Adventures to be had, memories to be made...we are committed to exploring and experiencing all that Northern Ontario has to offer us. Our plan is to immerse ourselves in the rugged beauty and vast vistas one step at time.
Thunder Beach Blast
The August long weekend was upon us. Once all the fun and frivolity with my children’s friends ended, we struck out on the Civic Holiday to explore Thunder Beach and environs. I had never been there before and had only just heard of it in the past few years when my brother bought a house fronting the bay. Initially registering Thunder Bay, which is more than 13 hours away, I was happy when he clarified it was the beach, not the bay where he had settled. Thunder Beach likely secured its name due to the ferocity and intensity of the storms that come into the bay.
Thunder Beach is a community of just over 300 owners surrounding and fronting on the bay. My
brother and his family have been enjoying the community for the past few years and have remarked on how sociable, safe and friendly it is. There are no hotels, inns or suites for rent on the beach anymore because everything is privately owned, so unless you know someone with a cottage on the bay, you may have never heard of it. My friend Kevin and his wife Sally had invited me to their cottage in Penetanguishene a few years back and it turns out their cottage is actually a few doors down from my brother’s cottage. Small world. Thunder Beach is the northernmost part of Tiny Township, the township having a population of about 12,000. Thunder Beach revels in its community events. They hold an annual concert and an annual Lobsterfest. This year they also had an art exhibition. Everything is centered around family and friends. Adults are encouraged to compete in tennis, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball tournaments throughout the summer months. Children attend camp and play baseball, flag football and run cross country.
Setting off from Toronto at 10 am, we encountered some traffic heading north. Highway 400 generally runs well but once you duck off at Bayfield onto Highway 26 turning into 27, you slow down significantly. Although the posted speed limit is 80 km per hour, most folks go a little slower than that. Hence it is a true country drive from Barrie to the Beach.
Arriving around 12:30 pm, we immediately boarded my brother’s speed boat and went zipping around the bay, exploring the coastline, engaging in wakeboarding, and surfing off the back. My eldest daughter is great at wakeboarding and my eldest son gave it a go. After face planting twice, he was able to keep himself up the third time around and enjoy a nice tour around the bay. My niece surfed behind the boat, and everyone jumped in the water at one point or other and swam to shore. The beach is shallow and sandy a fair way out.
We ate cheeseburgers from the Friendly Corner Store and Restaurant. We were starving and the grub hit the spot. We then swam in the water and played in the sand in front of their cottage for a few hours. My youngest daughter drew the beachscape. My two boys went golfing with my brother at the local privately owned five-hole course, which they thoroughly enjoyed. As afternoon turned into evening, we played football in the water and swam to the buoy and back. The water was crisp, temperate and clear, making for an incredibly enjoyable beachfront experience.
Heading home, we stopped in at Wasaga Beach. Wasaga Beach is the longest freshwater beach in the world, stretching 14 kilometers over six beach zones. It is remarkable how rich Ontario is with its many lakes and rivers...over a quarter of a million of them. The water itself is beautiful and there are many sandbars as you wade out. Sunbathing and beach volleyball are popular. Always jammed on long weekends, we caught the tail end of the crowd. Although Wasaga Beach only has a permanent population of approximately 25,000, over 2 million people visit the beach each summer.
Although the sand is smooth and silky, the downtown strip is seedy and squalid. A massive fire wreaked havoc in 2007 and the town has been trying to rebuild without success ever since. There is a casino under construction. The cottages at either end are lovely; the town itself is not. The cottages are not located on the beach but instead sit on narrow lots fronting the streets between the homes and the water. The beach itself is owned by Ontario Parks and is protected. There are over 50 kilometers of hiking trails that can be accessed summer and winter, along with the Nottawasaga River for canoeing and fishing.
We left the beach strip behind and played mini putt at Wasaga 500 on our way out of town, where one of the boys’ hockey friends worked the go-carts. Thereafter we decided to split. En route home and in need of food, we hit Kelsey’s on Bayfield Street in Barrie. The meal was delicious for a late-night dinner. We had broccoli cheddar soup, potato skins, quesadillas, chicken fingers, and Caesar salad, all of which were tasty. We then rolled home with full bellies and sun kissed skin. It was a good northern day trip and a wonderful end to the August long weekend.
Author: Norma Rawlings
1 of 2 authors on this site. See About The Adventures for more information on the authors.
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“I urge you; go find buildings and mountains and oceans to swallow you whole. They will save you, in a way nothing else can.”