The Town of Saugeen Shores has a marine history dating back to the early 1800s. As the oldest port on the Bruce coast, the Saugeen Shores coastline has long been used for transportation, commerce, fishing and recreation.

Settling the area by boat

During the nineteenth century, the main mode of transportation was by water. Settlers arrived to our shores on Lake Huron by sailboat and steamer and on the Saugeen River by canoe and raft. At this time, the main industries were fishing and lumber.

Imperial Tower Lighthouse and Range Lights

A number of marine disasters in the settlement's early history led to the construction of the Imperial Tower Lighthouse on Chantry Island in Southampton. The lighthouse warned sailors of dangerous shoals located at the mouth of the Saugeen River.

The front and rear Range Lights in Southampton were added in the early 1900s to provide additional guidance to boats entering the river.

In 2001, the Marine Heritage Society completed restoration of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage. Today visitors can step into the past and explore the historic lighthouse buildings on boat tours to Chantry Island.

Port Elgin Harbour

The bay in present day Port Elgin provided shelter from the storms along Lake Huron for many mariners. The bay was the main shipping centre for the agriculture and business communities. Today boaters enjoy the Port Elgin Harbour for recreation and sport fishing.