By Sault Tourism

learn about our City's connection to this famous group of Canadian painters

The city of Sault Ste. Marie played an important role in bringing together Canada’s greatest art collective, the Group of Seven. Smitten by the beauty of this region, the Group of Seven, traveled to the city many times, capturing the landscapes with their beautiful brush strokes. Their explorations always resulted in beautiful sketches and paintings. Some of which are indeed their most famous. Visit Sault Ste. Marie and learn more about this special group of artists.

Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Book your seat on the narrated, one-day, round trip Agawa Canyon Tour Train and you’ll pass several sites captured by the Group of Seven while marvelling at the rugged beauty of the Canadian landscape.

View scenes that inspired some of the most famous works of art from the Group of Seven including The Solemn Land (based on Montreal River Harbour) and Algoma Waterfall (based on Bridal Veil Falls), by J.E.H MacDonald. The original sketch of The Solemn Land, painted after MacDonald first visited the area in 1918, is part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Algoma

When the train stops within the Agawa Canyon, hike towards Bridal Veil Falls where you’ll see the cascading tiers of water which inspired multiple sketches and paintings by members of the Group of Seven including Lawren Harris and the aforementioned J.E.H. MacDonald.

Group of Seven BoxCar

The” Soo”, as it’s known to locals, has embraced the regions “colourful” Group of Seven history, not only through the art in the gallery, but also embracing their rail history as well. For the artists and for you, Sault Ste. Marie will be the send off into the region. One hundred and one years ago, with no highways going north, the group utilized the railway, catching the train in Sault Ste. Marie.  Along this rail line they camped and paddled through the remote areas allowing them a feeling of peace and tranquility they could not find in the larger cities in southern Ontario. They came here to heal from the war and to try to make sense of the untimely death of their friend Tom Thomson.  But they did much more than heal, they found themselves, and their inspiration through the landscapes of this beautiful region. Much like the tourists of today, once the Group of Seven visited the first time, they came again and again.  

If you are riding the rails into Algoma on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, your departure will be the beautiful new train station.  But whether you are riding the train or not, the brand-new train station, as well as the rail car #10557, are a must do stop!  The bright red boxcar was recreated for the documentary, A Painted Land, In Search of the Group of Seven, and remains on display outside the train station.  It is a perfect replica of the rail car that the Group called home many times through their travels in Algoma.  It’s a perfect photo op for the true Group of Seven fan. 

Art Gallery of Algoma

As you travel through Algoma Country, in search of the Group of Seven’s inspirations, you would be remiss if you did not start your trip by visiting the Art Gallery of Algoma. Located on the St. Marys River, the Art Gallery of Algoma is home to a diverse permanent collection of artwork – including original pieces by members of the Group of Seven. Find an interpretive panel in the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park near the boardwalk. 

The Art Gallery of Algoma’s permanent collection includes numerous Group of Seven site specific sketches and studies. Shop for Group of Seven related books, gifts, calendars and memorabilia in the gift shop. Be sure to visit the Gallery’s website for ongoing and rotating Group of Seven exhibits

Embark on the Group of Seven Driving Tour

You can experience their travels on the rail, and travel along the coastline of Lake Superior by vehicle on Highway 17 North. Starting just outside of Sault Ste. Marie at Chippewa Falls, and continuing along Ontario’s most beautiful coast to Nipigon/Red Rock you will find many sites and interpretive panels that will tell more of the story of the Group of Seven in this region.  Don’t travel fast but rather enjoy, explore, and pause.  You will gain a better understanding of why this area was a favourite of the Group of Seven.

You will discover that today, this region remains rich in beautiful forests, crystal clear lakes, and rivers still filled with plentiful fish and game. This area is so lucky that so many vistas painted by the Group remain untouched today.  There is a sense of beauty and serenity here that one must truly experience, much like the Group of Seven did just over a hundred years ago. 

Remember, memories are made through a gathering of great moments, seven men captured their moments in Algoma, it is time to capture yours. Learn more about the discovery route here

Chippewa Falls, Trans Canada Hwy 17

Drive north of the city along highway 17 and you’ll reach Chippewa Falls, the halfway point of Trans Canada Hwy 17. Visit this waterfall along the Lake Superior Circle Tour where painter A.Y. Jackson sketched the rapids which became “Streambed, Lake Superior Country”. Chippewa Falls also inspired J.E.H. MacDonald to paint ‘Batchewana Rapid‘.

The falls can be seen from the viewing bridge near the parking lot. To hike alongside the waterfall, please proceed with caution as trails can be challenging beside this fast moving water. 

By Sault Tourism

Fall Rendezvous Festival, at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site, is a 4-day event, hosted each September by the Friends of Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site. The festival, this year occurring September 20th – 23rd, is a chance to immerse yourself in the history of the war of 1812 and the daily life of the early 1800’s, through a number of live reenactments including; canon and musket fire, Indigenous storytellers, workshops and more!

Keep reading to learn more about the Fall Rendezvous Festival.

Fall Rendezvous Festival

Four Days of Festival

The Fall Rendezvous Festival starts on Wednesday, September 20th and will run for four days until Saturday, September 23th, 2023. The event is open to the public, as well as for groups including School Groups, from 10am to 4pm for each day. 

Admission is by donation (pay what you can) and includes entrance to the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site heritage buildings and grounds, as well as interaction and knowledge sharing with 36 heritage performers including Francophone and Indigenous storytellers. See the Red Coats and the flash in the pan, smell the gunpowder as the muskets and cannons ignite, hear the drumming and our storytellers, taste Algoma Country’s culinary samplings. Immerse yourself!

