Owen Sound Ontario

The "Scenic City" is a beautiful port town on Georgian Bay


The small city of Owen Sound Ontario has long been one of the major communities in the Bruce Peninsula region.

With a population of approximately 23,000 it sits at the crossroads of the main east-west and north-south transportation routes into the region. If you are traveling to any of the Bruce’s major tourist destinations you will most likely pass through the city.

Located on a natural deep water port on a large inlet of Georgian Bay a small settlement was established in 1841 called Sydenham after the river it sat astride it was eventually renamed Owen Sound in 1851.

Known as the “Scenic City” most visitors will most likely be passing by on their way to the more popular attractions. The city is however the last major population centre before descending into the more sparsely populated Bruce Peninsula so if you need to stock up on supplies or take a rest before driving for a couple more hours this is the place to do it.

If you do end up spending more than an hour or so in town there are a number of attractions worth visiting in the city and surrounding area.


Location of Owen Sound Ontario

Getting to Owen Sound Ontario:

By Car:

Owen Sound Ontario is very easy to reach from anywhere in the Province as it is one of the major transportation hubs in the region and 4 major secondary highways intersect here.

From Eastern Ontario

  • Navigate to Highway 401 West
  • Continue on Hwy 401 west past Toronto and exit to Hwy 410 North towards Brampton
  • Continue on Highway #10 after Highway 410 ends right into the city

From Southern Ontario – Niagara Peninsula area

  • Navigate to the QEW Toronto
  • In Oakville exit onto Highway 403 East towards Highway 401/410
  • Follow the signs for Highway 410 towards Brampton (do not take Hwy 401)
  • Continue on Highway #10 after Highway 410 ends right into the city

From Southern Ontario – West Coast area

  • Navigate to Highway 401 East towards Toronto
  • Pass the City of London and take exit 203 onto County Road #73
  • Turn left onto County Road #73
  • Turn Right on County Road #2
  • Take first left onto Cobble Hills Road
  • Turn right onto Road #84/County Road #16
  • Turn left onto County Road # 119/ 19th Line
  • At the roundabout stay right and take County Road #119/Highway #7
  • Turn Right onto Perth Road/County Road #121
  • Turn Left onto Perth County Line #86/Wellington County Road #86
  • Turn right onto wellington Road #10 towards Moorefield
  • Turn left onto Elora Street/Wellington County Road #7/Regional Road #7
  • Turn right onto Wellington County Road #109
  • Turn left onto County Road #6/Wellington Road #6 towards Mount Forest
  • Continue on Highway #6 right into the city

From Northern Ontario

  • Navigate to Highway #11 South
  • Continue on Hwy #11 South until exiting towards Highway #12 West in Orillia
  • Turn right onto Highway #12 North
  • Turn left onto Horseshoe Valley Road East/Highway #22
  • Turn right onto Highway #26 West
  • Continue on Highway #26 West into the city

Alternate Rotes are available:

  • Via Highway #6 South and the Chi-Cheemaun ferry from South Baymouth to Tobermory
  • Via Highway #17 east to Highway #69 South/Hwy 300 South

By Public Transport

By Rail

Rail travel to Owen Sound Ontario is no longer an option

By Air

Traveling to Owen Sound Ontario via air is not an option.

By Bus

Getting to Owen Sound Ontario from most other Ontario communities will be a long journey but easily done as the city is regularly serviced by Greyhound.


Attractions and activities:


Billy Bishop Home and Museum

The childhood home of one of Canada’s greatest military heroes has been converted into a museum honouring his life and other aspects of Canadian aviation history for which be played such an integral part during his lifetime.

Willian Avery “Billy” Bishop is only one of 96 Canadian ever awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour in the British Commonweath of countries. A WWI pilot he is credited as having shot down 72 aircraft, the most ever by a Canadian. After the war he eventually became Canada’s first Air Marshal. Instrumental in the development of the Royal Canadian Air Force he remains to this day on of the country’s most celebrated war heroes. The nearby Billy Bishop Regional Airport is named after him.

The home became a museum in 1987 and in 2003 became a National Historic Site of Canada. The two-storey 19th Century Victorian home is dressed in furnishings from the period and contains artifacts and exhibits from the Bishop family and various items related to WWI and WWII. A special exhibit also honours German air ace Manfred Von Richtofen, aka “The Red Baron” a wartime nemesis of Bishop whom he bested.

