Travel Guide to Canada
This part of the province is an expansive “bay-to-bay” region, covering the land from James Bay down to Georgian Bay. The far northern reaches are the Arctic-like Hudson Bay lowlands, while the southern part is Georgian Bay cottage country where people from the big city spend holidays cruising, sailing and relaxing at vacation getaways. The region’s breathtaking scenery was so alluring that the famed Group of Seven artists were moved to paint many of their iconic landscapes (www.northernontario. travel/northeastern-ontario).
Eons ago, a huge comet likely crashed into this part of Ontario, creating the rich mining opportunities of the Sudbury Basin. More recently, Sudbury has seen a regreening of the area, with the planting of trees and the development of recreational areas like Ramsey Lake, a popular spot for boating, fishing, swimming and ice skating. The geological and mining history is on display through two outstanding, interactive science centres: Science North and Dynamic Earth. Science North houses a state of the art IMAX theatre, digital planetarium, enclosed butterfly gallery and interpretive displays on the landscape, flora and fauna of the north. Dynamic Earth is home to the Big Nickel—a Sudbury landmark—and exhibits on the region’s geology, fossils and mining history, including a guided tour of their demonstration mine seven storeys below the surface (www.sciencenorth.com).
Discovering the quaint downtown of North Bay can mean finding one treasure at a time. The city core is being revitalized with funky shops and eateries. The downtown sits on the shore of Lake Nipissing and the waterfront Government Dock is home to the Heritage Carousel, a large municipal marina and Chief Commanda II cruises (www.tourism northbay.com; www.georgianbaycruise.com).
A late summer visit to North Bay would not be complete without stopping by the Farm Fresh Festival, a showcase of delicious tastes and local flavours. Held at a local farm property, the vendors, restaurants, breweries and craft distilleries show why locally sourced and farm-to-table experiences have become au courant.
In the nearby Hornell Heights neighbourhood, the Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence is filled with artefacts and displays on the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Twenty minutes south of North Bay, in the community of Powassan, one of Ontario’s premier rodeo events fills the local fairgrounds for the Smoke ’N’ Spurs Festival, featuring live music, trick riding, truck and tractor pulls and ATV mud bogs.
MATTAWA VOYAGEUR COUNTRY
Voyageurs once travelled through the junction of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers as they paddled from Montréal to the Great Lakes. These watery trails were a big part of opening Canada to the west. The wilderness along these routes still draws paddlers from afar—they come for the friendly bilingual community, the excellent canoeing and kayaking, the landscape of windswept pines and the granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield. At the height of summer, the annual four-day Mattawa Voyageur Days includes canoe races, live music and fishing competitions (www.voyageurdays.com).
The town of Temiskaming Shores, and its surrounding area, is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. Long before the ice age, this area was mountainous, but the movement of enormous sheets of ice wore them down, leaving what is still Ontario’s highest point—I sh patina Ridge in Lady Evelyn Smooth water Provincial Park. The towns its on a long shoreline and is surrounded by farming communities, a cheese factory, beautiful beaches and has almost unlimited boating in summer and snowmobiling, tubing and snowshoeing in winter. The Clay Belt tract of fertile soil seems to hold the heat in the summer months, creating a pleasant mini-climate that extends the season for warm weather activities. Fishing is excellent. Anglers cast their lines for trout, walleye and bass. The sport is year-round. When Lake Temiskaming freezes, hundreds of fishing huts appear on the lake (www.temiskamingshores.ca).
With gold in the ground and gold in their hearts, the people of Timmins have a history of welcoming visitors to explore and experience the region’s history, its many free festivals, concerts and paddling events. Paddlers from across North America come to The Great Canadian
Kayak Challenge & Festival, a late summer festival that attracts thousands of visitors for kayak and canoe races, seminars and workshops (www.thegreatcanadiankayak challenge.com). The Hollinger Golf Club is Northern Ontario’s only 18-hole championship, full bent grass golf course. Created in 1922, the historic, professionally designed course was carved out of the boreal forest (www.hollingergolf.com).
The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat is the only enclosed facility in the world dedicated solely to polar bears. Cochrane is also the departure station for the popular Polar Bear Express passenger train to the remote James Bay communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory (www.cochraneontario.com).
DRIVING TO EXPLORE
Doing a loop driving tour may be one of the best ways to experience this part of Northern Ontario. Even surrounded by wilderness, there is a system of well-paved roads and small communities with all the services a road-tripper would need. RVers and campers will find sites at Lady EvelynSmoothwater, Killarney and French River provincial parks, as well as at numerous private campgrounds.
Manitoulin Island is also a part of Northeastern Ontario and has many summertime powwows and festivals. Manitoulin is home to six Anishinaabe First Nations communities and is a stop along the Georgian Bay Coastal Route, a popular road trip for RVers, drivers and motorcyclists that circles Georgian Bay, connecting the area’s Manitoulin Island, Sudbury and French River. Manitoulin— which claims to be the world’s largest freshwater island—boasts fantastic beaches, fishing opportunities and a wealth of cultural events and art galleries.