Collingwood is a town of 25,000 people (2021) on the western edge of Simcoe County, Ontario. The area surrounding the town is a destination for recreation characterized by the unique terrain and climate where the Niagara Escarpment meets Georgian Bay. As a gateway town for visitors arriving from Central Ontario or the Greater Toronto Area to ski, snowboard, bike, hike, golf or just relax, the town of Collingwood is a shopping, dining and service hub for visitors and locals alike.
|Thornbury (10 km west of Collingwood)|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Collingwood sits on the southern shores of Georgian Bay close to Blue Mountain, a promontory of the Niagara Escarpment noted for winter sports and also for its scenic caves. The town is a short distance from the popular Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, a destination that received the title of Biosphere Reserve in 2004.
The land in the area was first inhabited by the Iroquoian-speaking Petun nation, which built a string of villages in the vicinity of the nearby Niagara Escarpment. They were driven from the region by the Iroquois in 1650 who withdrew from the region around 1700. European settlers and freed Black slaves arrived in the area in the 1840s, bringing with them their religion and culture.
Collingwood was incorporated as a town in 1858, and was named after Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, Lord Nelson's second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar, who assumed command of the British fleet after Nelson's death.
The area had had several other names associated with it, including Hurontario (because it lies at the end of Hurontario Street, which runs from Lake Huron — of which Georgian Bay is a part — south to Lake Ontario), Nottawa, and Hens-and-Chickens Harbour, because of one large and four small islands in the bay.
In 1855, the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron (later called the Northern) Railway came into Collingwood, and the harbour became a busy terminal for goods destined for the upper Great Lakes ports of Chicago and Port Arthur-Fort William (now Thunder Bay). Shipping produced a need for ship repairs, so it was not long before an organized shipbuilding business was created. In 1883, the Collingwood Shipyards opened with a special ceremony. The shipyards produced Lakers and during World War II contributed to the production of corvettes for the Royal Canadian Navy. Shipbuilding was one of the principal industries in the town, employing as much as 10% of the total labour force. However, overseas competition and overcapacity in shipbuilding in Canada led to the demise of shipbuilding in Collingwood in 1986.
The Collingwood Terminals grain elevators were completed in 1929 to bring large quantities of grain and corn from Chicago and Western Canada to customers throughout Ontario by rail, but the terminal and rail connection became less important as trucking became more reliable and when ships gained access to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway completed in 1959. The last railcars left the terminal in 1986, and the terminal closed in 1993.
Government incentive programs attracted new manufacturing firms to the town in the 1970s and 1980s, but its industrial base continued to erode. As the town's economy pivoted to tourism and recreation, the industrial heritage leaves important marks on the town: the grain elevators are still standing as an iconic landmark on the waterfront, and the abandoned railway left stretches of flat trail that now make the Georgian Trail an ideal cycling route through the region.
Collingwood is easily accessed by taking Highway 400 North to Barrie and following Highway 26 West for about an hour directly into Collingwood. There are also other routes that avoid having to drive through Barrie and also more direct routes from Toronto's west end.
Collingwood Airport (CNY3) is about 7.4 km (4 miles) south of the town and serves private and charter flights; scheduled commercial flights are not available. The nearest major airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport.
- Simcoe County LINX. Transit bus service from Barrie via Wasaga Beach.
- Grey Transit Route. Bus service from Owen Sound to Village at Blue Mountain. From here, it is possible to take Colltrans (see below) to Collingwood.
- Aucoach, email@example.com. During the winter season (late December to March), a daily shuttle runs from Toronto to the nearby Blue Mountain Village. The trip takes about 3 hours.
The downtown area of Collingwood is small and very walkable. If your destination is along the main stretch of Hurontario Street, you'll find it easier to park and walk around. In cold weather or at night, taxis are routinely used between the Blue Mountain resort, neighbouring towns, or accommodations throughout the surrounding area. You'll likely need to call dispatch instead of hailing a cab on the street, and there may be a wait during busy hours. Ride sharing apps were prohibited here for many years, and do not always offer quicker service than booking a taxi if few drivers are available.
