Deeper Into Canada

We're happy that Canada has been named the world's top travel destination, but if you're looking to go off the beaten track, here are a few suggestions.

Many Canadians got the word recently that global travel authority Lonely Planet named Canada the number-one travel destination for 2017. (Update: the New York Times has also rated us number one on its list for the year.)

Of course, along with the rest of the country, we’re blushing with pride, but we couldn’t help but notice that some of the Lonely Planet’s choices were a little… well, at the risk of compromising our stereotypical Canadian politeness... predictable?

Don't get us wrong—the Calgary Stampede, Montreal’s Old Port, and Ottawa on Canada Day are great. But the adventurous traveller wants something more, something truly unique and off the beaten track.

Canada is known for rugged nature, incredible views, and authentic local culture—and all that and more can be found in Northern Ontario. We asked our team from across the region to come up with their area’s best attractions for the traveller looking to really go deep into Canada.

Temagami – inspiration among the ancient pines

Imagine yourself treading through ancient forests nestled into the glacier-carved landscape. At the headwaters of the Ottawa River, distant paddlers glide silently across the water’s surface. Home to one of the greatest concentrations of old growth pine forest in the world, Temagami sits in a transition zone—a blend of northern boreal stands and southern deciduous woodlands. The giant forests and deep, clear waters of Temagami have captured the imaginations of indigenous peoples, fur traders and fishermen, naturalists and photographers, painters and poets, and of course, tourists, for generations.

Ecotourism the name of the game in this part of Northeastern Ontario. A paddler’s paradise, the landscape is scattered with immaculate lakes and waterways, including the expansive Lake Temagami. Visitors will enjoy getting active and taking in the region’s best at Finlayson Provincial Park, or at one of the many lodge operators located in the area. Experience one of the best vistas around by climbing the Temagami Fire Tower, 1,300 feet above sea level. Watch float planes land on Lake Temagami, or get the ultimate view by hopping in one yourself with scenic tours offered by local aircraft operators. Whatever you choose to do, Temagami embodies the "True North" experience.

- Jordan Nicksy

Lake Superior – Greatest of the Great Lakes

When you imagine a lake, you probably don’t picture a body of water over 1,000 feet deep, or one that contains 10% of all the fresh surface water on the planet. Bodies of water that big are usually considered seas, and the “big lake” could easily be a freshwater inland sea.

Try surfing big waves on the North Shore, or sailing from the Thunder Bay Harbour to the iconic Sleeping Giant Peninsula. Climb “The Giant” and find yourself 1,200 feet above the surface of the water, staring out across the sparkling waters of the Greatest Lake of all. Explore lighthouses, dive shipwrecks, shipwatch, sea kayak, or just bask in the incredible views virtually everywhere as you circumnavigate the world’s largest freshwater lake.

- Stephanie Reid

Algoma Country – the landscapes that inspired the group of seven

The Group of Seven, Canada's greatest art collective, sought refuge in Algoma after the First World War. Having lost family members and friends, and seeking refuge after being on the front line, these artists escaped to Algoma to heal. They travelled by train into our wild and rugged landscapes, where they camped, hiked and paddled while the beauty of Algoma worked its power on their soul. 

Breathtaking vistas became not only their inspiration, but their peaceful escape. Again and again they returned and were invigorated by the beauty of this area. Over 400 Group of Seven paintings depict the Algoma region and North Shore of Lake Superior. While traveling through Algoma and along the North Shore of Lake Superior, learn more about the Group of Seven. Visit www.momentsofalgoma.ca to find the locations that inspired the world-famous works!

- Heather Bot

Sunset Country – Where There are More Lakes Than People!

Sunset Country's
Winnipeg River System

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Ontario lies Ontario’s Sunset Country, where there are more lakes than residents. There are more than 70,000 lakes and rivers that populate the area and by contrast, the biggest city is Kenora which has barely 15,000 residents. Add up all the other communities, and it still does not remotely come close to the number of waterways.

