These are the Best Reasons to Visit Bobcaygeon Ontario
The Tragically Hip is an iconic Canadian band that I love so much. If you’re Canadian, you probably like at least one of their songs. In my case, I love 99% of them. This influential band that sang songs about places and things Canadians could relate to has the perfect summer road trip soundtrack. Mind you, it may not seem perfect being played on loop the way I do. They wrote a beautiful ballad called Bobcaygeon. All you non-Canadian or even better, non-Ontarians out there are probably still scratching your heads wondering what it means? Well, it is a beautiful little beachy town 90 mins from Toronto where many flock in the summer months for a touch of sun, sand, and ultimate serenity. And in uncovering more in my own backyard through the Heavenly Centenary, we decided to see this beautiful area ourselves and to dissect the lyrics of this beautiful song.
Bobcaygeon Ontario Fun Facts
- A beautiful city located in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario.
- Famed French explorer Samuel de Champlain came through here during his military expedition back in 1615.
- 800 people called Bobcaygeon home by the 1800’s
- The Tragically Hip’s song was not specifically about the town, but instead, a reference used to complete a lyric. However, It became associated with the town and the band played in a music festival on site in the town.
- At the final concert viewing of the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour, the town came together to watch the emotional performance of Gordon Downie.
- The May long weekend the locks open for the first time in the summer season. The town hosts a kick off event to honour this grand opening for the season.
- There are a notable people who were revered famously in the Kawartha region near Bobcaygeon. Two in particular include Singer Serena Ryder – She was born in Toronto but grew up just outside of Peterborough (listen to Stompa on YouTube…you’ll love it!), and Neil Young who had his own museum in Omemee until 2014. It has now moved to Lindsay which is a short drive away from Bobcaygeon.
Things to Do in Bobcaygeon
This little vacation hamlet attracts thousands of cottagers, boaters, sailors, and travellers just wanting to explore every spring-autumn. The winter months are very quiet with a noticeable plummet in tourism. The locals know of this swell in visitors and make the most of the extra business. Here are some highlights to consider while visiting and relaxing in town.
Book a Tour: 3.5-Hour Ottawa Night Tour with River Cruise
Just for the Halibut
This was a recommendation given to me when I was considering Bobcaygeon to be on the Heavenly Centenary local tourism project. I was told it served some of the best fish and chips in the province. And it definitely does. A family-owned restaurant boasting fresh fish cooked various ways, a lengthy list of craft local beers, and dessert made in-house that will make your sweet tooth uber happy, Just for the Halibut is the perfect spot for a dinner, lunch, or even a snack at the beach from their seasonal hut.
I ordered the fish and chips as I just had to try it after the build-up. It was incredible. Fresh, non-greasy, and the perfect portion-size. Hubby ordered the sole and said it was a seriously divine dish ticking all the seafood boxes. The fries were also great along with the baked potato and veggies. I cannot stand greasy fries or those that are clearly over or undercooked. These were wonderful and satisfying with the usual accompaniments of tartar sauce and malt vinegar.
As mentioned and shown, Just for the Halibut features a great list of crafted beers. You couldn’t possibly try them all without passing out, but you can order a flight of 5 small glasses to sample a nice selection. Hubby did just that and got to enjoy more than one flavour of beer. Some dark, some with a stronger hops taste, and also a lighter variety. Me? Well, if sangria is on the menu in the summertime, you won’t catch me without a glass…
Book a Tour: Niagara Falls Canada: Niagara SkyWheel Ticket
My hubby’s favourite part of the meal has now arrived…and it is welcomed with open arms when the word “homemade” is part of the menu. All the desserts offered at Just for the Halibut are homemade in house. We chose the peanut butter pie and the key lime. They were incredible. Although I enjoyed both, the peanut butter one was one of the best and most satisfying sweet treats I have eaten in a long time. If you go to Just for the Halibut, make sure you save room for this sublime and satisfying dessert.
Douglas and Son
I love this shop. The rustic feel, the vintage items mixed with original designed clothing, this local shop is the perfect place to stock up on unique souvenirs and mementos from your time here in Bobcaygeon. We loved the trillium top play up on Adidas, the vintage felt pennants that have lately been put on the back-burner in favour of metal alternatives (yuck), and the vintage VW caravan tops with surfboards on top, making you think of such surfing havens as California and Australia. I loved the pennants as my father used to collect them and bring them back for me on his many road trips. It was nice to see a mini comeback of these timeless treasures. The owner was a delight to meet. He set up shop here after moving from Toronto and has never looked back.