Fall Rendezvous Festival
Fall Rendezvous Festival

Canon and Musket Firing

A fun part of the Fall Rendezvous Festival is the historical reenactments from the period surrounding the war of 1812. Restored canons and muskets from the era are fired at regular intervals throughout the festival, with groups of onlookers and spectators kept at a safe range. 🙂 

Expect the canon to fire every hour or more frequently when groups are on tours!

Fall Rendezvous Festival
Fall Rendezvous Festival

Heritage Performers & Activities

There are 36 heritage performers and exhibits present at the Festival. These include Coureur du Bois, Voyageurs, Métis, quill work, canoe building, drumming & Indigenous song, sacred plants and teachings – all in live performance! 

Saturday will also see the addition of the Algoma Maker’s Market, tasty local samplings from Hogan’s Homestead, Thinking Rock Community Arts, Beaver Tails food trailer and culinary arts by members of Buy Algoma, Buy Local.

The site is accessible with parking, boardwalks, washrooms and audio tours.

Festival Schedule

Check out the festival schedule below!

Wednesday to Friday

9am-4pm

  • Cannon firing every 15 minutes: 9am – 2pm, then again at 3pm and 4pm (talk and demonstrations)
  • Mini Militia – learn the drill of an 1812 soldier
  • Canoe building – the art of birch bark canoe
  • Meet the Voyageurs and the Coureur du Bois
  • Learn about the important linkage with Fort St. Joe
  • Indigenous Allies – drumming and sacred plants
  • Women of the Era – the clothing and their roles

Saturday

10am-4pm

  • Cannon firing on the hour from 10am – 4pm
  • Same great stations as Wednesday to Friday
  • Beaver Tails food trailer 11am – 3pm
  • Algoma Makers Market 10am – 4pm
  • Thinking Rock Community Arts 1pm – 4pm
  • Hogan’s Homestead maple tasting 1pm – 3pm
  • The Soup Witch
  • Centre Francophone

THE ERMATINGER CLERGUE
NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

Fall Rendezvous Festival takes place on the grounds of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site; where two of the oldest stone buildings in Ontario are Sault Ste. Marie’s only remains of the fur trade era, and home to the earliest European settlers. 

Learn about the war of 1812 through interactive displays, enjoy an audio tour to help guide you through the site. There is also a gift shop filled with local artisan products and memorabilia from Sault Ste. Marie. Read more about visiting Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site here. 

Thanks to our Partners!

The Fall Rendezvous Festival is hosted by the Friends of Ermatinger National Historic Site and funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the City of Sault Ste. Marie. 

From Powwows to Art and Places of Learning, Sault Ste. Marie is a city rich with Indigenous culture

Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place to spend some time together as a family. Also referred to as Bawating, meaning “place of the rapids”, the area is rich in Indigenous culture and history. From the whir of excitement at a local powwow to the somber history of the residential school system, there is so much for you to learn and experience together in Sault Ste. Marie.

Here are 7 ways you can experience Indigenous culture in the Soo:

Go on a Learn to Powwow Tour

Whether you’ve been to a powwow before or want to experience one for the first time, you will love the Learn to Powwow Tour with Thrive Tours. Your tour guides will start you off with an introduction, covering powwow history and etiquette, and explain how you can engage in the celebration as a non-Indigenous person. You will also learn the significance of the music and about the different kinds of dances. After your powwow intro, you will join your guides for the spectacular Grand Entry where you’ll watch the dancers enter the circle in their regalia and listen as the drummers echo the heartbeat of Mother Earth. To complete your experience, make sure to try some food, explore the vendors and maybe even join in during an intertribal dance!

Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
The Powwow Tour
Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
Brad from Thrive Tours explaining Powwow customs
Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
All are welcome at intertribal dances

See the Indigenous Art Murals

As you make your way through the buildings and streets of Sault Ste. Marie, you will notice the many large murals painted throughout the city. Many of the murals you’ll find here have been painted by local Indigenous artists. This display of artwork adds a splash of color and vibrancy to the city that everyone in the family will enjoy! Each June, during the Summer Moon Festival, you can watch new murals being painted around the Soo and experience many other Indigenous arts & culture workshops, exhibits and performances.

Explore Whitefish Island

Grab your bikes or walking shoes and spend some time exploring the Indigenous history of Whitefish Island. Whitefish Island is a territory of the Batchewana First Nation and a National Historic Site of Canada. Plaques located around the island provide information about the history and significance of the area, dating back hundreds of years. Once home to many, Whitefish Island was a significant site for fishing and trading throughout history. Now, the island is a popular birding location and the well-maintained trails and boardwalks allow visitors to easily access and enjoy nature.

Paddle on the St Marys River

Get out on the river in a kayak or canoe with Thrive Tours. Your adventure begins with acknowledging the history of the land and showing respect to the water by saying “Miigwetch”, which means “thank you”. Next, you will receive instruction on paddling and water safety before getting in your boat and setting off on the river. Boats, paddles and life jackets are available for both adults and children. While on the water, you will learn about the history of the area and you may even be treated to a traditional song sung by your tour guide.

Canoes for Conservation also offer interpretive tours of the St Marys river in their popular ‘big canoe’. Dip your paddle into the famous Whitefish Rapids at Bawating, one of the most significant cultural gathering places of the Anishinaabe People since time immemorial. These tours are popular with groups and families and expert guides provide a rich description of the area. 

Take a Residential School Tour

The Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie was operational from 1875 until 1970. Join Thrive Tours to see the residential school grounds and buildings, now part of the Algoma University campus, and learn about the residential school system. You will hear about the devastation the system had on the Indigenous people in the not-so-distant past and the inter-generational trauma affecting communities and families today. If you are touring with kids, information is shared in a truthful yet age-appropriate way. Learn about what is being done for healing and restoration and what you can do in this process as an ally.

