Sunday, August 27, 2023

8/27 Boat Trip in Tobermory, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

I've been traveling in Ontario searching for the cemeteries where my great- and great-great-grandparents, but the weather has been mostly cool and damp with rain every couple of days.  Yesterday, I spent the day doing nothing, but since today and tomorrow were supposed to be sunny and relatively pleasant, I decided to drive the 70 miles where I have been staying to the small town of Tobermory on the far end of the Bruce Peninsula.  

As you can see from this map, the Bruce Peninsula divides Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron.  It is also the northern tip of the Niagara Escarpment, which is a tall ridge that goes from Niagara to the Michigan Upper Peninsula and then wraps around the top of the state and heads down toward Wisconsin.  It is what Niagara Falls falls over.  

What makes the small town of Tobermory interesting is that the water of Lake Huron here is crystal clear and the peninsula is surrounded by hundreds of shipwrecks.  This makes is a diver's paradise.  There is also a car ferry from Tobermory and goes to Manitoulin Island, which is a nice shortcut to Northern Ontario and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 

I have been to Tobermory several times over the past several decades, but it is always a beautiful place, so off I went this morning to take a boat tour. 

There are a lot of different boat tours available.  Some are specifically for divers and take them out to various shipwrecks.  Others are for non-divers but will drop you off at Flowerpot Island, for the day or for a night or more of camping, along with all of your equipment.  I did not want to stop at Flowerpot and chose a longer tour that drove past the island, but did not stop.

Tobermory has a very pretty little harbor full of boats and kayaks.

This is the car ferry, Chi-Cheemaun.  Impressing opening of the bow and the rear.  It was built specifically for the occasionally very rough waters of Lake Huron, hence it needed a pointed bow.  We took this ferry way back in about 1982 when we drove up through Ontario and then circled Lake Superior. 

This is the front end of our tour boat.

And this is the back end of the upper deck of the tour boat.  

We went very slowly and very closely to Flowerpot Island.  There is a very sharp drop-off very close to the island so boats can get within a very few feet of the rocks.   Note how clear the water is.

Also note that while people seem to having a great time  in their bathing suits along the shore, a lot of them are wearing jackets and few are actually in the water because it is VERY cold this far north, and it was a chilly day to begin with!

We caught sight of the Chi-Cheemaun as we approached the main shipping entrance to Georgian Bay. 

Just before we were back in the Tobermory Harbor, we went down the nearby Big Tub Harbor  where two ships were sunk over 100 years ago. 

The tour boat was able to turn itself around several times so you could view these two wrecks from the deck.  This is the rear of the Sweepstakes, a Canadian schooner sunk in 20 feet of water in 1885. 

More views of the Sweepstakes.

Nearby, and closer to the shore, is the steamship City of Grand Rapids.  It was cut loose from the dock when it caught fire in 1907. 

Another photo of the City of Grand Rapids.

Some very pretty homes along Big Tub Harbor. 

I remember way back in 1982 that my ex and I went swimming with our kids off the rocks surrounding this lighthouse.  Kids were good swimmers, so we were in about 20' of water and could look down and see divers below us!!

Two other tour boats going into and out of Big Tub Harbor.

It was a long drive and a tiring day in the sun, but tomorrow I am going to head to a local museum to get try to find out exactly where my great-great-grandparents lived and were buried.  Then on to Sarnia, and a return to the U.S. by next weekend. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

8/19 Fifty Point Conservation Area, Hamilton, Ontario

I am in Ontario now, looking for homesteads where my great and great-great-grandparents lived and the cemeteries where they were buried.  I started out in this area where my maternal grandmother was born and spent her childhood.  Both sets of her grandparents came to this area in the mid-1800s from England and Scotland and settled near one another in Haldimand County, just west of Hamilton.

I knew from past trips to Ontario that Campgrounds here were similar to U.S. campgrounds, other than they have many more campers who leave their RVs in the same campground "seasonally."  This means they pay a flat rate for the entire summer season and can often leave their rigs here when the campground closes for the winter.  It is a good deal financially, though I think I would be bored staying at the same place each year.  

This place, Fifty Point Conservation Area, is better than a lot of campgrounds because it is directly on Lake Ontario and has a marina where people can also leave their boats.  However, it also attracts a lot of day visitors, actually a LOT of day users!  The campground is situated away from the noise and traffic of the people coming here for the day to swim and picnic, luckily.  It also has full hookups, though spaces are gravel and grass instead of pavement.  

I spent five nights here, and went out exploring the area only a couple of times.  Here are a couple of photos of the campground. 


It was cold and windy most of the time I was here, but on the fourth day, I decided to walk down to the lake to see the beach.  Good thing I did not try to drive it because it was packed with large family groups.  Luckily, traffic to the beach bypasses the campground, so the road from it to the beach is peaceful with little traffic. 

It turned out to be quite a hike, but I finally got to the beach, which is on the far west end of Lake Ontario, but on the southern shore.  It was Saturday, so lots of boats and people.

And a very busy beach!!  Water was crystal clear and looked clean, though I think it was chilly.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

7/28 Mackinaw City & Wilderness State Park

I have been to Mackinaw City many times, but I wanted to get some Michigan t-shirts and pick up some Michigan gift items, plus get some fudge at my favorite fudge shop, all of which I accomplished.  Plus, I had a good visit with an RVing friend I have known for quite a few years.  We had fish sandwiches for lunch and wandered around the shops, as well as stopped by a favorite park near the bridge.  

I had spent the previous night at Wilderness State Park, which is about ten miles west of the city.  After shopping, I headed back to the campground, but since it was still fairly early, I stopped at this lighthouse on the way.  I had to park across a small road at a rest area because the lighthouse entrance was narrow and filled with trees with low branches.

The lighthouse tower is not very tall, but it was in use from 1969 to 1906 as the primary light for the Straits of Mackinac.  (Straits of Mackinac is the name for the area between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron where there are a lot of storms and fog.)  It was privately owned for many years, but it was purchased by the county as a historic site in 2008 and opened to the public. 

Surprisingly, the lighthouse light is working!  It was refurbishes and relit in 2009 as an official Private Aid to Navigation.  See for a history of the lighthouse.

Nice views from the top!

Had an interesting drive back to Wilderness State Park when I saw this animal crossing the road.  When I first saw it, I was sure it was a fox because it was smaller than the coyotes I have seen out west and the one I saw many years ago in Michigan.  However, in looking up photos comparing the two species, I am not so sure because this animal looks taller than a fox and has a shorter tail.  So maybe it is just a juvenile coyote??  

Anyway, this was a very relaxed animal.  It wandered slowly from the opposite site of the highway, stopped to smell something, and then leisurely walked back to the other side!!

The entrance to Wilderness State Park.