Owen Sound

Owen Sound
Owen Sound
—  City  —
Owen Sound Harbour
Nickname(s): The Scenic City
Coordinates: 44°34′N 80°56′W / 44.567°N 80.933°W / 44.567; -80.933Coordinates: 44°34′N 80°56′W / 44.567°N 80.933°W / 44.567; -80.933
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
County Grey
 - City Mayor Deborah Haswell
 - Governing Body Owen Sound City Council
 - MPs Larry Miller
 - MPPs Bill Murdoch
 - Land 24.22 km2 (9.4 sq mi)
 - Urban 25.98 km2 (10 sq mi)
 - Metro 627.80 km2 (242.4 sq mi)
Elevation 307 m (1,007 ft)
Population (2006)[1][2]
 - City 21,753
 - Density 898.1/km2 (2,326.1/sq mi)
 Urban 22,649
 - Urban density 871.8/km2 (2,258/sq mi)
 Metro 32,259
 - Metro density 51.4/km2 (133.1/sq mi)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
Postal Code N4K
Area code(s) 519/226
Website www.owensound.ca
Dwellings: 9,532 dwellings

Owen Sound (Canada 2006 Census population 21,753; UA population 22,649; CA population 32,259), the county seat of Grey County, is a city in Southern (Southwestern) Ontario, Canada. Owen Sound is located at the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham Rivers on an inlet of Georgian Bay named Owen Sound Bay.[3]



This area of the upper Great Lakes was first formally surveyed in 1815 by William Fitzwilliam Owen and Lieutenant Henry W. Bayfield. The inlet was named "Owen's Sound" in honour of Admiral Sir Edward William Campbell Rich Owen, the explorer Owen's older brother.

The city of Owen Sound was originally known as Sydenham when it was first settled in 1841 by Charles Rankin. Prior to that the area had been inhabited by the Ojibway people. The city gained its current name in 1851 and was incorporated in 1857. For much of its history, Owen Sound was a major port city, known as the "Chicago of the North". Its location on Georgian Bay gave it access to the upper Great Lakes, and major rail lines moved cargo south from there. Port duties have declined dramatically since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway allowed shipping directly to the lower lakes and dramatically lowered costs compared to transshipment via Owen Sound. Being both the gateway to cottage country, and in the heart of Ontario's beef, apple and corn region, farming and tourism are still integral parts of the local economy.

At one time, Owen Sound's roaring seaport made it a rowdy town that was known to sailors as "Little Liverpool". Louis' Steakhouse, a popular upscale restaurant just outside of town, was opened by the Gavaris family in the 1980s and the historic building has changed hands several times since. It was originally a brothel where the madam would stand from its castle-like tower and watch the port for a ship to come in, and she would ready her prostitutes to excite the sailors. This reputation for vice and villainy, and the problems that came with it, caused the city to ban all drinking establishments for several decades. The city was "dry" until 1972.

Billy Bishop Home/Museum

One of the city's most famous sons was World War I flying ace and Victoria Cross winner William Avery "Billy" Bishop, Canada's leading pilot in the war. Bishop is also one of the few to have tangled with the Red Baron and survived, forcing the German pilot to retreat in a damaged aircraft. The Billy Bishop Regional Airport in the nearby Municipality of Meaford was named after him. His modest gravesite can be visited in the city's Greenwood Cemetery by those willing to take the time to locate the stone. His boyhood home is now a museum dedicated to his life and to Canada's aviation history. The town was also the home of NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Harry Lumley and the artist Tom Thomson (buried in the nearby village of Leith). Surgeon Dr. Norman Bethune, an avowed communist and pioneer of public medicine who gained notoriety in his innovative medical work with the Chinese army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, is an alumnus of the Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute. Legendary hockey broadcaster Bill Hewitt was once sports director of the local AM radio station, CFOS. Tommy Holmes, another Victoria Cross winner, was also from Owen Sound, and the city's armoury bears his name.

Owen Sound is home of SummerFolk Festival, a popular folk festival that takes place annually in August. Summerfolk attracts over 4,000 people annually to the shores of Georgian Bay, specifically Kelso Beach Park located on the West shore of Owen Sound. The festival has run continuously since 1977 and is nationally renowned for its music and craft excellence. Many performers who have played there have gone on to great commercial success, such as Leahy, Valdy, The Rankins and Natalie MacMaster. Other more commercial Canadian talent has also graced the stages of summerfolk over the years with the likes of Gowan, Rik Emmett, Blue Rodeo and Bruce Cockburn. One of Summerfolk's most famous and revered performers was Stan Rogers. The Main stage features a memorial to Stan and is dedicated to his memory.

In 2005 Owen Sound became the National Communities in Bloom champion in the cities of 20,001–50,000 category in Canada for its beauty, natural landscape, and strong sense of community.

