Ten Fun Facts about Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay, named for King George IV and also often referred to as the “6th Great Lake”, has some interesting history along with a few world records! Here are 10 fun facts about the Bay:

#1: Wasaga Beach on the southern shore is the world’s longest freshwater beach.

#2: Manitoulin Island at the NW edge is the world’s largest freshwater island.

#3: The Georgian Bay Ship Canal, if built as planned in the early 1900’s, would have joined Ottawa to the Bay through the French River. This project would have been along the same scale as the Panama Canal, with large commercial freighters and cargo ships passing through what is now the unspoiled wilds of the French River. Here is a link to the story if you wish to learn more:

https://www.northernontario.travel/northeastern-ontario/french-river-georgian-bay-ship-canal

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The Big Dipper

A visit to Killarney Mountain Lodge and Marina would not be complete without a photo op beside the largest paddle in the world!

Fondly named “The Big Dipper” by the builder – expedition paddler Mike Ranta – the paddle was completed in 2020 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of Killarney, Ontario. But back in 1820, Killarney was actually called Shebahonaning, which means “safe canoe passage”. And although the name changed in the mid 1800’s, this beautiful tiny village has long been known as a canoe outpost, with countless expeditions passing through the channel that links Killarney to Georgian Bay.

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The Forgotten Tug

Georgian Bay is a treasure trove of 1800’s and early 1900’s shipwrecks, many which are easily accessible to divers and snorkelers. Today I am giving a shout out to one lonely forgotten tug, the Minne-ha-ha, resting on the bottom of the Bay since her foundering over 125 years ago.

Built in 1882 for a Parry Sound lumber merchant, the Minne-ha-ha carried mostly logs and other freight between Parry Sound and Penetanguishene until her demise in 1895. In those early days many of the tugs that worked the Bay were also instrumental in carrying messages and mail on their routes; they were one of the few forms of communication between ports at the time.

During her first year of service the Minne-ha-ha was forever recorded in maritime history as the tug that made the journey from Parry Sound across the Bay to Collingwood to deliver the tragic news of a large passenger ship sinking – the Asia – and in which over 100 lives were lost.

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Save the SS Keewatin

A beautiful Saturday night and the cocktails are flowing! This weekend was a great one to stay in the marina and take advantage of the many events happening on the Bay. Today I visited a fundraiser for the SS Keewatin, a steamship built in 1907 Scotland that ran passengers across Georgian Bay until 1965. For the past 10 years she has been permanently moored at her original home port on the Bay – Port McNicoll, Ontario – as a local tourist attraction, but escalating maintenance costs have been difficult to cover and now there is a chance this poor girl may be cut up and sold for scrap.

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