Be aware that winter weather moves in quickly from Georgian Bay, and snow squalls can suddenly make getting around more difficult, or even dangerous on some roads. Familiarize yourself with winter driving before you arrive, and pay attention to weather forecasts throughout your trip.
Colltrans, Collingwood's transit service, operates three regularly scheduled transit routes every thirty minutes from the 1 Colltrans Terminal on the corner of Second Street and Pine Street adjacent to the municipal parking lot at 100 Pine Street. It also has hourly service to the Village at Blue Mountain (7AM-8PM).
Bus service operates on all days except statutory holidays. Buses are fully accessible and can be used for wheelchairs, motorized scooters, and strollers. The buses are all equipped with a passenger side access ramp which is available for use upon request as well as Q-Straint securement. All buses are outfitted with bike racks.
Fares: adults $2.00, seniors/students $1.50, children (5 & under) free. Collingwood/Blue Mountains link: $2.00 (all riders).
- Historic Downtown Collingwood is a great place to go for a stroll in the summer and have breakfast or lunch at one of the many outdoor patios available.
- Collingwood Harbour was a major shipping port in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of the shipping traffic from the west ported in Collingwood where cargo was loaded onto trains and transported to Toronto. It was also a major site for manufacturing of ships up until the late 20th century. Since the demise of the shipping industry in Collingwood, the harbour has been turned into a great park and the original grain elevators are still standing.
- Collingwood Museum, 45 Saint Paul St (just south of the harbour). Daily 9AM-5PM. It documents much of Collingwood's history including the settlement of the area and the importance of the shipping industry. Popular curiosities include a razor-sharp bill from a sawtooth shark and a twisted piece of metal recovered from the Halifax Explosion. There are paintings by local artists who trained under the Group of Seven, and a 140-year-old statue carved by Sir Sandford Fleming’s brother. Exhibits range from the evolution of local business and industry to the region’s First Nations people. Photographs of Great Lakes vessels, Collingwood’s historic homes, downtown, and early industries are amongst the most popular items.
- St. Mary's Church, 63 Elgin St, was built in 1858. Fully wheel chair accessible.
- 1 Blue Mountain, 190 Gord Canning Drive, ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. An all-season resort located within a 10-minute drive west of Collingwood. Blue Mountain is a popular destination in winter for skiing and snowboarding in Ontario, and also offers an ice skating trail, snow tubing, snowshoeing, and downhill lessons for a variety of ages and skills. In the summer, explore the mountains on bike, foot, or by gondola, zipline, or mountain coaster. Hotels, restaurants, shopping, and additional amenities such as the aquatic centre are found in the Village at Blue Mountain, at the base of the mountain.
- 2 , 152 Grey Road 21, toll-free: . 9AM - 9PM. A spa complex featuring thermal pools, a steam bath, and saunas in an outdoor forested landscape with views of the nearby escarpment. Cold plunge baths, places to roll in the snow, and solariums or fire pits complete the relaxation ritual. Massage treatments, a bistro, and small boutique selling spa essentials and extras are also on-site. The wait to enter can be long on weekends; reservations can be booked online but often sell out several weeks in advance. Staff strictly enforce rules about cellphone use and silence. Thermal baths entry from $75.
- 3 Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, 260 Scenic Caves Rd (follow Mountain Road/County Road 19 and turn left on CR 119), ☏ , email@example.com. 9AM-5PM daily (last admission in winter 3:30PM, in summer 3PM). Set within one of Canada's UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, a network of trails takes visitors through scenic lookouts along some of the tallest points of the Niagara Escarpment, across the longest suspended pedestrian bridge in Ontario, and through an old growth forest containing rock formations and caves. In the winter, 27 km of trails are groomed for cross country skiing, and 12 km of trails are dedicated for snowshoe. Winter equipment, including baby sleds, can be rented, but you'll need your own boots for snowshoeing. In the spring, summer, and fall, the trails for hiking. Adults $31, seniors and youth $26.50, children under 7 free (reduced rates on weekdays).
- 4 Sunset Point, St. Lawrence St. and Huron St (east of downtown). Sunset Point is a public beach at the northeast end of town and is a great place to sunbathe, swim, and relax in the summer. Sunset Point Park is adjacent the beach and is great for kids.
