georgian bay

Tobermory, Ontario

The first thing you notice as you approach Tobermory, Ontario, is the islands. They come up on the ferry in quiet way, and then the peninsula appears. The islands are just a preview.

Jutting out into the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, on the same piece of limestone as Toronto and Niagra Falls, Tobermory is a special place. It’s lifeblood is the Great Lake freshwater that surrounds it, and its flesh is the hard, unforgiving stone it sits upon. There’s no sandy beaches here. No, it’s all stone, either in slabs – big, brutalist shelves of pain – or pebbles.

Someday, a million years from now, there may be sand.

I used my pair of mirrorless cameras, the Fuji X-E1 and Canon EOS M, as a no-fuss way of capturing the place. After all, I was here to explore, not lug a bunch of photography equipment. I had cliffs to climb and trails to hike. The woods called.

So did the boats. Ferries run from the peninsula town to the wild islands out in the bay, and other, smaller boats are all over the place. It’s a place that lives and breathes water. Water is everywhere.

For those of us living around the Great Lakes, this is nothing new. But Tobermory has that lakeside town feel, the kind of place you see up and down the west coast of Michigan, that makes it the perfect vacation spot.

Islands and boats and water and rock: the four true elements of Lake Huron.


We set sail from South Baymouth, a little port town on Manitoulin Island – a chuck of Ontario resting in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. And though the trip isn’t very long, there comes a point where we’re absolutely surrounded by water.

It’s like being on an unsalted cruise trip. The wind is chilly, but the sun (when it peeks out from the clouds) feels good.

There are all types on this boat, the Chi-Cheemaun. Mostly Mennonite, a few foreigners, quite a few students. Most hang out in the lobby. A few of use brave ones, the ones who don’t mind the breeze, stick around on deck to watch the scenery change. We watch the little limestone islands pop up on the horizon, the Bruce Peninsula jutting out into the great lake to welcome us to Tobermory.

The people are great, the colors and shapes are great, the seagulls following the boat are great. Everything is great.