Who’s Ready For A Community Party? Bon Soo 2017 Countdown Is On

Bushplane Museum at Bon Soo 2014

The Bon Soo Winter Carnival, which brings some ‘joie de vivre’ to the region, in and around Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario each February, is fast approaching. With a slew of events planned, February 3rd – 12th will mark the 54th celebration of the iconic festival.

20170119_181024Of course, Mother Nature has historically, been the last word on many of the outdoor events. With the primary location of the 2017 carnival at The Machine Shop and grounds, in the Canal District, Mother Nature will not have us at an extreme disadvantage.

Mr. Bon Soo is still in ‘hibernation’, and was resting up during the announcement at OLG Sault Ste. Marie Casino on Thursday, January 19th.  Judging by the breadth of the festival events, he’s going to need all the rest he can get between now and opening day, Friday Feb. 3rd.

Kerrie De Poli, Bon Soo Festival Manager shared, “Bon Soo truly is a reflection of our community. and that is because of our great community partners.”

20170119_1813100 “Bon Soo 2017 will be located at the beautiful historic venue, The Machine Shop.  We will be outside and inside there, with all of the activities that people enjoy.  They can come inside and warm up and enjoy hot beverages, canteens, and activities. People won’t have to rush home to warm up because they can do that right on site. The Machine shop truly is a partnership. What’s happening there (Machine shop) is truly a wonderful thing for Sault Ste. Marie, and for Bon Soo”

The BumSlides are always a big hit with every age. Their location in the Winter Playground at The Machine Shop will, no doubt, be an ongoing hub of activity.

Soo Greyhounds Bon Soo Bum Slides“A new event this year is Sensitive Sliding.” De Poli stated that this event is a way to engage children and young people who may wish for  “A quiet, more orderly sliding experience.” The enhancement to the BumSlide  was developed in conjunction with the Algoma Autism Foundation. “Our community believes that all children, and all sliders should be able to experience sliding in the way they need to.” Said De Poli.

Bon-Soo-2015-Day2-15Sensitive Sliding takes place on Thursday, February 9th  5:00pm – 8:00pm at The Winter Playground, Machine Shop and is sponsored by Algoma Insurance Brokers.

“Super splash Sunday is a new concept for the Festival. Feb. 5th.

Joining the move to the Machine Shop is the Sault Search and Rescue supported event, The Polar Bear Swim.

“The Legendary Polar Bear Swim is moving to a more reliable venue where warming up and, and getting ready to undertake the big splash into freezing cold water, can all happen in the same general area. We will be using a tank this year, and  we guarantee the water to still be, freezing cold.” Said De Poli.

20170119_180240Randy Roy and Don Marshall, Sault Search and Rescue, were part of the announcement and shared that they are fully supportive of this move. “This is a great opportunity to manage the event in way where no matter what the weather turns out to be, we can still go ahead and run it (Polar Bear Dip).” said Roy.

IMG 1547
The Polar Bear Swim is on the move to a dunk tank instead of the St. Mary’s River. The Polar Bear
Swim” will now take place at the Machine Shop

“Last year we were wondering about whether or not we could run the event two or three days before it was scheduled. We ended up going ahead, but this new staging area eliminates the prospects of those concerns.” he said.

“Search and Rescue are absolutely vital to this event.” stated De Poli

An outdoor tank will house the ice water, and the cage that Search and Rescue deploys for all of the Polar Bear Swims. Participants will still be jumping into water that is kept at – or near – freezing. The cage measures 8 x 12 x 5 feet deep. It is also cushioned on the bottom.

De Poli told saultonline that people will still be able to do tandem and small group jumps into the outdoor tank.

Bon Soo Winter Carnival Day 2“Everything new has a period of adjustment, but from our perspective, it’s a really good change.” shared Don Marshall.

Roy stated “Sault Search & Rescue has only had to cancel the event at the Bellevue Park location once, due to a search and rescue operation.”

For a complete line-up of the Bon Soo Winter Carnival 2017 line-up, go here: .bonsoo.on.ca

There are events scheduled at venues all over the community.

“Brian Oja has done a great job designing the Bon Soo 2017 Button. This year we really wanted to celebrate “OLG presents Bon Soo 2017 – Now at the Machine Shop!” said De Poli.

Bon Soo Buttons are $7.00 (including tax), and are required by guests age 4 and older for entrance to most Bon Soo events.

The Bon Soo OLG Fireworks Extravaganza, Friday, February 3rd  will really kick things off starting at 7:00pm. It all happens at The Winter Playground, The Machine Shop, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.


  1. Henry Bullock and Ray Clattenberg, and all our past chairmen of the winter carnival,must be rolling over in their graves.The Polar Bear swim was to emulate Vancouver’s “dip into the frigid Pacific Coastal waters “.Moving it from the outflow of Lake Superior,to a tank on the private property of Mill Market and Machine Shop, is the final nail…in Bon Soo’s coffin.
    Ray and Henry got all of us along Queen Street ,excited and enthused over a 3 day event to bring folks downtown.Merchants held special sales,sponsored ice sculptures,hung banners and red and white liights.The Memorial Gardens parking lot,Clergue Park, and Bellevue Park each became venues for a community wide carnival.The late Ken LaJambe,led a delegation to Queen’s Park to have Bon Soo designated a the ONTARIO WINTER CARNIVAL.It was to become a rival to Quebec’s official carnival Bonhomme.It was a dream of course.
    The article by Lynne Brown, and coverage of any events of Bon Soo,more often than not,omit any reference as the ONTARIO WINTER CARNIVAL!
    I am saddened,as must be the hundreds of volunteers who gave thousands of hours of their time, to now see the carnival taking place in the shadows of a smoke belching steel mill, and less of a city centre COMMUNITY event.With climate change and dramatic changes in our weather patterns,winters have become so unpredictable,Bon Soo’s days may become just “another lost cause”.

  2. Truly horrible. With all the changes being made. Ontario Winter Carnival Bon Soo wax originally a event all over town. Eliminate the true polar bear swim from its original location to a water tank is horrible. Iam sorry but I was a big snow madness team member for years and Volunteer for Bon Soo. Now Days iam being Serious it’s not the Carnival from 10 to 15 years ago. And it’s very Sad. The Bon Soo Carnival has always been a Downtown and full Community Event not just the Machine Shop , Mill Market etc. Very Disappointed this year.

  3. Lynne Brown,
    Our committee of past Chairmen of Bon Soo, worked very hard, diligently lobbying the Government of Ontario to declare Sault Ste. Marie’s Winter Carnival as the ONTARIO WINTER CARNIVAL BON SOO.
    Our carnival is the ONLY one in the Province, authorized to make THAT declaration. Quebec has “Bonhomme”
    as their official winter carnival…and Ontario has “Bon Soo”.
    No where in your article have you used the OFFICIAL name of OUR carnival.The adage…if we don’t use it,we’ll lose it”.
    Please consider the efforts of past chairmen who made the case, at Queen’s Park giving the Sault’s carnival to exclusive rights to the designation “ONTARIO WINTER CARNIVAL BON SOO”.There is a subtle difference!

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