North Country Lodge
Before I get too carried away with the fishing, hunting, and unbelievable beauty, let’s talk about the history of North Country Lodge—a gem nestled on the shores of Canyon Lake in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country.
North Country Lodge was built in 1936 before there were any roads to the area, and the train was the only means of transportation in or out. The nearby town of McIntosh was merely a railroad stop with an indigenous residential school, which closed its doors in 1969. But almost from the start, the lodge hosted anglers and hunters. For decades outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen visited, but without a lot of fanfare. Remember, this is long before the internet and social media! My guess is visitors probably wanted to keep this hunting and fishing paradise to themselves…
Fast forward to 2006, and Wayne and Lydia Lecot became the third owners/operators of North Country Lodge. Wayne and Lydia run the seven-cabin lodge solely by themselves with some help from their grown children, all of whom love to spend time with their long-time, repeat customer base. Most of their guests return to North Country Lodge every year, some returning multiple times a year! One guest has been returning each year for 53 years! Imagine that: a guest who has been friends with all the lodge owners, including the original owner, Ethel Moore…
North Country Lodge offers a housekeeping plan with seven very clean, well-kept, and comfortable cabins with cooking stoves, refrigerators, and all the necessities of home.
To give you an idea of their hospitality, Wayne and Lydia host a “camp supper” one night a week at the main lodge. Guests really love it because it gives them a chance to get together, meet other guests, and share fishing and hunting stories. During my stay it became immediately apparent why so many guests return year after year: Wayne and Lydia strive to make North Country Lodge a relaxed atmosphere where guests feel right at home. I also believe it’s because Wayne and Lydia make you feel just like one of their family!
If grouse and bears are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Bring your dog and grouse hunt all day, or shoot a limit of grouse in the morning and jump in a tree stand for the chance to shoot a big ol’ black bear in the afternoon. That’s the great thing about bears—they’re typically easy to pattern with trail cameras—so you know exactly when to be in the stand or ground blind. It’s pretty tough not to get your heart pumping when you see bears on a camera and know they’re not far away. Yes, the odds of shooting a bear at North Country Lodge are good. Real good.
Stellar Grouse Hunting
I brought my one-and-a-half-year-old white lab on this adventure because I knew North Country Lodge was dog-friendly, and this region is plum full of grouse! I can’t think of a better place to bring your pup on his/her first hunt. It was so rewarding to see Rikki retrieve her first bird! She’s just like one of my kids, and I was so excited to see her perform—it reminded me of when my daughter took her first step. This will be an experience I will never forget, and bringing home a limit of grouse is pretty darn great too…YUM!
When it comes to grouse hunting, North Country Lodge offers a unique take, and that’s a boat-in hunt with miles and miles of untouched grouse hunting trails and birds that have seen few hunters… and you won’t see any, either!
Multi-Species Fishing Paradise
If you would rather chase musky, walleye, and smallmouth, the fishing is outstanding. Musky anglers are in for a real treat: Canyon Lake has incredible musky numbers. Boating multiple muskies in a day is very possible, as well as a shot at trophy-size fish up to 50 inches. Years ago, Canyon was known primarily as a trophy walleye destination with fish up to and just over 30 inches. These days, there are plenty of younger-year classes for the frying pan, too! Gotta like that—big fish and eaters!
Each evening at North Country Lodge was the same. I’d return to the lodge from a fantastic day hunting and my good buddy Jeremy Smith would come in from fishing. He’d regale us with the play-by-play of the numbers muskie follows, catches, and even doubles in his boat—more than enough to convince me I’d be coming back to North Country Lodge to target some freshwater big game!
About Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake is part of a canyon system that runs approximately 100 miles, with two outlets from Canyon Bay that lead into the Canyon River. It’s absolutely spectacular to see from the air. The outlets make for a fun little portage and paddle trail that eventually leads to Clay Lake, where more great musky, bass, and walleye fishing adventures await. I can’t wait to explore that next time I visit, too.
Besides Wayne and Lydia making me feel at home and like family, the one thing I won’t forget about this Ontario Experience is the sunsets on Canyon Lake. They take your breath away, along with all of life’s stresses!
For more information on North Country Lodge, please click here.