Kincardine is loud and proud of its Scottish heritage, declaring itself “Ontario’s Scottish Destination on Lake Huron.” With Scottish-themed festivals, traditional pipers, and the best Scottish delicacies, Kincardine offers more than any other destination in Canada. Kincardine’s heritage is closely tied to their Scottish ancestors, who settled in the 1850s. Many traditions have continued to this day, building on the character of Kincardine and its residents. While Kincardine enjoys showcasing all things Scottish, it can still dazzle with its local sandy beaches and liven your soul with natural beauty. Take a stroll downtown and enjoy the local cuisine before catching the one-of-a-kind sunset salute from the Phantom Piper atop the Kincardine Lighthouse. Let’s face it: Kincardine has it all—and the kilt to match!
Where is Kincardine?
Kincardine rests on the shores of Lake Huron in Bruce County. It can be reached by road, air, and water, thanks to its local harbour and the municipal airport. The airport is mainly for sightseeing flights, corporate jets, emergency services, and some recreational pilots. For those travelling closer to the ground, Kincardine is about 220 km west of Toronto or under 3 hours driving in the car. Many of Kincardine’s best sites are within walking distance from the main street, while access to a car makes it easier to explore surrounding areas.
Things to Do in Kincardine
Kincardine is first and foremost known for its Scottish heritage. Most of the cultural activities on offer come with a Scottish flair. And to be honest, that is the endearing quality of Kincardine in all of its tartan glory.
If you want to look the part, head to Queen Street for a range of boutique stores, chocolatiers, and active gear (for when you explore a little further out of town). Feel free to ask the locals where they bought their tartan and tips on how to wear it.
There is more to learn about Kincardine at the Walker House, a local museum and heritage centre. The house was originally built in 1850 but was severely damaged by fire in 1995. However, in 1998 the local Paddy Walker Heritage Society raised funds to restore the building to its original glory. After ten years and thousands of volunteer hours, the Walker House reopened as a local museum in 2008. The detail throughout the restoration is so much more poignant when you know the genuine love and care that came from the local community.
Walker House is directly opposite the infamous Kincardine Lighthouse. While the historic lighthouse is known for its octagonal wooden tower and its distinctive traditional colours of white and red, it is infamous for its ‘ghostly attendant.’ The Phantom Piper visits most evenings during summer, with the soulful notes of the bagpipe hanging in the wind as the sun goes down. If you happen to miss the performance, try catching the Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band as they parade Queen Street every summer Saturday evening; many of their members take it in turn as the Phantom Piper.
Down by the Harbour is Kincardine’s popular Station Beach. The water is always inviting, with sandy beaches and a spray of pebbles lining the shore. It is one of the most accessible beaches in Ontario, with MOBI-Mats to stretch right down to the water’s edge. These mats enable people in wheelchairs, walkers or with mobility issues on the sand to join in the fun. The Municipality of Kincardine also offers the rental of a fully submersible Beach Wheelchair, able to be reserved through the Kincardine Tourism Office. Finish off your beach visit with a walk along the Boardwalk. There are clear signs sharing local marine history and information about nearby shipwrecks. Grab a seat and soak up the spectacular views or take the short walk back to town for an ice-cream.
Kincardine Neighbourhoods & Districts
Kincardine is part of Bruce County and part of the Explore the Bruce adventures. From March through to September, the county opens to a massive ‘treasure hunt’ for locations. Each year, different businesses across the area participate as locations to visit and receive stamps in their tourism passports. It also gives plenty of inspiration for exploring Bruce County during the colder months.
A short drive north of Kincardine lies Inverhuron, sharing the shoreline with Lake Huron. It is also home to Inverhuron Provincial Park, a favourite for day trips and overnight camping. The Park includes a young hardwood forest with ample opportunities for birdwatching. There is easy access to the waterfront for boating, kayaking, and plenty of fishing.
Nearby Tiverton is home to the Kincardine Cross-Country Ski Club, thanks to excellent all-season trails in the Stoney Island Conservation Area. With over 6 kilometres of trails suitable for any weather, the area is regularly used for walking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoe hikes. The trails are all maintained by the Kincardine Ski Club and range in suitability for beginners in the upper section to more adventurous paths down towards the shoreline.
Take a drive further up the coast to Lion’s Head. Nestled next to Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula National Park, most visitors miss this beautiful small town and its hidden secrets. As part of the Bruce Trail, Lion’s Head offers a range of hiking trails and stunning geological formations for every nature enthusiast at any time of year.
Things to Know About Visiting Kincardine
There is so much to offer in Kincardine, start your visit with some local favourites and follow the inspiration from there.
Favourite local gem
Follow the wooden staircase between the bridge and the Kincardine Lighthouse to the Geddes Park Trail. Take the path to the right and head to the water. You will be rewarded with the best views of the lighthouse and the harbour. If you follow the trail to the south, it will also lead you to the Queen’s Lookout Park. It’s a short walk filled with sweet visual delights.