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Culture Days will return September 20 – October 13, 2024.

Self Guided Historic Walking Tour of Sault Ste. Marie - The Sault Rapids


History & heritage Photography Self-guided
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This activity runs the duration of Culture Days.


Sault Ste. Marie, ON



Offered in English.


Sault Ste Marie's history has always revolved around the rapids. The story of industry, life, and labour in this city begins with the whitefish, moves on to the fur trading empires, the industrial giant created by Francis Clergue, and the canals that are the lifeblood of commerce on the Great Lakes today. The story follows the struggles of the working classes as he builds the canal, and later, adapts to industrial mechanization. It ends with the modern day output of steel, and the end of the twelve hour day.

Follow along as we take you through the history of life and labour in Sault Ste Marie, using old photographs and paintings to see the Sault through the eyes of people who came before.

The tour begins along the hub trail, as you walk towards the canal. Walking down the waterfront, the tour uses critical spots in William Armstrong paintings of idyllic scenes, such as the portage, to understand how Sault Ste Marie fit into the fur trade. From there we turn right on Canal Drive, and left on Huron Street, where a u-shaped stroll on both sides delve into the rise of industrialization and capitalism of Francis Clergue using photos of the Lake Superior Company building and the 1903 riot.

As you walk back towards Canal Drive, taking a right towards the canal a photo of the Old Paper company tells the tale of the fall of the Clergue Empire. We follow Canal Drive back towards the Hub Trail, stopping just on the bridge to examine the history of the Red River Rebellion at the Wolseley Camp.

Continuing down Canal Drive, the scenic route when you reach the National Historic Site depicts the history of the Sault Ste Marie Canal. Beginning in 1889, the tour walks you into the history of the canal. Walking past the National Historic Site, you encounter the locks opening in 1895, and the accident of 1909, as well as the troubled and tumultuous life of canal workers in Canadian history. Turning back to the National Historic Site, the tour ends on the lawn, where you can stand in the footsteps of Sault Ste Marie's soldiers as they departed for the Western Front in 1914.


On This Spot

On This Spot​ guides people on a tour back in time, showing & telling the history that surrounds them. On each spot, users will find themselves standing in the footsteps of a photographer who took a historic photo. On site tourists/users can use the built-in camera feature to create their own then-and-photos, which can be shared on social media and saved as a digital souvenir. Selections of these photos are chained together into walking tours that take a deep dive into local history.

On This Spot​ strives to make history engaging, educational, and accessible to all with a focus on easy to use features and a succinct writing style. The aim is to create an intuitive user experience that provides historical unparalleled depth without overwhelming or confusing users.


This event is part of a hub:

The Sault Ste. Marie Cultural Corridor

James L. McIntyre Centennial Library Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Please come and join us as we celebrate Culture Days 2021. This event highlights our diverse cultures, arts and heritage within a collective hub known as "The Sault Ste. Marie Cultural Corridor".