Canada’s Tobermory a haven for recreation and relaxation

Art Weber

        Tobermory, a Canadian resort town at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, is a haven for recreation and relaxation – the kind of place people flock to in summer, appreciate in the so-called shoulder seasons, and largely ignore in winter.             It was the kind of place that thrived in the face of COVID, and its popularity continues to grow.
        “Toronto has discovered us,” explained well-known local artist Kent Wilkens. “There was a time not long ago when Toronto represented only about five percent of customers in my gallery but social media has changed that. Our customers are way up and 50 percent of them are from Toronto.”
        Northwest Ohio should take note – Toronto is on to something. Drive time from here is about seven hours, crossing into Canada at Port Huron. It’s a very appealing long weekend trip and the drive itself is mostly a joy.  Shops and restaurants in Tobermory boom in the summer months. As crowds dwindle with the onset of autumn, the choices for dining and accommodations narrow.
        “We could have booked all of our rooms three times over during July and August,” said Neda Sarbakhsh, who, with partner Nick Ferrence, owns and operates the highly regarded Orange Bicycle Guesthouse and Gardens. Their B&B is a highly recommended success story in its seven seasons.
        That means if you come in summer when warm-weather activities are booming, you’ll encounter crowds. Come in the shoulder season months – April, May, June and September, October  ̶  and you’ll find trails less crowded, shops and restaurants more relaxed, and accommodations easier to come by. As fall progresses, some businesses and attractions are closed or getting prepared to close for the season, so check ahead if you have particular interests.
        Spring is wildflower time and Bruce Peninsula National Park – especially Singing Sands – is known for orchids.       Tobermory really comes alive in July and August when boaters, scuba divers, families, hikers, and, well, all kinds of people who love the outdoors and exceptional natural beauty converge on the small town, filling restaurants, glass-bottomed excursion boats and shops. Accommodations, especially the best ones, are in demand.
        The Bruce Peninsula, or just The Bruce as it’s often called, owes its unique presence to the Niagara Escarpment, the same geological feature that brings us Niagara Falls, nearly 240 miles away. It’s also what makes the eastern shore of The Bruce so ruggedly scenic.
        Bruce Peninsula National Park has a huge presence, protecting scenic features such as isolated coves and beautiful overlooks in places like the Grotto and Singing Sands.
        The Bruce Hiking Trail connects the various features and can be done as a backpacker or broken into shorter day hikes ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. The entire Bruce Peninsula Trail traverses nearly 100 miles long and is considered a challenging test.
        The best sites, though, are mostly easy, in some cases accessible, improved trails.
        There’s not one but two national parks on the Bruce. Fathom Five National Marine Park offers more sparkling blue water overlooks, scenic shorelines and the famous Flowerpot Island rock formations. Twenty-four shipwrecks are part of the reason the area is renowned for scuba diving.
        For more information, visit For information on Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park, go to Learn more about the Orange Bicycle Guesthouse and Gardens at


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