- 5 Theatre Collingwood at the Gayety Theatre, 161 Hurontario Street (Downtown), toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. An old-style theatre in downtown Collingwood. A variety of plays, comedy acts, and musical performances are held at the theatre year-round.
- There are many great routes for Snowmobiling in and around Collingwood, and a 6 snowmobile staging area is lated close to the downtown. A volunteer non-profit organization, Blue Mountain Snowdrifters, coordinates 100 km of signed, patrolled, and maintained snowmobiling routes, and they also provide information about operator requirements and local laws.
A network of multi-use trails runs around the entire town and through the adjacent countryside.
- The 7 Clearview Collingwood Train Trail is another trail converted from a railway, connecting to the Heather Pathway near the Collingwood Museum. The ride to Stayner is about 12 km.
- The 8 Collingwood Wasaga Connection route takes you through residential streets along the waterfront toward Wasaga Beach. It's about 10 km to the nearest provincial beach, and another 10 km to the first beach and visitor centre.
- The 9 Georgian Trail starts near the Collingwood Harbour, and heads west through Craigleith(10 km), Thornbury (20 km), and Meaford (35 km). The trail was converted from a railway in 1989, so it passes right through the downtown of each of these towns. The shops, restaurants, and hotels along the way are easily accessed from the trail, and there are plenty of rest spots, parks, beaches, public washrooms, and even bicycle repair stations along the way. For a longer ride out of town, the Tom Thomson trail to Owen Sound begins in Meaford.
- For a more urban ride, the 10 Heather Pathway forms a 20 km ring around the town, between Millenium Park on the east side of the harbour, and Hen and Chicken Point on the west side. Signage along the way highlights historic sites throughout the town. The trail connects to the Georgian Trail, Clearview Collingwood Train Trail, the Collingwood Wasaga Connection, and takes you through Sunset Point.
The Niagara Escarpment also provides opportunities for mountain and cross-country biking.
- In the summer months, the Blue Mountain resort provides trails for various skill levels, including 5 downhill and 5 mountaintop trails. Rentals are available, but bicycles are no longer permitted in gondolas. Parking and ticket offices are available at the top.
- Over 40 km of advanced track for mountain biking are found in the Three Stage Trails, in the northern half of the 11 Pretty River Valley Provincial Park. The provincial park is along the escarpment and part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There are no facilities or amenities of any kind.
There are many golf courses in the area, including:
- 12 Monterra Golf, 220 Jozo Weider Blvd (Blue Mountain Village), ☏ .
- 13 Cranberry Golf Course, 27B Harbour St W (west of downtown), ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com.
- 14 Batteaux Creek, 7422 Sideroad 30 (South of Collingwood), ☏ , toll-free: .
- 15 Duntroon Highlands, 1226 Concession 10 N (South of Collingwood), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collingwood offers two distinct areas for shopping, not far from each other. Hurontario Street for a few blocks south of First Street is the picturesque and walkable main street, home to unique and local boutiques selling everything from gifts, souvenirs, clothing, and toys, to gourmet food and candy.
- 1 Coriander Life, 83 Hurontario St, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Clothing and accessories for men and women, and unique gifts, games, and accessories for around the home.
- 2 Cottage Friends, 151 Hurontario St, ☏ . Clothing, decor and jewellery inspired by the Georgian Bay
- 3 Dag's and Willow, 25 Second St (On the west side of Hurontario St), ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Gourmet cheese shop and deli, also offering frozen mains, sides, and desserts, and charcuterie platters on order, just in case your hotel or vacation condo doesn't include a cheese board
- 4 Mad Dog's Vinyl Cafe, 239 Hurontario St, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su Noon-5PM. Vinyl records, music memorabilia, and nostalgic collectables inside a cafe.
- 5 The Maker's Outpost, 159 Hurontario St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-F 11AM-4PM, Sa 10AM-6PM. Emphasizes local and handmade gifts, including home accessories, bath, jewellery, stationary, and apparel.
The other shopping area is home to the area's big box stores, along First Street / Highway 26 heading west out of the downtown. In addition to the range of large chain stores typical in any Ontario city, you'll find a few local stores meeting the needs of skiers, snowboarders, and cyclists:
- 6 Fathom, 470 First St, ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Specializes in snowboarding equipment.
