Tobermory, Canada

Tobermory is a small town on the Northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. It is known for its national parks, rich scuba diving opportunities, and charming community. Along with many others, these aspects earn it the title, "crown jewel of the Bruce Peninsula." 

Geography And Climate Of Tobermory

Tobermory, Canada
View at the docks of Tobermory town.  Editorial credit: milosk50 / Shutterstock.com

Tobermory is part of the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula. The town is the Northernmost point of this extended land feature in Southern Ontario. The Bruce Peninsula divides the waters of Georgian Bay, to the East, and Lake Huron (one of the Great Lakes), to the West. Tobermory is about 185 miles North of London, 140 miles Northwest of Barrie, and 185 miles North-northwest of Toronto, all of which are cities in Southern Ontario. Tobermory is also immediately adjacent to the Bruce Peninsula National Park and marks the northern terminus of the roughly 560 mile Bruce Trail that meanders along the protected Niagara Escarpment. 

The climate in Tobermory is temperate and rainy. The average annual temperature is 43.7 degrees Fahrenheit, ranging from an average nightly low of 17 degrees in February to an average daily high of 72 degrees in August. The average annual precipitation is 41 inches. 

History And Economy Of Tobermory 

Tobermory, Canada
Homes in Tobermory.

Current-day Tobermory exists on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. Evidence of their history in this region dates back as far as 7500 years ago.  

In the 1870s, European settlers initially named the site Collins Harbor. It was later changed to Tobermory in 1882 by a group of Scottish fishermen. The latter name borrows from the town on the Island of Mull, Scotland. By this point, the main function of Tobermory was fishing. The neighboring harbors of Little Tub and Big Tub provided a natural shelter for boats to anchor in. 

For a while, the only way to reach this settlement was by boat. Eventually, wagon trails were extended from further South in Ontario. Then, in 1937, Highway 6 was extended North from Owen Sound, a modest-sized city just over 65 miles Southeast of Tobermory. The increased traffic led to overfishing and the end of the region's initial, viable economy. Thankfully, a smooth transition into tourism was readily available and continues today. Tobermory acts as a terminal for the Chi-cheemaun ferry, transporting passengers and vehicles North to Manitoulin Island. The lakeside appeal and surrounding wilderness are also an easy draw for visitors. 

Visiting Tobermory

Flower Pot Island, Tobermory, Ontario, Canada.
People sunbathing and swimming at Flower Pot Island, Tobermory, Ontario, Canada.

Many Canadians frequent Tobermory in the summertime, either as a final destination or en route to Manitoulin Island. Many visitors come up the West side of the peninsula from as far South as Sarnia (which Michigan tourists would also pass through via the Blue Water Bridge international crossing). It is also common to access Tobermory via Highway 6 through Owen Sound, which itself is often reached via the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Anyone driving in from Western Canada can take the Southbound Chi-cheemaun ferry to cut off a large portion of the otherwise circuitous journey. International tourists flying into Southern Ontario will likely land in the Toronto Pearson International Airport. 

Tobermory offers a ton of outdoor recreation, as well as cozy fishing community vibes. Here are some highlights to shoot for. 

Hike the most picturesque portion of the Bruce Trail through the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Throughout this rugged coastline, several fabulous day trips are to be had, whether by foot or car. 

Tobermory, Ontario sunken ships
Sunken ships in the Fathom Five National Marine Park.

Explore dozens of old sunken ships in Fathom Five National Marine Park. Tobermory offers world-class scuba diving opportunities. For those who are not certified, glass-bottom boat tours are also available. 

Warm-up with some pub grub in any of the community's cozy establishments. Fish n' Chips are a local staple. 

Ride the Chi-cheemaun for at least an overnight side trip to Manitoulin Island - the largest lake island in the world. The ferry is a treat in and of itself, and the island is filled with plenty of nature and charm of its own. 

Big Tub Lighthouse located in the Bruce Pininsula of Tobermory, Ontario, Canada.
Big Tub Lighthouse located in the Bruce Pininsula of Tobermory, Ontario, Canada.

Climb the 113-step lookout tower for a panoramic view of the area. After that, try visiting the Big Tub Lighthouse, which looks back into Tobermory from the tip of the Big Tub Harbor peninsula. 

Tobermory is an excellent respite from some of the more population-dense regions of Southern Ontario. Whether you enjoy adventures on land or water, there is something to be enjoyed in this former fishing village. Make sure to bring your rain jacket and your camera. 

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