DescriptionAt the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, Canada's first national marine park protects the wealth of marine history at the bottom of the treacherous channel between the 22 islands off the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island.
The only navigable passage between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, the channel is the final resting place for numerous ships that foundered on its many submerged reefs and shoals during autumn gales.
At least 26 shipwrecks remain preserved beneath the frigid water of Georgian Bay. Twenty-two lie within the park's boundaries and can be seen by scuba divers of all levels of experience. Two wrecks—the Sweepstakes and the City of Grand Rapids—lie in the shallow waters of Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory. Glass-bottom tour boats offer excellent views of these wrecks, which also are popular with novice divers.
In addition to the wealth of wrecks, there also are the islands to explore, the most accessible of which is Flowerpot Island off Tobermory. Standing on the island's eastern shore are two large white pillars of rock resembling flowerpots that give the island its name. Hiking trails with interpretive displays traverse the island, and along these footpaths numerous wildflowers and ferns can be seen as well as caves. Modern washroom facilities and primitive campsites also are on the island.
During the summer the visitor center office in Tobermory is open daily 8-8; schedule varies rest of year. The center provides information about recreational opportunities available in the park and has exhibits, a theater program, a lookout tower and trails. Privately operated tour boats provide regular service to Flowerpot Island during the summer and early fall. Several dive shops in Tobermory rent equipment and boats for those who want to explore the park's shipwrecks.
The park is open daily 8-8, July through Labour Day; 9-5, rest of year. Peak season is May through October. Cost is $5.04; $4.26 (ages 65+); $12.78 (family, up to seven people in a single vehicle). Admission may vary; phone ahead.
Address inquiries to Superintendent, Fathom Five National Marine Park, P.O. Box 189, Tobermory, ON, Canada N0H 2R0; phone (519) 596-2233.