Posted tagged ‘northern ontario’

Junior Bears’ Big Weekend Road Trip

April 26, 2015

Weekend Road Trip

1.  Blind River

Frozen Lake Huron.

Bear Lake Huron

They have this stupid windmill located on the lake shore.  Of all the times we’ve been here, not once, have we ever seen it working.   Ever.

Bear Stupid Windmill

2.  Katherine Cove

Frozen Lake Superior.  Junior sees two Great Lakes in one day.

Bear Catherine Cove

A Mom with her kids was on the beach.   Her five year old son wanted a photo of his toy with Junior.  It was some kind of dragon that spat our a plastic flame, from a McDonalds Happy Meal.

I asked the kid what the toys’ name was.  He said it didn’t have one.

I suggested “Clem”, but the kid shook his head “No”.

Then I suggested THUN-DAR and he agreed.

So here is Junior with THUN-DAR.

Bear Thundar

3.  Old Woman Bay

This is last view of the lake you get from the highway, until you get to Marathon, another 200 km further down the road.

Bear Old Womans Bay

4.   Pebble Beach, Marathon

Of course there’s a sign telling you not take any rocks with you.

Bear Marathon Ontario


5.  Rossport

There is absolutely nothing here except some houses     Not even so much as a convenience store.

Bear Rossport

Bear Rossport alke

6   Thunder Bay

This was the furthest west we could reasonably go for the weekend, and still get back to work on time for Monday

Bear Thunder Bay

It was the first town with traffic lights since we left Sault St. Marie.

Bear Traffic Lghts

7. Terry Fox Memorial, Thunder Bay

He ran the equivalent of a Marathon every day, from St. Johns Newfoundland to here.

Bear Terry Fox

8  Beardmore

This is the only thing the town had going for it:  a giant snowman.

Junior was pleased that he was sitting in the “BEAR” letters”.

Bear Beadmore

9.  Geraldton

Sunday morning, at 11:00 AM.

This was one of the “bigger” towns in the area.  So we tried to find a single restaurant that was open.   With no success.

Where do people here go to eat?   There wasn’t even a truck stop.

Bear Geraldton

Bear Geraldton Downtown

10.  Hearst

Big Critters.  Junior made some friends.

Bear Hearst

Junior Moose

Since Thunder Bay, this was the longest stretch of paved road (500 km) we have ever seen without a single McDonalds or Tim Hortons.

500 km mcds

There was also the biggest log pile we have  ever seen.

Bear Log PileBear Log Pile 2

11.  Moonbeam

Everything is always better, when you got UFO’s.

Bear Moonbeam

12.  Giant Polar Bear 

In downtown Cochrane.

Please note:  DO NOT CLIMB.

Bear Cochrane

13.  49th  Parallel

This is just about the saddest road-side attraction I have ever seen.

Beaer 49th Parallel

Bear Plaque

14    Giant Bison

His name is apparently “Earl”.    Maybe being next to Earlton has something to do with it.

Bear Earl the Buffolo

All in all, we drove more ~ 2700 km.

If this had been the UK, we’d have driven a big chunk of the entire country.

Driving UK

Junior Bear visits many BIG things.

May 21, 2013



Big Nickel.

Big Nickela

Big Bison

Big Bison DSCN6970



Big Snowman

Big Snow Man IMG_2301



Big Gun

Big Gun IMG_1947



Big  Skier.

Big Skier IMG_2340



Big Chain Saw.

Big ChainSaw IMG_1948a

Big Polar Bear.

Big Polar Bear



Big Minnesota sign. 

Big Minnesota IMG_2323



Big Winnie-the-Pooh

Big Winnie img_3077



Big Covered Bridge 

Big Covered Bridge Bear 3 Hartland IMG_6006



My Latest Fishing Vacation in 13 Words.

September 8, 2012













“Bacon, please?”








Shore Lunch.

