Places & Things
Parry Sound, Ontario
I'm very familiar the lakes and islands that define the Parry Sound area. After all, its my mother's home town I still remember the long drive to the Sound from Ottawa, through Algonquin Park, from my childhood visits. But who'd have guessed it would be the perfect week-long retreat after three weeks flat searching in London.
There may be a lot more people, and a lot more traffic, than I remember from my youth, but Parry Sound is still a bit of Canadian paradise.
The Huron First Nations used the Parry Sound area as their summer hunting and fishing ground centuries ago. The Ojibway First Nations eventually established a village at the mouth of the Seguin River. They called their village "Wausakwasene" which loosely translated means "shining shore".
Parry Sound's first European visitor was Etienne Brulé in 1610, and five years later Samuel de Champlain passed through on his way west. Parry Sound, the largest natural harbour on Georgian Bay, was named in 1822 by surveyor Captain Henry Bayfield, after the Arctic explorer Sir William Edward Parry.
William Gibson built a sawmill at the mouth of the Seguin River in 1857, which he sold in 1865 to William Beatty, who established the Town of Parry Sound. The Beattys opened a general store, built the first church, and established a steamship line linking Parry Sound to Midland and Collingwood.
The Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound railway arrived in nearby Depot Harbour in 1897 and Parry Sound's first rail service, the Canadian Northern, arrived in 1906. In 1907, the Canadian Pacific Railway trestle bridging the Seguin River was completed. At 1,695 feet, this is the longest trestle bridge east of the Rockies.
Visitors were choosing the Parry Sound area for northern vacations before the turn of the century. U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt stayed here in 1908 at the Rose Point Hotel, and summer-long cottagers from the U.S. and Southern Ontario were well established in this area by the mid-century.
Today, Parry Sound and the whole Muskoka region is perhaps the premier summer vacation spot for many of the residents of Toronto and the rest of Southern Ontario, and getting more popular every year.