Hike to See the Agawa Rock Pictographs

Take a beautiful drive along the Trans Canada Highway to see the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Located about 1 hour North of Sault Ste. Marie, this 0.5km loop trail will take you right along the shore of Lake Superior to the Indigenous archaeological site where you can see sacred Ojibwe paintings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The hike is rated as moderate, but some scrambling over rocks is required. To see the pictographs, you’ll need to walk out on a sloped rock shelf beside the lake. The views are definitely worth it, but please take caution as the rocks can be slippery!

Enjoy a Meal at Chummy’s Grill

After working up an appetite during your Sault Ste. Marie adventures, stop by Chummy’s Grill for a delicious meal. This local Indigenous-owned and operated family restaurant has a wide variety of delicious food available. The restaurant has a great kids menu and even has all-day breakfast (except Friday 4-8pm). While here, make sure you spend some time admiring the wood carvings located throughout the restaurant.

Now it’s time to get your family and come explore Bawating! With so many different ways to experience Indigenous culture in the Soo, you’ll want to keep coming back for more.

And read our blog post from summer 2021 about spending a day with the family in Sault Ste. Marie here!

By Sault Tourism

 

Learn About The History and Heritage of Sault Ste. Marie Through The Ages

The Sault Ste. Marie Museum, located in the heart of downtown, houses a fascinating collection of historical exhibits that helps visitors learn about the history of the city all the way back to its earliest days. Check out the Edmund Fitzgerald display in the Marine Gallery, which includes a replica scale model of the famous ship. View historic photographs to see what our waterfront and downtown used to look like, and enjoy some of local sport history including the Soo Greyhounds!

The Sault Ste. Marie Museum though is not just a space curated to tell the history of the local area, it also hosts many fun and unique events, publishes a weekly podcast series, contains a gift shop, and has a new interactive feature utilizing QR codes, which adds video and audio information to many of the displays. Come for a visit when you are in the Soo!

Old photo of Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie's historic waterfront
Edmund Fitzgerald Ship
The Edmund Fitzgerald Ship
Soo Greyhounds at the Sault Ste. Marie Museum
Soo Greyhounds Memorabilia

The Building’s History

The Sault Ste. Marie Museum is a heritage building constructed originally as a post office between 1904-1906 after the city received $20,000 in funding from the Dominion Government. Like many buildings in Sault Ste. Marie it used sandstone excavated during the construction of the canal, with the iconic clock tower being added in 1912. At this point the Museum, then the Post Office was the largest and grandest building in the City and became a local landmark, being the first sight of the city for approaching travelers.

Today visitors can enjoy the typically Ontarian eclectic architecture combining several styles including uniquely cut stone walls, Romanesque arched windows, magnificent oak stair case and an exquisite three-storey skylight, and the 110 year old clock tower remains an iconic landmark of downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault Ste. Marie Museum
The Old Post Office
Staircase inside the Sault Ste. Marie Museum
Spiral Staircase inside the museum

Permanent Galleries - The Skylight Gallery

The Skylight Gallery, on the second floor, is a walkthrough history and the story of Sault Ste. Marie from its early beginnings to the present day. Displays feature artifacts and information on the first people in the area with a full sized Wigwam and early canoe offering fascinating insight into historic life. Other displays feature information on the local fur trade, mining and the lumber trade, which as the displays tells, in 1810 became the main export from Canada.

Moving into the twentieth century the museum has exhibits on healthcare including nursing as well as policing and fire management. Additional information including archived video and audio is available via a series of QR codes, including the one below, which adds an interactive component to any visit of the Sault Museum.

A Wigwag in the Sault Ste. Marie Museum
A Wigwam in the Sault Ste. Marie Museum
Photograph of Queen Street
Old photos of Sault Ste. Marie
Old artifacts
Tools and artifacts
The Skyway Gallery in the Sault Ste. Marie
Inside the Wigwam

The Discovery Gallery

The Discovery Gallery is a fun and interactive, hands-on learning children’s area. It contains artifacts and features nature species, photographs as well as a dress-up area. This space is also used to host workshops, activities and events, more of which is mentioned later in this article.

The Music Gallery

On the third floor is the Music Gallery, which showcases Sault Ste. Marie musicians and venues through the ages. Bands and musical groups originated at the turn of last century during the days of silent movies, and Sault Ste. Marie had its fair share of entertainers. Sounds from these bands would commonly be heard emerging from the Algoma Theatre, Grand Opera House and the St. Marys River Boat Club. During the 1950s and 1960s when smaller Rock & Roll bands became fashionable, musical acts would perform in local Sault Ste. Marie bars including the Victoria House, The Royal, Lock City Hotel and more.

The Music Gallery houses a collection memorabilia, artifacts and videos from these eras and also contains ‘The Sault Music Project’, a giant binder of past and present Soo musicians!

The Marine Gallery

The Marine Gallery offers a pictorial display of early Great Lakes cruise ships, a brief history of the Locks and scale models of two of the more storied Great Lakes ships, the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Chicora.

The Chicora was a British blockade-runner for the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Her role was primarily to transport guns and ammunition from Bermuda to Charleston. After the war, the ship was transformed into an overnight passenger and freight vessel, and carried mail and passengers from Collingwood to Sault Ste. Marie. In 1870, the Chicora was again involved in a dispute with America when she was refused entry to the American locks and was forced to unload its army destined for the Red River Rebellion. This particular incident, as well as a general tension between the two countries, spurred the building of a Canadian canal in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Edmund Fitzgerald is perhaps the most famous ship to be associated with the Great Lakes, having sunk in a November storm in 1975 killing the entire crew of twenty-nine. A scale model, as well as information about the ship’s fateful timeline, can be viewed in the Marine Gallery of The Sault Museum.

