in the early years, land travel was virtually unattainable for settlers and lumbermen alike.

Aboriginal History: Bruce Peninsula has a long indigenous heritage not just for the native nation living there today, but for other native groups as well.

Aboriginal History: the 1836 Treaty made promises to the native peoples of the Bruce Peninsula which did not last long before everything changed again.

Aboriginal land history continues the story of aboriginal land issues on the Bruce Peninsula. How it happened is a point for discussion by everyone.

Settler Impact on Bruce Peninsula Natives was not only from the imposition of treaties, but also from British military plans.

"Half Mile-Strip" Treaty made it possible for a relatively smooth overland connection to be built between Owen Sound and the Lake Huron shoreline.

Catherine Sutton: aka Nahneebahweequay was a hero, fighting for her Indigenous rights and those of her family.

Allenford United Church history details not only some important information about that community's church, but also about one of the founders of this Ontario community.

Colpoys Bay Vista - Awesome! A short drive from either Wiarton or Owen Sound is one of the most magnificent views to be found in the province of Ontario!

Dyer's Bay Ontario: Began as a Lumbering Settlement and today it is a wonderful vacation retreat.

Elsinore Ontario is the southern-most point on the Bruce Peninsula, located about half-way between Owen Sound and the Lake Huron shoreline.

Forest Products on the Bruce Peninsula contributed greatly to the growth and development of that region of the province of Ontario.

Gillies Lake: aka Ghost Lake has a mysterious past as its original name, Ghost Lake, implies.

Great Grey Owls on the Bruce Peninsula was a surprise discovery for ornithologists and others. Sadly, the story of their visit had an unfortunate conclusion.

Pioneer Campers: Hope Bay mostly considered the peninsula untamed wilderness and some of the locals were not about to disappoint them!

A Pioneer Community: Driftwood Crossing, at the southern-most part of the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula was at the midpoint between the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron coasts.

Pioneer Missionary James Atkey arrived on Colpoys Bay to minister to the native community near Oxenden until a treaty uprooted his parishioners.

Pioneer tourists first visited the Bruce Peninsula in the 1800s and the region continues as a great recreational and tourism destination today!

Pioneer Vacations on the Bruce Peninsula got an eerie start in the Hope Bay region of the peninsula.

Lighthouses  Lighthouses were vital to Georgian Bay Sailing.

Sauble Beach Ontario has seen it all. A fishing outport; a sawmilling centre; and an internationally acclaimed tourist resort area!

Sauble Beach  This popular beach is known as Canada's Daytona Beach.

Lion's Head  Sailors often sought refuge from the stormy Georgian Bay waters in its well-protected harbour.

Park Head  Grand Trunk Railway in Park Head Ontario was an important railway depot on the Bruce Peninsula when in 1894 the first train chugged through Park Head.

Stokes Bay  Welcomed fishermen as their first non-native visitors. Today, if you are a fisherman, you will also probably want to try your luck landing a walleye, lake trout or any of the other game fish that live in the coastal waters of Lake Huron.

Tobermory Ontario has a rich history and, is the northern- most destination point for travellers visiting the world famous Bruce Peninsula.

Tobermory Ontario Tourism is focused on shipwreck diving which has become so popular that tourism has become an important part of that community's economy. 

Tobermory pioneers experienced a life in a community that was anything but the tourism hive of activity that it is today.

A Flowerpot Island cruise is not only entertaining, but it is also very educational as you will see things that you have never viewed before!

Wiarton Ontario  This historic community was a great place to live in the early settlement days and still is a busy tourist stop on your way up the Bruce Peninsula.

Wiarton  had ambitions to Succeed but while success brought them a railroad and other ventures did not have a sweet ending for many in the town.

Wiarton Ontario’s First Newspaper  A catalyst in supporting road construction and bringing the railway to Wiarton in hopes of making the town the economic leader of the area. But disappointment looms...

Wiarton news: 1890s, as seen in the pages of the local newspaper revealed problems typical of today's communities 

Wiarton Beet Industry was to be a great boost to the town's economy. Instead, it left most people with a bad taste in their mouths.

Travel the Bruce: Owen Sound to Wiarton  A wonderful journey from Owen Sound to Wiarton.

Travel the Bruce: Wiarton to Tobermory  Relaxing and historic journey.

Bruce Peninsula  The Bruce Peninsula is a compelling place, with a rich history, to visit. Once you have traveled there, we guarantee that you will return, again and again!

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