Tobermory Ontario

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

Travelling the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory Ontario

If you are touring the Bruce Peninsula and Tobermory is your destination point. From the point at which you turned northward on Highway 6, and before you reach the entrance to the village of Tobermory you will see the entrances to many provincial and national parks. Each offers a unique place to stay or visit and experience the natural history that is the Bruce Peninsula. 

There are some great provincial and national parks in the area where you can pitch your tent and enjoy the wilderness of the northern Bruce Peninsula. There are also some privately-owned campgrounds in the area. On a couple of occasions, we have enjoyed camping at a campground almost immediately southwest of Tobermory. Aw, the smell of a campfire, nothing in the world tops the aroma of smoky eggs and bacon on ab open fire in the morning. 

In Tobermory Ontario turn right at the second intersection. Immediately, you will think that you have been transported to an Atlantic coast fishing village! Park your car and walk. It is the best way to visit this wonderful little community with its shops, restaurants and amazing scenery. Note that everywhere there is evidence of the rich maritime history of the area. Take the time to absorb the tales of courageous mariners and pioneers from all walks of life. But don’t ignore the attention given to the rich natural heritage of the region. There are great pictures and stories to be enjoyed! 

The waters around Tobermory have become a major attraction for scuba divers from around the world. There are dive shops, and tour boat companies, as well as the Fathom Five National Marine Park staff who are well qualified to assist you with your diving needs. 

The glass bottom boat tours of the area and trips to the islands, especially Flowerpot Island, are well worth an afternoon adventure. 

Before leaving Tobermory make sure to visit the Ferry Dock to watch the Chi Chee Maun arrive or depart. The ferry service has a long and storied tradition. For More on the region Ferry Service history click here

Every summer, from the twenty-fourth of May weekend until Thanksgiving the village of Tobermory Ontario is a buzz with visitors. For decades thousands of travelers have passed through the community each year to board or depart from the various ferryboats, which have plied the waters between the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. Many other visitors have made Tobermory a destination rather than “jumping off point” to Manitoulin and the north shore. They come to the “Tub” to dive and explore the many shipwrecks which dot the underwater landscape of the area. 

Tobermory Ontario: A Brief History

The hive of activity that Tobermory Ontario has become and the presence of many successful commercial enterprises might surprise some of the earliest visitors and settlers in that area. However, it must be remembered that in the 1800s tourism and other related ventures were not the reasons why pioneers came to the Bruce Peninsula. It was the quest for land suitable for agriculture that attracted settlement. 

In "The Early Settlement of Tobermory and St. Edmonds Township” author Patrick Folkes provides excerpts from the reports of three early government representatives whose responsibility it was to prepare the area for an influx of settlers. Their comments were less than enthusiastic about the future prospects of that area.

In 1857 A. G. Robinson, the chief engineer for Lake Huron lighthouse operations described the area as being “totally unfit for agricultural purposes”.  

In 1869, Public Land Surveyor, Charles Rankin, arrived in the area to resurvey the proposed road that would run through the centre of St. Edmonds Township from the Lindsay town line to Tobermory Ontario harbour. After six weeks of struggle to complete the task, Rankin and his crew returned to their base camp. He summarized in his report that the work had been “one of the most troublesome explorations and pieces of line running ... which I have ever met with”. 

William Bull, a representative of the Indian Department, was sent in 1873 to explore the region to ascertain the amount of good agricultural lands and also the quality and quantity of timber resources. He reported that the town plot and some of the surrounding area was “nearly all burnt off, leaving the white rocky ridges quite bare”. However, Bull also reported that the area, nearly four thousand acres, adjacent to the community was perhaps the best in the region. 

Despite such warnings, during the 1870s and 1880s the government sold tracts of land to prospective settlers under the guise of promoting them as agricultural lands. The result was chaotic. Some pioneers arrived and struggled to create farmland. Others came and after battling the environment and the elements left.  Some of these plots were taken over by others, while tracts remained undeveloped. 

The hardier pioneers remained. While many continued to cultivate the soil, they turned to other ventures to sustain their families. Many worked for the lumbering companies that held the timber rights in the area. Fishing had long been carried out in the area. Editions of the Owen Sound Comet from the early 1850s report of fishermen arriving from “Tupper Murray” with large catches of fish to trade for supplies. Many of the early settlers to the region augmented their diets and income by fishing. 

The area around Tobermory Ontario remained relatively isolated for many decades. Land transportation was difficult at best. Consequently, the community was dependent upon the vessels that sailed around the tip of Bruce Peninsula from Georgian Bay to Lake Huron.  


However, the arrival and emergence of the automobile as a means of transportation had a great impact upon the Tobermory area. The automobile age was closely followed by the growth and expansion of the tourism industry. To facilitate both of these twentieth century phenomena a good system of roads had to be built. The completion of an automobile route to Tobermory marked the end of isolation and the beginning of tourism in the area. Today tourism is a major economic factor in the life of the area. 



To find out more about the history of the Tobermory region of the Bruce Peninsula, I highly recommend Hewers of the Forests, Fishers of the Lakes, Cathy Wyonch, editor.

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!

  1. History Articles
  2. The Bruce Peninsula
  3. Tobermory Ontario