The unique beauty of the town of Wiarton, Ontario is hard to match. The view from the hill as you enter the town charms the eye, extending for miles down Colpoy’s Bay with islands and bold limestone cliffs in the distance. The Gateway to the Bruce Peninsula, Wiarton was a wilderness until 1866 when the first log shanty was built.
For a thousand years or longer, this fortunate sheltered site was the eastern access to a historic portage, a shortcut used for time immemorial by First Nations people, fur traders, explorers, missionaries and settlers to cross the base of Bruce Peninsula. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, schooners and steamers made regular stops at Wiarton where a half-dozen sawmills spewed sawdust. There was a fish packing plant and a sugar beet factory – and in 1882, the Grand Trunk Railway celebrated its arrival in town.
With its heritage train station, shoreline park, stately limestone homes, and the historic remains of the Corran, a mansion that once overlooked the town, Wiarton seems steeped in history. Yet, it is a fully up-to-date destination complete with gift shops and stores, craft studios, B & Bs, restaurants, and Howell’s, a legendary fish store where you can buy fresh or smoked whitefish or lake trout. And don’t forget Wiarton Willie, the albino groundhog who each February 2nd, becomes Canada’s weather forecaster announcing the coming of spring – or six more weeks of winter.