New “Polar Bear Swim” Not Going Over Very Well

Photo by Ken McDonald

If the comments on a facebook post are any indication, the Bon Soo committee may want to re-think the new location of the popular Polar Bear Swim.

This photo taken by Ken McDonald shows the new dunk tank for the swim. The polar bear swim has always taken place on the St. Mary’s River (at Bellevue Park). This year however, Bon Soo will all take place in one location, The Machine Shop, with The Yard hosting the 1st ever National Snowcross races during the opening weekend.

So far the comments have been on the negative side. “This type of setup might be suitable for a community that doesn’t have an overabundance of natural water bodies…. hmmmm…. where would a close one be???…” writes one poster. “At least at Bellevue park you get to see the look on ppl s faces when they jump in. What you going to look at there”  another posted, “Please tell me this isn’t real.”

The Ontario Winter Carnival Bon Soo – the official winter carnival of the Province, begins one week from today with a huge firework display and runs until February 20th with the Passport To Unity.

So what do you think of the new polar bear swim?



  1. I am saying this is really stuiped i agree with other ppl saying polar bear swim should be at a outdoor pool or believue park…. Like come one that is too much and what if someone got seriously injured or died from hitting the sides or the bottom of the dumpster come on please use some common sense really A DUMPSTER like think better then that

  2. My question is why would they not fill the Greco pool? That to me seems a lot safer and a better idea then filling a dumpster. The dumpster seems unsafe in so many ways. How did this even get past the brainstorming process?

  3. You can’t be serious using a dumpster I ‘m embarassed to say this what my hometown is doing , that’s so disgusting . spend money buy a pool that people buy in summer and fill that at least you wont get hurt. Are these people so cheap that won’t do that they’d rather risk someone getting badly hurt, how pathetic I use to brag to people from all over bon soo was great now I’m embarassed to say this is my hometown that their doing this. Seriously stop before someone get’s badly hurt spend money on a swimming pool , what moron came up with the idea to use a dumpster. Stop putting the money into their pockets and spend it on something safer for the swim , guess I won’t brag to anyone again about how great bon soo was that’s sad that it’s gotten this bad they should be ashamed there’ s no way I’d let my family get in that thing.

  4. Generally those size dumpsters don’t get filled with household food waste and I’m sure they cleaned it well. They should have at least buried it in a pile of snow to make it cold and it would at least look like a pool instead of a dumpster. The steps look like a few lawsuits for slip and fall for the city.

  5. Glorified dumpster dive, there are so many other ways to put on a safe real polar bear swim. This is not one of them. The committee couldn’t think of something better then having people jump into a metal can in a parking lot in the winter? Wow!

  6. One of the worst ideas Bon Soo has made , its not really an event centred around convenience or staying warm inside….Another thing that is concerning is that well, it’s a dumpster. Please stop calling it a tank. Finally, How will people really spectate this event? The most you’ll see is people jumping in then getting out.. kind of loses the excitement. Will not attend.

  7. I cannot stop laughing at this. And it is not even remotely funny! It’s embarrassing, to our city, our citizens, omg how ghetto can you get??! What a farce Bon Soo has become. I won’t be taking part this year, I’m seriously too embarrassed.

    • I completely agree..I mean this town has so many embarrassing things that this just adds to it. I won’t be taking part because dumpster “swimming/diving” doesn’t make me any more proud to be a sault resident lol.

  8. one concern other then how rediculous the whole thing seems is.. metal + cold.. hmmm can we see an issue here? Leave it to sault ste marie to create a new definition of dumpster diving… and I agree exactly how are spectators suppose to see the jumpers? isnt that the whole point..

  9. My brother is the senior Polar Bear swimmer of this event. “Rob” says this is going to be embarrassing! If I could attend, I would be there with a picket sign protesting the unhealthy “dumpster diving”. I wonder how that would show up on the news? Great publicity for what is supposed to be one of the premier events for the second largest winter carnival in all of Canada! Maybe it should be called the “Bush League” carnival.

