A Healthy Dose of the North
Any great trip will leave you wanting more, planning for your next visit, and counting down the days. A trip to Ontario's Northwest done right, will do just that. Here are the top eight things decided by a local that the area will leave you pining for.
Fishing is always first on my list. Truly the land of giants, some of my most invigorating days on the water have been in Ontario’s Sunset Country. From watching not one, not two, but three muskies follow my fly in at the same time, I’d never felt more alive.
My personal best pike on the fly came out of Eagle Lake and it was considered a baby at 35 inches, even though it was heavier than my personal best on gear at 38 inches.
Don’t get me started on the bass here. A lot of anglers are under the impression they should head south for bass—clearly, they’ve never caught a glimpse of Ontario's northern behemoths that appear to be more common than average sized ones.
It’s not our region’s namesake for no reason. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is look to the west. It’s always a spectacular sight as the fringe of the sun sinks below the horizon. Trust us, no one sees one sunset here and has had enough.
Flatwater opportunities are endless here in Sunset Country, truly a paddling paradise. With well-known parks like Quetico and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, it's no wonder canoeists and kayakers alike come from miles away to enjoy their splendours.
Fewer people know about Northern Ontario's whitewater opportunities, such as Sturgeon Falls. Sturgeon Falls is an excellent place for beginners and professionals alike with plenty of surfable waves and great eddies to practice your ins and outs.
Northerners know how to do food right. I’m not just talking about comfort food to get you through winter, either. All the food is beyond delicious. From breweries serving over-the-top meals to year-round chip trucks, Ontario's Northwest map is speckled with many good eats.
The fact is, in my central Ontario home base, we haven’t had a decent winter in almost a decade. There have been several green Christmases, at least three years of sketchy ice for hardwater, and sub-par snowmobiling conditions.
This October, when I finally made the move to Kenora, I arrived in late October to the first snowfall of the year, and it was a doozy. Fast forward a few short weeks later, Lake of the Woods is showing signs of freezing. I'm officially in the winter wonderland.
If you're a lover of winter, prepare to never want to leave—winter itself doesn't want to leave these parts either.
With over 70,000 lakes and endless waterways, Sunset Country holds some of the best opportunities for lifestyle, landscape, and adventure photography. If you're not a photographer, you can relax more than I do on your drive to work, without being tempted to stop every two minutes to capture another image.
Northern lights are just as prominent here as they are in places like Iceland and, I should mention, it's way less crowded here. We have eight waterfalls directly off of Highway 17 and countless more you can seek out off the beaten path.
Adventure in the Outdoors
With backcountry hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, SUPing, fishing, hunting, geocaching, snowmobiling, and even surfing—Northwestern Ontario's terrain and waterways offer some of the best outdoor recreation in the world.
If you love the outdoors and have even the slightest taste for adventure, your plate will be full here in Sunset Country.
I have yet to personally experience a hunting season here in Sunset Country, entirely because of the poor timing of my arrival date. However, the deer that have shown themselves in my yard alone have given me buck fever just aiming my camera at them. Remember when I said land of giants? Well, I also meant the land of land giants.
For survival in and near boreal climates with predators like wolves in higher numbers, wild game here grows exceptionally large, exceptionally fast.
For those of us who love the outdoors, you'll want a taste of a combination of these activities. Even if only one or two appeal, know you're headed to the right place to have that experience. If you're in for a shorter time, plan your visit around an activity or two, and take in the scenery and sunsets while you're at it, because they're unavoidable. And don't worry if you don't get to everything on your first visit, you'll be back.