Discover Owen Sound, Ontario: A Blend of History, Culture, and Natural Beauty

A Brief History of Owen Sound, Ontario

Owen Sound, Ontario, with a population of 21,612 as per the 2021 Census, is a city steeped in history. Located in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, it is the county seat of Grey County and is situated at the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham Rivers on an inlet of Georgian Bay.

The area around the upper Great Lakes has been home to the Ojibwe people since prehistory. In 1815, William Fitzwilliam Owen surveyed the area and named the inlet after his older brother Admiral Edward Owen. The Ojibwe name for the area is Gchi-wiigwedong.

A settlement called "Sydenham" was established in 1840 or 1841 by Charles Rankin in an area that had been inhabited by First Nations people. By 1846, the population was 150 and a sawmill and gristmill were operating. The name Sydenham continued even as the community became the seat for Grey County in 1852.

Over the years, Owen Sound was a major port known for its taverns and brothel. The community acquired names as the Chicago of the North, Corkscrew City, and Little Liverpool because of its rowdy reputation. Sydenham was renamed Owen Sound in 1851; by then, it was served by a direct road to Toronto Township (today Mississauga), the Toronto-Sydenham Road; which still exists as Highway 10 and the southern portion of Hurontario Street. The community became an incorporated town in 1857, with a population of nearly 2000.

Geography and Climate of Owen Sound, Ontario

Owen Sound experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) that is moderated by Lake Huron. Winters are cold and very snowy, while summers are warm and humid, but cooled by the lake waters (Georgian Bay and Lake Huron on either side) more than most other areas of southwestern Ontario. Precipitation is moderately high, as Owen Sound is in the direct line of the Great Lakes snowbelt, with an annual average precipitation of 1,100 mm (43 in). Summer thunderstorms are a common occurrence.

The Sydenham River is a waterway that connects to Owen Sound Bay and was formed from a pre-glacial river cutting into the limestone of the Niagara Escarpment.

Culture and Events in Owen Sound, Ontario

The City of Owen Sound was a 2004 Cultural Capital of Canada and is home to a number of cultural events and facilities. It is home to the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival, held every August, and the Festival of Northern Lights, a large Christmas lights festival with many displays along the Sydenham River, downtown, and in Harrison Park, held from November until January every winter.

The city's 400-seat Roxy Theatre, owned and operated by the Owen Sound Little Theatre, is used for the city's professional live theatre performances, as well as some concerts. The Youth Theatre Coalition is also prevalent in the area. It is a youth theatre company run entirely by youth and for youth. The organization presents musical, theatrical, and concert type performances throughout the year.

Demographics of Owen Sound, Ontario

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Owen Sound had a population of 21,612 living in 9,895 of its 10,406 total private dwellings, a change of 1.3% from its 2016 population of 21,341. With a land area of 24.21 km2 (9.35 sq mi), it had a population density of 892.7/km2 (2,312.1/sq mi) in 2021.

Transportation in Owen Sound, Ontario

Located at the junctions of Ontario Highways 6, 10, 21 and 26, the city serves as a gateway to the Bruce Peninsula. Owen Sound Transit provides local bus service and specialized transportation for those unable to use the regular transit buses. As home port of the Owen Sound Transportation Company, the inner harbour is where car ferry MS Chi-Cheemaun, which operates from Tobermory to South Baymouth, is docked during the winter months.

Industry in Owen Sound, Ontario

The Parrish & Heimbecker Grain Terminal (Great Lakes Elevator Co Ltd) is located in the inner harbour. The original CPR grain elevators were destroyed by fire in 1911. Transport Canada has divested the harbour.

Recreation in Owen Sound, Ontario

The city is one of two (the other being Barrie) that are home to The Grey and Simcoe Foresters Primary Reserve Infantry regiment, as well as various cadet corps. The Owen Sound area has several waterfalls, some outside the city limits. They range from large, such as the 18 m (59 ft) high Inglis Falls created by the Sydenham River meeting the edge of the Niagara Escarpment to small, such as Weaver's Creek Falls; some are along hiking trails that range in difficulty from moderate to strenuous.

Sister Cities of Owen Sound, Ontario

Owen Sound, Ontario has several sister cities including Miamisburg, Ohio, United States; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Dayi County, China.