Colpoys Bay Vista - Awesome! 

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


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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; and 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 vessels loaded their goods, the passengers strolled through the forests, often taking a picnic lunch, and picking the wild berries which were 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 port of call. 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 12th being held at Big Bay. Other area newspaper also reported various summer events being held at Big Bay. 

As the lumbering activities 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 the 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.

For information about other historic and picturesque Bruce Peninsula routes check out my recent book about the area:  Journey the Bruce Peninsula Past & Present makes a great travel companion as you travel this unique part of Canada's Great Lakes region.

Discover More About the Bruce Peninsula

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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.

Bruce Peninsula winters could be difficult, especially in pioneer times when transportation connections were limited to only a few months each year.

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!

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!

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.

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!

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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