Parry Sound is located 160 km (100 miles) south of Sudbury and 225 km (140 miles) north of Toronto. It is the seat of Parry Sound District, a popular cottage country region for Southern Ontario residents. It is also the world's deepest freshwater port. Parry Sound is the hometown of Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins defenseman (Number 4), and the local community centre was named in his honour. During the early part of the 20th century, the area was a popular subject for the many scenic art works of Tom Thomson and members of the Group of Seven.
Area SceneryKnown as a recreational paradise of unparalleled beauty, the Parry Sound area has long been a destination for tourists. Less known - and one of its best-kept secrets - is the lifestyle it offers year-round residents. Parry Sound, Ontario is a nature wonderland. Located in the province's northeast, Parry Sound sits on the coast overlooking the Georgian Bay, near the Muskoka region. The myriad of colours in the area are striking - the pink granite of the Canadian Shield, the blue of the lakes, bays and rivers, the canopy of green trees in the forest area, the taupe sand. The brilliant shades in fall, from the numerous birches, maples and oaks, have inspired artists and left others awestruck. The allure of this gateway to the 30,000 Islands area (the large concentration of islands in the Georgian Bay) is manifold. A vibrant waterfront, access to several provincial parks and nature reserves, and a splattering of cultural venues and eateries offer just the right amount of activity while still maintaining a laid back atmosphere.
Tourism & BusinessTourism continues to be a primary industry, however small manufacturing and information-based businesses are increasing in importance. The school system, social services, and health care sector are other major employers. The area continues to expand rapidly with new businesses opening inculding Walmart, a new Canadian Tire, Hart Stores and a Microtel.
Flyers may land at the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport, located 22 km (13.5 mi) south of the town. Fly-in airplane services are available, and a few businesses offer charters from Toronto and other local areas. Window seat commuters may enjoy the VIA Rail train service, or bus service by Ontario Northland or GreyHound Coach. For drivers, the Trans Canada Highway runs right through the town. Travelling southbound on the highway will eventually connect to Highway 400 for a three-hour drive to Toronto. Those coming in recreational vehicles may be accommodated in one of many local campgrounds.
Recreational activities & culturalExtensive trails are in place for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, cycling, and hiking. Some of the best sailing in the world takes place in the beautiful Georgian Bay, serviced by numerous marinas and outdoor facilities. Fishing and hunting enthusiasts flock to the area in all seasons. Parry Sound is the long-time home of the Festival of the Sound, a prominent classical music event, and has a growing folk music following.
The area population of 20,000 permanent residents increases in excess of 150,000 residents in summer. Cottagers and campers vacation here year after year and generation after generation. Retirees increasingly choose this area for a simpler lifestyle with lots of options and opportunities.
In the early 19th Century, British Naval captain Henry Bayfield explored the 30,000 Islands area and named the sound in honour of the Arctic explorer Sir William Edward Parry. Steam ships brought settlers into the vicinity, many for such employment possibilities as road construction and lumbering. Others came to homestead, as the government allotted parcels of land to those over 18 who were prepared to clear and cultivate it. Thus development began. In 1865 William Beatty and his sons purchased a sawmill. They later built a church, introduced a steamship line and founded the Town of Parry Sound.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, an explosives and munitions factory was established in the nearby Municipality Of McDougall, making Parry Sound an important part of the Second World War effort. The town is host to an annual sailing regatta and a performing arts festival, The Festival of the Sound. It is the birthplace of hockey legend Bobby Orr. Former Ontario premier Ernie Eves also called the town home for many years; he was the MPP for the Parry Sound—Muskoka riding from 1981 through 2001. Other attractions include the 30,000 Islands tour aboard the Island Queen, and the newly opened Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts in conjunction with the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. The Stockey Centre has, since it opened, hosted many Festival of the Sound concerts.