Sault Ste. Marie is a city forever linked to its river, named “Bawating” or “place of the rapids” by The Ojibwe people. When French colonists arrived in the 17th century, they named the area “Saults de Sainte-Marie”, or “St. Mary’s Falls” after the spectacular rushing waters. A natural highway into the Great Lakes, it’s no surprise that the city has thrived.


Day One


DAY 1 – 10:00 AM: LEARNING AT THE SAULT STE. MARIE PUBLIC LIBRARY.

Your journey through the Soo begins at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library, located near the waterfront and close to many other must-see sites.

Here, history buffs can explore the Sault Ste. Marie Archives. Their collection includes documents, photos, and newspaper clippings, so you can engross yourself in tales of the city’s past. There’s also a catalogue of oral histories produced with Living History Algoma.

Tinkerers can check out the Northern THINK Hub, which is the Soo’s very own makerspace. This kid-friendly zone teaches visitors the principles of design, science, and engineering in a fun and interactive way.

Once you’re done strolling through the stacks, you can take the scenic route and still make it to your next stop.

DAY 1

GET STARTED AT THE LIBRARY – 10:00 AM


DAY 1

STROLL THE SCULPTURE PARK & ART GALLERY OF ALGOMA – 11:00 AM


DAY 1 – 11:00 AM: EXPLORE THE ELSIE SAVOIE SCULPTURE GARDEN & THE ART GALLERY OF ALGOMA

Named after a devoted volunteer and early supporter of the Art Gallery of Algoma, the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park is home to a number of works depicting everything from an arch composed of leaping dolphins to a totem pole fashioned out of used car parts. The sculpture park is also conveniently located right next to the Art Gallery of Algoma.

Founded in 1975, the gallery features studios, a cafe, and four exhibition spaces. Their collection of roughly 5000 works includes a large selection of pieces by the Group of Seven and Dr. Roberta Bondar. For anyone looking to brush up on their creative skills, the gallery also holds various classes and creative workshops throughout the year.

If you’re feeling hungry after your gallery visit, walk over to nearby Queen Street to take in all the fine culinary fare on offer. We hear that Tandoori Garden has the best curry in town.

DAY 1 – 1:30 PM: GET TO KNOW THE CITY AT THE SAULT STE. MARIE MUSEUM

After your lunch break, head over to the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, which is located in an old Edwardian post office. The museum chronicles the history of the Soo, from when the ancestors of the Ojibwe people first walked along its shores, through French and British colonization, and into the present day.

The museum’s three floors are full of galleries, displays, and vignettes, including the Walter Wallace Military Gallery, the Sports Hall of Fame, the Marine Gallery, and the Discover Gallery, where kids can get hands on while they learn about history.

DAY 1

TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE – 4:00 PM


DAY 1 – 4:00 PM: WIND DOWN WITH A TRIP ALONG THE HUB TRAIL

Sault Ste. Marie is a city with a view, so put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes or grab a bike, and head down the Hub Trail. It’s a great way to see the river and its American sister city, Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, across the water. If you’re keen to take a more casual route, the boardwalk also offers a fantastic view and includes a few spots to stop and look at the river.

Either way, you’ll eventually find your way to the Canal National Historic Site, where you can learn about the history of the locks and watch ships cruise by.


Day Two


DAY 2 – 10:00 AM: TOUR THE ERMATINGER CLERGUE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE & OLD STONE HOUSE

Rise and shine, because a slice of 19th century life awaits at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site & Old Stone House. Here you’ll find some of the oldest stone buildings in Ontario, which were built for notable fur trader Charles Oakes Ermatinger, and later housed the American industrialist Francis Hector Clergue. Both Ermantinger and Clergue were instrumental in building up industry and infrastructure in the area, allowing the Soo to grow into the commercial hub that it is today.

Stroll through the historic chambers of the Old Stone House and the Blockhouse, or wander its gardens, where period-specific produce and flowers are grown. You can also visit the nearby Heritage Discovery Centre to take an interactive tour of 19th century Sault Ste. Marie.

DAY 2

WALK THROUGH HISTORIC ROOMS – 10:00 AM


DAY 2

SOAR AT THE BUSHPLANE CENTRE – 12:00 PM


DAY 2 – 12:00 PM: FIND YOUR WINGS AT THE CANADIAN BUSHPLANE HERITAGE CENTRE

In Ontario’s northern reaches, the bush plane is vital, enabling shipping and transportation across the vast distances between communities.

Take in dozens of bush planes from across the decades at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. Relax in the theatre and watch a documentary about the life of a bush plane pilot, or hop into the flight simulator and take a virtual spin at being a pilot yourself.

DAY 2 – 2:00 PM: EXPLORE THE SOO’S HISTORIC NEIGHBOURHOODS

East of the downtown core you’ll find a handful of blocks that contain some of Sault Ste. Marie’s most charming homes, storefronts, and hotels. Wander the streets and you’ll see lovingly-preserved and restored examples of Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian architecture on every block. It’s a great way to stretch your legs and enjoy the view as you continue east towards your next destination.

DAY 2

EXPLORE THE SOO’S HISTORIC CORNERS – 2:00 PM


DAY 2

STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS – 3:00 PM


DAY 2 – 3:00 PM: TAKE A STROLL THROUGH BELLEVUE PARK

Once you’ve toured Sault Ste. Marie’s more historic spots, it’s time to turn your gaze to its natural delights. Bellevue Park has an abundance of flora and fauna to explore, as well as a greenhouse full of decorative blooms.  If you want to get a little closer to the water, walk across the small land bridge to Topsail Island and check out its miniature beach.

DAY 2 – 4:00 PM: VISIT THE BISHOP FAUQUIER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, CEMETERY & SHINGWAUK CENTRE

For the final stops on your journey, head to the Bishop Fauqier Memorial Chapel and the neighboring Shingwauk Centre. The Gothic- and Tudor-style chapel, which was constructed between 1881 and 1883, is named after the first Anglican Bishop of Algoma, and was built to service the Shingwauk Residential School, which ran until 1970.

The University of Algoma took over the site of the residential school and over the decades has worked to research, document, and share the history of the residential school program. You can go for a tour at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, or visit the archives to learn more about the lives of survivors of the Residential School system.

DAY 2

VISIT THE OLD CHAPEL & THE SHINGWAUK CENTRE – 4:00 PM


want TO TAKE A DETOUR?


Looking to explore a little further afield? Sault Ste. Marie is a major hub for outdoor exploration, and with a twin sister city across the river, there’s plenty to do if you’re looking to extend your northern adventure.

Located to the far north of Sault Ste. Marie, these ancient trails house some of the oldest Indigenous art in the country: the famed Pictographs of Agawa.

Can’t get enough of the Soo? Hop across the St. Mary’s River to explore the American twin city and its many historical sites.

Sault Ste. Marie’s downtown core recently underwent a major revitalization, with great efforts made to beautify its commercial centre with murals, sculptures, and other public art installations. Walk down Queen St to check out the many boutique shops and restaurants and get your daily dose of art while you’re at it. Insider tip: The Queen’s Tarts is the best spot in town for butter tarts. Yum!

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Events in the Area


Events in the Area


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This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

 

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. The guide was written by Kevin Valbonesi.