Geography & climate

Owen Sound experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb)[4] that is moderated by Lake Huron. Winters are cold and very snowy, while summers are warm and humid. Precipitation is moderately high, with an annual average of 1100 mm.

Climate data for Owen Sound
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.5
Average high °C (°F) −2.2
Average low °C (°F) −9.4
Record low °C (°F) −30
Precipitation mm (inches) 134.8
Snowfall cm (inches) 110.9
Source: Environment Canada[5]

The city's downtown is located in a deep valley in the Niagara Escarpment.

Culture and events

Festival of Northern Lights.

The City of Owen Sound was a 2004 Cultural Capital of Canada and is home to a number of cultural events and facilities. It is home to the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival, held every August, and the Festival of Northern Lights, a large Christmas lights festival with many displays along the Sydenham River, downtown, and in Harrison Park, held from November until January every Winter, as well as A Novel Marathon, a special event fund raiser for the Adult Literacy Program of the Owen Sound and North Grey Public Library.

In 2007 Owen Sound celebrated its 150th year since incorporation, with special events throughout the year highlighted by the 10-day Homecoming 2007 celebrations July 27 to August 5.

Theatrically, the city's 400-seat Roxy Theatre, owned and operated by the Owen Sound Little Theatre, is used for the city's professional live theatre performances, as well as some concerts. The Youth Theatre Coalition is also prevalent in the area. It is a youth theatre company run entirely by youth and for youth. The organization presents musical, theatrical, and concert type performances throughout the year.

The city is also home to a good number of museums and cultural attractions, including:

Tom Thomson Art Gallery
  • Grey Roots Museum and Archives – showcasing the history of the city of Owen Sound and Grey County
  • Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery – featuring a large collection of memorabilia and works from Tom Thomson, one of Canada's most famous artists who grew up in the Owen Sound area.
  • Owen Sound Marine and Rail Museum – showcasing the city's rich history in rail and water transportation and its role in the growth of Ontario.
  • Billy Bishop Heritage Museum – located in the former Billy Bishop home, dedicated to the life and times of Billy Bishop and Canada's history in aviation.
  • Black History Cairn – located in historic Harrison Park, celebrating Owen Sound's status as a northern terminus of the Underground Railroad.
  • Owen Sound Farmer's Market – occupying the same location since 1868, the Market is open every Saturday morning throughout the year and hosts a wide variety of growers and artisans.
  • Today Owen Sound's Beth Ezekiel Synagogue, a designated building under Ontario's Heritage Act, remains the last example[citation needed] of the early small town synagogue
  • Georgian Bay Symphony – is a regional community orchestra consisting of 55 volunteer musicians and five professional core string players. The Symphony performs 5 Main Concerts a year at the OSCVI as well as performing at various civic events.
  • Each year, the City of Owen Sound hosts the Owen Sound Cultural Awards (the "OSCAs"). A community jury selects winners in up to 10 award categories, presented at a gala entertainment event in mid-autumn.
  • Over the past twelve years, 37 different writers have created 86 short novels, made friends and raised thousands of dollars for the Adult Learning Centre.
  • The Owen Sound City Band circa 1923 is a volunteer organization whose membership is made up of amateur musicians of all ages and abilities, from high school students to senior citizens. The band plays a wide range of music from Dixieland, Golden Oldies and Classical to Movie Themes and Easy Listening and medium Rock. Venues include Canada Day Events (Kelso Beach), Christmas Parades; in the city, neighbouring towns and villages through-out Grey and Bruce Counties, Opening ceremonies such as Festival of Northern Lights and various nursing homes.


Census Population
1871 3,369
1881 4,426
1891 7,497
1901 8,776
1911 12,559
1921 12,190
1931 12,839
1941 13,810
1951 16,423
1961 17,421
1971 18,469
1981 19,883
1991 21,674
2001 21,431
2006 21,753

Owen Sound had a population of 21,753 people in 2006, which was an increase of 1.4% from the 2001 census count. The median household income in 2005 for Owen Sound was $40,919, which is below the Ontario provincial average of $60,455.[1]


Owen Sound is home to a campus of Georgian College. The campus, which currently offers 11 full-time programs, is known worldwide for its Great Lakes International Marine Training Centre.[citation needed] The centre trains professionals already working in the marine industry and students enrolled in the Marine Navigation Technology program and the Marine Engineering Technology program. Owen Sound is also home to Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute, one of Canada's oldest schools having been founded in 1856.


MS Chi-Cheemaun in Owen Sound.

Located at the junctions of Ontario Highways 6, 10, 21 and 26, the city serves as a gateway to the Bruce Peninsula.

Owen Sound Transit provides local bus service and specialized transportation for those unable to use the regular transit buses.

