Northwest Ontario's Most Interesting Stories of 2016

The devastating fire in Fort McMurray, the deaths of several music icons, the news of the Hip's frontman Gord Downey's terminal cancer, the U.S. Election, and the Summer Olympics all made headlines. Here's a bit more news from our neck of the woods.

As 2016 comes to a close, here are some of the most newsworthy events that happened in Northwest Ontario.

January 2016

Nipigon River Bridge Fails, Severing Canada in Half

The newly constructed bridge 100 kms northeast of Thunder Bay heaved on January 10, 2016, indefinitely closing the Trans-Canada highway - the only road connecting Eastern and Western Canada. The west side of the bridge pulled away from the abutment connecting it to the river bank's edge, lifting up about 60 cm (23.6").

By adding concrete weights on one side at the end of the bridge, the bridge was opened to one lane by the next day. A more permanent repair to the bridge was installed and tested on February 19 and on February 26, 2016, the Nipigon River Bridge saw both lanes open. While the bolts were suspected of failing, I don't know if the exact cause of the malfunction was ever found.

February 2016

Spring Bear Hunted Reinstated in Ontario

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources announced on February 19, 2016, that it would reinstate the Spring Bear Hunt that was canceled in 1999. A limited pilot program  in 2014/2015 would be expanded to include residents and non-residents until 2020. While some people were concerned about the hunt, the OFHA have written an article on the perceptions vs reality of the Spring Bear Hunt, dispelling many of their concerns.

There is a healthy bear population in Ontario.

March 2016

Lynx Visit Upsala

While it's not all that unusual to see a lynx in Northwest Ontario, it's rare to be able to capture such close up photos. Joe and Rose Mutton took these photos of the two lynx from their kitchen window in Upsala, Ontario. 

April 2016

Potential Record Walleye Caught 

Travis Tourond was ice-fishing at a lake near his hometown of Dryden in March when he snagged something big. Barely able to pull the walleye through his hole in the ice, Travis was stunned to reel in this massive walleye. The fish measured 34.5" (87.6 cm) in length, a 22" (56 cm) girth. Listen to his interview with CBC in April on the big catch and why he decided to release it. 

Travis Tourand with his massive 34.5" walleye.

May 2016

Wildfire Burns Out of Control Near the Ontario/Manitoba Border

There were actually two wildfires burning out of control near Caddy Lake and the Ontario/Manitoba border in May. The fires forced cottagers, home owners and a lodge to evacuate. Water bombers were brought in to combat the fires. Ironically, in July the same area was flooded out when 136 mm of rain fell in a matter of hours. 

A forest fire also started in Woodland Caribou Park in May. The fire which was started by lightning would go on to burn over 20% of the wilderness area and last for months. Red Lake Fire 003 was declared out on August 9, 2016, after burning 74,334 hectares.

The 2016 fire was by far the largest forest fire in Woodland Caribou in recent history.
June 2016

Thunder Bay Gets Flooded Out

Thunder Bay made the Meanwhile in Canada Facebook page with this great photo of a couple paddling to The Beer Store after 92 millimetres of rain fell on the city on June 25. You gotta to do what you gotta do right? 

July 2016

Mike Ranta Heads to Quetico Park

MIke Ranta was crossing Canada by canoe and was passing through Sunset Country and his hometown of Atikokan in July 2016. Mike left BC on April first and arrived at Dominion Beach Provincial Park, Cape Breton on October 18, 2016. Mike and his dog Spitzi traveled over 7600 kms over 200 days. Mike was inspired by the sacrifice of Canada’s Veterans and paddled hoping to begin a national discussion about improving support for Veterans. Unfortunately, national media outlets paid little attention to his impressive paddle and especially his message, and not one political leader met with Ranta.

August 2016

While Southern Ontario was in a drought all summer, it was not the case in Northwest Ontario. We had lots of summer storms including one in Dryden on August 12, 2016. Some home rain gauges reported 152 millimetres of rain in just under two hours. Numerous roads were closed due to the flooding and washouts. You can see more photos of the storm on the CKDR Facebook page.

In front of the Comfort Inn in Dryden. Photo: CKDR News

September 2016

Northern Lights Dancing Overhead

August skies were filled with northern lights. The lights danced overhead giving us a beautiful show like this one captured in from Chippewa Park on Sept 19th, 2016. DZ Photography photographed a perfect silhouette of the Sleeping Giant lightened by the moon while the beautiful aurora danced above Thunder Bay. 

Northern Lights with the Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay. Photo: DZ Photography

October 2016

Northern Lights Continue Into October

October saw great weather and continued to have beautiful Northern Lights dancing in the sky. Here's a time-lapse of the aurora captured by Linda Farwell Ryma.

November 2016

Fall Records Smashed

November began with above average temperatures that continued throughout the month. On November 6, Fort Frances was the hot spot in Canada with a temperature of almost 22C (over 71F). The average temperature in Fort Frances on that day is 0C (32F)! 

December 2016

Muskie Fishing in December!

The warm weather in November delayed freeze-up and while we normally have fantastic muskie fishing in October and November, it continued into the beginning of December this year. Guests at Crawford's Camp in Sioux Narrows caught this massive muskie along with a few others!

Tony Palesch and Mark Segler braved the waters in Whitefish Bay boating 2 50" muskies!

We've just touched the surface on what happened this year in Ontario's Sunset Country. Why don't you join us in Northwest Ontario in 2017?

About Erin Rody

I grew up on Black Sturgeon Lake in Northwestern Ontario. I am a staff writer for the Sunset Country Travel Association. Through my articles I hope to entice you to visit the wonderful region I call home. We are all about outdoor adventure; with 70,000 lakes and rivers and a whole lot of forests how can we not be? Whether you like to fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, boat or go camping, Sunset Country has something for you. Enjoy!

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