Hidden Gems of Georgian Bay

Looking to get off the beaten track? Here's a guide to an out-of-the-way trip full of gorgeous sights and serious boating.

The North Channel is a picturesque boating paradise – the area is filled with coves, inlets and marinas to stock up on all of your supplies. The following loop could be completed in five to seven days, takes boaters through pristine waters, and offers some of the most beautiful views of Ontario.

Killarney

Killarney Accommodations
Killarney's Sportsman Inn is a great stop-over with newly renovated accommodations.

Located on the north end of Georgian Bay, Killarney is one of the oldest villages in Northern Ontario, and offers boaters of all kinds of tastes of the past as well as modern-day adventures. Its history dates as far back as 1615, when European explorers Samuel de Champlain and Étienne Brûlé first travelled these waters. By 1759, the area had evolved into a major water route for French fur traders.

Killarney was once a bustling fishing village, and still has strong ties to its roots as visitors can purchase fresh or smoked fish right off the docks along its waterfront. For those that are not as keen to cook their own fish, they can enjoy a well-rounded meal at any number of the great restaurants located near the waterfront. Boaters can also take a short walk through the village and enjoy Killarney’s museum, local craft shop, and outdoor sports store, as well as restocking at the general store.

For the more adventurous traveller, Killarney Provincial Park surrounds the village and encompasses 140 square miles of majestic landscape, set in the wilderness of the Canadian Shield. Killarney Provincial Park is considered one of Ontario Parks’ crown jewels with its majestic, mountainous wilderness of sapphire lakes and jack pine ridges.

The Sportsman’s Inn is a legendary landmark destinations for American and Canadian boaters headed to and from Lake Huron’s famous North Channel. New owners, the McConnell family, have redesigned and redecorated the Sportman’s Inn Resort and Marina into a 140-slip yacht haven. The newly renovated 12 suite Inn offers visitors fine dining, luxurious accommodations, live entertainment and fitness facilities.

Snug Harbour

Approximately six miles from Killarney is Snug Harbour – a beautiful, sheltered cove off the Lansdowne Channel. This is one of the few anchorages in the area with water deep enough for large vessels, but is usually pretty quiet in the late summer. This is a perfect place to anchor for the evening and watch the sunset.

The Pool (Baie Fine)

From Snug Harbour, boaters can make their way 17 miles through Frazer Bay towards Baie Fine. The fjord-like sceneries of Baie Fine make it a must-go place, at least once. At the end of this long channel is a small pool of water enclosed by white quartz mountains, famously known as “The Pool.” However, to reach The Pool requires motoring about t10 miles through some not-so-friendly, rock-littered water. The chart shows this bay to have a depth of zero, but actually there’s sufficient depth for medium-sized vessels; just have a spotter. Anchoring in “The Pool” is a bit tricky due to the weedy bottom, and the shores are all steep rocks with no place to beach the boat.

Moored in Killarney
Moored in Killarney

Little Current

About 22 miles from The Pool is Little Current – named as such for a reason. As a narrow waterway joining two large bodies of water, the current can reach several knots depending on the wind direction. Also, there’s a low-clearance swing bridge that only opens once every hour on the hour, and one might face the challenge of battling the current while waiting for the bridge to be raised. However, once you make it past the Swing Bridge, you will find yourself in another beautiful setting.

Little Current is a scenic, boater-friendly little town with excellent services. It’s a good place to stop to stretch, get provisions, and have an afternoon coffee before continuing the journey. For a reasonable fee, one can also dock overnight. Local marinas, Boyle Marina, Harbor Vue Marina and Spider Bay Marina all are great choices.

Benjamin Islands

The Benjamin Islands - a hidden gem in the North Channel
The Benjamin Islands - a hidden gem in the North Channel

Sixteen miles from Little Current, you will find the Benjamin Islands. This is a sheltered harbour with beautiful granite rocky outcrops. It is usually quite crowded, so arrive early to set anchor and explore. From here, travel 23 miles to Browning Cove.

Browning Cove

Browning Cove has a large bay and an eastward channel that most boats anchor in. There is a very good depth in the little finger cove by Stanley Point. The cove is very well protected from the wind – and the anchorage is rarely used, making it a great place to explore. It is a great place to kayak and discover the legendary Browning Cove Totem.

Covered Portage Cove

Kayaking in the North Channel is a great way to get up-close and personal with nature
Kayaking in the North Channel is a great way to get up-close and personal with nature

Twelve miles from Browning Cove, you will find Covered Portage Cove: the second-most protected spot in the most protected section of one of the most protected harbours in the very well-protected North Channel. Covered Portage Cove is surrounded by bluffs, the least of which can be described as spectacular. There's a very good hike that goes up to the top of the highest bluff in Covered Portage Cove. From there, you can see the whole harbour, as well as into Frazier Bay – the view is well worth the hike! It's also a great spot for a kayaking adventure!

From Covered Portage Cove, you are only three miles from Killarney, where your adventure began. 

About Northern Ontario

Welcome to Northern Ontario, Canada! Bigger than Texas, wilder than the west, more welcoming than a campfire in October, Northern Ontario is like no place else. Sunset Country is famous for its spectacular fishing lakes, Superior Country stretches into the deep north wildnerness, Algoma Country has Lake Superior as their back yard, and the Northeast provides excellent vacation destinations close to Toronto and other large urban centres in Southern Ontario.

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