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Owen Sound, Ontario

Known to the Ojibway Indians as the “beautiful valley”, Owen Sound lies in the Sydenham River Valley and is flanked on both sides by the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. Approximately 30 fern varieties and 40 species of orchids can be found in the area.

In 2004, Owen Sound was in the national spotlight as a "Cultural Capital of Canada". It was one of two with populations under 50,000, and the only one in Ontario. Owen Sound is the birthplace of two very notable Canadians. Tom Thomson, a very famous Northern Ontario landscape painter, who played an integral role in the formation of The Group of Seven was born here. Tom Thomson Days, a festival of art, music, literature, history and remembrance takes place from July 27th through August 7 in Owen Sound and Leith. This festival celebrates the artist and highlights his connection with this region. The Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery features a permanent exhibit of paintings by Tom Thomson as well as other artists from The Group of Seven. Historic and contemporary works by a variety of Canadian artists are also on display.

A second famous Canadian, Billy Bishop, a WW1 and WW II flying ace who shot down 72 enemy planes was born in Owen Sound and today the Billy Bishop Heritage Museum, downtown at 948 3 rd Ave. W., is the boyhood home of this Canadian War hero. Period antiques, Victorian furnishings, military and aviation displays as well as many Bishop family pieces are all on display at the museum.

From about 1830 to the end of the American Civil War, escaped slaves made their way across the Canada-US border via the Underground Railroad. Many headed for the Village of Sydenham ( Owen Sound), the last terminal of the Railroad and settled here, finding work and raising families. In honour of these settlers, a commemorative Cairn in Harrison Park was unveiled on July 31, 2004 at the annual Emancipation Picnic. The picnic has been held every year since 1862, and celebrates the British Commonwealth Emancipation Act of August 1, 1834 and the United States Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863.

For the sports and nature enthusiasts stop and see the Mill Dam, where Ontario’s first fish dam was constructed in 1959. Spectators can watch rainbow trout migrate upstream in April and May and the spectacular Chinook salmon from August to October. Fishing for Chinook salmon is most popular in late summer and early fall when the salmon are running upstream.

 

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