Edmund Fitzgerald
The Edmund Fitzgerald
Timeline of events of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Timeline of events of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Chicora
The Chicora

The Russell H. Ramsay Sports Hall of Fame

The Sports Hall of Fame gallery depicts local athleticism from the 1800s forward and features artifacts and photos showcasing the wide variety of sports that represent our city. Check out the Eliason Motor Toboggan, and a special commemorative display for the 1948 NOHA champions, the Soo Greyhounds!

A video presentation highlights various sports and the people involved. The gallery is dedicated to Russell H. Ramsay, local sportscaster, president & general manager of Hyland Radio & TV. He served as an Alderman on city council and served as the MPP for Sault Ste. Marie 1978-1985.

Eliason Tobaggon
Eliason Tobaggon
The Russell H. Ramsay Sports Hall of Fame
Sporting Artifacts
Marconi Esquires
Marconi Esquires

The Walter Wallace Military Gallery

This gallery, on the first floor, is dedicated to Lt. Col. Walter Wallace, past commanding officer of the 49th Field Regiment RCA, past president of Royal Canadian Legion – Branch 25 – and past president of the Sault Ste. Marie & 49th Field Regiment RCA Historical Society. Walter was a big advocate for museum later serving as president of the board of directors. He helped oversee the move of the historical Society’s collection to the museum in 1983.

The museum’s wartime collection includes a selection of diaries from 1914 to 1918, military medals and badges, trench art, photographs, and uniforms among other items.

The Walter Wallace Military Gallery
Military Medals
The Walter Wallace Military Gallery
Military Uniforms
The Walter Wallace Military Gallery
Military Artifacts

Interesting Artifacts

COMMEMORATIVE OLYMPIC METAL DATE: 1928

This bronze gold metal was awarded to Sault Ste. Marie local Olympian Boxer Ray Smillie in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The bronze disc has an image of a seated female figure; with the words stamped; “IX Olympiad Amsterdam, 1928”.

SURVEYOR’S STAKE DATE: 1846

The stake was used by local surveyor Alexander Vidal. The large square wooden post, pointed at both ends of the stake, features carved lettering on all four sides to depict the direction from the stake in which each divided land plot would begin. It was used to dictate plots and streets based on Vidal’s surveying.

COMMEMORATIVE KEYS DATE: OCTOBER 28, 1954 & NOVEMBER 7, 1963

These two commemorative keys were presented to the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception during two significant ceremonies in Sault Ste. Marie. The keys celebrated the grand opening of the General Hospital’s addition of the New Pavilion’s B Wing in 1954 and the Pavilion’s A and Y wing in 1963.

Clock Tower Gift Shop, Podcasts and Events!

Located inside is also a great gift shop, the Clock Tower Gift Shop, which contains unique books about the area, local art works, craft works by local consigners and various locally made gifts and goodies!

Every Thursday, the Sault Museum publishes a podcast under the series titled ‘Stories of Northern Life’. This unique and fascinating series covers local history, tells important local stories, and from time to time has a Q&A with Museum experts and staff, where often-wondered questions like ‘Is the museum haunted?’ are discussed.

The Sault Ste. Marie Museum runs many unique and fun events and activities each week. Whether it’s a Prohibition Event with beer tasting and trivia, Murder Mystery nights, Scottish Highland dancing or one of the various paint nights including ‘Bad Art Club’ and ‘Star Wars Paint Night’. All the information about the various events can be found here!

The gift shop
Clock Tower Gift Shop
Stories of Sault Ste. Marie
Stories of Northern Life Podcast
Events at the Museum
Events at the Museum

For more information about this wonderful collection of local history, visit the Sault Ste. Marie Museum’s website. 

And did you know that you can pick up a 4-Culture Attraction Pass on the Sault Tourism website? This Pass will give you 10% off admission to the Sault Ste. Marie Museum as well as the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site and the Art Gallery of Algoma. Click here and scroll down the page to learn more. Plan your cultural visit in Sault Ste. Marie today!

By Tourism Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie's Canal District is a newly restored part of the city that includes Restaurants, event spaces, the Train Station and more

Once a key industrial part of Sault Ste. Marie, the Canal District has been reimagined, restored and rebuilt to be one of Northern Ontario’s premier destinations for dining, entertainment and tourist attractions.

A new train station for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, built in a style that compliments the historic surrounding buildings, is just one of exciting developments to have happened that has revitalized a key area of the city. There is also a microbrewery, four restaurants, a gelato mill, an outdoor adventure store complete with indoor climbing wall, an exhibit centre-gallery, an outdoor event centre and a rink!

Keep reading to find out more about this exciting destination in the city.

The Machine Shop's Restaurants

The Machine Shop boasts three magnificent restaurants as well as a top notch win bar.

The Mill Steakhouse + Wine Bar is fine dining at its best; 45 day aged AAA Ribeyes, 16oz New York Striploin, Prime Rib and all with fresh ingredients, in an elegant setting with superb service and friendly atmosphere.

The Boiler Room is an easy, family-friendly pizzeria, offering freshly prepared wood-oven pizza in a relaxed steampunk style restaurant. Next door to the Boiler Room is a The Steamfitters Lounge; a unique space where you can enjoy the wood-fired pizza menu that is also available for private functions of up to 60 guests. 

The Blockhouse Pub

The Blockhouse Pub offers great pub-grub, large portions and a full array of beer including locally brewed Outspoken, which is brewed on site. Stop for all day breakfast or come in for a grab and go panini from their delicious deli! 

The Gelato Mill and Starbucks Coffee

The Gelato Mill offers fresh Starbucks coffee, lots of snack options including freshly made pastries and of course a variety of gelatos.  

Create your own ice cream sandwich, indulge in a slushy, or stop by for a delicious treat and fresh cup of joe.

