DESTINATION: Saugeen Shores, Ontario
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2020
Explore the hospitality and natural beauty found in Saugeen Shores. Located on the coast of Lake Huron, boaters will be impressed by more than just our famous sunsets. Saugeen Shores is home to the two vibrant communities of Port Elgin and Southampton. Each community has its own harbour and a variety of attractions and dining options for visitors.
Port Elgin Harbour
The Port Elgin Harbour is a gateway to Saugeen Shores for visiting boaters. There are many amenities available including: electricity, fuel (gas and diesel), pump-out station, fresh water, Wi-Fi, slips and moorings (268 slips), accessible washrooms, accessible showers, refuse bin, boat ramp, ice, charts, and launch passes. When entering the harbour, you can use Logie's Rock as a reference point. It is marked by a light buoy and lies two miles west-northwest of Port Elgin. You should travel within the buoyed channel. Range markers with green lights lead boaters in on a course of 109. The channel depth is 10-14 ft from chart datum, but outside of the channel it quickly shallows to as little as 2 ft. Visitors looking to explore downtown Port Elgin and Southampton during the summer can hop on the S.S. Trolley or ask Harbour staff for other transportation options.
The Southampton Harbour is situated at the mouth of the Saugeen River, approximately four miles north of Port Elgin. Fishing tugs and working vessels moor along the municipal docks. Recreational sailboat slips are managed by the Southampton Yacht Club and powerboat slips by the Chesley Street Docking Committee. The Southampton Yacht Club welcomes visiting boaters when space permits. Amenities include: accessible washroom, electricity, benches, bike racks, fishing dock, outdoor lighting, parking, picnic tables. You can reach the Yacht Club at 519-386-4106 or the Docking Committee at 519-797-2217.
Our motto is ‘beach more and worry less.’ From secluded spots to family friendly beaches, Saugeen Shores has whatever experience you’re looking for. The Southampton beach is a popular spot with the scenic views of our famed Chantry Island, the long stretch of sandy beachfront and the Southampton beach sidewalk. Head to Port Elgin main beach, where you will find a buzz of activity in and out of the water like Stand-Up Paddle boarding (SUP), beach volleyball, and yoga. For a spot off the beaten path try out Eidt’s Grove or Gobles Grove with its shallow waters. Groundhog Divers II in Port Elgin can help you explore under the waves with instructions or equipment rentals. Local outfitters can also arrange rentals and shuttles to paddle the stunning Saugeen River. There are seven access points throughout Saugeen Shores with a variety of slow-moving sections or stretches with white rapids. You will be excited to see what is around the riverbend.
With Lake Huron in our front yard and the Saugeen River flowing around us there are many options for fishing. Cast a line into the Saugeen River from our river banks or fish off one of our piers located in Southampton or Port Elgin. The Saugeen River is also known as a great place for fly fishing. Denny’s Dam area is the place to spot anglers in their hip waders fishing for bass, rainbow trout, and brown trout. There are fish cleaning stations in both Port Elgin and Southampton.
The Town of Saugeen Shores has a marine history dating back to the early 1800s. Southampton is the oldest port on the Bruce coast and the Saugeen Shores coastline has long been used for transportation, commerce, fishing, and recreation.
A number of marine disasters in the settlement's early history led to the construction of the Imperial Tower Lighthouse on Chantry Island in Southampton. The lighthouse warned sailors of dangerous shoals located at the mouth of the Saugeen River. In 2001, the Marine Heritage Society completed restoration of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage. Today, visitors can step into the past and explore the historic lighthouse buildings on guided tours to Chantry Island during the main tourist season (late-May to early-September). To book an escorted tour, call 1-866-797-5862.
Southampton also hosts an annual Marine Heritage Festival in July. The Festival is operated by the non-profit Marine Heritage Society whose mandate is to identify, preserve, and restore material items of marine historical significance. The celebrations honour the marine heritage of the area with events that include nautical activities, live entertainment, BBQ, and fish fry.
There are tons of great ways to explore our shore by boat, but did you know that Saugeen Shores has over 50 km of trails? Including beautiful lakeside trails and boardwalks, visitors are encouraged to bring their bikes along and design their own boat and bike tour of our beautiful communities. For information on recommended bike loops in the area, visit saugeenshores.ca/cycling.
Saugeen Shores Events
There are always local events taking place throughout Saugeen Shores. Boaters may be interested in dropping anchor for events like Canada Day and Labour Day Fireworks, Sunset Piper, Cruisers Cruise Nites, and local Bandshell Concerts.
For up to date information about local events and other ways to explore the shore, go to visitsaugeenshores.ca.
This article first appeared in the Winter Issue (Jan/Feb) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.