Saugeen Shores

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Saugeen Shores
Town (lower-tier)
Town of Saugeen Shores
Old town hall, Southampton
Old town hall, Southampton
Saugeen Shores is located in Southern Ontario
Saugeen Shores
Saugeen Shores
Location in southern Ontario
Coordinates: 44°26′N 81°22′W / 44.433°N 81.367°W / 44.433; -81.367Coordinates: 44°26′N 81°22′W / 44.433°N 81.367°W / 44.433; -81.367
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
County Bruce
Settled ca. 1850
Formed 1999
 • Mayor Mike Smith
 • Federal riding Huron—Bruce
 • Prov. riding Huron—Bruce
 • Land 170.97 km2 (66.01 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 12,661
 • Density 74.1/km2 (192/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal Code N0H
Area code(s) 519 and 226

Saugeen Shores is a town in Bruce County, Ontario, Canada, formed in the 1990s, as municipal restructuring merged the towns of Southampton, Port Elgin, and the township of Saugeen.

In addition to the two main population centres of Southampton and Port Elgin, the town also includes a portion of the communities of Burgoyne and North Bruce, straddling the municipal eastern and southern boundary respectively.


Saugeen Shores traces its history back to 1847 when government agents arrived to survey land at the Saugeen River's mouth. Southampton was Ontario's northernmost lake port, and the first port on the Bruce Coast. By 1852, over 12 families lived there[citation needed], sustained by the thriving fishery. Settlers continued to arrive from Scotland, Ireland, England, and Germany. By 1857, there were 130 homes, six shops, two hotels, five warehouses, a planing mill, a gristmill, and a steam sawmill. Post and customs offices assured the village's growth, becoming a town in 1904. Saugeen Township's first settler, Alexander Wallace, arrived in early 1851. A few years later, land was available for two dollars an acre and earnest settlement of Bruce County's smallest township began. Land was cleared, and the rich soil yielded many agricultural products, marking the start of a still thriving industry.

In 1859, the Chantry Island Imperial lighthouse was completed, steering sailors clear of the island's dangerous shoals.

The village of Port Elgin was born in 1849, when Lachlan McLean built a shanty and settled there for the winter. For several years he ran a tavern, his patrons consisting primarily of settlers and sailors passing through the little port. By 1854, the community had three houses, a tavern, and mill. Shops, churches, schools, and roads followed, and ten years later the population totalled six hundred and thirty. Early industries included a steam sawmill, foundry, and woolen mill. In 1873, the railway arrived, allowing Southampton and Port Elgin products to travel out into the world.

In 1999, these three municipalities amalgamated to form the Town of Saugeen Shores. The amalgamation created a diverse community with common historical and cultural ties, and a strong economic base.[citation needed] Agriculture, tourism, small business, and energy are the local economy's cornerstones.


Census Population
Port Elgin
1871 750
1901 1,313
1911 1,235
1921 1,291
1931 1,305
1941 1,395
1951 1,558
1961 1,632
1971 2,855
1981 6,131
1991 6,857
Saugeen Shores
2001 11,388
2006 11,720
2011 12,661

According to the 2009 Saugeen Shores Community Profile Census:

  • Population: 12,310
  • % Change (2006–2009): 1.18
  • % Avg. Annual % rate of pop change: 0.39
  • % of Cdn Total: 0.04
  • Dwellings: 6,645
  • Area (km2): 170.58
  • Density (persons per km2): 68.7


  • % Above/Below National Average: 38.00
  • 2008 Total Income Estimate $: 530,790,000.00
  • % Cdn Total: 0.05
  • Average Hhld income $: 101,300.00
  • Per Capita $: 43,100.00
  • % 2008 Hhlds Income $100,000+: 35.56
  • 2011 Projected Total Income $: 577,800,000.00
  • 2014 Projected Total Income $: 651,390,000.00

Retail Sales

  • % Above/Below National Average: −4.00
  • Retail Sales Estimate $: 146,040,000.00
  • % Cdn Total: 0.03
  • per Household $: 27,900.00
  • per Capita $: 11,900.00
  • No. of Establishments: 136
  • 2011 Projected Retail Sales $: 153,770,000.00
  • 2014 Projected Retail Sales $: 165,280,000.00

Disposable & Discretionary Income

  • Disposable Income per Household: 77,648.00
  • Discretionary Income per Household: 28,716.00

