Captain Canada

Cross-country canoe veteran Mike Ranta’s Top 4 Attractions on Algoma’s Great Lakes Coast
Cascade Falls is one of the best campsites on Lake Superior—a favourite stop for Mike Ranta and the popular Canadian outdoors filmmaker Bill Mason. It’s located in the remote wilderness of Pukaskwa National Park.

Northwestern Ontario-based adventurer Mike Ranta is a modern-day voyageur. The native of Atikokan, Ontario, has canoed across Canada twice—in the process discovering that his favourite places in the country are found practically right in his backyard. Ranta and his dog, Spitzii, canoed from Vancouver to Cape Breton in 2014. Smitten by Canada’s scenic beauty, challenging waterways and friendly people, Ranta and Spitzii repeated the impressive 7,500-km journey in 2016. His quirky and inspirational posts have made him popular on social media, with nearly 9,000 Facebook followers.

Mike Ranta and his faithful companion, Spitz, prepare for a day on Lake Superior in Algoma Country.

Ranta doesn’t hesitate when asked his favourite part of the trip. “Lake Superior, hands down,” says the 45-year-old. “That lake has such great energy from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie.”

In fact, most of his top memories come from the Algoma region of Northern Ontario, which encompasses Lake Superior and the North Channel of Lake Huron. Here are four of Ranta’s recommendations for travellers.

Mike Ranta and his faithful companion Spitzii have canoed across Canada twice. He ranks Lake Superior’s north shore tops in terms of scenery. (Photo courtesy of

#1: Rock Island Lodge

“Outfitter David Wells has something good going on just outside of Wawa, at the mouth of the Michipicoten River. Rock Island Lodge is the only accommodations you’ll find on this part of the coast. The lodge is cozy, the food is great, and it’s a perfect spot to launch a paddling trip—whether you want to go out for a day or a two-week trip. You can rent gear, take a training course or book a guided trip with Naturally Superior Adventures. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Viewed from the air, crystalline freshwater surrounds Rock Island Lodge near Wawa, Ontario. This bed-and-breakfast and paddling centre offers lakeside accommodations and guided sea kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard trips. (Photo by Joel Cooper)
With its open horizons, Lake Superior is aptly known as an inland sea. The Northern Ontario coastline of Lake Superior boasts numerous provincial and national parks.

#2: Voyageurs Lodge

“I love what Frank and Gail O’Connor have done with the Voyageurs Lodge and Cookhouse at Batchawana Bay, just north of Sault Ste. Marie. First of all, they’re located on a gorgeous beach. They serve fantastic food and have great motel-style rooms for rent. It’s always a tough place to leave.”

The spirit of the legendary voyageurs of the Canadian fur trade lives on at the Voyageur’s Lodge and Cookhouse, on the sheltered sand beach of Batchawana Bay. Photo courtesy of Algoma Country

#3: St. Joseph Island

“You feel a change in the landscape when you paddle the St. Mary’s River from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, past Sault Ste. Marie. The water warms up, you see more white pine and oak trees, and the geology changes to glacier-polished granite—classic Canadian Shield. I’ve always loved stopping at Richard’s Landing on St. Joseph Island. It’s a safe haven for a long-distance traveller: The people are friendly and it’s a great community.”

Photo courtesy of St. Joseph Island Chamber of Commerce

#4: Thessalon and the North Channel

“I’ve always stopped in the town of Thessalon, at the Carolyn Beach Inn. This marks the beginning of the North Channel, a passage of mostly sheltered water all the way to Manitoulin Island. There’s always a good place to camp—usually on smooth islands beneath tall white pines. It’s very picturesque.”

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

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