What does this mean? Well, for one, there’s a lot of water! Most activities usually revolve around lakes. Like to fish? Many lakes have five or more different species. Like to canoe? Paddle one of the many wilderness parks like Woodland Caribou, Wabakimi or Quetico. Like to explore? Head out on any of the many lakes and search out ancient pictographs, secluded waterfalls or beaches, or even POW war camps on Lake of the Woods.

Choose between famous Lake of the Woods, with over 14,500 islands; Rainy Lake, which straddles the US/Canada border; Eagle Lake, in the heart of Sunset Country, Lac Seul, the tea-stained lake teeming with walleye, and/or any of the thousands of other lakes. For a truly out-of-the-way experience, fly into a remote Canadian lake where you’ll be the only ones there.

- Erin Rody

So whether it's your first time visiting, or whether you've already seen some of our country's better-known attractions—if you're looking to have a truly authentic Canadian experience, come check out Northern Ontario. We'll make it worth the trip.

About Northern Ontario

Welcome to Northern Ontario, Canada! Bigger than Texas, wilder than the west, more welcoming than a campfire in October, Northern Ontario is like no place else. Sunset Country is famous for its spectacular fishing lakes, Superior Country stretches into the deep north wildnerness, Algoma Country has Lake Superior as their back yard, and the Northeast provides excellent vacation destinations close to Toronto and other large urban centres in Southern Ontario.

Recommended Articles

Agawa Rock Pictographs are one of the great wonders of Canada

When Your Internship Turns Into an Amazing Career in Tourism

Sequoia Wemigwans talks Science North, Science Communication, and Cultural Connections

Indigenous entrepreneur, nature lover, career builder, opportunity finder.

Brian Still talks motivation, mentors, and more when it comes to a tourism career.

7 Neat Town Slogans in Northern Ontario

Gardens, gold, and the North's prettiest village—these Northern Ontario towns are known for some unusual things!

Surf Northern Ontario

Bring your board and learn what the Great Lakes have to offer.

Live Your Best Outdoor Life with a Job in Tourism

Mani Cuza's summer job turned into a year-round opportunity to flex soft skills and build connections in her field.

10 Essential Stops on Ontario's Antique Trail

Turn back time (literally—the end destination is in the Central Time Zone!) by exploring these Northern Ontario antique shops.

Canada's Canoe King: The Fascinating History of Temagami's Heirloom Vessels That Are Built to Last a Lifetime

Discover the true story of John Kilbridge and the Temagami Canoe Company.

10 Awe-Inspiring Natural Wonders in Northern Ontario

The biggest gorge, the bluest lake, and a whole bunch of waterfalls.

Say spaaaah!

8 Northern Ontario spas where you can treat yourself 

What family tradition will you start this year?

From Brampton to Northern Ontario by plane, train, and boat—getting to this Ontario fishing lodge is half the fun.

Ontario Travel in the Time of Covid

Put your passport away and look to Ontario

Pride Events in Northern Ontario 2023

Northern Ontario celebrates its 2SLGBTQI+ community this summer. Here's your calendar for everything Pride-related in the region.

9 Amazing Glamping Destinations in Northern Ontario

A wilderness of luxury awaits.

My 10 Day Ontario Road Trip Itinerary: Toronto to (almost) Thunder Bay

Group of Seven landscapes, butter tarts, the Wawa Goose, and epic Lake Superior views.

Northern Ontario's Ghost Towns Revealed!

Tour the faded ghost towns of Ontario’s Cottage Country with Andrew Hind's new book.

POV: Switching Industries Mid-Career Like a Boss

BYO enthusiasm and skillset – there’s a job in Tourism just for you

Got deer?

A complete guide to backyard deer feeding made easy—what to feed them, how often, and why it's so much fun

7 Interesting Place Names in Ontario

Ever wonder how Haileybury got its name? What about Noëlville? The answers may surprise you!

The World's Smallest Record Store Is Not Where You'd Expect

In a converted meat trailer off the Trans-Canada Highway lies a tiny record store named after a walrus penis.