Beautiful beaches and amazing sunsets are not the only charms of this historic town
The Municipality of Kincardine Ontario is an isolated but welcoming community located in the middle of Ontario’s west coast.
Situated at the mouth of the small Penetangore River on the shores of Lake Huron this summer playground of 12,000 inhabitants is nevertheless one of the largest communities in the area and is in fact the third largest community to be found on the west coast of Ontario after the cities of Windsor and Sarnia.
Originally named Penetangore when founded in 1848 it changed its name to Kincardine in 1858 in honour of the former Governor-General of Canada James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and Kincardine.
Originally settled as a means of exploiting its small natural harbour the first settlers in the area were involved in the lumber, salt and fishing industries.
Today the harbour still serves as a natural anchorage and marina and sport fishing is still very popular but Kincardine’s main draw for visitors is it’s almost 30 kilometres (18 miles) of clean, sandy beaches and its world-renowned spectacular sunsets.
This is a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax and enjoy the quiet, serene and calm conditions while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Each summer, the community swells up with visitors who come to enjoy some unique sights and sounds such as that of a Scottish Bagpipe Parade and Concert every Saturday night in beautiful downtown Victoria Park.
Insider Tip: Get a great view over the Penetangore River, the harbour and the Lighthouse at the Queens Lookout on Queen Street across the street from The Marketplace.
Durham Road is the main road into town with Queen Street being the main interior artery. The small downtown is quaint and full of well-kept historical buildings.
First impressions are that this is a community that is fairly well off financially and if you veer off and explore some side streets this is quickly reinforced, as most of the homes are older, architecturally beautiful and extremely well maintained.
The main industry in the region today is the nearby Bruce Nuclear Generating Station and most of its well-paid employees live in Kincardine or the small communities surrounding it.
Kincardine Ontario location:
Getting to Kincardine Ontario:
From Toronto and Eastern Ontario
- Navigate to Highway 401 West
- Just past Pearson International Airport exit at Highway 410 North
- Highway 410 ends and continues as Highway #10
- In Orangeviile turn left on Broadway (Dufferin County Road #109)
- Continue on Dufferin County Road #109 which turns into Wellington Road #109
- Turn right onto Highway #9 (Wellington Road #109 continues)
- Follow Highway # 9 right into Kincardine
From Northern Ontario
- Navigate to Highway 400 South towards Barrie
- Exit at Horseshoe Valley Road West (Regional Road #22) towards Craighurst
- Turn right onto highway #26 West which turn into County Road #91
- In the small hamlet on Dunroon turn left onto County Road #124 South
- In Singhampton turn left to stay on County Road #124
- Take first right and turn onto Grey Road #4 towards Flesherton/Durham/Hanover
- In Durham turn Right onto Highway #6 North (Garafraxa Street)
- Turn left at the third street (Durham Road W/Grey Road #4)
- In Walkerton turn left onto Yonge Street South
- Turn right onto Highway #9
- Stay on Highway #9 into Kincardine
From Western Ontario:
- Navigate to Highway 401 East
- Exit at Victoria Road (County Road #21/County Road #17)
- In Thamesville turn right onto Longwoods Road (County Road #2)
- Turn Left onto West Bothwell Road (County Road #16)
- Turn left onto Main Line (County Road #16)
- Turn right onto Cairo Road (County Road # 79)
- Turn left onto Townsend Line (County Road # 12)
- Take the first right onto Northville Road (County Road #9)
- Turn right onto Lakeshore Road (Highway #21)
- Follow Highway #21 straight into Kincardine
From the Niagara Peninsula
- Navigate to the Queen Elizabeth Way Highway (QEW) towards Hamilton
- Exit at Highway 403 West towards Hamilton
- Exit at Highway #6 North
- Exit at Highway 401 West towards London
- Exit at Highway #6 North toward Guelph
- Just before Arthur turn left onto Wellington Road #109 (Highway #9 West)
- Continue on Highway #9 West into Kincardine
By Public Transport
There is no rail service into the area and is not an option
Air travel into Kincardine and the region in general is not an option.
There is daily bus service to Kincardine Ontario.
Kincardine Attractions and Activities:
The main tourist area for visitors to Kincardine Ontario is historic Harbour Street where you will find both: Walker House, the oldest surviving building in Kincardine, and the Lighthouse, the iconic symbol of the community since its construction in 1881.
Originally constructed as a hotel and tavern in 1850 by entrepreneur Paddy Walker this landmark building today houses a small museum displaying artifacts important to the heritage of the local area.
