Located at the mouth of the Seguin River and with a protected harbour, Parry Sound was a gathering place for First Nations peoples for centuries prior to the arrival of Europeans. After the 1850s, the growth of logging and then mining spurred development of the town as a hub to access northern Ontario’s hinterland. After World War II, Parry Sound became the heart of cottage country in Ontario, and thousands of tourists visit the town every year. Today, in honour of Culture Days, On This Spot is featuring its four self-guided historical walking tours set in and around Parry Sound. All of these tours are available online and through the On This Spot app for free.
Our first tour is 13 stops long and focuses on what life was like in the early community of Parry Sound. On this tour, we will take a step back in time and look at Parry Sound through the eyes of its early residents. The significant resource potential of the region and Parry Sound’s strategic location on the Georgian Bay helped it develop from a frontier post into an industrial hub in a few short decades.
The second tour that takes place in Parry Sound hones in on the community’s industrial history. The tour follows the waterfront and examines such economic drivers as logging, mining, and shipping. We’ll start at the mouth of the Seguin River and see the lumber mills that grew up around this harbour. We’ll learn about the terrifying and often deadly risks ships ran in navigating the treacherous waters around Parry Sound and walk along the route of an old railway cut through hard granite, which helped to open this town up to the outside world. Finally, at the old Salt Dock we’ll see the huge smelter that once stood there.
On This Spot’s tour “The Steamship Era” moves on from industrial operations to examine the economic driver of tourism in Parry Sound. The 30,000 Islands are a unique natural wonder and have been designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The dense forests, long coastlines, and innumerable lakes are home to over 1,000 distinct types of habitat. That breathtaking beauty has made the area a favourite destination for tourists and those seeking rest and relaxation. Tourism as an industry has a long history in Georgian Bay, and as the regional centre, Parry Sound has been a tourist hub since its founding.
Our last tour in Parry Sound is not so much a walking tour as it is a “standing” tour. Climb to the top of the town’s Fire Tower and witness through photographs how Parry Sound has changed throughout the years. If you were to wind the clock back several decades, you’d find rural Ontario a place dotted by towers reaching into the sky. These structures served as lookouts constructed by local forest rangers. In the time before airplanes, they were useful for spotting the telltale smoke trails that accompanied a raging wildfire. On this five-stop tour, we will take a trip through Parry Sound’s history.