For thousands of years the fertile lands and fishing grounds of Southampton around the mouth of the Saugeen River have been home to human inhabitants. Iroquois and Ojibway feuded over the territory, fighting pitched battles at the river’s outlet to Lake Huron. When the approach to the village by water was made difficult by reefs and sandbars, a lighthouse was built on Chantry Island in 1859. There was a light-keeper there until 1954 who commented when he lost his job, “No, ‘taint shinin’ no more, it’s just a blinkin.”
Walk down Southampton’s wide High Street today until it intersects with Albert. The town has a definite maritime feeling, with its old cottages, a fine sand beach and tasteful shops. And a highlight is the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre with its brand new building and exhibits.
Believe It or Not
Probably no other port on Lake Huron has had a more amazing history than Southampton. Over the period of 100 years from 1848 to 1948, more than 100 marine disasters were recorded, with many known deaths. Pay a visit to the waterfront Pioneer Park where a cairn is dedicated to those who lost their lives on the waters of Lake Huron.
Quiet and peaceful is the essence of Southampton’s beach. Couples stroll the 4-km-long stretch of shore to the mouth of the Saugeen River. The wooden Long Dock extends towards Chantry Island with its Imperial Lighthouse in view offshore. Swing sets dot the expanse, Family Fun Nights are hosted on Fridays in the sheltered picnic area, and benches along the waterfront sidewalk provide a front row seat for watching waves, sunsets and the stars at night.
The best place for families is the south end, down by the dunes, where the water is shallow and sandy. Here you’ll also find Gerry’s Fries, the only concessionaire on the beach. A community icon, Gerry’s has fabulous fries, along with ice cream, milkshakes and fast food. As you move north, water shoes come in handy as the lake floor turns pebbly then rocky. Near the giant Canadian flag at the bottom of Main Street, the water also gets deep quickly. The flag, by the way, is a popular spot for watching sunsets – ice cream cone in hand. Enjoy the melodious sounds of bagpipes at sundown on Friday nights in the summer. Amenities: Public washrooms, showers, change rooms, concessionaire, free parking
Top Things to Do in Southampton
• Not to be missed is the state-of-the-art Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre, providing great insight to the land and the people of the Bruce. Located at 33 Victoria St N. • Visit the Southampton Market with its two acres of unique products. Located on Albert St (Highway 21) near Wellington. • The Southampton Art School & Gallery Shop features a showcase of handcrafted work in different mediums. Located on Albert St (Highway 21). • Stroll the shops downtown. • On Thursday nights in the summer, catch the cruise of antique cars around town beginning from under the flag at the foot of High Street, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. • Check out a concert at the Fairy Lake Bandshell on Sunday evenings • Take a tour of Chantry Island Lighthouse. Call 1-866-797-5862