Junior Bear Rates Some of the Beaches of Lake Superior

August 11, 2012


1.  Agawa Beach, Ontario.

Located in Lake Superior Provincial Park, right off Highway 17.  Nice long sandy/pebbly beach.  Not too crowded, even in peak season.

If you go there after Labor day it’s pretty much empty.

The water is cold early in the season, but it’s shallow and warms up nicely.   Towards the end of August, I find it’s  one of the nicest swimming beaches on the lake.

Junior Bear’s Rating:  9 out of 10


2.   Gargantua Beach, Ontario. 

To get here, you have to exit Highway 17 and drive on a gravel road for 15 km through the bush.

This is one of my favorite quiet areas, away from the crowds.  It gives you a good sense of remote wilderness.   Even in peak season, you might be lucky to see a couple of other hikers or kayakers here, and that’s it.

The beach is very rocky with big round pebbles, and not really good for swimming, though.   The water is deep and cold.  It almost looks too dangerous to go into the water here.

Junior Bear’s Rating:   7.5  out of 10  (due to lack of swimmability)


3.  Old Womans’ Bay, Ontario.

Nice little cove, with sheer cliffs and sandy beach, just south of Wawa.   Sea kayakers enjoy this area.

I always stop here because it’s right off the highway and it’s a quick photo op.    The water is deep and cold, though.   I once dunked my head here in May, but I don’t usually swim here.

Junior Bear’s Rating:   7 out of 10 (due to poor swimmability and close proximity to the highway).


4.   Sandy Beach, Ontario.

Located a few km off Highway 17,  just outside of Michipicoten.

This is one of my favorite beaches.   It’s sandy and quiet.   Even on a summer long weekend, you can have the place almost all to yourself.   It’s a great place to come in the evening and relax and just listen to the lake.  This is where I get my “Zen Like” moments.

This is a special part of Lake Superior.   Just west of this beach is a long tract of roadless wilderness.  For about ~ 150 km there’s nothing but pristine shoreline with no towns or cottages or road access.  It happens to be the  longest undeveloped freshwater shoreline in the world.   This is what’s so special about Superior, compared to the other crowded Great Lakes further south.

The water is cold and gets deep quickly.  I don’t bother swimming in June or July, but towards the end of August you can probably brave the water.

Junior Bear’s Rating:  10 out of 10


5. Pebble Beach, Ontario. 

This beach is found just outside of Marathon, Ontario, which is a pulp and paper town on the  north shore.

This is definitely NOT a swimming beach.   It’s strewn with football-sized pebbles and piled high with driftwood logs.

You can hardly walk on the beach without risking a sprained ankle.  The water is very cold, and  gets deep very quickly.   Again, this looks like it would be a dangerous place to swim.

But there’s a certain charm to this area.   It’s wild and untamed.  Outside the town, the shoreline is pretty remote, with no cottages or road access,  just big tracts of wilderness on all sides.  It’s one of those beaches that’s good for sitting and just contemplating the lake.

I love the polished round granite pebbles.    I once photographed some rocks and turned it into my all-time favorite painting.

Junior Bear’s Rating:  8 out of 10


6, Neys Provincial Park, Ontario. 

Located just west of Marathon, there are two parts to this beach.    The first part  is shallow and warm, next to all the campsites  If the water is calm, it’s clear as champagne and very nice to swim in.    However, if the wind picks up,  the water quickly gets muddy and turns brown.

Here’s a photo of the beach on one of the rare calm days.

The best part of the shoreline can be found if you hike a kilometer east.    The sandy beach disappears and the shoreline transforms into solid bedrock, polished smooth by water, wind and glaciers.

This is one of my favorite parts of Lake Superior.   Rugged, untamed, and wild.    This is the North Shore at its finest.

I can (and have) sat here for hours watching the waves, which can get spectacular on a windy day.

Junior Bear’s Rating:  10 out of 10


7.  Grand Marais, Minnesota.

I’m sad to say, I found Minnesota had the least impressive shoreline.   It was average/mediocre.   No islands or rugged shorelines or long stretches of sand.

