culture canal district love sign

A Guided Tour to Sault Ste. Marie

These tours are perfect for locals and newbies

Updated: By Colin Field

Whether it’s your first time in Sault Ste. Marie or if you’re a regular visitor, taking a guided tour helps you learn more about the town and its surroundings. There’s tons to learn, and the place keeps changing (it’s getting better every year!). If you’re into food, history, Indigenous culture, or art, there’s a tour company that can help get you out there.

Guided Walking Tours Of The City

For food, history and art Carole Blaquiere from Blaq Bear Tours gives incredible tours of the downtown core. We met at The Blockhouse Pub for breakfast and discussed what we could do that day. There was plenty of eating involved. Then we walked around the freshly renovated Canal District; she told us the history of the buildings. She told us about the Group of Seven’s ties to the region and explained the significance of the train car on exhibit at the Agawa Canyon Tour Train Station.

agawa tour train station group of seven panel

Carole has been guiding for decades; she’s as comfortable on a hike in the wilderness as on the downtown sidewalks and just as knowledgeable about each. We strolled around looking at the murals that dot the downtown core then had an incredible lunch at the Mane Street Cafe and Lounge. Later we visited Broers Jansen. What a cool place; they actually make all their own wine in-house. And it’s delicious. Especially with a carefully and locally curated charcuterie board.

outdoor patio broers jansen

And finally, to end the day, we sampled an incredible carrot cake at the Boiler Room. It was a perfect way to wrap up a day of delicious food, intriguing history and inspiring art in downtown Sault Ste Marie. Not to mention the great company.

Pall Mall Alley murals

City Food And Drink Options

To be honest, we barely scratched the surface of the Soo’s culinary scene. With more time and a larger belly, we would have also sampled the goods at Northern Superior Brewing Company, OutSpoken, The Breakfast Pig and Peace Restaurant. And we didn’t even get close to heading to uptown Sault Ste. Marie where there’s a whole other incredible range of culinary delights like the Superior Home Bakery, Giovanni’s Restaurant, or Fratelli’s Kitchen and Pizzeria.

Cultural Experiences

If you’re looking to learn more about indigenous culture, Brad Robinson at Thrive Tours is the perfect guide. We met at Gros Cap for a sunset kayak paddle. Before we took to the water, Brad showed us how to offer tobacco to the water as a way to connect to all living things. Once on the water, we quickly left behind the hustle and bustle of civilization. It may only be 20 minutes from downtown Sault Ste Marie, but the coastline is rugged and beautiful here; it’s a great way to get a taste of what it’s like to paddle on Lake Superior.

Thrive Tours paddling

Brad and Amanda offer all kinds of cultural excursions. They regularly get people out for their first time in a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board, and are open and welcoming. They offer everything from indigenous education programs to indigenous food sharing, camping, hiking, snowshoeing and more. They offer half-day, full-day and multi-day excursions. Your best bet is to give them a call and chat with them about what experience you’re after. They’re incredibly open to whatever questions you have about Indigenous culture and history. From my brief experience with them, they simply love to share their knowledge. And Brad’s always willing to bring his drum and sing an indigenous song or two for his guests.

Thrive Tour traditional drumming

Whether you’re a local or a newbie, why not take a guided tour to Sault Ste. Marie? You’ll be surprised how much there is to learn and the great friends you’ll make along the way.

About Colin Field

Colin is an award-winning photographer and writer, specializing in outdoor travel and adventure. He is the editor-at-large with Mountain Life Magazine. He is based in Collingwood, Ontario.

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