The small museum is worth the visit for those interested in Canadian history as Billy Bishop is a true Canadian hero. Located right downtown at:

  • 948 Third Avenue West
  • Owen Sound Ontario

Expect to spend no more than 30 minutes inside. Not open at all times during the year for more information visit: http://www.billybishop.org

Grey Roots Museum and Archives

This museum is dedicated to the heritage and history of Owen Sound and Grey County. Originating in 1955 it moved into its present location just south of the city in 2004. In addition to the small museum the building also houses the county historical archives. Inside you will see artifacts and exhibits important to local heritage and culture and also small tributes to local heroes including Billy Bishop, Tom Thompson and Agnes Campbell Macphail.

Located next to the building is the Moreston Heritage Village. This small collection of local buildings dating from the 1850’s to 1920’s is open in the summer and is staffed with volunteers portraying residents of the period. There is a plan to eventually incorporate 20 local building of historical significance but at present visitors can see:

  • 1850’s log cabin
  • 1850’s blacksmith shop
  • 1880’s log house
  • 1920’s farmhouse
  • 1920’s schoolhouse
  • 1920’s sawmill
  • 1920’s garage
  • 1920’s timber frame barn
  • 1920’s bandstand

The museum and village is also located at:

  • 102599 Grey Road 18, RR 4
  • Owen Sound Ontario

Right across the street from the Inglis Falls Conservation Area, another of the area’s major attractions.

Not open at all times all year long, visit: www.greyroots.com for more information.

Tom Thomson Art Gallery

The city was also honours Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s greatest artists, who grew up in nearby Leith, a small community just north of the city. Thomson is credited as being an inspiration for the country’s greatest artists; the “Group of Seven”.

Established in 1967 the gallery is located right downtown and is a short walk from the nearby Billy Bishop Museum. In addition to having one of Canada’s the largest collections of Thompson’s work the gallery also houses many works from other local and Canadian artists including the previously mentioned Group of Seven.

With over 2300 various works of art in its collection the gallery is one of the premier cultural attractions in the region. Giving a good insight into the style and techniques of Canadian artists it is well worth a visit for those that appreciate art.

Open all year the art gallery is located at:

  • 840 First Avenue West
  • Owen Sound Ontario

Owen Sound Marine and Rail Museum

Owen Sound was at one time a hub of rail traffic in the region and was dubbed “Chicago of the North”. Today all rail traffic to the area has ceased but the area’s rich heritage in this mode of transportation is preserved in the former Canadian National Railway Station located Right downtown on the waterfront at:

  • 1155 1st Avenue West
  • Owen Sound Ontario

The small museum host’s artifacts, scale models and exhibits related to the city’s rail, marine and industrial heritage and is also the site of the local tourist information office. The building itself is quite representative of an atypical Canadian railway station of the period expect to spend only about 10 – 15 minutes at the site.

Beth Ezekiel Synagogue

The last remaining small town synagogue left in Canada it first offered prayer services in 1904. Located around the corner from the famous “Salvation Corners” in the heart of the city the small building is located at:

  • 313 11th Street East
  • Owen Sound Ontario

Inglis Falls

Probably the most visited attraction in the city the waterfalls has long been at the heart of Owen Sound’s development and is the centerpiece of the local waterfall tour.

A 200-hectare Conservation Area protects the fragile landscape surrounding this beautiful natural spot where the Sydenham River tumbles over the Niagara Escapment in a stunning 18-meter (58 foot) cascade. Trails, (including a portion of the Bruce Trail), snake along both sides of the gorge and there is also a viewing platform.

Great for photos all year the Inglis Falls Conservation Area is located across the street from the Grey Roots Museum and Moreston Heritage Village. One of the most beautiful natural spots in the area visitors are highly recommended to make the short journey outside of the city and visit this wonder.

Harrison Park

By far the best park in the city this 40-hectare natural oasis founded over 100 years ago spans both banks of the Sydenham River downstream from the Inglis Falls Conservation Area.

