Owen Sound is the largest urban community in Grey and Bruce Counties, which combined represent a primary commercial market of 158,000. Owen Sound is the seat of the County of Grey government, and is the location for a number of regional, provincial and federal government offices. There are twelve elementary schools, three secondary schools, and six private schools in addition to a Georgian College campus.
Points of interest include four conservation areas (Inglis Falls, Indian Falls, Hibou and Pottawatomi), Kelso Beach and the City's waterfront trail system, Harrison Park, Grey Roots Museum and Archives, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Billy Bishop Home and Museum, Owen Sound Marine and Rail Museum and the Farmers' Market.
The downtown, recently refurbished and reminiscent of the 1900's, offers an economy that is balanced and diversified. The Heritage Place Shopping Centre on the east side complements the vibrant, scenic downtown core and other arterial shopping areas.
Citizens and visitors can enjoy extensive recreation facilities and opportunities in Owen Sound. The City operated two arenas, and numerous soccer and baseball complexes. Three golf courses serve the City. Excellent boating and fishing are available.
For much of its history, Owen Sound was a major port city, known as the ‘Chicago of the North'. Its location on Georgian Bay gave it access to the upper Great Lakes, and major rail lines moved cargo south from there. Port duties have declined dramatically since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway allowed shipping directly to the lower lakes and dramatically lowered costs compared to transshipment via Owen Sound.
Being both the gateway to cottage country, and in the heart of Ontario's beef, apple and corn region, farming and tourism are still integral parts of the local economy and during the winter residents can access thousands of kilometres of snowmobile trails, cross-country skiing areas and downhill skiing clubs.