As I write this post, my wife and I are beginning week three of working from home due to the COVID-19 virus..  What we thought would be a change in our work environments for two weeks or so is now going to be much longer, we suspect another month, perhaps longer.  Thankfully we haven’t gotten under each others skin…..as yet and I am really behaving.

When the COVID-19 virus is wrestled under control, I suspect our lives may in many respects take on a much different “normal’ than what we have been accustomed to.  Hopefully the current changes and measures we are living under will be interim ones such as social distancing lining up in the grocery store, closure of non-essential services, retailers and others.  Only time will tell how long these measures will last.

In both the short and long term, one area(s) where I believe we will see some significant changes moving forward will be in the travel and tourism industry.  Currently we are seeing bans on travel between countries, with flights cancelled, cruise ships some with virus stricken passengers being denied permission to dock as well as other forms of transportation all but grinding to a halt.  With summer fast approaching the tourism industry and others are going to take a beating but ultimately it is all for our own good as we stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks.

Many of you who know me are aware that I have a cottage property on Manitoulin Island which is located at the northern end of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.  My mother was front Manitoulin, I have family there so for me it’s more than just a cottage.  It’s family roots and has created a history of great memories both for me as a kid growing up when I worked there in the summer on my grandparent’s farm, or for my uncle who was a contractor.  Later, my own children became used to and treasured the cottage experience and Manitoulin lifestyle.  My daughter who is married lived on the Hawaiian island of Maui.  Maui is a fantastic place but even my daughter say “Manitoulin is still my favourite island.  For my family, it’s more like home than anywhere else.

This year marks my 47th year of cottage ownership which I share with my younger brother.  My wife and I also bought a second property on the island as well.  Summer may be different this year thanks to COVID-19.  Cottagers across the province are being urged to stay at home in order to both curb the the virus’ spread as well as to minimize the potential for increased workload on hospitals, police, firefighters and other front line workers in smaller communities who are already under immense pressure.

Accessing Manitoulin Island can be done two ways.  One is to take the car ferry Chi Cheemaun (seen above) from Tobermory to South Baymouth.  The other is to drive around Georgian Bay via highways 400 and 69 to Sudbury then west and south to Manitoulin where a bridge provides road access for cars and trucks onto the island.

Two weeks ago I drove to my cottage from Thornbury, a drive of just over 500 KM’s and 5 1/2 hours.  It’s an enjoyable drive with more of both highway 400 and 69 being expanded to four lanes each year.  Time wise driving it’s about half an hour longer than the ferry.  It’s clearly  more relaxing but also less expensive.  The Chi Cheemaun ferry was to start it six months of annual service on May 1st but this had been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 virus.  No alternative date was given which led me to believe it would be the end of June or later before the service could start at the earliest.

Yesterday I received notification from the Canadian government that all non-essential passenger vessel and ferry services across the country have been suspended effective today until June 30th at the earliest in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19.  This will clearly impact the ferry service to Manitoulin, the boat cruise operators out of Tobermory and elsewhere as well as tourism generally in those area affected by suspended ferry and cruise boat operation.  I read today where traffic on the British Columbia ferry system is down 80% will many scheduled trips being cancelled and new COVID-19 testing measures being implemented as the result of these new operating restrictions being implemented.

As of this post there has been no information released from the Owen Sound Transportation Company regarding the Manitoulin Island ferry service.  Overall is looks like we are headed for a quiet summer tourism wise.  For anyone that wishes to get further information about Manitoulin Island please feel free to Contact Me and I would be delighted to share my knowledge to assist you.

Stay safe and healthy in the meantime, we be victorious in fighting this virus and the impact it is having on our lives right now. .