A Bird Sanctuary, trails (including a portion of the Bruce Trail), forests, Weavers Creek Falls are intermixed with recreation facilities including:

  • Boat rentals
  • Swimming pools
  • Mini-putt
  • Basketball courts
  • Playgrounds
  • Tennis courts
  • Skating rink
  • Picnic areas
  • Toboggan hill

The park also provides:

  • Restaurant
  • Washrooms
  • Camping facilities
  • Inn
  • Refreshment stands

The park’s address is:

  • 75 2nd Avenue East
  • Owen Sound Ontario

The park also marks the northern terminus of the Underground Railway for freed black slaves with the Black History Cairn located in the middle of the park.

Jones Falls

As you head west out of the city towards either Sauble Beach or Tobermory you will pass on your right the Pottawatomi River Conservation Area. In the small town of Springmount at the corners of highways #6 and #21 get out of your car and take a five minute walk along a clearly marked trail and you will come across the small Jones Falls.

Marking the spot where the Pottawatomi River cascades 12 metres (37 feet) down the Niagara escarpment it may not be as spectacular as Inglis Falls but it is nevertheless quite beautiful in its own right and worth a short visit.


Georgian Bay has always been one of the province’s premier fishing destinations and fishing in the Owen Sound Ontario area is no exception. The Sydenham and to a lesser extent Pottawatomi Rivers are natural spawning grounds for Chinook Salmon and each fall the city hosts the 10-day Owen Sound Spectacular Fishing Derby on the waters of Owen Sound and nearby Colpoy’s Bay.

Hosted in the Kelso Beach Park it is one of the most popular fishing derbies in the province.

Fishing is also great from the shoreline and at any time during the fishing season you will see many anglers lining the harbour walls attempting to land species such as:

  • Chinook Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brown trout
  • Perch
  • Bass

Fishing is a year-round activity and during the frigid cold winter months you will see numerous ice fishing huts out on the frozen Bay and harbour.


There is plenty of public camping located right in the city at two locations.

Harrison Park Campground features:

  • 104 fully serviced campsites
  • Comfort station with toilets, showers and laundry facilities
  • Firepits and BBQ facilities
  • On site restaurant

Kelso Beach Campground

  • 74 campsites of which 22 are fully serviced
  • toilets
  • picnic facilities

Sherman Tank

Located at the Intersection of 10th Street East and 8th Avenue East. This vintage WWII tank sits outside the V.C. Tommy Holmes Armoury and makes for a great family photo.

A great photo opportunity exists in front of the Armoury named after the City’s other Victoria Cross recipient Tommy Holmes where an original WWII Sherman tank sits out front. Take a quick stop and grab a picture. The Armoury is located right downtown at: 858-10th Street East, Owen Sound Ontario.

Winter Activities

While not on the top of the list for a winter destination for most, for those that do wish to winter activities can undertake:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Ice Fishing
  • Tobogganing

Festival of Northern Lights

For almost 30 years the city has hosted the this hugely popular and award winning festival of Christmas lights and every winter you will see kilometres (miles) of these bright lights strung along the Sydenham River from Harrison park to downtown. Particularly beautiful when glistening under the beauty of a light snowfall, catch this unique display between mid-November and January.

Waterfall Tour

The waterfalls mentioned above are just part of a greater 150 kilometre (80 mile) waterfall tour where you will travel to various points along the Niagara Escarpment in Bruce and Grey counties and see various types of cascades. In all 4 of the 9 waterfalls are located in the immediate vicinity of the city with Inglis Falls being arguably the most beautiful.

Note that the waterfall tour is available all year long as the falls in winter are a beautiful sight in their own right.

Lighthouse Tour

While the city doesn’t have a lighthouse in its own right it still makes for a great base to start or finish the Bruce Peninsula Lighthouse Tour. This 200-kilometre (220 mile) journey runs up both coasts of the Peninsula along both Georgian Bay and Lake Huron and allows participants some spectacular scenery as well as historic lighthouses.

Georgian Bay Coastal Route

Owen Sound Ontario also falls along this magnificent driving route completing a full circle of Georgian Bay. From historical sites, small towns, beaches and scenic vistas this over 2000-kilometre (1200 mile) journey sill take almost a full week to complete to fully appreciate the various sights that unfold along the way.

Historic Walking Tour

Owen Sound Ontario has celebrated over 150 years of history and for most of that time it has remained the most important settlement in the area. The history of the city is reflected in a number of historical buildings from the 1800’s and early 1900’s spread throughout the downtown core and they are easily explored by following one of the designated walking tours. Along the way you will pass many of the above-mentioned sights.


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