Wednesday morning we left Wrights Marina following the Byng Inlet out into 30 miles of open water on Lake Huron in Georgian Bay. The weather is overcast with some wind. I hope it doesn’t get stronger as we navigate across the open water. Johnny and Liz (Anchor Down) decided to take the outside route to Killarney which is straightforward and hazard free and they can run fast if they choose. Kent and I decided to take the small craft inside route.
There are no roads even close to this area and the coast took on a primeval aspect. The rocks are bolder and have taken on a pink color, the soil cover thinner, and the twisted pines bow eastward from the relentless west wind. We navigated past Robinson and Sheep Head Island to our starboard (right), which had some cottages or homes on the islands in Cunningham’s Channel.
We Proceeded up the scenic Beaverstone Bay through that narrow shallow channel that was well-marked. If you look at the picture with the markers it was well marked but a tight pass. Glad our boat is no wider we hardly made it through the markers. Then we had to do a sharp dogleg to port (left) at the end of the Channel. The shore line makes a sharp 90 degree turn here the precise northeast corner of Georgian Bay. When we turned the corner we entered the splendid and spectacular gorge of Collins Inlet with Phillip Edward Island to our port (left) side. Collins Inlet is a passage with amazing natural beauty created on a pallet of granite ridges and 14 miles long. These few miles are some for the most protected and pristine on the trip up the Georgian Bay.
Collins Inlet is the most northerly ghost town along Georgian Bay. It started in the 1870s as a small lumber camp. Then in 1886 John Bertram came to the inlet and took over the mill that prepared lumber from the La Cloche Mountains (Killarney). To the saw mill was added a boarding house, a small number of homes, a store, and school. Twice each week steamers docked at the inlet to unload mail and supplies and to bring news of the outside world. During the harsh winter months only a few inhabited the community for it was completely inaccessible. The town grew to 200 residents until the mill burned in 1918. Following the devastating fire the mill’s scrap machinery was salvaged for the war effort and the town abandoned. Timber was still cut within the limits and then floated down to other mills in Georgian Bay until late 1930s.
Collins island cuts through a section of the Canadian Shield cutting off a piece of the mainland know as Phillip Edward Island. With the exception of a few small areas all of Phillips Edwards Island is crown land, open hiking and camping with three of its sides quite narrow and the southern shoreline facing Georgian Bay. The island is a half mile from the mainland and 31 miles around. East of the largest freshwater island in the world Phillip Edwards is the wild cousin of Manitoulin. There are several privately owned cottages but most of the island is crown land. The first 5 miles on the north side of Collins inlet is Killarney Provincial park. At the eastern limit of the island the east side of Beaverston Bay is part of the Point Grounding Indian Reserve (private land).
Just after we entered Collins Inlet northbound we saw the profile face of the crabby Indian on the north shore starboard (right) side.
Then we came to this narrow but beautiful passage with another sharp turn on Collins Inlet. This is so beautiful I don’t want to leave lets just go around Phillip Edward Island and do it again.
When we came to the end of Collins Inlet at Flat Rock we completed the inside passage that began 30,000 islands ago near Honey Harbor. We are once again heading for open water with a short 4-mile run across the panoramic top of Georgian Bay delivers us to the lighthouse perch on Red Rock Point at the entrance to Killarney.
Killarney Channel has two lighthouse eastend and westend. July of 1867 Killarney West became the first lighthouse in Canada to begin operating after Confederation. Within a month the east lighthouse had begun operating. Both were rebuilt in 1909 and continue to mark the entrances to the Killarney Channel. The East Lighthouse was originally operated by Killarney residents who would travel nightly by boat to light it. In the early 1980’s the lighthouse was updated to be fully automated as were all other lighthouses on Georgian Bay, ending a chapter of Killarney’s rich history.
The community of Killarney is situated on the North Channel of Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) in the province of Ontario, Canada. Killarney Village is a charming town built by neighbors and infused with the spirit of community and originally named Shebahonaning an Ojibwe name meaning “canoe passage”. Killarney Village was a well-known sheltering spot for voyageurs and explorers from France and England. It’s home to the Anishnaabeck. Once a quiet fishing village it is now a major tourist destination for boaters and landlubber alike. It is the oldest community on the North Channel. In 1820 Etienne Robert de la Morandiere arrived to establish a fur trading post with his wife Joseph Sai-sai-go-no-kwe (woman of the falling snow). She was a member of the Odawa Nation (the traders) and was born in Michigan and adopted daughter of Chief Kitchi Mashigigan. In 1854 the name was changed from Shebahonaning to Killarney some attributed it to Lady Dufferin, wife of Canada’s Governor General. The postoffice opened in 1854 both Shebahonaning and Killarney were engraved on the customs stamp. The first steamer on Georgian Bay, the Penetanguishene arrived here in 1836. The community was once serviced regularly by steamships that carried both passengers and freight to various locations on Georgian Bay and through the North channel area. Electric power came to the village on November 7, 1951. Killarney was only accessible by water until a road was cut through in 1962, and it’s still very much a water oriented village even the town’s liquor store has its own dock.
Killarney has a beautiful St. Bonaventure Roman Latin stone church built-in 1950 with the first chapel built by Father Hanipaux in 1852. The famous Herbert’s Fisheries is known as “world-famous” fish and chips made with fresh local fish. They go out fishing twice each day in the morning that are served for lunch, and in the after noon served for dinner. We really enjoyed our dinner there and the fish was delicious served with fresh home-made french fries.
Then you have Pitfields General store with a little of everything including gas, coin laundry, and restrooms. Pitfields, Herberts, Sportsman Inn, liquor store, along with three small marinas are all on the water front and have docks for locals convenance. Killarney even has a OPP station ( Ontario Provincial Police) looks more like a home than a police station.
This will be our last view of Georgian Bay as we will be entering the north channel when we leave. You see a lot of sea plans on the Bay and the lodge even has a cement landing pad for the plans.
We stayed at Killarney Mountain lodge marina is a rustic wilderness lodge in the village of Killarney with great hospitality. They have a small coffee shops with fresh-baked rolls and pies near the dock, red chairs on the end of each dock, picnic areas, and a bridge you walk across to Killarney Village.
The resort is a relaxed historic resort right on the shore northern Georgian Bay. It’s a nostalgic lodge with log burning fireplace, knotty pine decor, with small cabins, great heated swimming pool, (which we took advantage of) sumptuous food in their full service dinning room, and fine wine. The bottom picture is for Anita & Amy (my daughters) who like wine. This was a hall way and then they had another room full of wine bottles. They have canoes, and miles of hiking trails in Killarney Provincial Park.
They also have a Carousel Bar with couches, fire-place and live entertainment. We listened to Andy Lowe originally from England who has been the summer entertainer for nine years at the Carousel lounge. We really enjoyed listening to Andy who has logged more hours at the microphone than anyone I know. His life story and talents are as varied as any of the 300 songs he can perform flawlessly from memory. What a talented person with a great sence of humor as he performed.
We spent two days at this lovely relaxing place with a great view and amazing sunsets and met some of the nicest people.