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Saugeen Shores is a town in Bruce Countymarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, formed in the 1990s, as municipal restructuring merged the towns of Southamptonmarker, Port Elginmarker, and the township of Saugeen. The mayor is Mike Smith.

Saugeen Shores, with its mix of urban and rural lifestyles, offers the ultimate life balance of work, live and play.Located on Lake Huron in Bruce County, Saugeen Shores is business-friendly, within an easy drive of major Canadian and U.S. markets, and has a variety of readily-available commercial and industrial spaces. Add to that a skilled workforce, fair taxes, friendly people, clean water and air, plus affordable real estate, and it's a combination hard to resist.

Community Background

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 portm and the first port on the Bruce Coast. By 1852, over 12 families live there, 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. Agriculture, tourism, small business, and energy are the local economy's cornerstones.

Census Information

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


Saugeen Shores offers all of the commercial and business amenities available in larger urban centres, plus a more satisfying quality of life. Five provincial highways provide direct access to Ontario's major centres and the northern U.S. making Saugeen Shores ideally situated for business and leisure.

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 expansion of stores such as Walmart, Mark's Work Warehouse, Shopper's Drugmart, and larger Canadian Tire and Rexall Pharmaplus locations. With restaurants such as Andres' Swiss dining, Armen's Rooftop Patio, Rosina's Ristorante (Italian), and a new Mexican restaurant providing 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, 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, travelling from the field to the display bin to you.Beef and Dairy farming are the primary agricultural activities with orchards, berries, and some large market gardens also in operation. A local favourite with growing renown for its selection of fruits and vegetables is Smith's Apples Farm,

Small Business

Small businesses thrive here. Saugeen Shores takes pride in fostering a pro-business climate, aimed at helping people realize their dreams with assistance available from the Business Enterprise Centre. Shores is unique with its two distance urban cores. Quaint Southampton resembles a turn-of-the-century fishing village with its variety of retail stores, boutiques, restaurants, and gift shops. Port Elgin's eclectic main street features varied retail uses plus gift shops, restaurants, grocery stores, boutiques, and novelty shops.The Port Elgin Business Park has acres of fully service 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

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.A major employer in the region is Bruce Power, who is the licensed operator of the Bruce Nuclear Generating Stationmarker.

A multi-billion dollar project to restart two reactors, plus the Bruce New Build Project regarding the potential construction of new reactors, will mean an influx of workers similar to the 1970s and 80s. During the nuclear plant's construction, over 9,000 people were employed at the site with dramatic spin-offs to the local economy. These continue to positively influence life in Saugeen Shores. An environmental assessment is currently underway for the expansion project.


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. From Port Elgin's busy harbour on Lake Huron, to Southampton's serene Chantry Island, to the mighty Saugeen river winding its way through the peaceful countryside of Saugeen Township.Saugeen Shores is also home to a number of trailer parks, cottages, hotels and two municipal Tourist Camps that provides visitors with a number of options for accommodations throughout all three communities.

Summer residents are a longstanding feature of Saugeen Shores, with generations of families making the annual trek to the Lake Huron shoreline. Tourism remains a defining force here. Travellers from all over the world visit for our beautiful beaches, relaxed atmosphere, attractions, and stunning sunsets. The local population more than doubles during the summer, substantially benefitting local businesses. As part of "Ontario's Natural Retreat", Saugeen Shores is a welcome retreat from busy day-to-day life with its beaches, fishing, golfm tennis, boating, attractions, shopping, or simply relaxing on a warm summer day.Highlights include the Chantry Island Imperial Lighthouse tours; the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre; walking, running, and cycling trails; friendly people and a warm welcome.


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)

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. 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 "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. The Royals had a very successful boys hockey team which was undefeated in reguar 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 -- 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, 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

Saugeen Shores' elementary schools are also very adept in their performances, Port Elgin Saugeen Central School, Northport Elementary School, G.C. Houston Public School, St. Joseph's Catholic School, and Lambert Hall Private School all prove themselves equal regional champions in sports and arts, claiming many championship and runner-up titles.

Health Care

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 successfully recruited family phusicians 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

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.


With miles of sandy shoreline, pristine water and wooded areas, Saugeen Shores is a virtual paradise, much of it within walking or cycling distance from work or home.
  • 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. Use a boat or wade into the Saugeen River to hook the big one!
  • Saugeen Shores and boating are sunonymous. Whether sailing or power boating, Saugeen Shores' main harbour can accommodate with 274 slips and all amenities.
  • Saugeen Shores boasts 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

Saugeen Shores is wealthy in arts, culture and heritage.
  • Pumpkinfest, attracting more than 60,000 visitors, is the premier cultural event held the first weekend of October. More than 45 events and attractions provide 'Family Fun Second to None'
  • 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.

  • Musicians of all ages participate in the week long Southampton Summer Music Camp. Saugeen Shores houses three public libraries, 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.
  • Saugeen Shores is proud of its heritage and rightly so. 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 a treasure trove of 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 diligently to preserve the community's heritage, including the Generalogical, Historical, and Marine Heritage Societies.



  1. CBC - Seven Wonders of Canada


  • Town of Saugeen Shores website
  • Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce
  • Saugeen Shores Business Enterprise Centre

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