We recently took a family trip by car from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to our home in Ottawa. At first, I was nervous that the trip would be punctuated by continuous demands of “Are we there yet?” and hour after hour of uninspiring scenery.
By Sault Tourism
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.
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. If you’re looking for more adrenaline, head to Bellevue Valley, where a 5km trail drops 200m into a beautiful valley of lush maple trees. Visit out new Mountain Bike page for more info.
The Edmund Fitzgerald lookout trail, in Pancake Bay Provincial Park, is the perfect day trip activity from Sault Ste. Marie, and the perfect way to experience Lake Superior.
Just an hour north of the city, it’s one of best lookout hikes in all of Ontario. A beautiful woodland walk through towering maple trees leads you to spectacular views of Lake Superior, as far out as the resting position of the Edmund Fitzgerald ship.
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.
New to 2022, Thrive Tours will be offering a ‘Learn to Powwow‘ tour; 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.
Visit our Indigenous Tourism page for more info.
The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is one of north America’s iconic train rides and a Destination Canada signature experience. See the boreal forests, rivers, and waterfalls that inspired Canada’s most iconic artists – the Group of Seven, and 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 is tentatively planned for Aug. 1 through Oct. 10. More details on pricing and purchasing tickets will be available soon at the Agawa train website.
Stay up to date by visiting our Events page here!
Nestled between Great Lakes Superior and Huron, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect jumping off point to discover wild rivers, majestic channels, hidden coves, stunning waterfalls and more freshwater lakes than you could ever count. This is what makes us one of Canada’s top outdoor adventure destinations.
Take a tour with Canoes for Conservation, Blaq Bear Eco Adventures, Forest the Canoe and Thrive Tours or do it yourself. Our website will give you all you need to begin your adventure, as well as some Travel Inspiration stories to inspire you!
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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 2022 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!
In 2019 Sault Ste. Marie commissioned the creation of large scale murals by both globally renowned artists as well as exceptional talent within our own community. The next year local partners launched the inaugural Summer Moon Festival created to celebrate art and the many voices in our community.
Now in 2022, the Summer Moon Festival has grown to become an arts & music festival that not only includes real-time creation of large-scale public art, but also a pow wow in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, live music performances as well as interdisciplinary artist workshops. Click here to learn more about 2022’s the Summer Moon Festival, happening June 21st – 25th.
Enjoy the murals year-round on a walking tour of Sault Ste. Marie with all the information below.
Battle for the Seven Clans
Thomas Sinclair is Ojibway from Couchiching First Nation. As a young boy, Thomas was mentored in the art of Woodland style by the late Isadore Wadow. Currently residing in Sault Ste. Marie, Thomas has found happiness in returning to these roots and sharing his art with the world.
The inspiration for this mural comes from the sacred stories passed down for generations through the Anishinaabe Indigenous Peoples. Stories of Aadizookaan, Tales of Nanabijou, and pictographs of the area. The mural features Mishipeshu which is a very prominent mythological water being that is featured in the Agawa Pictographs. Nanabijou was a shape shifter that is part human, bear, thunderbird, and plant.
In the creation story Nanabijou and Mishipeshu were battling one another for the seven clans and overall humanity. In the mural these incredible beings are powered by women on either side. The North wall features a woman with berries in her hair. She has a strawberry heart and is holding a bear cub and thunderbird nest. This woman represents the spiritual medicine. Mishipeshu is powered by a woman on the west side of the building. Her spine made of strawberry and also has a heart berry. Her hand is made of a vine that grows more Berries. Both of these women draw their strength from Mother Earth.
Known for his works lining the alleyways and streets of Toronto, Alex ‘Bacon’ Lazich began painting in the 1990s as a teenager. His work has evolved to deconstructing traditional graffiti spray techniques to create an abstract graffiti style while maintaining letter form.
This mural depicts a Canadian goose found in the Sault Ste. Marie area, painted in a kaleidoscope stained letter style of graffiti lettering, lines, shapes and shadows. The style of this mural is very modern, but is inspired by classic artists including impressionists and Old Masters. Bacon’s goal with his art is to make people smile and change the vibe of neighborhoods.
By Cindy Haat
848 Queen St (North Wall)
Cindy began painting professionally in the medium of oil on canvas following her university studies in fine arts. Photography and sketching have been the main tools used in researching and composing her artwork. Cindy currently enjoy the freedom of painting with acrylics and her work has been described as “…energetic, fearless, full of emotion”. She strives to be free and relaxed in her approach to the actual painting process and enjoys researching subjects and trying to capture the essence of people, animals, and places as vibrantly as possible.
