Our Home on the Road in Northwest Ontario
Last fall, my husband Wobblycat and I departed on a cross-Canada (though not coast-to-coast) trip from Toronto to Vancouver to see and experience this great country of ours. We were so glad to have stayed in Canada versus taking the route through the US, as it would’ve been a huge missed opportunity to see and experience the highlights of Ontario. Those included gorgeous views of from the north shore of massive Lake Superior, grabbing a photo at the big goose in Wawa, hiking where the rocky Canadian Shield meets the water in Pukaskwa National Park, hearing the roar of Kakabeka Falls—the second largest in Ontario, Niagara Falls being the only larger—and more!
Still Close to Home
Our excitement began with the Bracebridge Fall Fair in mid-September, only a couple hours north of Toronto.
Between the giant pumpkin contest, horse shows, live music, and square dancing, we enjoyed a full weekend of entertainment, and camped on a hill overlooking the fairgrounds. Wobblycat even enjoyed riding the twisty scenic motorcycle roads in the area (Muskoka Beach Road)!
After the fair, we did the short drive to the Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site in Gravenhurst, a National Historic site, for a day trip. We learned all about the life of Canadian hero Dr. Norman Bethune, who brought modern medicine to rural China and championed bringing universal healthcare to Canada.
Continuing north, the French River Provincial Park Visitor Centre is located right off the TransCanada Highway 69. This first-class interpretive centre highlights the history of the French River area and its First Nations peoples.
A side-trip to the south shore of Manitoulin Island took us to Dominion Bay Cottages to visit friends. We loved wading in the shallow water of the gorgeous sandy beach on Lake Huron and walking the rocky shoreline, which curves around the bay.
Within Lake Superior Provincial Park, Bathtub Island near Katherine Cove is a stunning oasis. We lucked out with a warm, sunny afternoon and sunbathed on a small rocky island with shallow pools and smooth surfaces.
Pukaskwa National Park
Arguably the most scenic part of the trip, we were amazed by the sweeping vistas of Lake Superior and the rugged Canadian Shield along the TransCanada Highway in the Algoma region. Our favourite spot on this trip was Pukaskwa National Park.
We camped at Hattie Cove Campground, at the north end of the park, which is within walking distance of multiple trails along rocky cliffs with more incredible views of this massive inland sea. Just north of Pukaskwa, we hit the town of Marathon for groceries, dinner out, and a stop to use the library wifi.
Along Lake Superior
A surprising geological find just east of Thunder Bay, we walked the trail and boardwalk with overlooks of a 150-metre-wide gorge at the world heritage site Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park. We had fun bouncing echoes off the sheer cliffs, which plummet 100 metres straight down, and laughing as our dog Sadie jumped back in surprise at the echo of her own bark! We marvelled at the canyon floor, where conditions mimic more northern regions, allowing for rare artic flora to flourish. Learn more about Rving to Ouimet Canyon here.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park campground on Marie Louise Lake is located within a huge peninsula jutting into the north end of Lake Superior, just east of Thunder Bay. Our trip to the unique waterfront community of Silver Islet had a decidedly maritime feel on this wild southern shore of the peninsula.
In and Around the City of Thunder Bay
In Thunder Bay, we enjoyed Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park and took time to meander along the forested walking trails that overlook the scenic Kaministiquia River canyon and the roaring falls.
An hour north of Thunder Bay, we were curious to check out Silver Falls Provincial Park, which offers a dozen campsites free for stays of up to 23 days. With no hookups, only pit toilets, and located about 20 kilometres up a bumpy gravel road, this option is definitely for the more adventurous RVer. With our solar equipped, self-sufficient rig, it suited us just fine—we especially loved the wide sandy beach along Dog Lake.
West of Thunder Bay, Fort William Historical Park tells the story of the fur trade in the early 1800s. The expansive grounds house multiple historic buildings, which come to life with costumed interpreters. We loved the live farm animals, particularly the newborn baby goats!
Roadside Attractions Along the Way
Be sure to catch the following photo ops along the way:
Approaching the western edge of northern Ontario, we recharged at the Dryden Pool and Fitness Centre at their huge indoor swimming pool and luxurious steam room. The adjacent Dryden Signature Trail provided leisurely riverfront walking for our dog in a park-like setting.
Since we drove across Canada, you may be wondering, why the focus on Ontario? Almost half the distance travelled across the Trans-Canada highway from Toronto to Vancouver is in Ontario! We were amazed at the beauty and diversity of Ontario, and truly believe one of the best ways to experience it is by RV. Whether you have a small off-grid capable trailer like ours, or a large Class A motorhome or fifth wheel, there are plenty of camping options all with a promise of good scenery and a good time.