Access/Launch: The Government dock in Oliphant is the perfect place to start your paddle along the Oliphant Fishing Islands. To get to the government dock put in head west on Highway 13 towards Lake Huron make a right when you arrive at the T intersection in front of the Oliphant flag posts turning onto Shoreline Avenue head north a short distance and park on the left beside the public washrooms in the open beach area. Be sure not to park in the marina area as this is private land and you risk the possibility of having your vehicle towed. Another option is to turn off Highway 13 onto Bryant Street heading north this will turn into Huron Road there are access points along here at the towns of Red Bay and Howdenvale these could also act as either start or end points to access the islands. Red Bay has a public dock here you can best access Rush Island, the Argyles and Burke Island. The northern most islands Ghegheto, Beament, and Evelyn Islands are best accessed at Jean Point Nature Preserve just north of Howdenvale. A public boat launch and parking is available here at Bartley Point at the end of Dock Road. All of these islands are privately owned or part of Saugeen and Cape Croker Fishing Islands Reserve no camping and leave no trace methods are a must.
Difficulty Level: Beginner, Intermediate to Advanced in exposed coastal environment (dependent on weather and wave height)
Length: Numerous loops and start / finish options available for canoeing, kayaking and paddling. Channels, reefs, islands and shoals offer many kilometers available to explore in this area (1 day +). Your paddling adventure can be customized in length through our shuttle service.
Description/Trip Background: The Oliphant Fishing Islands are located off the western shores of the Bruce Peninsula on the Lake Huron side and boasts crystal clear waters and spectacular vistas as you paddle throughout this archipelago. The many reefs, shoals and coastal landscapes make this tour a unique experience exploring both the sandy and rocky shores of these islands and beaches. The waters here are dotted with approximately 70 dolomite islands that stretch from Oliphant, Red Bay, to Howdenvale. The shallow warm waters offer the paddler sheltered travel while exploring the many reefs, shoals, and islands, where the western exterior is open to the coastal effects of Lake Huron’s winds and waves. The islands have a rich history both historically and naturally, which leaves much to be explored by the avid paddler. These islands were named after the abundant fish that once populated the waters and provided the fish industries of the day with plentiful bounty. Many of the islands bear the names of historical events and places including those people who lived and worked the area for its resources. For example Smoke House Island is where the First Nation people once smoked the fish caught in the shallow waters, and Main Station Island is the island where Captain Alexander Mac Gregor set up a fish canary. The area is also home to a few shipwrecks, which traveled these shallow shores and met their demise while running aground here.
Maps/Charts: 1:50,000 Cape Croker (41 A/14); Wiarton (41 A/11) (Note: The topographic maps do not show all the islands.) Canadian Hydrographic Service Chart 2292 (Chantry Island to Cove Island)
Fees: No fees are required to park or launch your non-motorized boat at the Government dock in Oliphant, again be sure not to park in the marina area as this is private land and you risk the possibility of having your vehicle towed. Other start/end locations may require additional fees. There are a handful of campgrounds close to this area to choose from for more information please contact us for details.
Other: The islands in this area are mostly private with the exception of one crown land island please respect posted signs and avoid islands with cottages on them. There are many pull over spots along the main land to stop for a break or enjoy a swim. Watch for motor traffic as this area is a popular place during summer months.
Guided Trip Option: The guided tour available travels through these islands and shoals and takes the traveler on a scenic paddle showcasing the many sights of this area. Beginning at the Government docks located in the Oliphant vicinity to the south of the Oliphant Marina at the steel wharf the tour begins at 9:00 AM. After a quick review of safety and paddling skills and any other questions or concerns, the group departs for this enjoyable day of paddling. We will be navigating through the many islands and shoals common to this area, taking in the many sights and features they have to offer. Depending on weather, skill level and the group, the tour may also venture outside the islands for some experience in the open waters of the Lake Huron coast. After a morning of paddling we break for lunch on one of the many islands giving participants a chance to swim or just explore the shores. We will then conclude our journey circumnavigating the islands back to our starting point at the beach where parking and washrooms are available.