Owen Sound, Ont, incorporated as a city in 1920, population 21 688 (2011c), 21 753 (2006c). The City of Owen Sound is located on an inlet at the south end of GEORGIAN BAY, at the outlet of the Sydenham and Pottawatomi rivers, 190 km northwest of Toronto. A preliminary survey was made of the site in 1837 and the first building was erected in 1840. Originally named Sydenham after Lord SYDENHAM, upon incorporation of a town (1857) the community was renamed in honour of William Fitzwilliam OWEN, Royal Navy, who had charted the area in 1815. Owen Sound's fine harbour became a port of call for the steamers plying Georgian Bay, and after the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway arrived in 1873 it developed into an important trans-shipment point and a shipbuilding centre. This role diminished with the building of the 2 national-spanning railways (Canadian Pacific and Canadian National).
The seat of Grey County (1852), it services a mixed-farming hinterland. Major employers are manufacturers of auto accessories and industrial equipment, and Canada's largest printing plant. The harbour is still active with its grain elevator and recreational boating. Tourism is a large part of the economy with salmon and trout fishing, boating, hiking on the BRUCE TRAIL and cross-country skiing. Two museums (Grey Roots and the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre) preserve the city's history and development. The painter Tom THOMSON grew up nearby and is honoured by the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery. Owen Sound is the hometown of "Billy" BISHOP and his childhood house is now a museum.