Furthermore,  Highway 61 pretty much hugs most of the coast, so there is very little shoreline that’s more than 100 feet from noisy traffic.   And most of the shoreline is privately owned.  There is little public access. except for the occasional State park, boat launch or picnic area.   But these are few and far between.

One exception is Grand Marais, which is one of the nicer areas.  It’ s a quaint town with a  big marina and a harbor, though it’s also somewhat touristy.

There is no swimming beach to speak off.   Just a lot of rocks.

The water, however, is amazingly crystal clear, and very deep.   In theory, you can jump in if you wish.

I did, years ago, in June.  All I remember was opening my eyes underwater  and seeing green-blue, and thinking it was like being in a furnace.   The water was so cold, it felt like my skin was burning.

Junior Bear’s Rating:   6 out of 10  (because it’s not really a beach).


8.  Nameless Beach, Minnesota.

In my quest to find a decent Minnesota Beach,  I kept stopping at the all the rest stops to see if I could find anything.

Here’s a typical one  just outside the city of Duluth, which you can see in the background.     This was right off the old Highway 61.

What a dud.     There was almost no shoreline between the paved road and the water.  Nothing but brown rocks with bits of twigs and wood and debris all over the place.

Furthermore, it was a windy day so the water was stirred up to a silty, dirty chocolate-milk brown.   Nothing you’d want to go swimming in, unless you wanted your shorts to fill up with dirt and junk.

Junior Bear’s Rating:    Pretty sad.  2 out of 10. (And it’s only getting a 2 because it’s Lake Superior)


9. Cornucopia Beach, Wisconsin. 

Located on the Wisconsin Coast between Duluth and the Apostle Islands.

Again, this was an unimpressive beach.    Nothing but a tiny strip of sand between the sand dunes and the water, where people were jam-packed.   And once again, the wind had stirred up the water to a chocolate-milk brown.    Nobody was actually swimming.

Maybe I’m being too harsh.   Perhaps I saw the beach on a bad day, when the water was unusually high and stirred up.

Either way,  based on what we’ve seen, Junior Bear rates this a 5 out of 10.


10.  Eagle River, Michigan.

This beach is located on the western part of the Keewenaw Peninsula,  which juts out ~60 miles right into the middle of the lake.

This beach was a delightful surprise, after the disappointment of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

It’s a nice white sandy shore,  with clear blue water, that goes on for miles and MILES.

Granted, I was there on a weekday, but it was July 3rd, and I’d figured it would have been crowed for the American Holiday.

But there was hardly a soul there.

I didnt’ swim because the water was quit choppy, but I walked along forever, and the beach it just kept going and GOING.

Yes, there were houses along the shore, but they were mostly tucked in among the trees, and there’s plenty of access to the water.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is out of the way for most people, so isn’t very developed.

This is probably one of the few beaches where you can see deer tracks in the sand.

It’s comforting to know there are areas in the Lower 48 that are still unspoiled like this.

Junior Bear’s Rating:  10 out of 10.


11. Bete Grise, Michigan

Located on the opposite (eastern)  side of the Keewenaw Peninsula, just south of Copper Harbor.

Beautiful sand.   Shallow pristine water. When I arrived, I was surprised to see it so uncrowded, especially just before the July 4 holiday.

I was expecting this would be a perfect ten.

But it was NOT.

In fact, is the the WORST BEACH EVER.

The setting and water temperature were fine.    The main problem, however, was the SAND FLIES.

The #$%*ing  little bastards were EVERYWHERE.

Within seconds of coming out of the water, they’d swarm all over your ankles and legs, by the dozens, and start biting.

It was enough to literally make you run to the car screaming, even before drying off.

What a horror show. That’s  probably why there were not people here.

Junior Bear’s Rating:   ZERO out of 10.


12.  Miners Beach, Michigan

Located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this is one of the top 5 most beautiful areas I’ve seen on Superior.

It was a stinking hot day and the water felt so good to jump into.     I stayed in as long as I wanted  without getting cold, though my American fellow beach-goers were somewhat less enthusiastic about jumping in.

