My Latest Northern Ontario Back-Roads Adventure With The Bear

This is downtown Espanola, a mill town located just west of Sudbury, near the north shore of Lake Huron.  This town is the gateway to Manitoulin Island.

It’s other claim to fame is the paper will, which apparently spilled a bunch of toxins in the Spanish River back in the 80s and killed off tons of fish.  People still talk about it.

See this lake?  It’s pretty big…you almost can’t see the other side.

This is Lake Manitou, which is located on Manitoulin Island,  which itself is located in Lake Huron.

Which makes this lake the worlds largest freshwater lake, within a freshwater lake.

Which I think is pretty cool.

Here’s Lake Huron itself, on Providence Bay on Manitoulin Island.     It was stinking hot…and the water was swimmable.  Just barely.



This is Downtown Thessalon, on a Saturday night.

It just doesn’t get any better than this.


Here’s Wawa (two hours North of the Soo).  I’ve blogged about it before.   This is an aerial view from the bush plane that returned me back from my fishing trip.

Just outside of Wawa is this old ski hill.

It boggles my mind…no matter how remote, or how small a town is…you can always find some kind of ski hill of some sort. Seems this was the thing to do in the 60’s and 70’s.

But now, as course, as you can see from the trees, it’s long since been abandoned.   A sign of prosperous times long since past.


Next, is the town of Dubreuville.   This is your proverbial company town,  named after the lumber company which founded it. It’s on the end of a 30-km dead-end road,  Northeast of Lake Superior.

I wasn’t really excited about being here.   I just went to say I’d been.  Another place to tick off on the map.

I must admit, I’m a bit biased against the town.  They’re located south of the fishing lodge I like to go to, which is in a protected wilderness area.     But the Dubreuvillers apparently want to change that, and gain access to the lake with ATV trails and such.  They’ve been feuding with the lodges and the provincial government for years.

I have no sympathy for Dubreuville.   There are hundreds of miles of trails, and hundreds of other lakes in the area.  If they’ve already spoiled those areas with over-hunting and over-fishing, that’s their problem.    Don’t ruin the few remaining unspoiled areas.  Leave them alone,  I say.

Anyway, the town isn’t doing that great.  The only industry is the sawmill, which recently shut down because of lack of a lumber supply.

  You can already see the signs of decay (empty apartments, etc.).   This might become another ghost town, if things don’t pick up.



I’ve also blogged about White River before, which  is the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh.    Junior Bear and I always stop and pay our respects at the Pooh statue.

White River is basically a railway town in the bush Northeast of Superior.   And it, too, has seen better days.

I wonder what it was like when this hotel was still running, or the S_andoni Bros. department store was still open?

Though I hear the town is starting to take off again.   They just got a contract for some air service to some fishing lodges, which means more people will be staying in the hotels there.  Tourism in the area is starting to grow.   I wish them well.


Here’s the Michipicoten First Nation village, on the Northeast shore of Lake Superior, just outside of Wawa.

I like the bilingual signs…there were a whole bunch of the on the road, welcoming tourists.   It felt friendly.

At the end of the the village, there is a picnic/camping area right by Superior.   The signs indicate this as a “sacred place”.

Given the wilderness setting and the beauty of the place, I have to agree.


Highway 101 crosses the Northeastern part of Ontario.

This is typical, when driving through Northern Ontario.    All you see are …trees, trees, trees….

And more trees…trees…trees.

(Just be careful not to hit a moose along the way!)

And then every hundred kilometers of so, you come across a town, like Foleyet (pop. ~ 200).

 The is another railway town, in the middle of the bush.

Downtown Foleyet, on Labour Day Monday:

(Not exactly a prime cottage country/tourist area).

 I wonder how long ago this burger/fries restaurant was open?


After hours of  driving through the bush,  I finally hit my first “Big City”:   the town of Timmins (pop. 43,000).

It was a novelty to see a “real city”, with multiple traffic lights, a water tower, and “high-rise” buildings greater than four storeys.

Timmins’ claim to fame (aside from being the birthplace of Shania Twain) is it’s gold mining, which is still on-going.

You can also see old derelicts too… This is a boom-and-bust town.


Heading home, I always like to stop at the Arctic Watershed:  the point at which the water drains into either the Great Lakes, or Hudson’s Bay.

Point of trivia:  the Arctic Watershed lies mostly in Canada, but it also includes parts of the States (mainly Northern Minnesota and North Dakota).

Aside from being of geological interest, the watershed has had historic significance, in delineating boundaries for the fur-trading industry…

I always feel sad heading south of the watershead, because it means I’m leaving the “North” and my vacation is ending and soon I’ll be home.

Even though home is still hundreds of km away and I won’t be getting in till midnight!…



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8 Comments on “My Latest Northern Ontario Back-Roads Adventure With The Bear”

  1. Hi Friar – Our route around the Big Lake took us through White River and Wawa, too, last month. Little Daisy got her photo taken with Pooh so it was fun to see the bear with the Bear! Beautiful sand beaches along that side. Later this month, Pete will go fishing with my brother on Drummond Island – the easternmost in Lake Huron on “our” side of the border. Good stuff!

  2. Friar Says:

    Glad you like it!

    Finally, someone else I know who’s seen White River and knows what I’m talking about! 🙂

  3. Mike Says:

    I know what you mean about the heading home part of a trip. I really would rather stay gone much longer than Karen would, even though I don’t have work to worry about. We’re still on the outward bound part of our 2011 trip — saw new snow yesterday morning at higher elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park.

  4. Friar Says:


    You’re doing exactly what I would like to do when I retire…take long LONG road trips.

    No snow in Ontario yet. But it’s dropping to 27F here tonight. I suspect there is already some snow in the high peaks of NY State or NH, though.

  5. Paul Says:

    Foleyet General Store. If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!
    We hop the train in Foleyet every summer to head north to our family fish camp for a week of stellar fishing. I loved seeing these pictures as they bring back great memories driving up there from the big smoke.

  6. Friar Says:


    The Foleyet area is new to me. Usually I go to the Algoma area north of Wawa. Or I’ve done some bushwhacking around the Biscotasing area.

    Though I bet you know some pretty good honey-holes for fishing!

  7. Paul Says:

    we have some really decent luck fishing. i’d post pictures if i knew how…lol

  8. My first trip to Lake Manitou, when I was five, was idyllic. My grandparents went to a particular fishing camp outside of Manitawaning(sp.). They went there for eighteen years, every summer. I got to go with them a few times. I have great memories there and I can still tell you where the good fishing spots are on one side of Lake Manitou.

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