Learn about the unique history of Georgian Bay, from Hens-and-Chickens Harbour to Group of Seven
Across Georgian Bay’s towns and their unique histories, you can see a tradition of individuals with entrepreneurial spirits and a love for the outdoors. It’s no wonder that so many artists have been attracted to the region, inspired by the friendly and energized locals, creating masterpieces that depict the magnificent escarpment we roam. In fact, Group of Seven artist Tom Thomson is known to have spent his childhood in the Georgian Bay, depicting its beauty in his work. The next time you look out at Collingwood’s iconic grain terminals or the view from the top of a hill on Blue, take a moment to imagine the pioneers that came before you.
Blue Mountain Resort is now the largest ski resort in Ontario, but when it opened in the 1940’s the potential for what it would become was the dream of one man. Jozo Weider opened the resort originally on a farm at the base of the escarpment. Weider had owned a chalet in his native home of Czechoslovakia, and his father had dreamed of opening a ski resort in the beautiful land of Canada. Weider originally built a small chalet at the north end of the hill called the “Blue Mountain Lodge”. Since Collingwood was still primarily a shipping yard and apple growing region, tourist visits were limited. The first skiers to Blue Mountain actually arrived by train that would stop at the nearby Craigleith station. As money was tight at the time, the Weider family started making pottery in the basement of the ski barn. Today’s Blue Mountain pottery is considered a collector’s item and sold worldwide.
In the 60’s, improvements in ski equipment helped propel skiing from its more private and elite reputation to a major popular sport, and there was a growing market arriving at the village each winter. By the end of the 70’s, the resort had added double and triple chairs, new lifts, lighting for night skiing, and a tube ride. The village at the base was dramatically redone in the 90’s to emulate other famous village ski destinations. This decade also brought the addition of the Monterra Golf Course and the Blue Mountain Conference Centre. What began as a single lodge has developed into the stunning, internationally recognized four-season destination.