Ferry Tales

Derek leaning over a railing looking out at the water with a beautiful blue sky ahead of him

In our never-ending quest to get to know our new ‘hood, we took the Walpole Island Ferry to Algonac, Michigan.

Map showing Walpole island at the bottom - south - end; Wallaceburg is southeast, Sombra is north of Walpole and an arrow shows that Sarnia is north, although not seen on the map

The seven-minute ride costs $8 one way. Crossing at Sarnia/Port Huron is $4 and that’s another 25 minutes of driving. This was a breeze! They are small vessels, holding maybe eight vehicles, give or take, and pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles. It’s not yet the busy season so we rode there and back in a small cluster of five vehicles.

The Islander ferry terminal is a small operation, as you’d expect, but everyone is friendly and having fun. How could you not? On the Michigan side, there was one border guard. On the way home, on the Canadian side, there were five of them! We each got our own. Not to keep, of course.

So what’s on the other side of the St. Clair River? The town of Algonac is a nice enough little place but Marine City was our destination. It’s about a 15 minute drive beside the water. Beautiful, big colonial homes line the shoreline. It’s like a thousand other American towns we’ve seen – but we’d never seen this one.

The Riverview Restauarant

Marine City is directly across from Sombra (where we almost put an offer in on a house!) and that ferry is out of commission. In January 2018, the Canadian Coast Guard let some big ships go through when there was too much ice. The ships pushed ice toward shore and it crushed the vehicle ramp to the ferry. The family that owns the ferry was denied federal funding for repairs. Now the operation is up for sale for several million dollars.

The Sombra ferry’s closure hit that town hard. The Riverview Restaurant in Marine City is feeling the hit, too. Passengers disembarked at the back of the restaurant (shown above) and business was good. It was busy when we stopped in for a late breakfast but our server said it’s nothing like it used to be.

We dropped into a beautiful decor store, The Lazy Llama, and a few antique shops. As it warms up, the Walpole ferry will get busier and probably won’t feel like the valet service it was on the weekend! But it sure was a sweet ride.

2 thoughts on “Ferry Tales”

  1. Ken Alward

    Great story took that Sombra ferry many times as found crossing there was easy & fun & beat sitting on the Bluewater Bridge ..Nevertook Walpole Ferry but will have to try it as looks interesting.Thank you for the story as really enjoyed the story a lot

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