Georgian Bay



It has been a long time since we have crossed a large body of water.  Georgian Bay is a large bay of Lake Huron, located entirely within Ontario, Canada.  The main body of the bay lies east of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island and its northwest is the North Channel.  The shores and waterways of the Georgian Bay are the traditional domain of the Anishinaabeg First nations people to the north and Huron-Petun (Wyandot ) to the south.  The bay was the thus a major Algonquian-Huron trade route.  Samuel de Champlain, the first European to explore and map the area in 1615-1616 called it  “La Mer douce” (the calm sea) also reference to the bay’s freshwater.  At the edge of the Trent-Severn waterway lies what has been described as “the front door to the north” the spectacular crystal waters of the Georgian Bay Region.  A boaters paradise Georgian Bay sustains abundant wetlands and habitat for wildlife within the more than 30,000 island.  The most striking feature of Georgian Bay is its topography.  The ancient granite shoreline, the windswept pines, the sparkling waters and abundant wildlife makes this an unforgettable journey.


Land both above and below water consists mostly of granite outcroppings.  The surface of many islands is a very thin soil over hard rock with rugged pristine landscape abounds.  The 30,000 islands (actually 83,000 at current count) are among the best-chartered and the worlds most beautiful cruising grounds, stretching more than 100 miles from Port Severn to the French River.  Carved from the Pre-Cambrian shield these islands provide protection from Georgian Bay demanding a watchful eye because of their density and unforgiving hardness but still rewarded with breathtaking vistas and serene anchorages.  Leaving Port Severn, we can head north either by open water or by taking the “inside passage,  also called the “small craft route of which we are doing.  The channel twist revealing magnificent new panoramas with each turn and in some places the rocks seem to squeeze us in as we navigate through the markers.  This is just amazing like something I would see in a book or on postcards and to actually be here navigating through this is beyond words.

This is O’Donnell Point Provincial Nature Reserve with coastal bedrock upland and lowland forest and wetlands.  Camping is prohibited and recreational activity.   I guess these campers didn’t read the rules.  I want to know how they keep their tents secured to the ground when it’s all rock?

This area is called Archipelago sometimes called an island group or island chain, cluster of island or a collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands like the ones we are seeing.


Then we came to the Massasauga Provincial Park in Parry Sound District encompasses hundreds of islands on the coast of Georgian Bay and many inland lakes including Clear Lake and Spider Lake.  Classified as a “Natural Environment park it contains no roads, so camping is limited to interior sites.  Massasauga means the mouth of river in Ojibwe.  The name also refers to the massasauga rattlesnake which is found in the area.  I know I will not be walking on trails I don’t like any kind of snakes.

We took time out for a restful change after having cruised around some remote islands, channels, and headlands of the 30,000 islands and visiting the area’s capital Parry Sound.  There is little dockage available and only one town Parry Sound that is larger than a hamlet.  In fact Parry Sound is the chief port of call for all of eastern Georgian Bay.  This is a place of history, of lumber barons, Ojibway hunters and fishermen, explorers, railway magnates and British naval officers.  We would have been to our dock at 2:30 except we had to wait for the Rose Point Swing Bridge to open on the hr. and we missed it by 10 minutes.


Today it’s know as the birth place of Boston Bruin great Bobby Orr and home port of the Island Queen, the largest sight-seeing cruises ship in Canada.  At Two Miles and Seven Miles narrows they take up the entire channel.




We were coming out of Seven Mile narrows we heard the security call from the Island Queen approaching the narrows.  Kent called on the VHF radio that we were in the narrows so the Island Queen waited for us and Anchor Down to clear the cut.


Parry Sound CPR Trestle crosses the valley of the Sequin River just upstream the river’s mouth at Parry Sound, on Georgian Bay where we stayed.  It was completed in 1907 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the trestle is 1,695 feet long and 105 feet high.  The first scheduled train passed over the span in 1908 and it the longest rail trestle east of the Rocky Mountains.  In July 1914 Tom Thomson visited Parry Sound and painted the bridge and the former Parry Sound Lumber Company.

We are staying at Big Sound Marina in Parry Sound, Ontario for one night.  Parry Sound received its name when incorporated in 1887 after Sir William Edward Parry, English Rear Admiral and Arctic Explorer of North-West Passage fame.  This is how Johnny and Liz enjoyed the nice night on the top of their boat.  We had a very nice sunset for a change.