- 7 Kamikaze Bikes, 470 First St, ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-6PM. Sales, service, and accessories for trail, mountain, road, and fat tire bikes
- 8 Little Ed's Bike Shop, 2-15 Balsam St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W F 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-4:30PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Ski, snowboard, bike and watersport store, also offering rentals for winter and summer equipment.
- 9 Skiis and Biikes, 445 First St, ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa Su 9AM-6PM. Skiis, bikes, and snowboards, along with equipment, parts, accessories and apparel. Services include ski tuning, bootfitting, binding, and bike repair.
While national chains dominate the big-box shopping area along First Street and Highway 26 with well-known menus for fast food and casual dining, the local restaurant scene is in the corridor along Hurontario Street. Local chefs and restaurants offer a wide range of dishes and experiences.
- 1 1812 Grillhouse, 18 Huron St, ☏ . M-Th 3-9PM, F-Sa 3-10PM, Su 3-8PM. Casual pub, with wings, burgers, pizza, pasta, a range of appetizers, and a kid's menu.
- 2 Baked & Pickled, 137 Hurontario St, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-6PM. Mexican cuisine, including tacos, fresh salsa, and daily specials.
- 3 BRGRZ Inc, 316 Hume St (East of downtown), ☏ . W-M 8AM-8PM, Tu 11:30AM-8PM. A classic burger stand.
- 4 Nicky's Donuts and Ice Cream, 10 Third St, email@example.com. W-Su 9AM-5PM. Inventive donut flavours, freshly baked.
- 5 Mountain Subs, 20 Balsam Street, Unit 13, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 11AM-4PM. Hot and cold classic submarine sandwiches, made with fresh bread and a generous mountain of meats and toppings.
- 6 Al Carbon, 61 Hurontario St, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Th 4-9PM, F Sa noon-9PM. Latin American restaurant serving seasonal dishes, ceviche, sandwiches, and steak.
- 7 Beaver and the Bulldog, 195 First Street, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F SA 11AM-midnight. A "sports pub and wingery". Wings, burgers, pastas, sandwiches.
- 8 Bent Taco, 48 Pine St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa noon-9PM. Well-crafted tacos in a vibrant and fun, but modern restaurant setting.
- 9 Duncan's, 60 Hurontario St, ☏ . F Sa 9AM-5PM, Su-Th 9AM-4PM. Breakfast and lunch. A good bistro restaurant on the mainstreet. Moderately priced but well prepared foods.
- 10 Fish & Sips, 206 Hurontario St, ☏ . Tu-Sa noon-8PM. Serving halibut, haddock, scallops or cod, with local beer on tap.
- 11 The Huron Club, 94 Pine Street, ☏ , email@example.com. A lively gastropub, with happy hours, specials, and an outdoor patio. Features BBQ dishes and in-house smoked meats.
- 12 The Curly Willow Eatery, 141 Pine St, ☏ . Lunch W-F 11:30AM-3PM, dinner Tu-F 5-9PM. Cozy family-run restaurant for lunch or dinner, featuring freshly grown herbs and vegetables, and a popular lobster ravioli.
- 13 The Pine, 203 Hurontario Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Su 6:30-10PM. Asian-inspired tasting menu, combining creative recipes with locally sourced ingredients, precisely and beautifully presented.
- 14 The Treemont Cafe, 100 Pine St, ☏ , email@example.com. W Th Su 6-8:30PM, F Sa 5-9PM. Offers a tasting menu, and dishes featuring wagyu beef or plant-based ingredients, with wine pairings.
- 1 1858 Caesar Bar, 158 Hurontario St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. W Th 11:30AM-8PM, F Sa 11:30AM-9PM, Su 11:30AM-6PM. Serves a wide range of signature Caesars, also available in flights to sample four flavours at a time.
- 2 Espresso Post, 139 Hurontario St (3rd and Hurontario Streets), ☏ . M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa-Su 9AM-4PM. Baristas serving espresso, latte, cappuccino, etc. Freshly baked goods made daily on-site. Panini lunches too. All in a registered Heritage Building, Collingwood's first brick post office.