The Outfitters

The Outfitters is located inside the new train station building. It offers a wide variety of outdoor equipment and top brand clothing and accessories for your entire family – gear and clothing for adults & kids! You can climb our indoor rock wall or shop for a canoe, kayak or paddle board. Enjoy the amazing art by Indigenous artists Tomas Sinclair and John Laford.

The Train Station

A prominent feature of the Canal District is the newly build train station for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. The station is open and tickets can be purchased while the train is running during the summer and fall months. 

The Rink

The Rink is a covered outdoor skating rink that is available for hire or for public skates during the winter months. During the summer the rink turns into an events space (see below for more info on that). Check out the Rink’s website here for all the information you’ll need on using the ice!

Lots of great events

The Canal District hosts events throughout the year from live music and comedy through to beerfest events, Christmas events and summer outdoor car shows and outdoor roadshows. Check out out the latest events here!

The Mill Market Farmers Market

The Mill Market Farmers Market is conveniently located just steps away from Canal District and Machine Shop. Grown, raised or crafted by Northern Ontario’s farmers, ranchers, fishermen, artists and artisans; Mill Market brings the best of our lakes, fields and forests to the heart of the historic Canal District in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. From farm to table, 

The Mill Market is open Saturdays year-round 9am – 2pm, and Wednesdays 11:30am – 2pm (June 29th through September 7th, 2022). Visit this website for more information!

Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

Just a short walk or bike ride away from the Machine Shop and train station is the actual Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic site

The Canal, built in 1895, was the world’s longest lock, the first to operate using electricity and the last link in an all-Canadian navigational chain from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Superior. Today, the Canal is a great spot for boat-watching, picnics and a variety of other activities. Let a Parks Canada interpreter introduce you to the canal’s fascinating history, rent a Fat Bike, check out the new visitor centre.

For more information on the Canal District visit this website!

A Vibrant Celebrations of Indigenous Life

Are you interested in going to a powwow but not sure about going on your own? Thrive Tours, an Indigenous-owned and operated guide company, offers Learn to Powwow Tours in the Sault Ste. Marie area. These tours introduce non-Indigenous tourists to powwows and will teach you everything you need to know.

Our family was able to join Brad and Amanda, owners of Thrive Tours, on a Learn to Powwow Tour and had an incredible experience together! Our tour group included Sault Ste. Marie locals, Ontario tourists and travelers from around the world. We came together as a group of all ages to learn to powwow and experience a celebration of Indigenous culture.

Our tour began with an introduction to powwow history, tradition and etiquette. Our guides taught us the cleansing practice of smudging and invited us to participate in this traditional ceremony. Along with our guides, we also had special guests from the Indigenous community come and speak to us.

Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
Batchewana Powwow Tour, June 2022

Experience a celebration of Indigenous culture

When settlers came in, the local Indigenous people were no longer allowed to practice their culture. The sacred ceremonies and songs had to continue deep in the bush and underground. Despite this oppression, the tradition and the heartbeat of the drum carried on and continues today. Although often looked on as traditions of the past, Brad shared with us that they “are not people of the past, but people with a past. [We] have an amazing history and an amazing future!”

During our introduction we were also honoured to have Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nations come and speak with us. He shared some of the history of the Indigenous people of the Sault Ste Marie area, also referred to as Bawating, meaning ‘place of the rapids’. Chief Sayers welcomed us to come on in and celebrate!

Brad and Amanda at the Powwow
Brand, Amanda and Lucia from Thrive Tours joined by Chief Sayers
Smoking cedar at a Powwow
Cleansing practice of smudging

Learn Different types of powwow dancing

Lucia, who has been dancing at powwows since she was a young girl, shared with us the dos and don’ts of the powwow. She told us that it is customary to stand at the beginning of the powwow, as a sign of honour, while the dancers enter the circle during the Grand Entry. Taking photos and videos during the Grand Entry is not allowed, but Lucia shared with us the proper way to take photos at other points during the powwow.

Our guides explained to us the different types of powwow dancing and the significance of the dancers’ attire, called regalia. Our guide Brad is a powwow singer and drummer who has been powwowing for about 15 years. He shared with us the history and significance of drumming and how the beat of the drums honors the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

Dancing at a Powwow
Batchewana Powwow Tour, June 2022
Dancing at a Powwow
Batchewana Powwow Tour, June 2022
Garden River Powwow
Garden River Powwow, August 2021

the sacred fire

After our time of learning we went as a group to the powwow. On our way to the circle we passed by the sacred fire. This fire is lit before the powwow starts and burns until the end. Fire keepers sit around the fire to make sure it continues burning. We honored them and the fire by putting tobacco in the fire and saying ‘Miigwetch’, which means ‘thank you’.

The powwow we attended, Gathering at the Rapids at Algoma University, was an indoor Competition Powwow (differing from a Traditional Powwow). There were a number of drum groups and dancers of all ages competing in different categories. As we entered the building, the Grand Entry was underway. We could feel the heartbeat of the drums resonate within us and stood as the dancers entered the circle. The intricate designs of the dancers’ regalia was amazing to see – bright colours, feathers, tassels, beading and jingling cones. After representatives carried in flags and veterans were honoured, the competition began.

We listened and watched as different drum groups took turns singing and drumming while the dancers made their way around the circle. We saw different categories of dances – traditional, jingle, grass, fancy – and watched as each age category took their turn, from the tiny tots to the golden age dancers. Our guides were available throughout the powwow to answer any questions we had and shared more information with us about the different dances.

Explaining Powwow customs
Explaining Powwow customs
Sacred fire at a Powwow
About to put tobacco on the sacred fire
Drumming at a Powwow
Drumming at Batchewana Powwow, June 2022

Take part in inter tribal dances

One unique experience that we had not been expecting, was the opportunity to join in on the dancing! Throughout the powwow there are inter tribal dances, where everyone from every background is invited to come into the circle and dance. Our children have been learning about Indigenous culture and powwows in school and to actually be there and take part was a very special experience.

