Art & Adventure Come Alive on the Canadian Shores of Lake Superior

Inspire your budding artists, archaeologists, and adventurers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Follow in the footsteps of artists, adventurers, and pioneers to a place that has drawn people for centuries.

Located in the heart of North America’s celebrated Great Lakes, Sault Ste. Marie (affectionately known as The Soo) is perched on the banks of the St. Marys River, which flows between Lake Superior and Lake Huron and provides easy water access to Lake Michigan. Surrounding the city is the vast and diverse wilderness of rugged Canadian Shield and thick old-growth forest.

The character of this well-connected spot was shaped over centuries by Indigenous peoples, explorers, voyageurs, traders, soldiers, and artists, and is still evident in the lively, modern-day city today. 

Experience the intrigue, inspiration, imagination, and adventure of this one-of-a-kind place that still whispers stories from the past. 

Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Algoma

The Art Gallery of Algoma boasts an impressive collection of Indigenous art.

This vibrant city lives and breathes on the edge of wilderness. Board a bucket-list-worthy tour train and in minutes you’ll find yourself rolling along the Superior coastline, and plunging deep into the canyons and forest that inspired the artists who reshaped the landscape of Canada’s art culture.

This summer, you’re invited to discover firsthand why people have naturally gravitated to The Soo, and to experience a family vacation you’ll never forget.

Landscapes That Inspire Artists

In the early 1900s a crew of plucky, likeminded artists travelled into Ontario’s wilderness, inspired by the drama and beauty of the landscape. They became known as the Group of Seven, and they remain to this day some of Canada’s most celebrated artists. Admire their paintings and sketches at the Art Gallery of Algoma and check out the Moments of Algoma interpretive panel along the St. Marys River Waterfront Boardwalk. 

Bridal Veil Falls, in Agawa Canyon Park

Bridal Veil Falls, in Agawa Canyon Park, was immortalized in J.E.H. MacDonald’s Algoma Waterfall.

Step up your art appreciation by experiencing the wild landscapes that enthralled members of the Group of Seven over 100 years ago. Board the Agawa Canyon Tour Train for a 114-mile journey north alongside pristine lakes, awesome granite rock formations, and the vast mixed forests of the Canadian Shield. Midway through the tour, you’ll step off the train for a 90-minute stopover in Agawa Canyon Park. Head down to the floor of the great canyon and hike to one of its famed waterfalls, including Bridal Veil Falls and Black Beaver Falls, or climb up to the lookout platform 250 feet above the tracks. You’ll quickly understand why this is considered one of the world’s great train tours.

Superior Adventures

Lake Superior, the largest of North America’s Great Lakes, is known as “Gichigami” (Big Water) by the Ojibwe; and rightfully so—the lake has its own version of a tide as well as its own Twitter account. Formed from volcanic activity over a billion years ago, its diverse shoreline undulates between forested wilderness, rocky cliffs, and gorgeous beaches. 

There are countless ways to enjoy yourselves on or near the greatest of the Great Lakes. With Sault Ste. Marie as your base, car and RV travellers will be nothing short of amazed at the stunning beauty that awaits along the coastal Lake Superior Route of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Set out for a day of rock climbing in Batchawana Bay with Superior Exploration, hike out to the sacred Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park, and get out on the Big Water on a guided “big canoe,” stand-up paddleboard, or sea kayak excursion. Naturally Superior Adventures offers a variety of water-based adventures, as well as art and photography workshops. 

Guided paddling tour along the St. Marys River

A guided paddling tour

Within walking distance of one another, both the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and Whitefish Island are designated National Historic Sites of Canada. Guided tours and bike rentals are available at each. The island, rich in Indigenous history and continued archaeological importance, is also a great spot for wildlife viewing. The sight of herons, eagles, owls, foxes, and beavers will delight.

The Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy offers guided tours that give visitors the opportunity to paddle along the St. Marys, providing insights into the area’s Indigenous culture and its strong connection to the river. The same group also runs evening tours at Gros Cap, where the St. Marys River has emptied into Lake Superior and offers postcard views of rugged sandstone cliffs.

Hands-On History 

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is a fascinating hands-on museum dedicated to preserving the history of bushplanes, wilderness aviation, and forest protection, and pays homage to the brave achievements of forest firefighters. Climb aboard a vintage aircraft, try your hand in the flight simulator, ascend an actual fire tower, and watch the 4D movie Wildfires

Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

The iconic de Havilland Beaver at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Thirsty adults might want to pop into the Northern Superior Brewing Company, located at the museum, to grab a pint and check out the cool collection of brewing artifacts and memorabilia.

Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site

Canadian history is preserved at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site

Hear stories steeped in stone at two of the oldest stone buildings northwest of Toronto at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site. Start your visit at the Heritage Discovery Centre for a glimpse into 19th century life, and end it at the Trading Post gift shop to pick up some Canadiana before heading home.

Know Before You Go

The Water Tower Inn is a family-friendly hotel in the city with multiple dining options, indoor and outdoor pools, and a fully equipped fitness center. Another great option is the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel overlooking the St. Marys River, just a 10-minute walk from the Agawa Canyon Tour Train station. 

The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge links the Ontario waterfront city with her sister city, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, via US Interstate 75. The Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) Airport is a quick 20-minute drive from downtown, and welcomes daily flights from Toronto offered by Air Canada and Porter Airlines.

For more detailed information on border crossings, customs, currency conversion, and much more, here are the tools and tips to help you get the most out of your trip. 

However you choose to journey here, and however you choose to soak it all in, Sault Ste. Marie will not disappoint.

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