- 3 The Low Down, 65 Simcoe St, ☏ . M-Sa 4-9:30PM. Small cocktail bar with classic and signature drinks. Ontario beer on tap. Lagers from Japan, China, and Singapore by the can.
In the winter months, it's easy to forget about the fruit that grows in the countryside during the warmer seasons, but this part of Ontario is further south than the grape vines of Bordeaux and the apple orchards of South Tyrol in the Italian Alps. Luckily for thirsty downhill athletes, the microclimate here is ideal for both grapes and apples. Collingwood is home to locally crafted beer, cider and wine, and producers offer tastings, tours, tap rooms, and bottle shops so you can sample something fresh, and take-away what you like.
- 4 Black Bellows, 40 Simcoe St (Downtown), ☏ , email@example.com. M Tu 11:30AM-8PM, W Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. Brews a wide range of beer served at long tables in a cozy building from the 1800s.
- 5 The Collingwood Brewery, 10 Sandford Fleming Dr (East of downtown), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su noon-6PM, M-Th 11AM-6PM, F 11AM-8PM, Sa noon-7PM. Brewery, tap room and all-season garden.
- 6 Georgian Hills Vineyards, 496350 Grey Road 2 (Blue Mountains, west of Collingwood), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 11AM-5PM. Small winery with a tasting room, fire pit and store. Offers cold-climate wines, frozen pear wine, and also cider. Reservations required for tastings and lunch.
- 7 The Roost Wine Company, 415763 10th Line (Blue Mountains, west of Collingwood), ☏ . Th-Su 11AM-6PM. Open in the summer months, experience cold-climate wines in a spectacular setting with stunning views of Georgian Bay. Reservations required.
- 8 Side Launch Brewing, 200 Mountain Road (West of downtown), ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M noon-5PM, Tu closed, W noon-5PM, Th-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Brewery with tap room and beer garden. Reservations not available.
- 9 Spy Distillery, 808108 24th Sideroad, ☏ . Open seasonally in summer and fall, producing cider and spirits such as gin, vodka, and brandy made from local apples or pears. The bottleshop is open in winter.
- 10 Thornbury Craft Co., 90 King St E (Thornbury, west of Collingwood), ☏ , email@example.com. Su-Th 11AM-6PM, F Sa 11AM-7PM. Well-known for traditional and flavoured ciders, the cider house also brews beer, offers tours and tastings, and features outdoor igloos for dining in winter.
- 1 Days Inn & Suites, 15 Cambridge St (west of downtown), ☏ . Free Wi-Fi and breakfast, onsite parking, indoor pool, fitness centre. Double room from $175.
- 2 Holiday Inn Express and Suites, 500 Hume St. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Straightforward and welcoming hotel with a pool, fitness and business centres, and fresh breakfast buffet. Double room B&B from $152.
- 3 Living Water Resorts, 9 Harbour St E, ☏ , toll-free: . A renovated resort hotel on the waterfront. Amenities include on-site spa, restaurants, and marina. Condo-style suites are also available. Double room from $200.
Condo style and whole-home vacation rentals are the typical accommodation outside the downtown, especially for groups and families staying for more than a night or two, and who want more private space for relaxing, cooking, or getting equipment ready for outdoor activities. Many large hotels and individual chalets are also found in the Village at Blue Mountain, but you'll pay a premium to stay so close to the slopes during the peak season.
- Head east to see the heart of Simcoe County. Midland is a historic settlement at the northern tip of the county, while Barrie and Orillia are on the shores of Lake Simcoe on the way to cottage country.
- Grey County is the region immediately west of Collingwood. In addition to the Blue Mountains, it's home to Owen Sound - another historic harbour on Georgian Bay.
- Bruce County, which includes some particularly beautiful summer destinations such as the Bruce Peninsula National Park and Tobermory (Ontario). Tobermory is also the mainland port for the ferry to Manitoulin Island - the world's largest freshwater island.
|Routes through Collingwood|
|End ←||N S||→ Jct → Orangeville via|
|Owen Sound ← Village at Blue Mountain via ←||W E||→ Stayner → Barrie|