Charting a Course: Lake Huron’s North Channel is a boater’s paradise

Manitoulin’s many ports-of-call

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The recently expanded boardwalk and docking slips in the Town of Little Current is one of several destinations and harbours on Manitoulin Island that has boaters and sailors charting a course for the North Channel of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay every summer.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a DVD promoting marine tourism and the North Channel marine communities of Lake Huron has proven to be worth more than ten-fold. With its panoramic views of crystal blue waters, rugged shorelines and wind-swept pines, the video captures what is often called the world’s best fresh water cruising ground. Stan Ferguson, who operates Harbour Vue Marina in Little Current on Manitoulin Island, sells the DVD in his store and couldn’t agree more. “This digital video really showcases what the North Channel and our marine communities have to offer”, says Mr. Ferguson. “There is so much for boaters to see and visit across this vast region.”

Stan Ferguson is also the Chair of the North Channel Marine Tourism Council (NCMTC) a volunteer-based, not-for-profit group that works to increase tourism and recreational use of the North Channel waterway. Under its organizational strategic plan, the NCMTC brought a FedNor Youth Intern on board to undertake a number of priority projects including the DVD. A media marketing firm was enlisted to produce the digital quality video that put the North Channel on the map through television and the internet. This partnership led to a video segment that was featured on ‘Powerboat Television’, a popular boating lifestyle program viewed on various websites in the United States and seen weekly across Canada on Global Television. The video takes boating enthusiasts on a travelogue that stretches 90 nautical miles of the channel between Killarney in the east to Drummond Island in the west, with visits to ports of call in several coastal communities along the way.

Sail into the sunset

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At day’s end, the setting sun adds its own lustre and sheen to the natural beauty of Lake Huron’s North Channel. The wilderness waterway has been rated by industry publications as one of the top ten best sailing destinations in the world.

“Powerboat Television gave us the kind of exposure in the U.S. market we could only dream of”, says Mr. Ferguson. “It would have been impossible for our organization to buy that kind of publicity.”  The FedNor Youth Intern, meanwhile, kept busy developing other multi-media marine tourism marketing content for NCMTC’s own website plus other regional tourism portals.

During the past decade, FedNor has invested millions of dollars in waterfront infrastructure development along this waterway, further enhancing the North Channel of Lake Huron’s appeal as a sailing and boating destination.  In turn, efforts to further promote and develop water-based tourism by local businesses and municipalities have been given a significant boost. “As a small organization made up of public and private marina operators, our resources are limited,” says Stan Ferguson. “We value these kinds of partnerships with organizations such as FedNor because it provides us with the opportunity to increase tourism in summer, which is a vital economic driver for our communities.”

So whether you operate a power boat, a sail boat or a luxury cruiser, point your compass this summer to the North Channel of Lake Huron to experience “the best freshwater boating in the world.”

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