The 9,000 resident Town of Penetanguishene (“Pen -e-tang-WISH-ene”) is a picturesque community located on the southerly tip of beautiful Georgian Bay. The town is bout 50 km north of Barrie, via #400 and #93. Penetanguishene derived its name from the “White Rolling Sand” that blankets the many beaches in the area. Penetanguishene was established as a community. This historic site was headquarters of the French Jesuit mission to the Hurons, and was the first European community in Ontario. Abandoned and burned in 1649, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons now stands recreated on the original site, with costumed staff providing guided tours and interpretation. The facility has an award-winning museum and gift shop, and for visitors provides market-style dinners & evening BBQ Jazz buffets.
John Graves Simcoe established the town in 1793 when he built a British naval base both to defend Canada and to supply the British posts along the Upper Great Lakes. The base was strategic to the supply of British posts on the Upper Great Lakes and further northwest,and by 1820 had over 70 people serving on land and sea. Five large ships, fifteen smaller vessels, and numerous workshops and dwellings were constructed, and a British garrison relocated to nearby Drummond Island in 1828. Though the naval base closed down in 1834, the military base continued in operation until 1856, with an impressive stone Officers’ Quarters built in 1845. In the 1840s, families from Quebec, attracted by promises of cheap and fertile land, came to the area to make this into a strongly bilingual community. Penetanguishene had a boom around the turn of the last century, as the vast timber resources were exploited and shipped via this convenient harbour, and the town was incorporated in 1882.
Today it has a number of first-rate recreational facilities: hectares of waterfront and inland parks, full service marina & launch ramp at the Penetanguishene Town Dock, the Brian Orser Arena, and the King’s Wharf Theatre, which is home of the Drayton Festival Theatre. For campers, Awenda Provincial Park offers nearby walking trails, beach access, and summer interpretive programs. Lafontaine Camping and Ski provides an additional venue for overnight camping and fun family activities. The Georgian Queen cruise boat offers daily excursions through the fabulous 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay leaving from the Penetanguishene Town Dock.
Major town attractions are the main street Heritage Murals, Discovery Harbour, a recreated naval and military base with Tall Ships, and the converted turn-of-the-Century General Store – functions as the Town’s Museum and Sports Hall of Fame.
Other nearby attractions are: Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in the Midland area just 5 km from Penetanguishene, the Martyrs’ Shrine, the Miss Midland 30,000 Islands Boat Cruises, the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, the Huronia Museum,
Awenda Provincial Park
P.O. Box 973
Penetanguishene, ON L9M 1R3
Awenda Provincial Park is in Tiny Township, just 15 minutes north of Penetanguishene, and has 300 campsites. For day use, there are 30 km. of hiking trails and naturalist programs for extensive exploration of the natural environment. Reservations are recommended, and season’s passes are available at the Chamber of Commerce or from Awenda Park.
93 Jury Drive (end of Jury Drive, Penetanguishene)
Penetanguishene, Ontario, L9M 1G1
(705) 549-8064 Fax: (705) 549-4858
Discovery Harbour, on scenic Penetanguishene Bay, recreates the community with 1800s British naval and military forces in Central Ontario. Discovery Harbour is home to full-size replicas of British sailing ships H.M.S. Tecumseth and H.M.S. Bee. Tour the 15 historic buildings, including the restoration project on the original 1836 Officers’ Quarters, and learn first-hand the challenges of shipwrights, sailors, soldiers and other military and civilian personnel at this isolated outpost built to defend Upper Canada from possible American attack after the War of 1812. The Officers’ Quarters is the only surviving building from the military garrison at Penetanguishene. . Open Victoria Day (late May) to June 30th: open Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; last admission 4:30 p.m, and July 1st to Labour Day: open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; last admission 4:30 p.m. Admission is Adult: $6.50, Senior (65+ years old): $5.50, Student (13+ with student ID): $5.50, Youth (6-12 years old): $4.50, Child (5 & under): FREE. Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Interac are accepted
Discovery Harbour is home to the beautiful King’s Wharf Theatre, with live professional productions throughout the summer. Enjoy a fabulous meal at Captain Roberts’ Table with the scenic view of the tall ships at docks nearby.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park
P.O. Box 28
Honey Harbour, ON P0E 1E0
Explore the area’s famous waters, winds, forests, beaches, and wildlife. Georgian Bay Islands National Park protects 59 islands in the greater Georgian Bay ecosystem. Access is only by boat from Penetanguishene, Midland or Honey Harbour.
