Travel Guide to Canada
About 300-km (186-mi.) north of Thunder Bay the highways end, but there are still another 1,000 km (621 mi.) of Ontario stretching to Hudson Bay, with hundreds of remote lakes and dozens of small communities to explore (www. northern ontario. travel/ northwest ontario ).
Picture the stereotypical Canadian experience of rocky outcrops, swaths of forest, sparkling waterways and wildlife such as moose and bears. Northwest communities are starting points for every type of outdoor adventure, from rock and ice climbing to paddling, hiking and fishing.
The original fur trade routes criss-crossed this part of the province. These “500-year-old highways” are still accessible to paddlers and are popular with canoeists, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders. Many northern lodges provide the iconic Canadian paddling experience, with guided ecotourism and wildlife observation packages.
The lakes of the region are irresistible. Getting out on the big water of Lake
Superior is an adventure of its own—by sailboat, Zodiac or sailing on a sunset wine and cheese cruise. The vast waters of Lake of the Woods—with over 14,000 islands to explore—is a boater’s paradise.
Fishing for salmon, walleye, trout and pike has always loomed large in this region. With so many waterways, it’s a hot spot for anglers, especially fly-in and fly fishing expeditions.
Thunder Bay has an intimate connection to the surrounding wilderness. The city offers all the urban amenities—food, art and culture —but is a short drive away from pristine landscapes (www.visitthunderbay.com).
The city is home to the only major art gallery, symphony orchestra and professional theatre company between Toronto and Winnipeg. And a happening food scene highlights culinary dishes from around the globe as well as unique fusion styles blending classic northern flavours like blueberries and fish.
History comes alive at Fort William Historical Park, a Canadian Signature Experience. The Park interprets the history of the Canadian fur trade and expansion to the west. Dozens of historically accurate buildings—including a farm, blacksmith and canoe shed—transport visitors back 200 years in time (www.fwhp.ca/).
Summer is festival time, especially at Thunder Bay’s transformed waterfront performance space. The Thunder Bay Blues Festival brings major acts to town (www. tbayblues.ca). BrewHa! features the best of craft breweries (www.brewhafestival.com). The free Live on the Waterfront concert series showcases local and national musicians.
Northwest Ontario offers several of Ontario’s bucket list road trips, including part of the Lake Superior Circle Tour. This iconic, signposted route skirts along the shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake. The stretch between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie is especially popular with RVers and motorcyclists. The best views are found by travelling from west to east, with the lake on the passenger side. Along the way are private campgrounds and some of the province’s storied provincial parks: Quetico, Sleeping Giant, Neys and Kakabeka Falls.