Top 5 Reasons Why the SSM Canal Should be #1 on Your List

Whether you're completing the Lake Superior Circle Tour, dropping into Canada while exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or capturing selfies as you go coast to coast, you've definitely got to stop here.

Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie with a museum curator as your mom ensures that you also spend a lot of time visiting attractions and historical places in your hometown. After spending many summers travelling for the bicentennial of the War of 1812 (2012-2014), I too became more and more interested in Canadian history.

A childhood in Sault Ste. Marie provides many youth with a deeper appreciation for the vast natural landscapes that surround us, especially because of the unique positioning on the north shores of Lake Huron and the southern beaches of Lake Superior. I began working at Parks Canada for the Sault Ste. Marie National Historic Site in 2016, as a summer student, and have returned for two additional summers to continue illustrating the alluring history of Sault Ste. Marie to visitors from around the world. 

Immediately after crossing the US border to Sault Ste. Marie, you'll see the historic engineering marvel, a mix of diverse, dynamic, and unique attributes that make the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site, worth the stop on your road trip. Whether completing the Lake Superior Circle Tour, just visiting Canada for the day while exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or capturing as many selfies on the Parks Canada Red Chairs as you go coast to coast, the site welcomes you to explore its modern interpretation on a 19th-century trade route connecting Lake Superior to Lake Huron.

Although constructed in 1895, the canal site has a lot to offer for 21st-century adventurers and travellers alike. The canal provides something unique to every person who explores the site. So why do you have to make the canal your #1 stop in Sault Ste. Marie? Continue reading to find out. 

5. Attikamek Trails

Guests at the Canal who are visiting us on their cross-Canada road trips, or completing the Lake Superior Circle Tour, know that some travel days are longer and more tiring than others, and often require a pit stop to stretch out the car legs and take a breath of fresh air. After taking in the engineering feat of the lock its self, the Attikamek Trail on the other side of the canal provides the perfect way to get in a quick walk after a long drive. 

Adjacent to a perfect waterfowl, beaver, and fish habitat, the boardwalk and trail brings you on a walk through a nature lover’s oasis, less than 2 km from #TheSoo's downtown core and shopping centres. Meandering underneath the international bridge, the trail ends with perfect views of the beaver habitats and part of the historic St. Mary’s Rapids, and the Northern Michigan border. 

4. Poké-Lock?

For both locals visitors and those travelling from away who continue to enjoy the thrill of capturing and battling on Pokémon Go, take away a unique experience from the canal site. With four gyms and nine Pokéstops, frequent raids, and numerous Pokémon roaming the area, this site is key in advancing your character in the game. Of course all of the walking and battling makes an experienced player hungry, so why not stop in the visitor centre to grab a Breyers ice cream before continuing on to the next level?

3. Endless Photo Moments  

The historic buildings and structures at the Canal provides all Instagram-savy socialites the perfect place for a photoshoot. The red sandstone walls, industrial features of the emergency swing dam, and the lush green walking trails are the perfect backdrop for every kind of photographer’s profile. Whether you’re going for a rustic, old-time look or an outdoor adventurer profile, come down to take some snaps… no filter needed. 

2. Fat Biking 

Whether you’re looking for you daily dose of exercise or just looking for a quick ride around the islands, the canal also features a fat bike rental program. At a rate of $10 an hour, our top of the line, fat bikes are yours to explore with. Take advantage of the terrain on the Attikamek Trail, or if you want to experience more of the Soo, take your rental on the downtown boardwalk, or for lunch at the Mill Market. Fat bikes are the perfect way to make your canal experience that much more energizing. 

1. Geocaching

For those looking for a more educational and strategic experience at the canal, and are savy with a GPS, the site’s Geocaches provide visitors with a challenging and fun way to learn more about the history of site. Geocaching at the canal is known for its creative cache placement, as well as its requirement to learn about specific measurements and statistics about the historic construction of the lock chamber, before visitors can locate the cache itself. 

So if you’re looking to geochache, become a social media mogul, improve your Pokédex, explore nature, or experience the thrill of fat biking, the Parks Canada team looks forward to welcoming you to explore the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site soon. Safe travels, and enjoy your Northern Ontario adventure. 

About Benn Fisher

Benn Fisher is a 19 year old student, employed by Parks Canada at the Sault Ste. Marie National Historic Site since 2016. Benn will begin his post-secondary education in the Concurrent Education program at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario this September. In addition to working at the Canal, Benn has just returned from an 11 month Rotary Youth Exchange to Harare, Zimbabwe and participated in Rotary International service projects in various places in the Southern African region. He is a former Student Trustee of the Algoma District School Board as well as a former Vice-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council of Sault Ste. Marie.

Benn is a passionate musician and plays seven instruments, including the bagpipes which he learned from his six years as a Royal Canadian Air Cadet with the local 155 Squadron. In 2017 he was awarded the Great Lakes Honda Community Driven Award, as well as a Paul Harris Fellow for service from the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie North. He is passionate about youth empowerment, volunteerism and building a sustainable environment. In his free time, Benn enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with his friends around a campfire. He encourages all Canadians to take in, the over 450,000km of memories to be made at Parks Canada places from coast, to coast, to coast. 

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