In addition to the drumming and dancing, there were also Indigenous vendors set up at the powwow. We admired the handmade goods, enjoyed some lemonade and ate delicious food!

As a non-Indigenous person, I’ve been hesitant about attending a powwow in the past. I didn’t know what the proper etiquette was and didn’t want to be disrespectful in any way. It was so great having our guides from Thrive Tours to show us around and answer all of our questions! The whole powwow environment was one of total inclusivity, positive energy and people coming together to celebrate!

Powwow at Sault Ste. Marie
All are welcome at intertribal dances
Vendors at the Powwow
Indigenous Vendors
Food at the Powwow
Delicious food!

Learn to Powwow Tours

There are several Powwows during spring and summer in and around Sault Ste. Marie, and if you are interested in going you’ll definitely want to check out Thrive Tours’ Learn to Powwow Tours. Learn about the history, people, food and traditions; dancers, drums, singers and teachings. Half or full day experiences are available. Contact Thrive Tours for more info. 

And read our other blog post from summer 2022 about spending a day exploring Indigenous culture with the family in Sault Ste. Marie here!

7 ways to enjoy the Soo with Kids

Whether you’re road-tripping through Northern Ontario or looking for somewhere to get away for the day, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for family adventure! There are so many exciting things to do in Sault Ste. Marie, from biking and boating to eating delicious treats and enjoying local artwork! With all these great places to visit in Sault Ste. Marie (nicknamed “the Soo”), this will be a day that everyone in the family will love!

Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

Start your day off with some coffee from The Machine Shop and then head over to the Soo Canal. When the lock was built here in 1895, it was the longest in all of Canada. Today, pleasure watercraft are transported up and down the river through the lock to bypass the St. Marys River Rapids. Here you can enjoy watching the boats lock through as you walk along the canal.

Next, grab your bicycles and get ready to explore the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront. Bikes can be rented at the canal or from the Roberta Bonda marina in town during summer months. 

Whitefish Island

Take one of the bridges across the canal lock gates to get over to Whitefish Island. Bike or hike along trails and boardwalks as you take in views of the rapids along St. Marys River. You can learn about the island’s culture and history by reading the information signs along the trail. Make sure you also keep a lookout for the fairy doors painted around the island!

The main loop will take a family with young kids around 45 minutes to complete by bike or an hour hiking. Side trails are available if you want to extend your adventure – like going under the international bridge! There are plenty of trail maps to keep you on track. 

The Hub Trail

After exploring Whitefish Island, you can continue your bike ride or stroll along the John Rowswell Hub trail. This beautiful trail & boardwalk provides you with amazing views of the St. Marys River as you pass significant landmarks along the waterfront. Stop to eat a sweet treat at BeaverTails located right on the boardwalk and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

The whole loop is 22.5km and a great ride for the adventurous family, but equally, you can divide and conquer smaller sections too. The Fort Creek section is a beautiful 6km there-and-back trail with three awesome bridges that take you high over the ravine below. Parking is available at the south end. 

Bellevue Park

Next, head into town to get some lunch or continue along the Hub Trail to Bellevue Park to enjoy a picnic. With 7 separate playground structures, Bellevue Park is a kid’s dream come true. Along with its impressive playgrounds, the park also includes a splash pad, beautiful paths along the waterfront and picnic areas.

Bellevue Marina Kayak / Canoe Launch Dock

Now it’s time to experience Sault Ste. Marie from the St. Marys River! You can launch your canoe or kayaks from the accessible boat launch located at Bellevue Marina, making it easy for you to get in the water and explore the river. Don’t have your own boat? No problem! Canoes and kayaks can be rented from the Waterfront Adventure Centre or from Thrive Tours who operate from the same building. 

City Murals and Incredible Ice creams

After enjoying your time on the water, head downtown to see the incredible mural artwork around Sault Ste. Marie. These murals have been painted by local and visiting artists, adding vibrant character to the city! If you are visiting during the month of June, you can watch new murals being painted as part of the Summer Moon Festival.

While you’re downtown, be sure to stop by Elliot’s Ice Cream for a treat that not only tastes delicious but also looks like a work of art!

Crystal Falls

Crystal Falls is located in Kinsmen Park at the North edge of Sault Ste. Marie. The falls are a short walk from the parking lot and can be accessed by walking along a wooden boardwalk. The amazing views keep coming as you walk up a series of steps to viewing platforms and experience the many layers of this waterfall.

If you have time, you can continue your hike along some of the many great trails nearby into the Hiawatha Highlands and the Voyageur trail system.

Now it’s time to relax while eating supper at one of the many delicious restaurants in town. Finish off your day by watching the sunset over the St. Marys River and then get some well deserved rest at one of Sault Ste. Marie’s hotels.

After such a great day of family fun and activities, the whole family will want to come back and do it all again! Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for family adventure.

Check out more Adventures From The Hills here on Instagram and here on web!

Tour Boat, train, trails and outdoor adventures aplenty. Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect Summer Destination

By Sault Tourism

Miss Marie Sault Lock Tours

Introducing The Miss Marie Sault Lock Tours Boat, which officially launches for its first full year in 2023!

The Miss Marie takes passengers on a 90-minute cruise up and down the picturesque St Marys River. Enjoy the downtown sights of both Canadian and US Sault Ste. Marie, then pass through both set of historic locks and underneath the spectacular International bridge. Wave to Lake Superior ‘lakers’ as well as pleasure boat riders on this famous waterway, or just can sit back and relax and take in the many sights of this beautiful boat ride.

