DescriptionKnown to the Ojibway as the “beautiful valley,” Owen Sound lies in the Sydenham River Valley and is flanked on both sides by the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. Some 30 fern varieties and 40 species of orchids are found in the area. Its natural harbor and location have made Owen Sound a center for vacationers visiting Georgian Bay, the nearby Blue Mountains and Bruce Peninsula.
Owen Sound is the birthplace of two notable Canadians—Tom Thomson, an innovative Canadian landscape artist who was the forerunner of the Group of Seven, and Billy Bishop, a World War I ace who shot down 72 enemy planes.
The Mill Dam, off 2nd Avenue W. at 6th Street, is one of Ontario's first fish ladders. In April and May visitors can watch rainbow and brown trout swim upstream to spawn; chinook salmon can be seen migrating from August to October.
Harrison Park, on 2nd Avenue, embraces 45 hectares (114 acres) of rolling meadows and hardwood forests along the Sydenham River as well as a large bird sanctuary.
Farther upriver is the Inglis Falls Conservation Area, one of 10 principal parks along the Bruce Trail. Besides hiking and cross-country skiing opportunities, the park's major highlight is an 18-metre (59-ft.) waterfall created as the Sydenham River cascades over the Niagara Escarpment. Jones Falls, also on the Bruce Trail in the Pottawatomi Conservation Area, flows 12 metres (39 feet) over the Niagara Escarpment.
Indian Falls Conservation Area, 5 kilometres (3 mi.) north of town on CR 1, encompasses 12 hectares (30 acres) of recreational parkland. The 15-metre (49-ft.) horseshoe shaped Indian Falls got its name from the area's indigenous Newash people. Bird-watching and hiking are just a few of the activities available. Eugenia Falls Conservation Area is home to 30-metre (98-ft.) Eugenia Falls. Some 23 hectares (57 acres) of parkland include hiking trails and picnic areas.
North of town on CR 26 is Bruce's Cave Conservation Area, home to caves that illustrate the ancient weathering processes and the magnitude of post-glacial lake levels. The area is open for summer and winter recreation.
Other recreational activities available in the area include boating, fishing, golfing, hiking, swimming, Nordic and cross-country skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling.
The Georgian Bay Symphony presents a variety of musical performances throughout the year at various venues; phone (519) 372-0212. The Roxy Theatre, 251 9th St. E., was originally built as an Opera House. It is now a 400-seat year-round performing arts venue and is home to the Owen Sound Little Theatre group; phone (519) 371-3425 for information or (519) 371-2833 for tickets.
Among the many special events offered throughout the year is the Summerfolk Festival in August, featuring contemporary and traditional folk and blues performers from around the world. From mid-November to early January enjoy more than 200 colorful light displays in downtown along the Sydenham River and in Harrison Park during the annual Festival of Northern Lights.
Visitor InfoOwen Sound Tourism 1155 1st Ave. W. OWEN SOUND, ON N4K 4K8. Phone:(519)371-9833 or (888)675-5555
Self-guiding toursBrochures detailing both a walking tour of the city and a driving tour of the area are available from the visitor center.
ShoppingHeritage Place, at 1350 16th St. E., is home to Sears and more than 60 other stores. A farmers market at 114 8th St. E. operates each Saturday 8-12:30, year-round.
Things to SeeBilly Bishop Home & Museum: A National Historic Site