Our experience of our home province is an ode to every person whom has called a giant region of land, home. Ontario is a BIG place. It took my family five hours to drive from St. Catharines, where I grew up, to our summer cottage rental in North Bay every summer. One way. If our car didn’t break down… or didn’t get stuck in Hwy 400 traffic. Long road trips are a Canadian way of life, and I treasure the memories of these trips spent nuzzled up next to my sisters in the back seat, sharing sweat and hating each other.
Alas, in thirty years, I had never ventured further than Barrie around the Great Lakes, no further north than North Bay, and a rafting trip to the Ottawa river had only just happened last summer. This left the ENTIRETY of northern and north-western Ontario completely unexplored by neither myself, nor Ryan. After back-tracking all the way from the furthest reaches of Newfoundland, we were excited to finally be exploring once more!
Here’s where we stopped:
A cross-country trip would not be complete without a visit to it’s capital. Ottawa did not disappoint. After an incredible visit with my cousin in Gatineau, we spent a full day ogling parliament buildings, taking in the National Gallery exhibit, touring through the Market (Planet Coffee is bueno!), and walking as far as our parking meter would allow.
We took a couple of weeks to relax with family and friends, make a few changes to our storage space, change out some gear from storage, and just begin to comprehend the adventure we had been on. After hugging and kissing our loved ones goodbye once more, we headed to Collingwood where we treated ourselves to a spa date and checked out the annual ski swap to outfit us for our winter in the mountains.
Up, up, and away… we didn’t stop until we reached Sudbury - home of our new favourite dodecahedron - which was the perfect gateway to Killarney Provincial Park. We spent an unforgettable day hiking “The Crack” and fantasizing about completing the La Cloche Silhouette Trail some day. This place in all of its fall glory made it obvious why the Group of Seven painted here.
4. The Soo
Sault Ste Marie offered a beautiful riverfront and the world’s biggest baseball. Eager for more nature, more weird roadside ’big stuff’ and less people, we soon found ourselves at…
5. Pancake Bay
I’ve been obsessed with visiting Pancake Bay Provincial Park since I first heard its name. It was a gorgeous half-moon beach with pristine fresh water that lapped lazily along the sprawling shore. Petrified driftwood stuck up in odd places and the cold wind nipped at us through our fall jackets. It was hard to believe that we had been sweating and climbing mountains in Algoma just days before.
6. The Superior Coast
Lake Superior’s gigantic coast gave us jumping trout at Sand River, a giant Canada goose in Wawa, Winnie the Pooh in White River, and the bluest, coldest, magical sunset over Pebble Beach in Marathon. Neys Provincial Park felt like Cape Breton and gave us our first snow. Thundering Aguasabon Falls greeted us as we stretched our legs on the legendary Voyageur Trail before we finally made it to mythical Thunder Bay.
7. Thunder Bay
…was awesome. Highlights included the Terry Fox monument and its amazing view of both the city and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Hoito Restaurant and their amazing pancakes (10% of Thunder Bay is Finnish!), the world’s second largest curling rock, and the shale-covered portage trails that slink around rushing Kakabeka Falls.
8. Reaching for the Prairies
We had to say goodbye to Lake Superior as we finally made our way toward the Manitoba border. We found a float plane on the side of the road in Ignace, Ryan touched Max’s moose taint in Dryden, I made a snowman, and we met Huskie the Muskie in Kenora (and new friends Sarah & Mike from Tiny House Army Truck!).
On October 14, 2018, we crossed into Manitoba and into the thoroughly unknown…