Take a bucket-list train ride

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is one of North America’s iconic train rides as well as being a Destination Canada signature experience. See the boreal forests, rivers, and waterfalls that inspired Canada’s most iconic artists – the Group of Seven. If traveling in latter part of summer, witness some of the most incredible colours as the maple forests create a stunning palette of reds, oranges and yellows. 

This year’s tour season will be from Aug. 3 through Oct. 15. More details on pricing and purchasing tickets can be found on the Agawa train website.

Discover Awesome new Mountain Biking Trails

Sault Ste. Marie is the best destination for mountain biking in Ontario. Discover trails for every age, ability or style from jump and flow trails to enduro-style trails carved out of the Canadian Shield. Come and see why Sault Ste. Marie is being called Ontario’s new bike town. 

Visit the Hiawatha Highlands, with over 40km of trails including 12km of newly built world-class trails — just a short ride from downtown. Visit out new Mountain Bike page for more info or check our out post on spending a weekend mountain biking in the city

Explore our incredible hiking, biking or paddling trails

Cradled by the ancient mountains of the Canadian Shield and the biggest fresh water lake in the world, Sault Ste. Marie is Ontario’s best Trail Town.
 
Hike trails that will lead you to incredible lookout vistas, or along the largest fresh water lake in the world. Bike on newly built mountain bike trails, or along some quiet yet beautiful gravel roads. Or paddle one of our many and varied waterways, from winding rivers to portage-friendly inland lakes, or course the Big Lake, Lake Superior. Whatever your own personal mode of transport is, be it foot, peddle or paddle, we’ve got a trail for you.

Enjoy The best Sandy Beaches In Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie has some of the best sandy beaches in Ontario. Our beaches are incredible! All around our city you’ll find perfectly beautiful, long sandy beaches with crystal clear water that are perfect for a swim, a play in the sand or just to relax and soak up the sun. Great beaches are just one reason Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for a summer vacation.

Click here to check out 6 of the best sandy beaches in Ontario, all just a short drive from Sault Ste. Marie.  

Experience Lake Superior

Lake Superior is wild, rugged and beautiful. It can be angry and violent, it can be calm with glassy water reflecting a perfectly clear blue sky. The sunsets can be some of most beautiful anywhere, and the maple forests that hug the coastline put on a fall colour display of bright reds, oranges and yellows so spectacular you’ll be telling your friends for years.

A drive along the coastline from Sault Ste. Marie will let you experience all of this. Get out of your car, RV or motorbike at any of the many stops along the way. Fill your camera up with countless shots of this beautiful coast. Visit in spring, summer, fall or winter for a different experience each season. Be inspired by the incredible Lake Superior coastal drive from Sault Ste. Marie.

Visit The Bushplane Museum

The Bushplane Museum, or the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre to give its full name, is one of Sault Ste. Marie’s top attractions. Perfect for kids to learn about bushplanes, women in aviation, forest fire prevention, plus, kids can run around, climb into planes and have fun exploring. For adults, it’s a museum full of beautiful and fascinating aircraft that shows the important history of bushplanes in Ontario. 

Check out Entomica while inside the museum; a wonderful Insectarium where you can meet and hold some pretty interesting creatures!

Other cultural attractions include: Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site, The Sault Ste. Marie Museum, Art Gallery of Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

Immerse yourself In Indigenous Culture

Traditionally known as Bawating (“the place of the rapids”), Sault Ste. Marie is a place of cultural importance. Follow this long weekend itinerary to experience and learn about Anishinaabe culture in our city. 

Thrive Tours offer interpretive eco-tours offering a guided experience of vibrant celebrations of Indigenous life. Or if you are visiting in June, experience the Summer Moon Festival featuring real-time creation of large-scale public art, including works by Indigenous artists. 

Visit our Indigenous Tourism page for more info. 

Enjoy so many unique events

Sault Ste. Marie has so many fun events happening all through the summer. From the Summer Moon Festival to Rotary Fest and the much-loved Queen Street Cruise. Looking for a show or musical performance? Check out all the events listed at the Sault Community Theatre website.

For the outdoor adventure enthusiast we have the Salty Marie trails fest happening in July, or race in our Summer Strong Festival, which is a series of races over a weekend in June, including a Boston Marathon qualifier!

Stay up to date by visiting our Events page here!

Relax, Dine and Drink

After a day of adventuring you’ll want to refuel and recharge, and we have some great restaurants serving some fantastic food for any taste. From Syrian Shawarma to spicy Indian, delicious Italian or sizzling steak, the Sault has so many great restaurants

We also brew our own beer! Northern Superior and Outspoken offer craft beers with names including ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, ‘Maglia Rosa’ and ‘Gitche Gumee’. Great beers, great atmosphere equals great times. 

By Sault Tourism

With So many attractions inside this iconic centre, one visit just won't be enough!

The Bushplane Museum in Sault Ste. Marie is one of the Ontario’s top attractions. The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (to use its full name) features a collage of attractions that suit all types of customers. Aviation enthusiasts will love the collection of vintage aircraft, families will find an educational and safe environment for their children to play and explore while an array of offerings is sure to entertain with something for everybody.

Here are some of top attractions and biggest reasons to visit the Bushplane Museum, in Sault Ste. Marie. 

Iconic Airplanes

A staple of the Museum, the De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, is the museum’s iconic airplane. Visible within the first few steps of the doors, the Beaver glimmers in the light cascading in from the large hangar doors. In 1978 the Canadian Engineering Centennial Board selected the Beaver as one of, “Canada’s most outstanding engineering achievements of the 20th Century.” Beaver CF-OBS, the feature of the museum, was the second Beaver to come off the production line, and the second to ever be produced. With just over 1600 produced, the Beaver is a must see in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Canadair CL-215 is the largest aircraft in the collection and has a rich history in forest firefighting. This aircraft was sold to France and used in efforts in maintaining their forests. After being decommissioned due to reaching its maximum number of “in air hours” and also as a result of the aircraft’s exposure to salt water over time. It was donated to the Centre by the French and was delivered directly off-the-ship via the St. Mary’s River. It had to be reassembled in the Museum due to its massive size.