Inspired by the animated movie ‘Spirit’. “When the kids were little we watched it over and over again. At the time I had been exploring Metis heritage through art, exploring Ojibway style woodland type of painting. The horse and sun and land are all connected as we are to Mother Earth. Bebezhigooganzhii is the Ojibwa word for horse.”
Rolling Pictures Horse
Jerry Rugg aka birdO is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. While his surreal geometric animals can be found on canvas, in digital print, and installation, birdO is primarily known for his large-scale mural work on walls and buildings around the world.
Painting on the side of the Rolling Pictures building, birdO reimagines the company’s horse in his unique surreal style. With a cohesive colour scheme and elements of motion, the large-scale galloping creature is impossible to miss. Painted within the eye of the horse is a reflection of the church on Spring St. in the Soo.
Daniela is from Columbia and was inspired by her homeland to paint a jungle theme with big bold graphics depicting nature and flowers.
A colourful magical jungle piece featuring Bachué. A mother goddess that according to the Muisca religion is the mother of humanity.
Throw Kindness Around
The Kindness Mural, a bold and graphic explosion of line and form, draws attention to the message to throw kindness around like confetti. Painted in the height of Covid-19 Annie was inspired to create a municipal landmark that sparks positivity and connection in isolated times.
Annie’s work melds the borders of drawing, sculpture and media installation, most recently exploring our interactions to the natural environment through observations of natural phenomena, and when she’s not doing that she paints pretty pictures of flora and fauna for no particular reason.
Rihkee Strapp is a two-spirited Métis of the Wolverine Clan and was born in the small Northwestern community of Red Lake, Ontario. They are a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice includes traditional woodland painting, installation, performance, and social practice. Growing up, Rihkee was inspired by their grandmother’s print collective by the Woodland artists of the Triple K Cooperative silk screen company, who came out of Red Lake.
Mishiikenh Kwe (Turtle Woman) is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe/Odawa) from the caribou clan, her community is Magnetawan First Nation. She grew up listening to stories from her grandmother who is an Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language) teacher from Wiikwemkoong and draw most of my inspiration for paintings from those stories, thoughts and teachings I got from her and from ceremonies I attend.
Mishiikenh Kwe and Rihkee Strapp first began painting murals together at Nimkii Aazhibikong. Mishiikenh Kwe has always loved painting snakes because of her experience working in species at risk. While doing community outreach Mishiikenh Kwe noticed that lots of people expressed fear and dislike for snakes. Together the artists want to honour the snake and to build appreciation. Ring necked snakes are named for their distinct coloured pattern around their neck. This small local snake, if threatened will displays its bright underbelly to scare off predators.
“My work, and by extension, my life; has always been heavily influenced by horror, science fiction and comic books. When the owners of Outspoken brewery requested dragons burning down a city as their contribution to the downtown’s arts initiative, I got the call. My initial sketch was enthusiastically approved as it captured the 80’s metal album cover and post-apocalyptic feel that they were looking for. I don’t often get the opportunity to do commercial work that I can invest so much of my personality into; as a result, this has been amongst the more rewarding commissions of my career. I can only hope that the final product stokes the imagination and creativity of those who visit the terrace, enjoying a pint whilst bathed in dragonfire. “
Thomas Sinclair’s second mural is found opposite Outspoken brewery on Queen street. Its part of the story of Aadizookaan, sacred story. Normally the story is only spoken when snow is on the ground, or when the Pleiades is in the sky. Thomas believes it’s so important to share these stories, because we are losing so many of our elders and knowledge carriers.
Tree of Life on The Rapids
“Tree of Life on the Rapids” was created to make people feel good, and to remind the viewer that all things in this life are connected. It depicts the “Tree of Life”, an iconic symbol for many cultures, which Sault Ste. Marie is becoming a home for. Behind the tree is the sun, which provides the energy needed for everything here on earth relies. From the tree of life comes our food, tools we need, wood for our homes, and the fire we use to keep ourselves warm.
As your eye travels down the trunk, the roots remind us that we need a firm foundation so we can stay grounded in this life. Another essential part of our life is water, which roots will always seek. As your eye scans to the right you can see them transforming into the rapids that Sault Ste. Marie has long been known for. In the middle of this transition is the raven. Before the use of modern technology, they were used to carry messages over long distances. Using the raven as a symbol of communication, visually represents Village Media and their goal of conveying community news.
Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mark Grandinetti is a local artist who primarily creates pop art pieces often featuring cartoon and comic book characters, as well as images and figures from sports and entertainment. Heavily influenced by street art, graffiti, and modern art, his work often employs bold colours and evokes a sense of nostalgia.
This mural is inspired by the Soo Greyhounds, who play hockey across the street from the mural. It’s a recognition of the impact of hockey in the town and Mark hopes the mural will be an inspiration to artists and hockey players alike.
The painting features former Greyhound stars including Wayne Gretzky, Joe Thornton, Matt Murray and Darnell Nurse, who not only went on to have illustrious careers in the NHL, but have also proven to be great ambassadors for the game. Greyhounds hockey brings people together and helps to create a sense of community in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Hockey is more than a game. In Canada, it is a way of life. It encourages us to be gracious in victory and defeat. It teaches us to stay humble and play hard and to never give up ever.”
Cultural Connections is a truly unique collaboration between three great artists. On the right hand side facing the mural is the Falcon. The Falcon is representative of the area.
In the centre is Peru’s art. Peru143 is an internationally recognized Peruvian-Canadian muralist. Rooted in Positivism, Peru’s work aims to heal and uplift people’s spirits by transforming neglected and often oppressive spaces into safe, playful, and imaginative worlds. He describes his style as “playful geometry”. “All my work revolves around one common purpose; to heal, inspire and uplift people’s spirits. I didn’t know what I was going to paint until the moment we were all staring at the wall together. I was given the word “Biindigen” which means “Welcome” in Ojibwe and ran with it. This was the most effortless collaboration I’ve ever been a part of with communication often reduced to a nod. I couldn’t be prouder to have worked alongside legends Bacon and QueRock on this magical mural. 3 guys, 3 days and over 300 cans. One Love.”
QRock’s mural is on the left hand side. It depicts a medicine wheel; seven grandfathers and the thirteen grandmother clan system. Lots of geometry in the painting is based off of the teachings. Medicine wheels is 4 directions, seasons, earth, wind, fire, water. Wanted to create those layers of sacred geometry, so that it gives you a visual healing effect.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
…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.
Looking for some fun things to do with the family? We’ve got you covered. Plan a weekend adventure or come for the whole week! Sault Ste. Marie has something for everyone. Here are some fun ideas for you and your family.
The Bushplane Museum is one of the Ontario’s top attractions. It features a myriad of attractions that suit all types of visitor. 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.
From March 4th until May 14th check the The Science of Guinness World Records Northern Tour. Go behind the scenes and see what it takes. Hear the stories of those who set out to break new ground and succeeded. Learn the secrets, then try it yourself. Challenge your friends, your family, your foes, your classmates, or even other visitors.
You’ll have to check out Entomica Insectarium, an instant favourite in the museum. Kids have the opportunity to handle some exotic insects under the supervision of their knowledgeable “bug wrangler” staff.
We’ve had a great winter for snow and our resorts are open over March break! Hiawatha Highlands, Stokely Creek Lodge are great places for cross-country skiing. Searchmont Resort, with one of the highest verticals in Ontario, is your perfect downhill destination. Each resort has rentals as well as a variety of trails for all skill levels. Check opening times and local conditions on their websites before visiting.
The museums and attractions here in Sault Ste. Marie are happy to welcome back visitors! They are offering a new way to experience these sites through the Cultural Corridor Connection Pass! During this March Break (March 14-19), for $25.00, families can gain access to six sites and participate in fun-filled activities! Passes can be purchased online using the link below, or at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site and the Public Library.
Register here at: https://saultstemarie.ca/ECNHSevents
Warmer days, sun, and yet still snow and ice to enjoy! Come for an outdoor skate on any of our beautiful trails. There’s the waterside skate downtown at Clergue Park, or head to a beautiful woodland trail at Crimson Ridge.
Crimson Ridge offers a March Break pass for all their winter activities for $15. Skate, fat bike, snowshoe, bum-slide and ski, all week long! There is a Cabana that will be open with beverages, bbq, and snacks!
Stay in one of our six hotels with pools and let the kids burn off some energy! Visit our hotels page and filter ‘pool’ for a complete list!
Spend a fun afternoon at Soo Blaster! From pool to Air FX Hockey to pinball, there is bound to be a BLAST for every age! Experience the Ultimate Simulation Game; play golf, hockey, basketball, soccer, rugby, cricket, zombie dodgeball, carnival and more.
