Huge Crowds at Sauble
The record-breaking heat this Canada Day weekend appeared to have most people thinking the same thing - get to water.
Sauble Beach saw massive crowds on the weekend that left its approximately 11 kilometres of sand packed with beachgoers. On Sunday, July 1, colourful umbrellas and canopies stretched as far as the eye could see, while throngs of visitors played in the waves as a steady warm wind blew across Lake Huron. Some businesses in the town were running out of some supplies, while long lines resulted in lengthy waits for those looking to get their hands on ice cream or french fries. At times traffic into the beach town was backed up for kilometres.
For Diane Totten of Richmond Hill and Karri Davidson of Whitby the beach was the perfect place to be as temperatures soared into the mid-30s, feeling much warmer with the humidex.
“You can’t ask for a better weekend or a better day for the beach,” said Totten, whose family has had a cottage in the area for three generations, but it had been a while since she had been back. “Out here you don’t actually notice the heat that much.”
According to Environment Canada, the temperature on Sunday hit 34.2 C at its Wiarton weather station, a full two degrees warmer than the past record of 32.2 C set in 1955.
On Saturday, June 30, the temperature hit 31.3 C in Wiarton just off the 1964 record of 31.7 C, while it reached 31.2 C on Friday, which bested a 2014 record of 30.9 C. The forecast was calling for the daytime highs to reach at least 30 C through most of the week ahead.
Davidson said she wasn’t about to complain after a long winter and the winter storm that hit southern Ontario in late April.
“Anybody who complains, shame on you,” said Davidson. “This is fantastic, and if you are hot, go in the water, and I don’t even swim.”
Davidson said they drove up in a corvette from Whitby on Friday and it was a long, hot drive, but it was all worth the trip. They took a tour of Lake Huron on Bruce Peninsula Boat Tours out of Oliphant earlier on Sunday and were planning to take in the fireworks in the evening before Davidson planned to head home on Monday.
It was her first time to Sauble and she was loving it.
“I was in Barbados in 2011 and I feel like today I could be in Barbados. It is absolutely beautiful,” Davidson said. “As busy as it is it just seems so calm and nice. It doesn’t seem crazy.
“It is great to see everybody having a good time.” Davidson said she will be back. “My husband and I would love to come and do Tobermory and the grotto and stuff like that,” said Davidson. “It would be worth the drive from Whitby to come up and experience it again.”
South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson said Monday she had never seen the beach as busy as it was on the weekend.
“I can’t remember seeing crowds of that size,” said Jackson. “It was just incredible. It was absolutely astonishing and the business community was thrilled.”
Sauble Beach wasn’t the only place where they saw huge crowds, but Jackson heard it was really busy throughout the region, including other areas of her own municipality. Red Bay saw record crowds with cars lining both sides of the road leading to the beach.
“It was busy all over the municipality wherever there was water,” Jackson said. “All of our lakes were jammed yesterday, but with 40-plus degrees in Toronto yesterday they were just flocking up here and I don’t blame them.”
Jackson said the town’s infrastructure held up fairly well, though there were some issues with parking as people were parking their vehicles just about anywhere they could find space, including on lawns. The town brought in portable washrooms as well because of the extra people and she said town staff did an amazing job to help deal with the crowds.
“There are some issues we need to iron out as a municipality with the record numbers we are getting,” said Jackson. “We are going to make a few little changes going forward just to handle the sheer numbers.”
Jackson said she expects it won’t be the last Sauble Beach sees of the crowds this year.
“It was a spectacular Canada Day weekend and it was unprecedented here at Sauble,” Jackson said. “I understand it is going to be a long, hot summer so we are kind of preparing for this traffic for the rest of the summer.”
In Owen Sound, Kelso Beach was a popular spot on Sunday, as families made their way down to take part in the many activities that were part of the city’s Canada Day festivities.
Among the most popular attractions was the Good Cheer Splash Pad, which was packed with children, and the odd adult, cooling off in the spray. The beach area was also busy with families splashing around in the water.
The Owen Sound Police Service and their auxiliary were handing out freezies and bottled water to help keep visitors cool.
Community Services Officer Const. Craig Peddle said that people seemed to be coping with the heat.
“We are just asking people in this weather to take frequent breaks, try to find a cooling station, whether it is some store that has air conditioning or down by the water today where the temperature is really high but the breeze off the water is really nice,” said Peddle. “Of course, if anyone sees anyone in distress they should call 911 immediately and we will send the paramedics and we will be on our way as well.”
Peddle said emergency services had dealt with some heat-related calls, which happens whenever there is a heat wave.
“Find some shade, find a cool place or just pop into a store or a grocery store and try to take in some coolness if you don’t have air conditioning at home,” said Peddle.
Tobi and Dean Benoit were hanging out in the shade at the Kelso Beach campground trying to keep cool on Sunday. They try to camp each Canada Day weekend, but this year the Cambridge couple was also visiting their grandchildren in the Scenic City.
They were coping with the heat the best they could.
“It is very, very hot,” Tobi Benoit said. “We are drinking lots of water and eating freezies.”
While they were lucky enough to have air conditioning in their trailer, they were surrounded by a couple dozen tents and she wasn’t envious of those who were staying in them.
“I really don’t know how they are doing it,” said Benoit. “We have camped in a tent before, but not through this kind of heat.”