  10. Just cut the event if the ice isn’t safe, or keep the crowd back on the shore, like they’ve done in the past.

  11. When Bon Son first started many years ago, I always found each year was such an improvement from the last…Every winter looked forward to the next Bon Soo coming up…as quckly as it built up, it then started to slop downwards…everything has become so expensive…now one even that so many enjoyed at Bellview Park in our St. Mary’s River is no going to be done in a dumpster at the Mill…since when did it bcome the main attraction spot for BonSoo…yes I understand the City is also trying to promot the Mill but the Polar Bear Swim blongs in our nayiral water way not a dumpster like ge swim is garbage…I forone will not be attending this year

  12. This city has continuely spirilled out of control. The powers that be keep making poor descisions converning its citizens. Our Essar centre continues yr after yr to not make money. It sits predominantly empty while the tec brings all the excitment to our city. Thank you to the tec for that. Our city is full of crime and drugs and misquided youth. Which brings up the next failure of the city. Closure of city daycares. Great job. Nothing like not giving our children the best shot at life in early learning from the best centres establish over 40 yrs ago. Not to mention putting all staff out of work in their 40 to have try and find jobs which dont exsist. Then watching council members contiuely on their phones during council meeting not paying attention to citizens while they speak. How disrespectful to loyal city staff. Now after making a mess of our city in counsel some are leaving and others will have to clean up the mess they have made. Poor firfighters and citizens. And now watch as our Bon Soo festivial be degraded to dumpeter diving. I pray for our citizens and the state in which services are being cut and problems off unemployment are being ignored.

  13. What about our students that come from all over the world to attend Algoma U, Sault College and the Rotary students? I know from personal experience jumping in the river has been a highlight of their Sault experience. So now, we take pucs of them jumping in a dumpster to send home????? Tacky! Please go back to the way we have done it!

  14. We were going to participate as a team building event for our staff. Not going to any time soon now. Very disappointing!

  15. Prices keep going up and the quality keeps going down. Dissapointing my kids will never get the experience I did 🙁

    • Dumpster diving in general has been a big thing in New York for a lot longer than that.. that doesn’t mean we have to drop down to that standard…LOL..

  16. Hundreds of cities/communities do a polar bear swim its a pretty common thing all across Canada. However, none of them at least the ones that I’ve found do it into a dirty old disease infested dumpster. Even in Vanvouver where the ocean doesn’t freeze because its salt water they do it on a beach and everyone runs in. There has got to be a better way. I mean I know the Soo is full of trash but this is hilarious.

  17. DUMPSTER DIVING thats all that seems to go through my head since Bon Soo has announced they will no longer be having our regular Polar Bear Swim since 1964 at Bellevue Park. I cant believe they have been thinking of changing it for 3 years now. It makes no sense to me. As I view our previous years experiences I seriously cant see why change something that everyone loves. Bon Soo replied back to me saying I should reconsider the safety of Dumpster Diving. Sorry but stairs and wet make slippery conditions and that way too many steps to take going in and going out. So much to say about this but I have made connection so far on my fb page and messaged Bon Soo about how I feel. SAY NO TO DUMPSTER DIVING and GIVE US BACK OUR POLAR BEAR SWIM that for years has been in the river.

  18. I think its a terrible idea to move the polar bear swim!! Especially with all the bodies of water that surround beautiful Sault Ste Marie!!

  19. I think it’s dangerous to do it in the river. How many people have died swimming in the river over the last 100 years? It’s unacceptable. The majority of the people in the Sault are garbage anyways so all of them swimming in a bathtub that’s a garbage can together is very fitting. Half them probably won’t even wipe that week.

    • are you serious? first of all the polar bear swim doesnt take place in open water where people can just be swift away by current. second, sault people are garbage? if you’re not from here why the heck are you even posting.

  20. Not even natural river water. Anyone can fill a container with water out of a hose. I’m sure the container they’re using is new by the way. Why does everyone think it would be bacteria ridden?

  21. What does Algoma Health Unit have to say ? It will definitely not be cold unless they’re planning on dumping bags of ice in it. Won’t see jumpers reactions. Bon Soo was always about getting people out and about in the Community. Looks VERY tacky. Just some reasons it is SO WRONG !! Leave it at Bellevue Park where it has always been !!!

