Good day, and welcome to the Lumberjack! My name is Joseph Gentile.
I, along with many others in recent months started a movement in Grey and Bruce counties. A movement meant to educate residents and visitors alike on the topic of treading lightly and leaving only footprints. Before 2015, many in the region were unaware of the fact that tourism numbers correlate with environmental health and notoriety of cottage country.
You’ve seen a handful of online articles describing in full, the complexity surrounding the issue of popularity, and its sur-parts including: environmental degradation and loss of the infamous ‘Bruce’ notoriety. To recapitulate, factors such as; advertising campaigns (set out by municipalities and local businesses), circulating viral threads including luring photographs of Tobermory’s Grotto, and rapid word of mouth spreading the ‘good news’ about Ontario’s newfound treasure have contributed to one of the heaviest downfalls the region has witnessed since industry moved out of the region’s Owen Sound bay.
Environmentally, this spells danger as vehicles, by the thousands, get turned away– day after day. Therefore, conceding an increasing carbon emissions rate and more foot traffic on the Bruce Trail. While economically, it’s seen as striking gold.
Now that the Bruce is known, there are things you (the visitor) can do to help your vacation run smoother and help you gain an overall excellent ‘first impression’ of the ‘Bruce’.
Firstly, consider timing. Summer is a great time to meet so and so from Toronto, fight for that last parking spot, and experience the impromptu rush in and out of the ‘cove’. September and onward offer the perfect opportunity for relaxing, educating yourself on local ecological importance, getting to meet the farmers who raise your meat, and experiencing the local hospitality that adorns the region . March, April and May are elegantly divine- the calm before the storm if you will, and allows you to spot a diverse range of wildlife.
Secondly, travel coastal. The Bruce Peninsula is studded with towns lining the water from west to east. From Kincardine to Sauble and Owen Sound to Lion’s Head, consider taking coastal routes because – well – it’s just that gorgeous! It also helps keep the major highways clear and roomy for emergency vehicles needing all the space possible on the two-lane freeways.
Thirdly, prioritise around Tobermory. Lion’s Head is a great alternative and offers double the amount of amenities. If it’s the blue water and white stone your friends are fascinated over, no need to trek up. So many illusive lookouts exist prior to the 8-road town. And often time, you and your blanket are the only ones around.
Finally, the most imperative in planning the famous ‘Bruce’ tour—do your research. With the locals in our homey, quaint towns learning and brushing up on their social media skills, everything is just a click away. The little information you need is not hidden; “the grotto is getting full fast”, “traffic is not moving on highway 6, north of Wiarton” or “Sauble’s main beach has been full solid since 8am”. Learn the local bylaws and restraints such as prohibitions (barbequing on the beach, fireworks in parks, drones in Tobermory, cliff diving into Georgian Bay etc,) and parking procedures. Once and for all, keep your mind open and willing to learn from your travels. The Bruce is not an average destination, and you are bound to discover that.
Tread lightly and leave only footprints,
Joseph Gentile is a freelance writer who has been documenting tourism growth and trends in Grey Bruce.