Gore Bay became a town on April 7, 1890, and it’s the kind of community that still feels like an extended family today. The photo to the left shows what our town looked like in the 1890s. It was taken near where the courthouse is located today. As with many towns along the north shore of Manitoulin Island, community life in Gore Bay has always been closely connected to the water. Before roads were built, Gore Bay was a regular port of call for ships of all kinds, with goods arriving and leaving town by the water until the late 1950s.
Want to see video of Gore Bay from 1929? Click to watch below. You’ll see archival footage of the Gore Bay waterfront beginning at 1:02 of this video.
Where did Gore Bay get its name? No one knows for sure, but two possibilities both relate back to the town’s location on the North Channel. Some say the deep shape of the bay itself, flanked as it is by bluffs on both sides, relates to the old word “gore” or deep groove. Others tell the story of a ship named “The Gore” that stayed too long in the bay one autumn and got locked into the ice until spring. Either way, the name Gore Bay has taken on a meaning of its own now.
Gore Bay has drama, stories and characters. Take the big fire of 1908 for instance. Nearly all the town burned with the exception of one building along Meredith Street. The view to the right is looking west from the main centre of destruction. As the fire approached All Saints Anglican church from the north, the flames leaped over the building and continued burning everything on the other side. All Saints still stands today as one of Gore Bay’s oldest buildings.
As you’re standing on the waterfront looking at the East Bluff, there’s a place where young men from Gore Bay practiced shooting rifles before shipping out to Europe for the First World War. Fast-forward to the late 1940s and 50s, and you could have heard live swing music in the Gore Bay Community Hall, played by a few local musicians that are still playing today. Click below to watch some of these men playing the same tunes at the 125th anniversary event of Gore Bay.
Gore Bay has outstanding museums! The best way to experience the history of Gore Bay is at one of our museums. The Gore Bay & Western Manitoulin Museum is the largest on the Island, and includes curated artifact displays and art exhibits. Located 5 minutes walk from the docks at 12 Dawson Street, the museum is open from June to October, 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, and 2pm to 4pm Sundays. Admission: Children and students under 15 $2 admission; Seniors $3; Adults $4. 705-282-2040.
The William Purvis Marina Centre pays tribute to the maritime heritage of Manitoulin, focussing on a time when water was the main way people and goods moved. Located on the third floor of the Harbour Centre, this museum is named after the patriarch of one of Manitoulin’s prominent marine families – the Purvis’s. Gore Bay is lucky to have local marine historian Buck Longhurst as the guiding hand behind this museum. Buck contributes his experience and passion to make this place a must-see destination. Open 12 to 4, Wednesday to Sunday during the boating season.