  22. Dumpster diving as the Polar Bear Swim?? Who was the idiot who thought up that?
    All Polar Bear Swims around the world are in bodies of water not a stinky dumpster.
    We have a ton of bodied of water here and nothing wrong with having it a Bellevue Park… You want to see the people jump in the water and their faces, and trying to get out of the water when they are all frozen up. That’s the whole point of the event!
    They have been upping the price of the button for years and now move the PB swim to a dumpster??
    Time for new management and board of Bon Soo!

  23. Can it still be called a polar bear swim? Or rather Trailer park boys try outs? Gona skip this one and wait in anticipation for this summers outhouse dunk toss..

  24. Bon Soo has been going downhill for years. This may be the final nail in the coffin. Perhaps it is time to regroup…rethink…and come up with a brand new winter event…dropping the name BONSOO. It would appear that the event this year is really a promotion for THE TECH and all that goes on under the bridge. I loved the ice statue building at Bellevue park…take a stroll…enjoy the scenery and marvel at the work put into those statues.Change is NOT always a good thing.

  25. I can appreciate ice conditions may not be suitable for te event, noone wants to see it ruined by an injury or worse (IF that is in fact why it has been “relocated”) Credit for thinking “outside of the box”, but there has to be a better solution than the Dumpster Dive!!!

  26. Another fine example of how Sault She Marie operates!
    I get it that the city is trying to promote the Machine Shop as a venue, but Bon Soo is Tradition enjoyed by the people!
    Ruining a great event and expecting the citizens to jump into a garbage can????
    Not to mention the safety violations they are braking with this setup lol.

  27. LMFAO ewwww. Like what? How in their right minds did they just decide this is ok? Like “oh yeah, this annual polar bear swim is gonna be a breeze, let’s just get em a dumpster and well… they dive in… atleast we don’t have to right!?” like yeah thats what I wanna see, a bunch of half naked people diving in a dumpster then probably getting sick

  28. I was going to jump in the polar bear swim this year but this is garbage literally please, come where we used to keep your garbage boycotting bon soo #bringbacktheoldBonSoo

  29. I’m sure everyone can’t wait to jump into a bacteria infested garbage can.
    Brilliant minds at work here.

  30. Another year not worth the money to go. I feel so sorry for my daughter she’s not going to experience all the beautiful ice sculptures/slides. what is it going to be this year another lame snowbank dugout into a slide? Pathetic Bon Soo and disappointed in the Sault…. prime example why this town is going to ####.

  31. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I’ve done a polar dip and the whole point is hitting natural water through a hole in the ice or at least with ice all around. The best part is seeing the faces and really, a dumpster? NO!

  32. I can’t believe they expect people to jump in to a dirty dumpster filled with freezing water. No one is going to want to do that and no one is going to want to go watch it. This just looks extremely bad for our city. I get wanting to host the whole event in one location but you cannot seriously expect anyone to sign up to jump in a disgusting dumpster. This may be what kills Bon Soo for good, because if this actually happens this year who is going to want to attend next year if they are to expect this kind of low quality thinking for a much-loved event of our city.

  33. Politics at it’s finest…! They move the entire carnival to an area they want to promote…..(The Tech) and as for “Polar Bearer”s ” City says “Go Jump in a dumpster”.
    Welcome to Sault Ste. Marie…..

  34. Absofreakinlutely ridiculous! ! We have so much beautiful waterfront at our fingertips. Total embarrassing representation for this event. What table of idiots agreed on this. Not one spoke up with a half a brain. Jokes!!

  35. My family and I and now grandchildren have been to every Polar Bear swim and finish the day with what we call our Polar Bear barbacue. This year we will not be going to the dumpster dive. We have St Mary’s river at our finger tips. What an embarrassment Sault Ste Marie! Bon Soo should be growing not slowly disappearing!

  36. When did Bon Soo become “the official winter carnival for the province”?
    As for the dumpster diving… I guess it fits the bill for size, but what’s there for spectators to watch, other yhan people going up and down the steps?

  37. I believe Bonsoo keeps losing the worthwhile attractions,,,, Who wants the title of Dumpster diving or the experience! i think this is embarrassing to the City, i hope they rethink this idea before it is to late!

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