From a Syrian Shawarma to spicy Indian, delicious Italian or sizzling steak, the Sault has so many great restaurants to choose from!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect destination for a weekend adventure. And now with the international border being opened to allow Americans to enter Canada as of August 9th, we wanted to remind our American friends of all the many things there is to see and do in our city. While you’re here, check out this article on what you’ll need to do before you to visit Canada.
Sault Ste. Marie is a city built for outdoor adventure with some of the best access to forests, waterways and rugged hills anywhere in the area.
Come and check out our incredible and expanding mountain biking in and around the city. The Hiawatha Highlands are home to a world-class mountain bike trail system – just a short ride from downtown. If you’re looking for more adrenaline, head to Bellevue Valley, where a 5km trail drops 200m into a beautiful valley of lush maple trees.
Being a city between two of the Great Lakes and on the St Marys River we know how to enjoy the water. From kayaking to canoeing and standup paddle boarding we have expert tour guides and outfitters ready to get you on the water this summer and fall. Our watersports webpage has all the info you need to get started.
Get that extra thrill for a limited time between August 7th and 15th by taking a high-speed adventure up and down the St. Mary’s river on board the Zodiac Hurricane. You can book a half day excursion or a 60 or 90 minute explore east or west from the city.
World famous and entirely unique, the Bushplane Museum is one of the biggest and best attractions in the region. Come check out this massive collection of classic airplanes (over 30 to be exact), interact with equipment and let the kids run around too. More displays have been recently added plus you can now see and hold some fascinating insects in the newly housed Entomica Insectarium; a variety of live exotic insects from around the world!
Blink and another patio has appeared downtown, that’s certainly what it feels like in Sault Ste. Marie these days. Come and have a craft beer and experience the warm atmosphere of Outspoken Brewing, Northern Superior Co. or The Whiskey Barrel to name just a few. Another addition to the downtown core is the stunning Broers Jansen which boasts an offering of wines made in-house, local craft beers, and a selection of hand-picked Scotch and Whiskeys from Canada and around the world.
Looking for a cool and quaint eatery? We have those too! Grab a bite at the Big Lake Cabin, the delicious Georgie’s Shawarma, or the colourful Ernie’s Coffee Shop. Incredible buttertarts at The Queen’s Tarts are hard to pass up too, especially the new Cheesecake and Whiskey Maple Bacon varieties!
Come for a stroll down Queen Street and see if you can find all 10 of our murals painted by an exciting mix of local Indigenous and world famous artists! It will surely be an inspiring stroll along the main street of our city.
For fans of the Group of Seven, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place to base yourself. Visit a replica train carriage used to transport many of the artists around the region, and then go for a road trip up the coast yourself to see some of the inspiration behind many of the paintings. The Moments of Algoma website is a great resource.
Speaking of the coast, the rugged beauty of the Canadian Lake Superior coastline is a must-visit experience. With more trails to hike, coves to explore and beaches to stroll down than could be mentioned, it’s the perfect place to explore and get immersed in nature. Visit the Hike page of our website for more information.
While you are on on the Superior coast don’t forget to stop in at the Voyageur Lodge & Cookhouse for the fan-favourite apple fritters. This delicious dessert sells quickly so it’s suggested you get up there before 3pm daily, you certainly don’t want to miss out!
Fall is when the Soo comes alive because it’s when our forever-forests of Maple trees turn every shade of red, orange and gold. Take a hike to Robertson cliffs for one of the best views you’ll experience. A coastal drive will do it too, in fact just being in Sault Ste. Marie will help you experience a truly beautiful fall season.
Take a stroll along our beautiful boardwalk or around Whitefish Island for some fantastic views of the United States. The historic Sault canal are always frequented by smaller boats venturing to and from Lake Superior. Cross the canal and enter the picturesque and culturally significant Whitefish Island, where you’ll be just a stone’s throw away from home.
The Sault rapids that sit between our countries have some of the best fishing anywhere in North America. Check out our Fish webpage for a link to some travel inspiration or a list of expert guides.
By Stephen Johnson
Trains, Trails, and Ancient Art
Driving cross-country and thinking of skipping Ontario? Here’s why you shouldn’t. This family found some fascinating roads into Canada’s past, and its rich natural beauty.
We recently took a family trip by car from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to our home in Ottawa. At first, I was nervous that the trip would be punctuated by continuous demands of “Are we there yet?” and hour after hour of uninspiring scenery.
I could not have been more wrong. The scenery all along the route was quite beautiful. Things got jaw-droppingly gorgeous once we hit Rossport, Ontario. We were treated to kilometre after kilometre of landscapes that were straight out of a Group of Seven painting. Still more beauty awaited us in the Sault Ste. Marie area.