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Kincardine, Ontario

Kincardine is a picturesque lakeside town on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. The town is a popular destination for visitors attracted by its Scottish heritage and by the sandy beaches.

Where is Kincardine?

Kincardine is located on the western shore of the Bruce Peninsula, which separates the main waters of Lake Huron from Georgian Bay.

The settlement is at the mouth of the Penetangore River and was originally named after the river when it was founded back in 1848.

Kincardine Lighthouse, Ontario
Kincardine Lighthouse

Kincardine itself has a population of just under 7,000 inhabitants but the local municipality has grown and taken over some of the nearby communities.

How to get to Kincardine

Nearest airport to Kincardine

Hamilton and London airports are the closest to Kincardine but are more suitable for internal flights within Canada (with connections to Toronto and Calgary). The 'International' in their name comes from the vacation charter flights offered during the summer season.

Those flying long-distance will probably find the airports at either Toronto or Detroit to be of most use.

Distance to London International Airport: 98 miles
Distance to Toronto Pearson International Airport: 125 miles
Distance to Hamilton International Airport: 130 miles
Distance to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport: 189 miles

Driving to Kincardine

The ON-21 state highway - known as the 'Bluewater Highway' - runs north and south along the shoreline of Lake Huron, connecting to Sarnia (and the US border) to the south and other Lake Huron destinations to the north.

The ON-9 state highway leads southeast from Kincardine towards Toronto.

History of Kincardine

The history of Kincardine is rich and deeply rooted in its Scottish heritage, which continues to influence the culture and traditions of the town to this day.

The area where Kincardine now stands was originally inhabited by native peoples, including the Ojibwa (Chippewa) and Odawa (Ottawa), who lived along the shores of Lake Huron.

European settlement in the region began in the 1840s when the Government of Upper Canada began to encourage land development in the area. The town itself was founded by a group of settlers from the Scottish Lowlands, and it is from this Scottish influence that Kincardine derives much of its cultural identity.

Kincardine is named after Kincardineshire in Scotland, and many of the early settlers brought with them their Scottish customs, language and traditions, which have been preserved and celebrated in the town for generations.

This is evident in the town's continued celebration of Scottish culture, most notably through the Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games, and the weekly pipe band parades during the summer months.

The town grew as a port and market center for the surrounding agricultural region. The construction of the Kincardine Lighthouse in 1881 was a significant development, aiding navigation for the increasing number of ships transporting goods and passengers across the Great Lakes.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Kincardine evolved with the addition of rail service, industrial development, and the growth of the local tourism industry, which capitalized on the town's beautiful lakeside location.

The construction of the nearby Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in the 1970s also had a significant impact on the town's economy and population growth.

Things to see and do in Kincardine

First time visitors should stop by the visitor information centre in Kincardine. The Kincardine Welcome Centre is open during the summer months and is located in the Kincardine Centre for the Arts on Queen Street.

Kincardine Scottish Festival

This annual event, which has been a staple in the community for over 20 years, attracts visitors from all over North America to experience the music, dance and athletics of Scottish traditions.

The festival typically spans three days and nights near the beginning of July and features a variety of activities and performances. Attendees can enjoy lively Celtic music from an array of bands and individual performers, showcasing both traditional and contemporary Scottish tunes.

The event also hosts dance competitions, where dancers of all ages participate in traditional Scottish dances, displaying their skill and colorful attire.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Highland Games, which include traditional athletic competitions such as the caber toss, hammer throw, and tug of war. These games test the strength and agility of the competitors and serve as a nod to the historical sporting events of Scotland.

Pipe Band Parade

The Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band Parade takes place every Saturday evening in summer. It has been a tradition in the town since 1948.

The Pipe Band marches along Queen Street and then back to Victoria Park.

The Phantom Piper in Kincardine

Members of the Pipe Band also continue the tradition of the Phantom Piper on all other days of the week in July and August. A member of the band climbs to the top of Kincardine Lighthouse and plays to honour the memory of Donald Sinclair, an early member of the group.

Station Beach

Station Beach is a long sandy beach with a boardwalk located to the south of the harbour entrance. Another option is Inverhuron Beach to the north of Kincardine on the way to Port Elgin.

The sandy beach at Kincardine, Ontario
The sandy beach at Kincardine

Kincardine Lighthouse

The Kincardine Lighthouse was built in 1881 on the bank of the Penetangore River. The renovated lighthouse and keeper's accommodation below now houses a museum and is open for tours in high summer season.

Walker House

The Walker House was built back in 1858 by Paddy Walker and is the oldest building in Kincardine. A former inn, it now acts as a local museum and heritage centre.

Other Lake Huron Towns in Ontario

Grand Bend, ON

Grand Bend

Founded in the mid-19th century, Grand Bend has grown into a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from across Ontario and beyond. The town's main beach, Grand Bend Beach, stretches for nearly two miles and offers a variety of activities including swimming, sunbathing, volleyball and kiteboarding.

Goderich, ON

Goderich

Goderich is a charming town in the heart of Huron County, Ontario. It is known for its picturesque architecture and stunning natural beauty. Founded in 1827, Goderich has a well-preserved downtown area with historic buildings such as the Huron Historic Gaol and the Huron County Museum.

Sauble Beach, ON

Sauble Beach

Sauble Beach is known for its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and lively summertime atmosphere. Established in the late 1800s, Sauble Beach has grown into one of the largest freshwater beach destinations in the world, stretching over seven miles.

Tobermory, ON

Tobermory

Tobermory is a picturesque village located on the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. It is an important link to Manitoulin Island and remains an important center for commercial fishing, diving and ecotourism. Visitors can hike along the rugged coastline or take a boat tour to see Flowerpot Rock.

Kincardine Links

Kincardine : visitkincardine.ca
Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games
: kincardinescottishfestival.ca
Stoney Island Conservation Area : www.saugeenconservation.ca
Ontario Parks | Inverhuron Provincial Park : www.ontarioparks.com