Labour Force

  • In the Labour Force: Male – 3,591.00, Female – 3,063.00
  • Participation Rate: Male – 69.50, Female – 57.20
  • Employed: Male – 3,316.00, Female – 2,893.00
  • Unemployed: Male – 275.00, Female – 170.00
  • Unemployment Rate: Male – 7.70, Female – 5.60, Avg. – 6.65
  • Not in Labour Force: Male – 1,579.00, Female – 2,288.00


The major economic activities in this region are agriculture, small business, electricity generation and tourism. The town of Saugeen Shores has recently experienced a boom in development, with the addition of stores such as Walmart and Shopper's Drugmart, plus expansions of two Rexall Pharmaplus stores, one in Port Elgin, the other in Southampton. Restaurants such as The Blind Badger, Andres' Swiss dining, Armen's Rooftop Patio, and Rosina's Ristorante (Italian) provide unique dishes not common to this area.


Historically, agriculture is the longest standing economic practice in the region. Intensive livestock operations include beef and dairy, cattle and hogs. Bruce County beef is famous throughout the country,[citation needed] as over a third of Ontario's beef industry is based here. Two-thirds of the land within Saugeen Shores is excellent for cash crops. Fresh produce grown locally is sold locally too. Beef and Dairy farming are the primary agricultural activities with orchards, berries, and some large market gardens also in operation.

Small business[edit]

Southampton resembles a turn-of-the-century fishing village with its variety of retail stores, boutiques, restaurants, and gift shops. Port Elgin's main street features varied retail uses plus gift shops, restaurants, grocery stores, boutiques, and novelty shops. The Port Elgin Business Park has land for industrial and commercial uses. Businesses already located here are in the transportation, fuel, technology, recreation and automotive sectors. The Municipal Offices, Community Complex, Police Department and Bruce County Library Headquarters are also here.

Electricity generation[edit]

Saugeen Shores and Ontario's energy sector have a long-standing relationship via the region's largest employer. Bruce Power forms the core of the municipality's economic base by providing highly skilled, well paid jobs. More than a third of its 3,500 employees reside in Saugeen Shores. Bruce Power is the licensed operator of the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.


Sunsets in the region have been raved as being the most beautiful in Canada for many years now, and have been nominated as one of Canada's Seven Wonders.[2] From Port Elgin's busy harbour on Lake Huron, to Southampton's serene Chantry Island, to the Saugeen river winding its way through the countryside of Saugeen Township. Saugeen Shores is also home to a number of trailer parks, cottages, hotels and two municipal Tourist Camps.

Summer residents are a longstanding feature of Saugeen Shores. The local population more than doubles during the summer, substantially benefitting local businesses. Highlights include the Chantry Island Imperial Lighthouse tours; the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre; walking, running, and cycling trails.


The Bluewater District School Board has one secondary and three elementary schools in Saugeen Shores; the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board has one elementary school. The Catholic secondary school, St. Mary's High School, is in Owen Sound. Several post secondary institutions are within a two-hour drive, with Georgian College's Owen Sound campus being the closest.

Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS)[edit]

Saugeen District Secondary School is the home of the Saugeen Royals. A school that is noted for its strong performances in the arts, sports, and academic studies—ranging from history & English, to science and technology.[citation needed] Musicals are performed every 2nd school year, allowing students to expand their knowledge and abilities within acting, singing, and dancing; some recent musicals have been "Beauty and the Beast" (2011), "Oklahoma!" (2009), "The Wizard of OZ" (2007), "Oliver!" (2005), and "Bye Bye Birdie" (2003). SDSS is also home to the 2007 Ontario Football CWOSSA Champions.[citation needed] The Royals had a very successful boys hockey team which was undefeated in regular season play over its four-year existence (1995–1999). The team was CWOSSA champions in 1996 and 1998, finishing 8th and 9th at the Ontario Championships (OFSAA) in such years. Rugby, cheerleading, and numerous other sports have also claimed many championships and awards over the years. Saugeen District is highly acclaimed by Universities and Colleges alike for being one of the top schools in Ontario to focus their academic courses upon building student's abilities to write proper English and historical essays[citation needed] —surprisingly a rare thing for many high schools in Ontario, which are essential to achieving success in today's post-secondary learning environments. It is also the only school in Bruce County to offer education in electrical training,[citation needed] while the automotive technology course offers students an opportunity to repair vehicles and race the "Solar Prowler"— a solar powered racecar, in local competitions at nearby Sauble Speedway.

