The two superb natural harbors of Tobermory (Big Tub and Little Tub) beckoned settlers early on. From the 1860s to the 1920s the town served as a lumber port and in the 1880s became a fishing port. In 1930 the ferry came to town and patronage of the two-hour, 30-mile crossing between Tobermory and Manitoulin Island continues to grow. The current ferry is the 365-foot Chi-Cheemaun (Big Canoe), which was built in Collingwood in 1974.
Due to the many historic wrecks in the area and the wonderfully clear (and cold) waters, Tobermory is one of North America’s premiere diving centers. Dive shops and charter boats provide gear and transportation to undersea wrecks and caves off Fathom Five Provincial Park. Another popular diving destination is off the point at the Big Tub Lighthouse. Originally constructed in 1885, the lighthouse played an important role in guiding ships into the harbor from the sometimes treacherous waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The original structure has been replaced by the 6-sided, 43-foot wooden lighthouse that you can visit today.
Flowerpot Island, part of Georgian Bay Islands National Park, lies a few miles off Tobermory and is a geologist’s and botanist’s delight. Flowerpot’s harbor entrance carries only 3.5- to 4-foot depths, although charts show more. Excursion and dive boats usually occupy the dock. Consider taking one of the excursion boats (several have glass bottom viewing ports) if you are going to visit Flowerpot.
The renowned Bruce Trail is a short distance from Tobermory. The trail follows the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to its northern terminus at Tobermory. The walk around Little Tub is wonderfully scenic and there are several historic plaques outlining the region’s maritime history. We suggest you purchase a trail guide from the Bruce Trail Conservancy prior to your trip.
The Waterway Guide Team has gained extensive boating knowledge over the years, and now we are sharing all of the tips, skills and tools we’ve picked up along the way!