Belvedere Heights Lookout
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Belvedere Heights Lookout is a level green space on the west side of Belvedere Avenue in Parry Sound that provides a panoramic view of Parry Sound and the North Channel to Georgian Bay. The lookout was formerly the landscaped lawn of the Belvedere Hotel, which stood nearby between 1883 and 1961. The property includes a railing and stone wall as well as the original stone steps down from the road to the lawn and the wooded, rocky embankment that descends to the shoreline.
The Belvedere Heights Lookout was designated by the Town of Parry Sound in 2008 for its heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw No 2008–5275).
The Belvedere Heights Lookout provides an unobstructed 180 degree view of the surrounding landscape including Parry Sound and the North Channel to Georgian Bay. The lookout has been a significant viewscape for hundreds if not thousands of years. Overlooking a natural canoe route west to Georgian Bay that featured prominently in the fur trade, it was frequented by Canada's earliest inhabitants likely before and assuredly since the time of first contact with Europeans.
The Belvedere Heights Lookout is also associated with the development of wilderness tourism in Ontario brought about by the expansion of railways and shipping on the great lakes, which influenced the early development of Parry Sound. The view was remarked upon by visitors and surveyors throughout the nineteenth century and was the reason the site was selected as the site for the 'Belvidere Hotel' in the early 1880s. The hotel brought wealthy American and Canadian visitors by steamship and later by train to enjoy the unspoiled wilderness of Georgian Bay. Guests could sit on the wrap-around verandahs enjoying the view or stroll the stone bordered flower gardens on the terrace and seating area. Those who enjoyed fishing could hire a native guide to take them to rich fishing grounds on Georgian Bay. Flagstone steps decending to the former terrace, a stone wall and railing, and steps down to the shoreline reflect the lookout's association with the hotel which was destroyed by fire in 1961. Perhaps the lookout's most significant visitor was Queen Elizabeth who in 1959, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, enjoyed a view of Parry Sound that included Her Majesty's Royal Yacht Britannia.
The Belvedere Heights Lookout continues to provide a natural setting for the quiet comfort of local residents and visitors, and is often used for wedding and family photographs.
Source: Town of Parry Sound Bylaw No 2008-5275; Belvedere Heights Lookout Evaluation Report (Town of Parry Sound Municipal Heritage Committee)
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Belvedere Heights lookout include:
- its location on the west side of Belvedere Avenue at the height of land in Parry Sound
- the 180 degree panoramic view of Parry Sound and the North Channel
- the natural vegetation, trees and rocks on the lower elevations on the embankment at it descends to the water
- elements related to its use as a hotel lawn including the level former seating area, original stone wall and railing, original stone steps descending from the road and route down to the shoreline (steps replaced)
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Sports and Leisure
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Hotel, Motel or Inn
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Town of Parry Sound, 52 Seguin Street, Parry Sound, ON
Cross-Reference to Collection