Elementary schools[edit]

Port Elgin Saugeen Central School, Northport Elementary School, G.C. Huston Public School, and St. Joseph's School.

Health care[edit]

The hospital in Southampton, with a staff of 105, is part of the Grey Bruce Health Services' network of hospitals in northern Bruce and Grey Counties. Its full-time emergency department has the second highest volume of emergency visits across GBHS' hospitals, due mostly to the high summer population. The community recruited family physicians for inpatient care and emergency department coverage year round. In addition to 16 inpatient beds, the hospital offers many outpatient services. Medical clinics in both Port Elgin and Southampton have enticed doctors to the community. The hospital also houses other community health providers. Day surgery services are offered and include ear, nose and throat surgery.

Retirement and assisted living[edit]

Saugeen Shores has two retirement and assisted living facilities, and one nursing home. Long Term Care programs provide in home support allowing elderly residents to live at home as long as possible.


Nineteen churches, representing most major denominations, serve the municipality's spiritual needs.


  • The Rail Trail is popular with walkers, cyclists, and joggers, cross country skiers and for snowshoeing, Additional trails are continually being developed under the Town's Parks and Trails Master Plan.
  • A multitude of snowmobile, cross county ski, mountain bike, and ATV trails throughout Bruce and Grey Counties attract enthusiasts. Nearby, the Bruce Trail traverses the length of the scenic Bruce Peninsula.
  • MacGregor Point Provincial Park is an all-season destination for camping, hiking, swimming, wildlife and bird watching. In winter, visitors camp in yurts, cross-country ski, hike, or enjoy a fresh air skate.
  • The Saugeen River, stretching 102 kilometres from Hanover to Southampton, is popular with canoeists and kayakers from across Ontario. Access points and parks provide facilities along the way.
  • For fishermen, Lake Huron has salmon, trout, pickerel, and whitefish.
  • Saugeen Shores and boating are synonymous. Whether sailing or power boating, Saugeen Shores' main harbour can accommodate with 274 slips and all amenities.
  • Saugeen Shores has five golf courses, over 15 tennis courts, fitness centres, public pool, two arenas, skate park, BMX track, and many organized sports. There are numerous community and service organizations, senior centres and activities, parks, a dog park and many community events.

Arts, culture, and heritage[edit]

  • Saugeen Shores is home to two theatre groups, the community focused Performing Arts of Saugeen Shores (P.A.S.S.) and Maelström Theatre Productions which is a registered non-profit charitable organization and has a professional focus hiring singers, dancers, and actors across Ontario to perform at venues throughout Saugeen Shores.
  • Pumpkinfest, attracting more than 60,000 visitors, is the premier cultural event held the first weekend of October.
  • In September, the Canadian Big Band Celebration recalls the Big Band Era. Port Elgin and Southampton band shell concerts entertain music lovers throughout the summer. Concerts are held in various venues year round.
  • Since 1957, thousands of students have explored their creativity at the Southampton Art School, one of Ontario's oldest, most respected seasonal art schools. From painting to sculpture to jazz and drama, over 900 students attend classes from March to October.
  • Each summer, the Shoreline Artists' annual Studio Tour provides a tantalizing glimpse into area artists' workspaces. For 40 years, the Annual Southampton Craft Show in July has drawn a wide variety of vendors. Other craft shows occur throughout the summer and the rest of the year.
33 Victoria Street, the Old Public School, now part of the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre.
  • Saugeen Shores houses three public library branches (belonging to the Bruce County Public Library), one in Southampton, a newly renovated one in Port Elgin, and the Bruce County Public Library Headquarters located between the two communities along Highway 21.
  • The Municipal Heritage Committee's goal is preserving the community's heritage and has implemented a successful "Heritage Property Plaque Program" and self-guided historic walking tours. The Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre houses the County Archive and artifacts. The Chantry Island keepers' house and gardens have been restored and open seasonally for tours; the island is now a bird sanctuary. Many groups work to preserve the community's heritage, including the Generalogical, Historical, and Marine Heritage Societies.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Saugeen Shores community profile". 2011 Census data. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  2. ^ CBC - Seven Wonders of Canada