Saturday morning we woke up to a thunderstorm so we waited until 11:00 before we left the marina as we only had about 12 miles to navigate to Killbear Marina.  The marina is located west of Parry Sound at the intersection of the north and south Small-Craft Route and the east and west shipping channel.

Killbear Marina in Nobel, Ontario is a quiet and clean place in a protected cove away from everything.  There is no WiFi, groceries, alcohol, courtesy car, and even no laundry.  It was a day of just relaxing for Kent and I did some cleaning on the boat.  We met David and Tanya locals working on their boat. It was a cool overcast day not like last years summer which was very hot as this year it’s very wet and cool.  The marina does have a restaurant and a great view.

When we left Sunday morning the sun was shinning but on the cool side.  There was very little wind and hardly any boat traffic.  This lighthouse is called Snug Harbor lighthouse.  There are more than thirty lighthouse on Georgian Bay to guide the cultural explorer.  The red ship is called the Samuel Risley a Search and Rescue ship at anchor.  Samuel Risley is 230 feet long and 46 feet wide.

Navigating on Georgian Bay takes you in and out of the Bay and through narrows, islands, and on the Small Craft Route.  These are pictures of homes on the islands, a cross, the clear blue water, and they don’t begin to capture the amazing view.   Today we left the Small Craft Route and took the outside route for twenty miles to Byng inlet.  We could not of had a smoother crossing than todays it was perfect.



Five mile long bay the entry is dotted with thousands of islands.  Named after Admiral Byng of the British Royal Navy, the inlet gained importance in the early days of Canada’s industrial boom, due to its natural harbor and its immense stands of timber.  Old Mill island mid-channel between the hamlets of Britt and Byng, once provided cut timber from Gibson’s sawmill.   Byng inlet is on the northwest Small Craft Route inside the 30,000 islands.



When the first boats navigated these tricky island passages in the mid 1800s, very few of the channels were marked with anything more than a pile of stones.  So, on an extreme northern point of land, barrels filled with pitch were set on fire to guide the ships.  With its French history, the area became known as Pointe au Baril (Barrel Point).  Then later became the site of today’s red-roofed lighthouse and keeper’s cottage, built-in 1889, that boaters pass coming in from the north passage.  French explore Samuel de Champlain who called Georgian Bay La Mer Douce (The Soft Sea), landed nearby.

More pictures of Georgia Bay as we navigated towards Wrights Marina at Britt, Ontario.   The marina has a lot to offer WiFi, pump out, laundry, the first courtesy car we have found in Canada along with a great view.  We will be spending two-days here.  I found out today that the Grandparents started the marina in 1950 and ran it until Karries parents took it over in 1970 and then Graham and Karrie Lacey took it over (daughter & son-in-law) in 2000.   They have a looper board where you can leave your boat card and when I was looking at it I came across Marc & Michele McCoys card they are from our marina.

Kent and Johnny went to town for some supplies.  They said there was a small mall except it’s all in one building.  This is the only store in town or I should say is the town.


It has grocerys,  liquor, beer store, hardware, plumbing, fishing equipment, and marine hardware.  Liz and I had to check this store out and the guys were right.  They failed to tell us that there is a restaurant on the top floor.

They do have one small church and a fire department not far from the store.

This is our beautiful view off the back of our boat and the sunset Tuesday night.

Our plans to leave on Wednesday were delayed as Kent and I did a road trip back to Bay Port Marina to pick up our fixed props.  Karrie Lacey owner of the marina was so kind to let us borrow one of their cars so we could drive two hrs one way back to Midland.  The drive was beautiful with trees, streams, and granite walls.

We saw many rock formations along Hwy 69 and found out they are called Inuksuk.  A human made stone landmark or cairn used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaalilt, and Yupik and other people of the Arctic region of North American.  The inuksuk may have been used for navigation as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, or hunting grounds. The word inuksuk means “that which acts in the capacity of a human.  A large number of inuksuk have been built-in some areas along the Trans-Canada Highway.  In 2010 a journalist from Sudbury’s Northern Life counted 93 inuksuk along Highway 69 between Sudbury and Parry Sound.  That is the highway we traveled today.


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