Top 10 Things To Do in the Great Lakes Basin This Spring 2017

Gr8nS16Greatness Blog

Spring is finally here and what better way to celebrate than with our iconic Great Lakes? Here are 10 fun, cultural & active happenings in the Great Lakes Basin to add to your spring 2017 agenda!


Copyright Steve Bruno Photography

1. Can You Paddle & Say Sesquicentennial 10 Times Fast?

Wildlands League’s Annual Paddle The Rouge connects urban-dwelling youth and families to nature and the Rouge River, and we can’t think of a better way to spend a spring weekend than on the water!

Paddle The Rouge offers two Free Learn-To-Paddle classes for youth, ages 5-18, held in the morning and afternoon. This includes dry land training and on the water paddling, with registration available here. No experience required!

The whole family is welcome to enjoy a fun day at the beach, including: boat rentals, wildlife exploration, relaxing in serene waters, swag bags for the kids, and fun learning and activity tables for youth. Please visit the website for full details on water safety, starting times, and more. Pack a book, sunscreen, and your favourite sun hat–spring has sprung!


2. Make Lake Superior your muse and dive deep into James Medley’s SUPERIOR WOODS And WATER PHOTOGRAPHY EVENT, June 1st-4th

With Lake Superior’s towering cliff faces, wave-washed sandy beaches and cedar-rimmed inland lakes framed by the mountains of the Canadian shield, the only thing you’ll be wishing for is more memory space on your camera!

Join award-winning Ontario Photographer, James Smedley, whose work has been commissioned by Ontario Tourism, Ontario Parks and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, on this incredible photography event filled with all of the natural inspiration photography enthusiasts could ask for.

Participants will explore the foundations of photography, including: shutter speed, aperture, composition and light, to capture moments and mementos from this singularly beautiful region along with insights into the challenges and rewards of outdoor photography. This class is open to those new to photography and those who want to take their photography to another level. Psst, be sure to share some of your photos with us on social media!

Click Here For full Event details!


3. Love art, the Great Lakes & your community?

Show off your skills and join your Community’s local artist at one of 24 Great Art for Great Lakes (GAGL) events happening across Ontario’s Great Lakes, June through October

Eight Great Lakes communities across Ontario (Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Aamjiwnaang First Nations, Mississauga, Thunder Bay, Owen Sound, Sudbury-Manitoulin) are participating in TWO weekend workshops alongside professional artists to co-create a lasting art piece that represents a unique Great Lakes story.
The community art created will be donated to the municipality with an official unveiling connected to Canada’s 150th birthday. It’s an art and social engagement experience for communities surrounding the Great Lakes! (For more on using art as a tool for social engagement, return to last weeks blog written by the incredible GAGL Project Lead, Chris McLeod: The Artist’s Critical Role)

Event updates happening daily—visit GAGL for events happening in your Great Lakes community!


4. It’s finally happened: The Great Lakes meet COMIC CON in the 2017 Lake ERIE RALLY, June 16th-18th

This event is for LAKE ERIE SAILORS!

Hosted by the Great Lakes Cruising Club, the 25th Annual Lake Erie Rally will be held at the Leamington, ON (E-34) Marina. The 2017 theme is Comic Con: this means you knotty sailors can dress up as anything from Aqua Man to The Little Mermaid. It’ll be quite the luff affair!

  • Click HERE to register online for 2017 Lake Erie Rally with GLCC and
  • Click HERE for a printable registration form.

Now this sounds like something to Ahoy about! (Psst: show us your best outfit on Facebook or Instagram and we just might share it on ours!)


5. Gather some friends, your Sweetie (or your mom) and join the GREAT LAKES SURF FILM FESTIVAL ON LAKE ONTARIO, Saturday, June 17th

In fact, you can even make a #GreatLakesSurfFilm to share and celebrate freshwater surfing! Not a filmmaker? Simply kick back and enjoy the films made by your community in Port Dalhousie!(Amateur and professional films accepted).


6. Get out on the water and sign up for the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium ON LAKE SUPERIOR, July 19th-23rd

Don’t miss this epic Kayak Relay Race along 60+ kilometres of the most unique and stunning Lake Superior Shoreline’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (aka the jewel of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!)

Highlights/Rules (Editor Note: This kayak race looks awesome & SERIOUS)

  • Relay Race – Each participant partners with a coach, preferably a fast one
  • Each racer must complete 1 lap
  • The race starts with a sprint to your boat before launching (= def com 5)
  •  The racecourse requires navigation through the Valley of Insults, the Tunnel Of Death and finishes at the Hall Of Valhalla. (Yessss!)
  • First team to cross the finish line wins the coveted Paisley GLSKS VestWinners are able to keep the vest for one year but must return the vests the following year or better yet come back to defend their title.
  • Full Schedule here


7. Get involved & improve the quality of life for indigenous youth through the unifying power of sport at the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games! July 16-23rd

With more than 5,000 athletes, 2,000 volunteers and countless spectators and dignitaries from across North America, you need to join in the fun and support the North American Indigenous Games! This is the largest continental sporting and cultural gathering and you can still sign up to be a volunteer right here.

This is a huge year in Canadian history and what better way to show what a great host nation Canada is, then at the NAIG games. Support the 2017 NAIG athletes & join the conversation using the hashtag, #AllOne


8. Start hitting the trails because the SPRING TRAINING for the CAA Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is just around the corner! August 6-12th

It’s called the GWTA Great Waterfront Trail Adventure and yes, it requires training! Cyclists ride from Point Pelee National Park to Rouge National Urban Park, visiting 24 unique communities along the way on a 530-km cycling vacation around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Training: it’s advised to ride three times a week for an hour or so after work. A once per week push of 3-4 hours (with short breaks to eat and rest) will help build stamina AND is a great way to enjoy the 300+ km of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail.

Engage your cycling friends, start a Facebook group, and get training!



9. Dust off the Tackle box like a true Canadian and set your status to ‘GONE Fishing’ ON LAKE HURON all Spring & Summer  

With incredible sunsets and excellent fishing, Lake Huron is guaranteed to lure back the most ardent fisher time and time again!

So what are you waiting for? Cast your line for salmon out on Lake Huron, put on your wading boots and explore the Saugeen or Penetangore Rivers for brown trout, rainbow trout, small mouth bass and others, just waiting for the right hook to be dangled. Fish from the banks of the river or drop your line into the water from the piers in Southampton, Port Elgin or Kincardine. Traveling with kids? The piers make it especially easy to fish with children—just remember to pack some lawn chairs, lunch, cold drinks, and sunscreen!

Click here for more information!


10. Backpack across the border and Into the SLEEPING BEAR SAND DUNES OF LAKE MICHIGAN!

Trek along some of the most beautiful areas of the Lake Michigan coast and pitch a tent for some serious camping on beaches along the way.

Activities include:

  • Viewing a shipwreck (or two) *weather dependent
  • Hiking along a variety of local trails, both through the forest and along the beach
  • Swimming in Lake Michigan (thank you Great Lakes!)
  • Hiking up to one of the highest points in the region
  • Learning more about the local ecology
  • Private campgrounds every night, with a view of the sunset

Want you own personal Lake Michigan adventure guide? Click here.


*All photographs taken from event websites. Links provided.

You are all set to have an incredible adventure in the Great Lakes basin! The warm weather has finally arrived, so put your toques into storage  and get working on making spring 2017 the best yet!