Monday, May 9, 2022

Georgian Bay Road Trip Day 3

May 2022 - Collingwood ON

We decided to explore downtown Collingwood this afternoon. It was a glorious 23C or 73F! 

The land in the area was first inhabited by the Iroquoian-speaking Petun nation, which built a string of villages in the vicinity of the nearby Niagara Escarpment. They were driven from the region by the Iroquois in 1650 who withdrew from the region around 1700. European settlers and freed Black slaves arrived in the area in the 1840s, bringing with them their religion and culture.

Collingwood was incorporated as a town in 1858, nine years before Confederation, and was named after Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, Lord Nelson's second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar, who assumed command of the British fleet after Nelson's death.

The area had several other names associated with it, including Hurontario (because it lies at the end of Hurontario Street, which runs from Lake Huron — of which Georgian Bay is a part — south to Lake Ontario), Nottawa, and Hens-and-Chickens Harbour, because of one large and four small islands in the bay.

Collingwood is a popular winter ski resort, and in the summer the scenic limestone caves of the Niagara Escarpment attract tourists. It is also famous for its Blue Mountain pottery, made from local red clay and originally manufactured after World War II by Jozo Weider, a Czechoslovakian refugee.

There are plenty of murals which I will save for Monday Murals.


Prime Seven Nine is a restaurant in a  renovated Palladian bank building circa 1880's.

In 1889, a special council meeting was held to discuss plans to build a new hall for the Town of Collingwood. The hall — which is actually the town’s third hall, but first at its current location — was constructed by Toronto architects Gibson & Simpson as a multi-purpose “market building,” featuring a courtroom, council chambers, retail stores, farmers’ market and even an Opera House.

A two-day grand opening was held for the hall in June, 1890, for which members of the community dressed up to enjoy an Italian orchestra and a grand ball. A ticket for the opening event cost $1.50, which included admittance for one woman and one man, with all of the proceeds going to a general fund.

However, only a few short months after its opening, a fire broke out in the market building and rapidly spread to the newly constructed hall, damaging everything but the outer walls.

The hall was rebuilt immediately by Collingwood architects Fred T.Hodgson and Thomas Kieswetter, who made some changes to the building’s original plans. When the hall reopened in 1891 it was only missing one thing: a clock.  

It would be another several decades before Collingwood’s iconic tower had a clock of its own. But finally, in 1951 — 60 years after its official opening — a four-faced clock was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Courtice.
 The Romanesque tower hangs high above Hurontario Street, sending a sweet chime across town every hour.

Over the years, the interior of the hall has undergone considerable alterations. The market aspect was gradually phased out and in 1949, an arena was built where the Opera Hall had been situated, but the exterior remained the same. 

The Collingwood Federal building is a two-and-a-half-storey building with a low, hipped roof and designed in a Beaux-Art style. The facade, which it entirely sheathed in white marble, is distinguished by the finely detailed and complex form of its projecting portico and colonnade. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

The heritage value of the Federal Building lies in its architectural significance and in the fact that it is remarkably unaltered.

The Collingwood Federal Building was built between 1913 and 1915 to the designs of Philip C. Palin, a local architect.

The building’s design was inspired by the State Finance Building in Havana, Cuba. Construction on the building began the same year as the start of the First World War. Initially it was a post office and customs house, today it houses federal government offices as a Service Canada site.

Millennium Park provides breathtaking views of Nottawasaga Bay, including magnificent views of Collingwood Harbour, with the ski hill of Blue Mountain in the background. The Collingwood Millennium Overlook Park is located at the most northerly point of the historic Collingwood Harbour. The site provides an outstanding panorama of Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment to the west. Georgian Bay (technically part of Lake Huron) was named “La Mer Douce” by Champlain in 1615 on his first visit to the bay. It is 120 miles long and 50 miles wide. The Niagara Escarpment was declared as a World Biosphere Reserve, an internationally recognized ecosystem. 

The Collingwood Terminals grain elevators and the Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse are arguably the two local landmarks most closely identified with Southern Georgian Bay. Reminders of the days when Collingwood was a thriving shipping port known as “The Chicago of the North,” today the future of both of these important icons is uncertain.

Visible for miles, the imposing Collingwood Terminals building is a symbol of the “twin engines of commerce” in the early 1900s: agriculture and shipping. Built in 1929, the two-million-bushel grain elevator has bins 100 feet high and 22 feet in diameter. Grain service stopped in 1993, marking the end of 64 years of operation for the elevator.

Built in the 1850s, one of six “Imperial Towers” on Georgian Bay, the lighthouse operated for 124 years, guiding mariners around treacherous shoals and through many a storm into Collingwood Harbour. The light was decommisioned in 2003, and today all is dark on “lighthouse island,” now home to hundreds of nesting migratory birds. The vegetation is decimated and the lighthouse itself is crumbling.

Collingwood Shipbuilding was a major Canadian shipbuilder of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The facility was located in the Great Lakes and saw its business peak during the Second World War. The shipyard primarily constructed lake freighters for service on the Great Lakes but also constructed warships during the Second World War and government ships postwar. The shipyard was closed permanently in 1986 and the land was redeveloped into a new housing community.

We then headed over to Sunset Point Beach.

The Sunset Point inukshuk is first and foremost a tribute to Pete Crompton, a popular local man and avid windsurfer who died in a boating accident in 2003 at age 27. The stone giant stands watch over Crompton’s beloved Nottawasaga Bay in recognition of life lived large and taken too soon. Over time it has developed almost spiritual significance as a totem for all who pass by.
The word inukshuk means “in the likeness of a human” in the Inuit language. These monuments of unworked stones have been used for centuries by the Inuit for navigation, communication and survival. Traditionally, an inukshuk says, “someone was here” or “you are on the right path.”


  1. Some very nice buildings in there and it's good the old hall was restored.

  2. I really LOVE the architecture of the old parts of Collingwood. Loved the Fish and Sips (the name). And honoring the shipyards with the statues, memorials, and sculpture was quite interesting, too.


This blog does not allow anonymous comments.