Now called the Paddy Walker Heritage Centre its location at the base of Harbour Street across from the lighthouse places it in the centre of the historic district and makes it well worth a short visit. For more information visit: www.walkerhousekincardine.com
The Kincardine Lighthouse
Constructed in 1881 to help guide local fisherman on the treacherous waters of Lake Huron this octagonal wooden building has not had keepers operating it for many years. A long time symbol of Kincardine you will not find many pictures of the community where this 74 foot (24.5 metre) structure is not featured.
Magnificently located at the base of Harbour Street the first couple of floors are the former keepers house and are now a Maritime Museum featuring local marine artifacts and information about the many shipwrecks located in the surrounding waters.
Very picturesque, most visitors undoubtedly capture many images of it. Another interesting feature is that during the summer, on most evenings the sounds of a phantom piper playing emunates from the top of the lighthouse.
- Kincardine Beach
The waterfront playground with its splendid beaches is definitely the main draw for most visitors to Kincardine.
At the base of Harbour Street you will find Reunion Park and the towns main beach: Station Beach. A boardwalk stretches along the waterfront and the water here is very clean but somewhat cold as Lake Huron is a huge and deep body of water. That doesn’t stop revelers from enjoying its waters though as the monitored sandy beach is magnificent and slowly descends into the cool waters making it an ideal playground for children.
Other local beaches include:
- Tiny Tot Beach
- Boiler Beach
The beaches also make for a great spot to watch the world famous Kincardine Ontario sunsets. I myself have witnessed these on a couple of occasions and they did not disappoint.
The orange, red, yellow and purple hues were spectacular and it is easy to see why some have stated that this is arguably the best place on the planet to witness this daily spectacle.
Of course, magnificent sunsets do not happen everyday so it is a purely hit and miss affair but if you are in the area make sure you pull out your camera and try to witness and capture some images of natures wonderful display.
Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games
The community honours its Scottish heritage with one of the biggest Scottish Festivals in the province. The event is held annually on the weekend of Canada Day (the first weekend in July) and features:
- Highland dance performers
- Celtic performers
- A Parade of the Clans
- Scottish Pipe Bands and drummers
- Highland Games
For me the highlight is definitely the Highland Games held at Station Beach Park and Victoria Park that feature competitions in:
- The stone
Started in 2000 the festival has proven to be a tremendous success and grows every year. It attracts thousands annually and many now make the journey to Kincardine Ontario every year to attend the event. If you are in the area at this time of year I highly recommend you drop in for a visit.
The waters of Lake Huron are an angler’s paradise and sport fishing is still a large industry in the Kincardine Ontario area and there are a couple charter services operating out of its small harbour.
Many practitioners bring their own watercraft and a launch is available in the Kincardine Harbour. Care should always be taken however as Lake Huron is a huge body of water and weather can change quite quickly.
Kincardine Fish Derby
For almost 30 years Kincardine Ontario has celebrated its fishing heritage and help promote its location at the centre of a thriving sport-fishing industry by holding what is billed as “The largest fishing derby on Lake Huron”. With over $125,000 in prizes available for anglers that land the top salmon or trout it is held in late May and attracts participants from around the world. For more information visit: Kincardine Fish Derby
Kincardine Summer Music Festival
For over 20 years for two weeks in early August this popular event has featured a variety of musical genres such as:
A series of free concerts is held daily in Victoria Park with nightly concerts at other local venues. One interesting aspect is the ability to take music lessons from the performing artists as the concert organizers offer a music education program.
Lighthouse Blues Festival
A recent but rapidly growing festival that originally began by playing on stages near the lighthouse it has recently announced an expansion to other venues. Featuring blues music it features both local and international artists.
As Kincardine Ontario is a very isolated northern community and is located within one of the province’s major snow belts the snowmobile is a much-used means of transportation in the winter. There are numerous trails to be found in the general vicinity of the community and local people utilize the machines for both pleasure and as a necessary means of transportation.
The snowmobile is in fact so popular it is highlighted with the annual Grand Prix de Kincardine snowmobile race. Inaugurated in 2009 it features vintage snowmobiles, takes place on a closed track and is mainly an amateur event. A grass drag style version has recently been added in the summer months.
Hiking and/or cycling through the beautiful countryside is a very popular activity in the Kincardine Ontario area. There are numerous trails that welcome participants of these activities including:
- Kinloss Tract Trails
- Penetangore Path
- Kincardine Trails network
- Inverhuron Mountain Bike Park
- Stoney Island Conservation Area
Stoney Island Conservation Area
Located just north of Kincardine on the shores of Lake Huron many locals make use of this 40-hectare (99 acre) day-use conservation area to swim and picnic. It is however well known for its year round trail system that is utilized for:
- Snowshoeing (5 kilomteres or 3 miles) of trails
- Cross-country skiing (6 kilometres or 3.6 miles) of trails
In winter the trails are maintained and groomed by the local ski club.