As home port of the Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited, the inner harbour is where the MS Chi-Cheemaun car ferry from Tobermory to South Baymouth is docked during the winter months.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Owen Sound subdivision connected Orangeville and Owen Sound. Service was discontinued and the line was formally abandoned in 1995. The Canadian National Railway subdivision connected Guelph and Owen Sound via Palmerston, this line was discontinued in the 1990s.

Aircraft flying to Owen Sound may land at the Owen Sound Billy Bishop Regional Airport (CYOS).


The Parrish & Heimbecker Grain Terminal (Great Lakes Elevator Co Ltd) is located in the inner harbour. The original CPR grain elevators were destroyed by fire in 1911.

Health care

Owen Sound Hospital

Owen Sound is the seat of Grey Bruce Health Services and has the largest hospital (Owen Sound Hospital) in the Grey County and Bruce County region.


The city is one of two (the other being Barrie) that are home to The Grey and Simcoe Foresters Primary Reserve Infantry regiment, as well as various cadet corps.

Some of the largest rainbow trout in the world have been caught in Owen Sound, and annual fishing derbies draw large participation from all over North America.

Southeast of the city are two popular Ontario ski resorts, Talisman and Beaver Valley. The city and area also have numerous snowmobile trails.


Owen Sound is the smallest city in Ontario (and one of the smallest in Canada) to host an OHL Major Junior Hockey Team, in the Owen Sound Attack who play at the Bayshore Community Centre arena.

Former teams


Municipal government

Deborah Haswell (born 1960) is mayor of the city. A 13-year council veteran, she unseated popular incumbent Ruth Lovell Stanners by a mere 41 votes in the October, 2010, municipal election.[7]


The County of Grey opened a complex in 1854, including a courthouse and police services, a land registry office and a county jail. In 1960, the County of Grey moved the courthouse and land registry to another location at the edge of present-day Owen Sound, Ontario. At that time, March 11, 1960, the County of Grey and the City of Owen Sound signed a two-part agreement that was subsequently passed into bylaw. The first part required that the City of Owen Sound immediately purchase the courthouse portion of the complex. Part two of the agreement requires the City of Owen Sound to purchase the jail portion when the County of Grey no longer needs it for its own use. This occurred in 1978, when the province of Ontario transferred the county jails to provincial entities. The County of Grey and the City of Owen Sound escaped the latter part of the 1960 agreement and have profited greatly ever since. The County of Grey receives a monthly payment (approximately $ 12,000 as of 2011) for which they have no obligation to maintain the property; the City of Owen Sound kept the police services in the old courthouse until 1987/88 and then leased it to an arts council. In doing so, the jail lost all of their former entrances and moved all activities to the side of the jail, immediately beside the adjacent residence.

Notable residents

In media

Owen Sound City Hall
  • Owen Sound was one of the filming locations for the filming of the Disney movie One Magic Christmas along with Meaford, most notably with its city hall serving as the town hall in the film.
  • On the October 18, 2006, episode of The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert asked his viewers to send in suggestions for bad things to say about Owen Sound, being unable to think of any himself.

Sister cities

The sister city of Owen Sound is Miamisburg, Ohio.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Owen Sound — Spitzname: The Scenic City Rathaus in Owen Sound Lage in Ontario …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Owen Sound — Administration Pays  Canada Province …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Owen Sound — (spr. ō n ßaund), Hauptstadt der Grafschaft Grey der kanad. Provinz Ontario, an der Georgian Bay des Huronensees, in Eisenbahnverbindung mit Toronto und dem Eriesee, hat einen vorzüglichen Hafen, Handel mit Holz und Getreide und (1901) 8776… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Owen Sound — (spr. ōĕn ßaund), Stadt in der kanad. Prov. Ontario, an der Georgianbai des Huronsees, (1901) 8776 E., Hafen …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Owen Sound — Original name in latin Owen Sound Name in other language Oven Saund, YOS, awyn sawnd, Овен Саунд State code CA Continent/City America/Toronto longitude 44.56717 latitude 80.94349 altitude 180 Population 22625 Date 2009 07 31 …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Owen Sound — a city in SE Ontario, in S Canada, on Georgian Bay of Lake Huron: summer resort. 19,883. * * * …   Universalium

  • Owen Sound — city, S Ontario, Canada; pop. 19,525 …   Webster's Gazetteer

  • Owen Sound — a city in SE Ontario, in S Canada, on Georgian Bay of Lake Huron: summer resort. 19,883 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Owen Sound Greys — City Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada League Greater Ontario Junior Hockey Leagu …   Wikipedia

  • Owen Sound Transportation Company — Founded 1921 Headquarters Owen Sound, Canada Area served Lake Huron …   Wikipedia

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