Naturally Gifted:Port Spotlight on Sault Ste. Marie

March 2017 Feature

This article originally appeared in our December 2016 issue. To see more like this, subscribe here.

Sault Ste. Marie calls itself “Naturally Gifted,” and this holds especially true for the recreational boating community. Located on the shores of the St. Marys River, which joins Lake Superior and Lake Huron, Sault Ste. Marie is easily accessible and has marina facilities that can accommodate boats of all sizes.

Located on the downtown waterfront is the Roberta Bondar Marina. This transient boater facility offers 38 slips and 450 feet of dock-face all serviced with power and water hookups. The marina, which provides additional services including showers, laundry, pumpouts and fuel, is within walking distance to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. Open from June to Labor Day, Roberta Bondar Marina is the ideal place to stop during a cruise to Lake Superior or Lake Huron.


Adjacent to the marina is the Roberta Bondar Pavilion. This outdoor venue is named in honour of Canada’s first woman astronaut, Roberta Bondar. This area, historically known as Bawating or “meeting place,” provided a natural site for the Algonquin Nation to settle. The gathering of people continues today as locals and visitors come together at the Roberta Bondar Park Pavilion to enjoy festivals, concerts, and a variety of special events and entertainment. A farmers market operates at the park every Wednesday and Saturday morning from July to October so visitors can enjoy fresh vegetables and homemade goods. The park is also home to the Museum Ship Norgoma, one of the last passenger ships on the Great Lakes.

Canadian Lock

The Sault Canal National Historic Site is a place to experience and learn about late 19th century canal technology and architecture. Completed in 1895, the Sault Ste. Marie Canal was the largest and the first electrically operated lock in the world. This remarkable achievement marked the completion of an all-Canadian waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Superior.

The recreational Canadian Lock provides a safe and welcoming environment for boaters traveling between the two upper Great Lakes. The Sault Ste. Marie Canal has something to offer all of its visitors: enjoy a guided tour, a close-up view of boats locking through, or browse through the visitor centre and gift shop. A self-guided 1.4-mile (2.2 km) nature trail and picnic area are also available on site.  

The visitor centre is open year-round and the recreational lock from mid-May to mid-October with the hours varying with the seasons. 


Great northern hospitality is waiting in a wide variety of accommodation facilities from bed and breakfast through to full-service brand hotels with over 1,600 rooms located in and around the city. Local accommodation properties offer special packages throughout the year, providing guests with the opportunity to experience all that Sault Ste. Marie has to offer. This summer you can choose from a stay and play golf package, which includes rooms and golf and a casino voucher, or an Agawa Canyon tour train package. The Agawa Canyon tour combines two nights accommodation with train tickets, meals and a Sault Ste. Marie Attractions Passport as well. This attractions passport provides admission into four major attractions and discounts at other locations. 

The Fine Arts

For the city lovers who really want to experience fresh air and first class, there is much to consider. Arts and culture are within easy reach using the 4Culture passport value card, providing admittance to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, Art Gallery of Algoma, and Sault Ste. Marie Museum. The Bushplane Centre was voted the “Best Indoor Attraction” in Canada by Attractions Canada. This 25,000-square-foot interactive museum offers a look at the history of flight and firefighting in Northern Canada, and has many interactive exhibits, including a flight simulator and a new movie, Wild Fires, which gives visitors a sense of actually flying in a bushplane.

Into The Wild

To access the northern scenic wilderness, the unique ability to travel by train is a highlight when visiting Sault Ste. Marie. The Agawa Canyon Tour Train leaves daily from late June until mid-October each year. This 228-mile round trip brings visitors into the heart of this naturally gifted region. Passing lakes, rivers and waterfalls along the way, an hour-and-a-half stopover in the Canyon Park is the highlight of the day. A full-service dining car is available to provide breakfast and lunch, enhancing the experience of this fully-narrated excursion.

Sault Ste. Marie is the “Gateway” to the scenic Algoma Region. Set along the shorelines of both Lake Superior and Lake Huron, the opportunities for outdoor vacations are endless and world-class. In the summer of 2003, this region was the host to the internationally famous Eco-Challenge, North American Championships. Many of the components that made up the course for this prestigious race are accessible to the public, and breathtaking kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities are available.

Out On The Town

For those who want to shop ‘til they drop, visit the Station Mall, located at the center of it all on the city’s waterfront. The nearby downtown shopping district is home to many fine restaurants, showcasing menus with an emphasis on our renowned Italian cuisine.

Sault Ste. Marie has a great legacy of hosting annual festivals and events such as ROTARYFEST, taking place in July and bringing years of summer celebration, followed by The Algoma Fall Festival, which highlights world-class cultural and entertainment opportunities. In January, Ontario’s Winter Carnival Bon Soo takes place annually.

Looking Ahead

Sault Ste. Marie will once again be welcoming cruise ships from the Great Lakes to port at the Roberta Bondar Marina next summer and fall, from Pearl Mist Cruises as well as Victory Cruise Lines. Along with being home to these cruise ships for the 2017 season, Sault Ste. Marie heard the thunder and felt the rumble of the CanAM VIP Presidents Cup Poker Run, an offshore high-performance, high-horsepower boating event that took place back in August.

The city’s central location at the heart of the Great Lakes and at the intersection of I-75 from the south and the trans Canada highway from the east and west has earned Sault Ste. Marie a reputation as a great place to meet in any season, for many reasons! 

This article originally appeared in our December 2016 issue. To see more like this, subscribe here.


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