Children's Learning Centre

For those with little ones, the Children’s Learning Centre is a fantastic way to introduce your children to flight and the science behind it. With arcade-style game consoles, interactive displays, and separated real airplane cockpits the Children’s Learning Center provides hands-on learning experiences for children of all ages.

Entomica

Entomica Insectarium, run under the professional direction of President Dr. John Dedes, is a new addition and instant favourite in the museum. The award-winning non-profit organization sets out to educate the public on the complexity and true beauty that their insects hold. This mission combined with their vibrant and outstanding vivariums and insects from around the world provide an interactive and fun learning experience for groups of all sizes, people of all ages, and everyone in the family. In this sensational setting you may have the opportunity to handle some exotic insects under the supervision of their knowledgeable “bug wrangler” staff.

Did we Mention the Airplanes??

With almost 30 airplanes, including iconic craft like the Saunders ST27 , the Stinson Reliant, the Fokker and the Grumman CS2L Tracker you’ll have so much to see you’ll need a second visit. Plus the kids (adults are welcome too of course) can sit in a real cockpit and let their imaginations soar. 

So much more...

…Like the Ranger Tower. Trek your way up the Ranger Tower to practice your fire spotting skills. A great vantage point of the exhibit space and a unique opportunity for a photo.

The KR-34 Centennial Restoration is another key exhibit and project underway at the Bushplane Museum. This plane in particular, C-FADH, logged over 1900 hours in its open cockpit form.  Although the current restoration is for display purposes only, it is still being fully re-covered and painted. You may find volunteers hard at work while still taking time to answer questions about the project and chat. This restoration began in January 2021 and will take between 2-3 years to complete based on the overall condition of the aircraft. The museum’s goal is to have the restoration completed by 2024, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Ontario Provincial Air Service.

On the other end of forest firefighting endeavors would be the Museum’s Bell 47-D helicopter. It was first owned by Ontario Lands and Forests and was acquired in 1953. It was the first helicopter to be owned by a government agency in Canada and was donated by Canadore College in North Bay. It was used to spot and combat forest fires right here in Ontario.3. The helicopter was restored by CBHC volunteers after it was donated. 

And then there’s the Wildfires! 3D Adventure, Forest Fire Protection exhibit, the Flight Simulator, and an inspirational section on Women in Aviation

Ranger Tower

KR-34 Centennial Restoration

Come Again Soon!

With so much to see and do at the Bushplane Museum, you’ll have to come back for another visit! 

Visit the Bushplane Museum website to plan your next trip. 

By Sault Tourism

Stories Steeped in Stone...

If the two buildings, the Old Stone House and the Blockhouse, could talk, they would tell stories steeped in adventure and intrigue about the rich and turbulent times of the fur trade; the aches and pains of early pioneer life and the development of industry along the St. Marys River.

Visit the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site to take a trip back in time over 200 years. See how some of the earliest European settlers in Sault Ste. Marie lived. Learn about the war of 1812 through interactive displays. Take part in some great events throughout the year that will bring these historic buildings to life. Enjoy an interactive audio tour to help guide you through the site or sit in the 50-seat theatre to watch a 25 minute movie that introduces visitors to the history of the area, the historic on-site buildings and the people that lived in them.

Learn more about Sault Ste. Marie’s rich history on a tour of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site

Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site
Interactive Audio Tour
Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site
Movie Theatre

The Old STone House

The Ermatinger Old Stone House has been fully restored to depict the domestic and professional life of Charles Oakes Ermatinger, a prominent business man who lived in Sault Ste. Marie from 1812 – 1828. Visitors can step back in time by walking through rooms recreated to resemble life 200 years ago. Fascinating pieces of information along the way will enhance the experience, such as learning about how, in the years after Charles Ermatinger had left, the house became a hotel, later a courtroom and also boarding house! 

The Blockhouse

This iconic building dates back to 1819 when it was first build and used as a powder magazine. Later, at the turn of the century, Francis Hector Clergue added an upper level and converted it into a house with two bedrooms, a large living space, and the first indoor washroom. Visitors can tour through the building’s two levels getting another sample of historic Sault Ste. Marie life while learning more about Francis H. Clergue himself. 

The War of 1812 Gallery

The War of 1812 was a 32-month long conflict between the United States and Great Britain fought in Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site contains a fantastic, interactive gallery of the war that shaped the North America we know today. Learn why the war was fought, what was the outcome, what were the key battles, and who were the famous faces. Read about famous naval skirmishes, and check out the uniforms worn during the war.   

Gift Shop

A superb selection of souvenirs are available at the gift shop. This includes souvenirs from Sault Ste. Marie and Canada as a whole, a selection of Group of Seven merchandise and work by local artists including local Indigenous artists. The gift shop also sells seeds and produce from the garden! Come and check it out, you’ll find a variety of things and everything special about Algoma.

Lots of Events!

12 events are planned throughout the year. In June there is the fantastic Lilac and Lavender festival and Poutine Feast – 4 days of Poutine from 8 different vendors with live music and kids entertainments! This is followed by the Strawberry Festival in July, Blueberry Festival in August. September is a big month for events with Fall Rendezvous which in 2023 will include a harvest festival and well as the traditional reenactors on the front lawn. Other events are planned for October including Halloween House and Halloween on Queen. Check out our events page here or follow the Ermatinger Facebook page here for all the latest info!

Come For A Visit!

The Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site is open year round! Come and see for yourself!