Located on southern Georgian Bay are three beautiful islands I refer to as Canada’s “Caribbean of the North”, but without the salt!
Christian, Beckwith, and Hope Islands are an Ojibwa Indian Reserve, forming part of the Beausoleil First Nation lands. With their golden sandy beaches, clear fresh water, stunning sunsets, and various local shipwrecks to explore, it’s no wonder these islands are so popular with the local boaters during the summer months.
Christian, the only island with residents, seasonal cottages and provisioning, has a ferry service that connects it to the mainland, but until the pandemic is over, the island has strict rules about land visitors. For boaters, anchoring is permitted – Little Sandy Bay on the east side is a favorite with good protection from all west winds but check your charts for other designated locations.
And Christian is a great island to explore by dinghy! On the south end of the island sits one of the oldest and first official lighthouses on the Bay, built in 1857. At 55’ tall, it is no longer in operation, having been replaced with an offshore buoy. However she still stands proud and can be visible to boaters travelling through the narrow pass along the south end of Christian.
Christian is also known for the discovery of forked three-awned grass, or “Ice Age grass” a prehistoric species of grass, which has been found on the island and is a species at risk. And the Grammy nominated Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot sailed these waters back in his days and wrote a song about this beautiful island.
Slightly east of Christian is Beckwith Island which has great anchorages on both the east and west sides. Accessible only by boat, it is a favourite for local cottagers to day visit and recreational boaters to overnight. It gets busy in the summer months as camp sites are available to reserve for a fee so the beach can get very crowded on a hot day!
And my personal favourite, Hope Island, is the northern most of the three but still only a 10 minute dinghy ride in distance. This island also had a lighthouse however sadly it was demolished in 2017 due to the maintenance costs. Hope attracts a quieter crowd and has a slightly larger anchorage than the others.
Close to most southern Georgian Bay marinas (approx 20 nautical miles) these islands offer an oasis for boaters. A place to swim, kayak, bury your toes in the warm sand, and enjoy the crystal clear waters and beautiful sunsets! Either as a day or overnight visit, or as I prefer – for as many nights I can stay until the weather drives me back home! Or I run out of wine!