Trail Access

The official trail head is located in Port Elgin on River Street, a few blocks east of Highway 21. Parking is also available on Concession 10 east of Highway 21. The trail can be accessed at any intersection with a street, as well as a few specific locations.

The access points to the trail are as follows:

  • a) Concession 6 east of Highway 21
  • b) Louis Street south of the Saugeen District High School
  • c) River Street east of Highway 21
  • d) Concession 10 east of Highway 21
  • e) McNabb Street at Peel Street
  • f) Grosvenor Street at Peel Street
  • g) South Street west of Highway 21
  • h) East of the Plex

Take Highway 10 north to Highway 21.  Take Highway 21 (west) all the way up to Port Elgin.  If you want to start in Port Elgin, find the Port Elgin Cinemas on Goderich Street, at the north end of town, and turn east there on to River Street.  Go two blocks. On the left side in the second block you find the Saugeen Rail Trail trail head with an informational kiosk.

If you want to start in Saugeen Township take Highway 21 north from Port Elgin to Concession 10. Travel west to just behind the Bruce County Library for about a quarter of a mile.  You can park and then go either north or south on the Trail.

If you want to start in Southampton take Highway 21 to the south end of Southampton to McNabb Street (at the Beer Store). Perkins Park is across the road on the west side, and you can start there.

You also can access the trail at the Peel/Grosvenor St. parking area where you can view an attractive Saugeen Rail Trail welcome sign designed by GW Signs.  The Saugeen Rail Trail Memorial Garden is also in this area, where you can take a refreshing pause before continuing your trail journey.

You can also access the trail at the south end of Port Elgin at Concession 6. Turn east off Highway 21 at the lights. Travel about a half a mile to this gorgeous part of the trail that connects with MacGregor Point Provincial Park.

There are two available parking lots: the 6th Concession and at the Plex, as well as street parking at all intersecting junctions.

 In 2012, a replica of the historical Port Elgin Train Station was built by SDSS teacher Bud Halpin’s Technical Construction students and the Town of Saugeen Shores.  Because of the Port Elgin Rotary Club’s generous financial support they received naming rights, becoming “The Port Elgin Rotary Club Accessible Trail Head.”
Thanks to many of our historical partners historian, J.C. Hemming, Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre-Archives, the Ambrose Zettler Family, Ken Thornburn, Elwood Thompson and

donors: Town of Saugeen Shores, Port Elgin Rotary, Dan Murawsky architect, teacher Bud Halpin and students of Saugeen District Secondary School, SRTA, Peter & Jill Gauthier owners of Port Elgin Home Hardware, Bruce Telecom, Chantry Island Chamb-etts, Super 8 Motel, South Port Horticulture, Ontario Power Generation, Martin’s Bicycle Shop, Jeff Ackert Construction, and many more.

Trains ‘n Trails

PAUSE a moment as you cycle or walk the Saugeen Railtrail and listen for the sounds of history.  For close to one hundred years the trains of the Canadian National Railway, formerly the Wellington Grey and Bruce Railway/Grand Trunk Railway transported locally manufactured goods and farm produce destined for distant markets.  In addition to freight there were also mail and passenger cars.

In the mid 1800s the citizens of Bruce County were well aware of the need for a railroad and set about to get one.  Initially there were competing bids for the new rail line.  One would end in Kincardine while the other would end in Southampton.  After a narrow victory, of close to 300 votes and allegations of vote fixing, a contract was awarded to the Wellington Grey and Bruce Railway to complete a rail line within three years through to Southampton.  To support this endeavour Bruce County Council, through a debenture, posted a bonus of $250,000.00 for the completion of the rail line. The line was completed in December 1872.

The economic benefit to the area was quickly realized when an excellent grain crop of over 200,000 bushels, at a price of $1.15 per bushel, was shipped over the new line the first year.

The rail line was not only for the shipping and receiving of raw materials and manufactured goods.  The passenger service provided the opportunity for people to travel within the County and it gave much easier access to the rest of the world.  It also proved an excellent means for people from the cities to access our local beaches and facilities.  One home coming reunion in 1907 had 800 people arrive by train. This gave rise to more resort facilities becoming available in the area.

The initial service to the area included both freight and passenger trains but by 1931 they were combined into ‘mixed trains’.  Further cutbacks saw mail delivery stopped in 1957 and freight service discontinued by 1959.  The ‘day liner’, a self propelled rail car that was designed to offer rapid transit to Toronto in approximately five hours continued to serve the area until 1970.  With no freight or passenger services remaining the track was decommissioned in 1980 and the tracks were removed in 1984.  The removal of the local tracks coincided with similar actions across North America.  This gave rise to the ‘Rails to Trails’ movement across North America which endeavoured to use abandoned rail beds for multi use activity trails.  In our community of Saugeen Shores the local government came through by providing financial support to the volunteers in the community who wanted to develop the abandoned rail bed between the communities of Southampton, Saugeen Township and Port Elgin as a walking and bicycling trail.  Today we know and enjoy it as the Saugeen Railtrail.

Reference material and photographs from the archives of the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.

JC Hemming

1/06/12