The Agawa Canyon

A family's experience of the Great Canadian wilderness in Algoma.

No service. For much of the 10-hour return trip train ride into the Agawa Canyon, this is what you'll see on your phone -- no service. Take a deep breath. Do not panic! This is completely expected as you are truly heading into an area so remote that many spots you see during the tour are not accessible by car!

agawa canyon tour train

In our modern world, it's hard to believe that such places still exist, but on one trip on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and you're reminded of the breadth and depth of our great Canadian wilderness. Lack of access to our daily distractors -- think Twitter, Facebook, Instagram -- is a good thing since distraction from the natural beauty that surrounds you on all sides is the last thing you want.

Embark on a Time-Traveling Journey in Breathtaking Landscapes

The Algoma Central Railway was finished in 1914 and extended from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst, Ontario. Built by Francis H. Clergue, it was built to haul resources to Sault Ste. Marie. Today it carries explorers searching for something untouched by our modern world. You'll find no cutesy shopping malls or fluffy mascots waiting for you. No chain restaurants or amusement park rides. What you will find is this -- pristine natural beauty.

agawa canyon

Travelling into the canyon, the same thought kept entering my mind. That this was how much of our great country looked when the first settlers arrived here. Rugged, vast, dense, and absolutely breathtaking. I felt very small winding along that track. My children, on the contrary, felt very big. To them, they had busted out of conventional travel and were seeing their country with new eyes. How long does this go on? How do people live out here? Are there bears? How did they build this? How many people did it take to build this? What did they do in the winter? Where are the moose?

My children had their questions answered through the large flat-screen TVs throughout the train and I was thankfully off the hook for a few questions for once. Narrators gave a detailed history of the Algoma Central Railway, peppered with interesting stories that brought it all to life. Like, the fact that moose like to charge trains and a special whistle had to be invented to deter them from coming on the tracks. My children now think moose are cool. Like, Clint Eastwood kind of cool.

agawa river

Exploring Agawa Canyon Park on Foot

Stepping off the train into the heart of the canyon, I really did feel like an explorer, despite the fact that some 300,000 had done this journey before me. Looking around with wide eyes at nature's canvas, it wasn't hard to appreciate why Canada's Group of Seven drew so much inspiration from this area. The black and gold waters of the Agawa River, the rush of Black Beaver Falls, the towering height of the canyon and the lushness of the flora and fauna everywhere bring out the artistic side of you even if you don't have an artistic side.

falls agawa canyon

The journey back to Sault Ste. Marie was unhurried and leisurely, much like the hours before. We snuggled and napped, and chatted about what we'd seen and how cool it would be to come back and do some of the adventure trips they offer like. And when those little service bars appeared at the top of my phone again, I slipped it back into my purse and enjoyed the journey a little bit longer.

Know Before You Go

Visiting Algoma Country

You don't travel all the way to Sault Ste. Marie for the day and why would you when there's so much to do in Algoma Country? You could visit Pancake Bay Provincial Park for starters -- voted the best beach on both sides of Lake Superior. There are also more ways to see Algoma Country than just by car. Explore it by train, RV, rail, snowmobile, boat or ATV.

Where We Stayed

Glenview Cottages and Campground. A lovely, peaceful respite that keeps you firmly entrenched in your wilderness escape. You'll find very clean cottages here to relax in or if you're bringing your accommodations with you as we did, they have a gorgeous site for RVs with pull-thru and full-service hook-ups available. You'll also find a pool to cool off in during the summer months. Centrally located you're not far from many major attractions.

What to Bring on the Train

1. A picnic lunch if you're looking to save a few bucks.
2. A blanket, as it can be a little chilly on the train, plus it's great for snuggling.
3. A deck of playing cards and some colouring for little ones.
4. Finally, don't forget your camera!

(Photo credits: Candace Derickx)
About Candace Derickx

Candace Derickx is a proud Canuck with a sense of humour. Note the 'u' in humour, eh? Bitten by wanderlust her family loves glamping in their RV, but still can't get enough of planes, trains and automobiles. You can find her blogging at Life in Pleasantville, ChildMode ( and YummyMummyClub ( about travel, food and family.

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