It is said that Ontario’s cottage country has some of the most beautiful scenery around…especially in the fall. I would have to agree. As a child, I grew up camping and cottaging in Ontario’s North country and it has instilled in me a true love and need to return to it every chance I get.
For many years, we car camped, hauled a travel trailer and rented various cottages. Last fall we decided that it was time to pick a spot that we wanted to return to each year and build our own little vacation destination. After much discussion, we finally decided on the stunningly beautiful Parry Sound/Georgian Bay area. This area has so much to offer…provincial parks and a vast amount of nature areas for hiking, having picnics, biking, bird and wildlife watching, photography and so much more…theater and music at the Stockey Center on the shores of Georgian Bay…great dining overlooking the water…and of course boating and fishing. You can charter a sea plane at the Parry Sound waterfront and take in a bird’s eye view of the area. One day we will do this…looks amazing. Just a couple weeks ago, we opted to take the 3-hour boat cruise on board the Island Queen cruise ship…what an amazing way to spend an afternoon. The tour sails out in Georgian Bay around Parry Island and the outer islands and is beyond beautiful.
Funny little story about our trip on the Island Queen…we had boarded and were sitting on the lower deck at the front of boat waiting to leave the dock. One of the ship employees came to the bow of the boat to pull in the lines and I remember looking at him and thinking that he looked familiar. He turned around and looked at us and he noticed my partner’s Toronto Maple Leaf’s hoodie. The two of them joked back and forth about which team was “the right team’s” logo to wear. Parry Sound is the birthplace of NHL’s Bobby Orr and is all about the black, yellow and white of the Boston Bruin’s. They joked for a moment or two and then he left to continue his job. A few minutes later he returned and handed my partner a signed photo of Bobby Orr and a gold lapel pin and we very quickly discovered that he was none other than the brother of Bobby Orr! No joke…it made a great trip that much more memorable and gave us a fantastic story to tell.
One of the most popular sites on the cruise is the famous “Hole in the Wall” pass as it heads back towards the Parry Sound waterfront. It is located on the East side of Georgian Bay approximately 4 kilometers from Killbear Provincial Park. The pass is 34 meters wide at it’s narrowest point and only 4 meters deep. The towering cliffs on either side of the pass are 24 meters high. It is stunning! I highly recommend this cruise…you will not be disappointed.
The boat cruise also allows you to view the Parry Sound waterfront directly from the water looking in towards the town. It was amazing to see how the captain of the ship expertly docked the ship…a true master for sure. At the boat dock, there is a little gift shop that sells everything from clothing and souvenirs to Ontario’s famous maple syrup, candy and ice cream. Once off the ship, you can head over to the street and grab a bite to eat at several eateries overlooking the waterfront.
Because this summer was so cool and wet and then became warm again at the end of September into October, the trees were slow to show their colours. We were really hoping that we would see more colour on the boat cruise but with having a few cold nights after we were on the cruise, the trees began to pop just in time for us to pack up and head home.
What would life at the lake be without a little fishing?!?! Earlier this summer, we caught a couple catfish…this time we caught some bass and pike. Hopefully next year we will be able to get out fishing and boating much more than we did this year.
Although all of these activities are fun and amazing…I am still a sucker for an awesome sunset and the little things that not everyone notice. Our vacation season is now over but I look forward to next season and all the adventures we will have.