Bigley’s Sweet Treats
If you have followed along on my journey of exploring these nuggets of local goodness in Ontario, you will have seen a trend that I love checking out the locally owned sweet shops. Well, Bobcaygeon didn’t disappoint. They had an adorable little ice cream parlour and sweet shoppe all set to impress me. With summer being their ultimate business time, you can only bet your bottom dollar that they were super busy, serving hundreds of ice cream cones, and definitely pleased many a sweet palate. They not only had the frozen sweets, but also some fun gifting that was in the shape of dessert. Why not take home some sprinkly socks, toys, or even a donut-shaped floaty for the lake?
Grab a Floaty in Bobcaygeon
On the main strip of Bobcaygeon there are several beachy shops to grab those essentials you may have left at home. I couldn’t believe the amazing swimsuit sales in these shops! Designer bikinis for dirt cheap…grab some during your vacation. They also had some awesome beach shoes, bags, and accessories including the very faddy and popular floaties of various shapes and sizes! I love unicorns so of course I loved those guys and if I didn’t already have one, would have purchased one then and there!
Check out the Trent Severn Waterway Locks
Now and official heritage site, the Trent Severn locks are such a cool thing to see while in Bobcaygeon. Watch the water rise and fall as boats large and small travel through. I particularly loved the nostalgic swing bridge. I could sit by the locks all day and watch the boats go by on a sunny day with an ice cream from Bigley’s sweet shop before jumping in an relaxing on my unicorn floatie…how about you?
Kawartha Dairy’s Gigantic Ice Cream Treats
Okay, so I won’t beat around the bush – Kawartha Dairy is the kingdom of gigantic ice cream cones. Forget those overpriced teensy excuses for ice cream. Head to the best spot in all the Kawarthas for a sweet and frozen indulgence. Kawartha Dairy offers incredible ice cream treats year round and has become a true staple in the province. Bobcaygeon is where it calls home. I can honestly admit to being able to complete a double waffle cone. I cannot begin to fathom a triple…
The Lakes in Bobcaygeon
The Kawartha region is prolific in natural beauty and resources. I think I have mentioned in the past that Ontario has 250,000 LAKES! That number so incredibly huge and in now way could anyone visit them all in a lifetime. Sad truth. But in the Kawarthas, you can experience a few of them. Pigeon and Sturgeon lakes are here for the beach, boating, fishing, floating on unicorns, and many more fun activities.
Pigeon Lake is 3 km wide and 27 km long. It is a fantastic and peaceful body of water perfect for cottagers and those enjoying a sunrise from the seat of a canoe. Into fishing? species you are bound to catch if lucky include bass, perch, walleye salmon, carp, and muskellunge (those these are rare nowadays sadly). Make sure you do your research and get a fishing license. These are ESSENTIAL or else you face heavy fines if caught without one.
The smaller of the two surrounding lakes, Sturgeon Lake is 25 km long. It is another fantastic body of water perfectly safe for water sports, relaxing, and doing all things beachy. Need I repeat the need for a unicorn floaty once more?
Want to go fishing in Sturgeon Lake? If you get a fresh catch, it will likely be one of these three species: bass, walleye salmon, and muskellunge.
Grab a Latte at the Kawartha Coffee Co.
Walking into this local coffee shop, I immediately was taken aback by the Mexican themed decor. I fell in love with Disney’s most recent Pixar film “Coco” and was sent back to the home of the Mayans with the flags, Frida portraits, and everything pinata and sombrero. Exploring deeper, I came to discover their incredible fair trade coffee options, homemade smoothies, and pastries that pair perfectly with any espresso beverage. Plus all the coffee quotes and puns are always a good idea in a sweet local cafe I say!
The London Shop
After living in the UK, we always have a soft spot for the red phone booths, Union Jacks and all things British when we see them! This London shop was super cool and had a great selection of Brittanica love. But within this display of English mod, was a display of Aussie hats that, of course, hubby just had to check out and model. Get an authentic Australian sun hat here while in Bobcaygeon!
So there you have our findings in the lovely holiday town of Bobcaygeon Ontario. Rent a cottage, rent a canoe, and enjoy the sunny weather in a place many Ontarians consider paradise.
Bobcaygeon, the Trent Severn waterway, and Just for the Halibut landed on our Heavenly Centenary Sights Bucket list and Foodie bucket lists! Head to the link in this paragraph to download the lists. Follow along and tick off the experiences you have had too!
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