Explore the Sparkling Waters of Georgian Bay Ontario

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Georgian Bay Ontario is a huge, freshwater bay on the east side of lake Huron. About 80% the size of Lake Ontario, Georgian Bay is a magnet for sailors. Breathtaking scenery, countless islands to explore, hidden anchorages and small villages make this a delight for cruising sailors.

Here are some facts about beautiful Georgian Bay Ontario (distances are approximate due to the nature of the coastline):

  • length: 199mi / 320km
  • width: 50mi / 80km
  • deepest: 450ft / 137m
  • surface: 5,792sq mi / 15,000sq km
  • coastline: 1,243mi / 2,000km
  • islands: 30,000+

This part of Ontario is the traditional home of the Anishinabe people – Ojibwe, Odawa (Ottawa) and Algonquin. The Huron or Wendat peoples lived on the southern side of Georgian Bay so it undoubtedly was a major trading route before contact with Europeans. The first European in the area was in all likelihood Etienne Brule, the youthful interpreter for Samuel de Champlain and great explorer. (Brule was probably the first European to ever lay eyes on lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Superior.)

Georgian Bay was first charted in 1815 and given the initial name of Lake Manitoulin. The British Admiralty surveyor, Lt. Henry Bayfield (later Admiral Bayfield) renamed it in 1822 after King George IV. (Bayfield, ON and Bayfield, WI, are named after Bayfield.)

Increasing incursions by Europeans brought disease and conflict and over some 200 years, the native presence faded. During the War of 1812, the British navy build a naval base near Penetanguishene. With the extension of the railroad to the port town of Collingwood, an influx of tourists began that continues to this day.

At the northwest corner of Georgian Bay lies Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. This hidden gem offers a spectacular, untouched landscape, over 100 small, pristine lakes and superb fishing for the angler.

Georgian Bay lies completely within the province of Ontario. Its coastline is very rugged, especially the further north you go. Entry into Georgian Bay is through the Main Channel, between the tip of the Bruce Peninsula on the south and Manitoulin Island to the north. The Bay is studded with thousand of small islands, most to be found along the eastern coastline. The population is noticeably thinner, the landscape much more rugged and the scenery increasingly more stunning. Small towns and communities replace large cities. A resource-based economy, centred on forestry and mining as well as tourism, edges out farming and manufacturing.

For many, Georgian Bay Ontario is synonymous with cottage country. For generations of Ontarians and for many Americans, Georgian Bay is also synonymous with lazy, idylic summers. Sparkling waters, miles of dark green forests and delightful villages are the images that these magic words - “Georgian Bay” - conjure up for so many.

For the cruising sailor, the rewards are huge! Countless thousands of small islands and inlets, isolated anchorages with stunning scenery and picturesque villages offer a sailing paradise for the adventurous cruiser.

Check out these ports reviews of harbours around Georgian Bay and set your course for adventure.

Georgian Bay Ports

Britt, ON
Bustard Islands, ON
Club Island, ON
Honey Harbour, ON
Collingwood, ON
Killarney, ON
Owen Sound, ON
Midland, ON
Parry Sound, ON
Penetanguishene, ON
Pointe Au Baril, ON
Thornbury, ON
Tobermory, ON
Wiarton, ON

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