Tobermory Ontario Tourism

Tobermory Ontario Tourism:
Marine Centre to Tourism Mecca 

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

Long before settlement of any consequence occurred in the Tobermory region, ships were sailing the waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay which surround the northern-most point of the Bruce Peninsula. Among the vessels that sailed in the area were British ships that patrolled the waters of Georgian Bay during the War of 1812, protecting the area from possible American invasion. 

Fishermen built semi-permanent structures to provide shelter while they fished the area waters, and then smoked their catch on shore. Fishermen from what is now Southern Ontario, and the State of Michigan, spent the summer months off the Fishing Islands on the Lake Huron shore where the village of Oliphant now stands. In the mid-1800s, fishermen established a settlement which became the village of Tobermory at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. 

Originally, fishing was the main occupation of the early settlers. Fish were so plentiful in the Great Lakes in the 1830s, in some locations such as the Fishing Islands was "more associated with a method of corralling cattle or instigating a buffalo run" rather than the methods used today. The 1851 census reports that 25 per cent of the 11,886 barrels of fish cured in Canada West were cured on the Lake Huron shoreline of Bruce and Huron counties. 

In 1852, the Owen Sound Comet reported that fishermen from Tupper Murray (as Tobermory was known colloquially in the 1800s) had visited this community for their winter supplies. Because roads did not exist between Tobermory and the rest of the world, the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron were the only highways connecting their community with the outside world. When the highway was finally built to connect the northern point of the peninsula  with Owen Sound, another industry came to life in the area Tobermory Ontario tourism. 

As well as becoming an important tourist attraction to boaters and other travellers, Tobermory became an important ferry boat terminal. Over the years, many ships have carried people, cars and cargo from southern Ontario to Manitoulin Island and on to the north shore. Growing up in Owen Sound, I remember the “Norisle,” “Normac,” and “Norgoma” loading their cargoes and heading off to Tobermory and on to Manitoulin Island. Today, the “Chi Cheemaun” travels that route doing the work of its three predecessors. 

There were many factors that led to the creation and success of Tobermory Ontario tourism. 

A version of this article appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

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.

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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