Dividing Lake Huron from the crystal waters of Georgian Bay is a thin stretch of forested land called The Bruce Peninsula. ‘The Bruce’, as it is often called by locals and tourists alike, is a geographical wonder that has a completely separate mineral composition and biological environment than the rest of Southern Ontario. The Bruce is part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Project, and hosts 1 national park, 12 provincial and municipal parks, 4 bird sanctuaries and some of the oldest living trees in North America!
The beauty of the Bruce can only barely be captured in photos. Although only a 2-hour drive north of the Toronto metropolis, the Bruce feels completely isolated. The dozen or so scattered communities across the peninsula are anchored by Owen Sound, at the base of The Bruce. Camping, hiking, cycling, boating and rock climbing bring adventurers and admirers to The Bruce, but it is the jaw-dropping beauty and serenity of this unique wonder that leaves an unforgettable impression.
The Bruce is 155 square km (60 square miles) of mostly forest, surrounded by the clear fresh waters of the Great Lakes. The Bruce is home to a dizzying array of wildlife that has almost vanished from the rest of Southern Ontario: black bears, massauga rattlesnakes, red hawks and yellow salamanders. The Bruce is also filled with Ontario’s provincial flower and emblem, trilliums, a rare white flower that can only be found in parts of Ontario. 20 species of warblers breed every year on The Bruce, and visitors flock to the bird sanctuaries in the late spring to be surrounded by singing and flying commotion.
Tourists flock to the peninsula to escape from the summer heat of southern Ontario, Michigan and upper-New York State, where cool air, crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and miles of hiking and biking trails await them. In the winter The Bruce becomes a mecca for cross-country skiers, although the extremely heavy snowfall of the average winter makes travel unpredictable at this time of year.
Camping is a popular activity on The Bruce, and more than a dozen parks and campgrounds host visitors all summer long. Swimming on Lake Huron’s sandy beaches, or cliff jumping from Georgian Bay’s dizzying bluffs, keeps visitors cool. Canoeing, kayaking and sailing are popular pastimes in the summer, as is fishing for trout, pike and bass. Nighttime is jaw-dropping, as a lack of light pollution opens the starry heavens up to those below, and millions upon millions of stars can be seen. August is a good time of year for shooting stars, while January is awesome for spotting the Northern Lights, provided a warm cottage is available, of course!
When visiting The Bruce, there are some sites that cannot be missed. The sunken boats around the town of Lion’s Head; a trip on the Chi-cheemaun ferry; the Grotto; Bruce Peninsula National Park; the laid-back beaches of Port Elgin and the strange rock formations near Tobermory are all things that cannot be missed!