I think I am one of the luckiest people around, because not only do I live in this amazing region, but I actually get paid to tour our super interesting attractions and tell you all about it! We were so very fortunate to tour Discovery Harbour
a few times
recently. For me, this spot is one of the most interesting places in our area, and a definite must see
for anyone coming to visit.
The origination of this site dates back to 1793, meaning there is over 3 centuries of history here! How many single sites in Canada can say that they have been operating for over 300 years?! Not many, I'm sure!
First things first, the original use of what is now known as Discovery Harbour, was a British naval base for the War of 1812. As we began our tour, we headed to the reproductions of the H.M.S. Tecumseth and the H.M.S. Bee. I used to work in the boating industry so this was a pretty cool stop for me! These ships were beautiful and I was exctatic that we got to go below and see what conditions sailors would have been living in on the water! A lot of people think that the ships are all there is to see at Discovery Harbour, but those people are wrong! The site is about 1km long and you can visit 19 buildings along the way! You can even see the actual bones of the shipwreck of the H.M.S. Tecumseth in the Tecumseth Centre!
We headed up to the Sailors Barracks and yes, they are pretty small and probably not very warm, but the view of Penetang Harbour made up for those small inconveniences, I’m sure! I mean, come on! Just look at that view!
Next we began our walk down the path past the living quarters of a few important people. One of the houses belonged to Lieutenant Henry Bayfield, who was a cartographer, and meticulously created maps of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. His maps and techniques were so accurate that they were used until the early 1970s! The commanding officers house was also along our walk. This was home to Captain Samuel Roberts who coordinated all personnel and activities at the Penetanguishene base.
Throughout our tour, our guide, Mary, told us about some of the interesting
things that she and other staff have witnessed around the site. Things that cannot be explained by anything natural… That’s right, ghost stories! You can get the full stories on one of the Discovery Harbour Ghost Tours
- Wednesday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer.
While upstairs in the Keating House
, we learned that Haunted Huronia caught a heat signature in the very room we were standing in and that little girl is often seen in the top left window of the building (pictured below). And the cherry on top was when just as Mary was finishing her story we heard a faint knock on the door! We all looked at each other, trying not to freak out but still having that "what the heck was that" look on all of our faces. Luckily it was just one of the staff members, but we were all so freaked out that we decided to move on.
Mary thought it would be a good idea to check out the brand new H.M.S. Tecumseth Centre
after that scare! Brand new building = no ghosts...This building is the new home of the bones of the original H.M.S. Tecumseth that sunk in Penetang Bay. The bones of her sister ship, the H.M.S. Newash are still in the bay to this day and a team of students from Trent University were here in June to explore the wreck.
Our final stop was the Officer’s Quarters
, which apparently is the most haunted building on the site because it is the only original building. 'Great' I thought to myself 'more ghosts'. With it containing so many back hallways I can see how people would get a little freaked out in there! But luckily we were not greeted by any super natural beings. It's pretty cool that this building was built in the 1800s and is still standing in near perfect conditions. And like Discovery Harbour, this building has served many purposes throughout history.
Overall the site was beautiful and I learned so much while I was there! I know I keep saying this, but this place has to be on your summer bucket list! I might be a little biased, but all of the tours I have done so far have been amazing! It is crazy that all of these magnificent things are right in my backyard! I consider myself very fortunate to live where I do and I am so happy that I get to share my experiences with you in hopes of peaking your interest enough so that you come here and experience them for yourself!
Dates to note for Discovery Harbour:
July 4th Ghost Tours begin
- Wednesday and Saturday evenings until August 29th
July 7-8th Hoist the Colours
August 4th Pirates of the Bay
- Ontario's largest pirate festival
October 4-30th Pumpkinferno -
one of Festival and Events Ontario's Top 100 Events to Visit
Written by Katie Lalonde, Student Communications Coordinator for Heart of Georgian Bay
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