I found the water had a nice turquoise color to it, that I hadn’t seen in any other parts of the lake.  It almost looked Caribbean.

As an added bonus, there was Miners Castle, an interesting rock formation just down the road.

The entire coast in this area is spectacular.    I guess this is why they made it a protected National Seashore.  I definitely want to come back and explore this area some more.

Junior Bear’s Rating:    Sweet.  10 out of 10


Random Photos From My Latest Fishing Trip

July 15, 2012

Flying in and out of Kaby Lodge, this is what most of Northern Ontario looks like from the air:


Some days the weather was great:


Some days it wasn’t:


Lotsa beavers.


Here’s a photo of an adolsecent bald eagle (though not with the best of lighting).


Chipmunk falls.    Not only a great place to stop for lunch, but also a  good fishing spot.


The lake is teeming with walleye.   On a typical day, I’d catch 25 ?  30?  40?  (I dunno….literally DOZENS…I’d lose count!).

Most were in the 17-18 inch range.  But this was my biggest one, at 22 inches:


Here’s a typical stringer for our shore lunch.   We would eat shore lunch every day, and keep a few for the freezer for home.


Here is a typical shore lunch.   Which I love.


Half the fun of staying at the lodge was playing with the two dogs, Jasper and Riser, who are obsessed with retrieving sticks, especially Jasper.

I like how Jasper is fixated on the stick.

This is considered perfectly normal behaviour for Duck Tollers.


The younger pup (Riser) would keep stealing the stick from Jasper.  He was being a little shit, and he knew it.     Jasper would then yap incessantly at him to give it back.   This game went on and on…those dogs crack me up.


The lake has lots of pike too.  People catch them well over 40 inches.    I didn’t get any monsters like that this time.   But I did get two respectable-sized ones, 29 inches and 30 inches.

Both fish were caught within 30 minutes of each other.   It was one of my best afternoons.


This pike wasn’t huge, but I’ve never seen one with teeth as large as this, for a fish that size.


Not all of them were trophies, though.    But still fun to catch.


I had a lot of fun.   So did the Bear.

We will both be coming back.

Big Water, Not Quite Superior.

April 15, 2012

Last week,  I was at Acadia National Park in Maine, and found the shoreline quite similar to that of the northern Great Lakes.

Same blackened rocks.   Same spruce trees.   Even the cold damp weather was the same.

For all intents and purposes,  this could have been Lake Superior.

I was thinking, maybe I could stare out at the huge expanse of water, and feel that same “Zen like” state of relaxation that I feel when I sit on the North Shore.

And it was beautiful….I admit.   I tried to relax and let my mind go.

But I just couldn’t “feel it”.     It felt claustrophobic.

Probably because of the dozen or so people I was sharing the beach with at the time, even though it was the off-season.

Or knowing that this is only a tiny pocket of wilderness, only a few miles across, right in the middle of the densely populated Atlantic seaboard.

Where every other square inch of shoreline is developed or inhabited by hotels, inns, summer cottages, tea rooms, antque stores and bed and breakfasts.

With big cities like Boston, Montreal,  New York, are all within spitting distance.

Where there is rush hour traffic along the Coastal Highway all summer, as millions of tourists flock to the coast.

Where you only have to go a few miles to find the nearest fast-food joint,  or T-shirt store, or Factory Outlet mall.

Where there are no moose, no wolves,  no pristine trout streams.

No thousands of lakes, many of which never even see a fisherman for years.

No isolated roadless stretches of shoreline,   no huge tracts unpopulated of Crown Land .

No sense of awe you get at being surrounded by a huge expanse of wilderness.

No feeling of being “up there”, away from it all.


So, yes, I’ll admit the Coast of Maine is beautiful,  sitting on the edge of a big expanse of water.

And I’m glad to visit it.

But it’s just NOT quite the same.

Give me Lake Superior, any day.

My Latest Northern Ontario Back-Roads Adventure With The Bear

September 12, 2011

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!…