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Harbour History Ship-to-Shore
Curated by Ben Holthof
In the mid 1800’s, the Harbour was the only way to bring a large amount of goods into what is now Owen Sound. This city grew and became what it is as a result of the marine traffic in and out of our harbour.
The history of the Owen Sound harbour as a functioning port started in 1844 when Mr. W.C. Boyd built a wharf out in the bay. There was a shallow sand bar that crossed the mouth of the Sydenham river preventing ships to dock closer to town. In 1860 this sandbar was removed and ships were able to dock right in town. This change allowed the community of Sydenham to grow rapidly.
Over the years many industries were established on the shores of the Owen Sound Harbour. The railroads also came to Owen Sound to make use of the port. By 1884 the Canadian Pacific Railway was running both ships and trains in and out of Owen Sound.
Most of the industries that have used the harbour are gone now, but the Great Lakes Elevator Co. and Miller Cement continue to use the Harbour today.
With the loss of large industries in Owen Sound, the focus on our waterfront has moved towards recreation and tourism. Fishing has always been popular in Georgian Bay. In the last several years the Sydenham Sportsmans Association has held the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular fishing derby on the shores of the harbour.
The Owen Sound Waterfront and harbour in particular have always been, and continue to be, significant for the community of Owen Sound.