Corner of Main Street and Brock Street,
Commemorating the Indian god Kitchikewana who, according to tribal tradition, threw large stones into the water to create the 30,000 Islands in Georgian Bay.
M.S. Georgian Queen – 30,000 Island Cruise
Located at the Penetanguishene Town Dock
Toll Free: (800) 363-7447
Enjoy a cruise on Huronia’s largest and most spacious cruise ship offering live tours, private charters for weddings, receptions, meetings etc. Daily afternoon 3 hour cruises as well as evening jazz cruises and special event cruises.
Town Entrance, Penetanguishene
Dedicated as the “Portals to Huronia” in the 1921 Tercentenary Celebrations, the Angels have become a symbolic of Penetanguishene’s dual heritage and history for the town’s visitors. They were erected through the efforts of “Pere” Athol Murray, parish priest at that time, and the family of Gerald Lahaie, to celebrate his entrance into the Jesuit order.
Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives
13 Burke Street
Penetanguishene, ON L9M 1C1
(705) 549-2150 fax: 705-549-7542
The Penetanguishene Centennial Museum, was built in 1875 by Carl Beck to be a general company store for workers in Beck’s nearby sawmills. The rectangular two storey building still stands on its original site, and now houses an extensive collection of early industrial & pioneer materials, artifacts and historical records that document the development of Penetanguishene. The location in a restored general store in its original site makes this museum unique in Ontario, and it has become a vibrant, year round hub of activity. Open year round Monday to Saturday from 9:00 – 4:30, and Sunday 12:00 – 4:30 pm. Admission.
Penetanguishene Rotary Waterfront Park
From Main Street (near Brock) to Robert Street West, Penetanguishene
C/o Penetanguishene – Tiny Chamber of Commerce
The 36.4 hectare Rotary Waterfront Park provides both active and passive recreation. Connections with 3.2 kilometres of lighted paved and limestone pathways provides inline bladers, runners, cyclists and strollers with a picturesque view of Penetanguishene Bay. The park has plenty of parking, a children’s playground, a beach, picnic shelter, washrooms, natural areas, and the Curling Club. The park hosts the annual Fiddle and Step Dance Contest, Personal Watercraft Races, and outdoor concerts. The pathways form part of the Trans-Canada Trail connecting to the township of Tiny and the Town of Midland.
There are several boat cruises from Penetanguishene. The Georgian Queen (formerly the H.M.C.S. Murray Stewart which was a Royal Canadian Navy warship in World War II) offers daily afternoon 3 hour cruises and evening dinner and jazz cruises. You can also personalize cruises, by chartering a boat and captain for an hour, 1/2 day or as long as you wish. Fishing, sight seeing and sailing charters are all available.
Saint Ann’s Roman Catholic Church
28 Robert St W (Robert and Owen Street)
Penetanguishene, ON L9M 1N2
The cornerstone was laid in 1886; though the church was not completed until 1902, due to its enormous size and cost. It is the first shrine built in memory of the Canadian Martyrs. This late Romanesque style Catholic church, sometimes called “The Cathedral of the North” has four bells in the tower, with the oldest and smallest one dating to 1799 and reputed to have been taken from captured American warships in the War of 1812. The three larger bells are rung daily at 8:00 am., noon and 6:00 pm. The smaller bell is rung along with the others on special occasions. The church is part of the Archdiocese of Toronto and still has regular services.
St. James On-The-Lines
223 Church Street, Penetanguishene
This 1836 Anglican Church was constructed on the “lines of communication” between the town and the naval base. It served as both the garrison church as well as the community’s growing civilian population. The unique centre aisle was built wide enough to allow soldiers to march four abreast.
R.R. #3 Concession 1
Tiny Marsh is a “must see” for any outdoor enthusiast. A series of trails follows the dikes through the marsh, winds through shrubs, forests and takes visitors to observation towers and a viewing mound. A nature centre features displays of the marsh and its flora and fauna. An abundance and variety of wildlife are well known to naturalists and photographers.
Corner of Robert Street West and Main Street, Penetanguishene
Located at the foot of Main Street at the entrance to Penetanguishene Rotary Park, this statue celebrates the tri-cultural heritage of Penetanguishene. The carved stone and copper statue depicts the legendary Huron Giant Kitchikewana marks the “Gateway to Georgian Bay”. The statue includes a circle, which represents eternity, enclosure and perfect unity, and feathers symbolizing courage, peace and fidelity. This unique water fountain refreshes all thirsty travellers at the main intersection of town. The large trough was for horses; behind this was the source for their riders and the small trough below was intended for dogs.