Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Short Tour Around Northern Ontario

So in the Big Earl post I mentioned the moose and wolves in Kapuskasing, my mistake, go the next town over, to Hearst, to find the wolves. I usually travel the long stretches of wilderness up there pumped up on caffeine and trying to make good time, ha ha.

So with this correction I thought I'd include a short tour of the north. So between urbane Southern Ontario and the Manitoba border lies a vast wilderness, cities are few, only 5 over 40,000, small towns are many driven by the vast mineral wealth and wood products industries. The majority of the north is a huge, rough, Canadian Shield outcrop. Lots of lakes, steep rock outcrops, and muskeg rule. It's so rough it was as difficulty to cross as the Rockies, when the railroads first went through.

Yonge street has been called the longest street in the world. It starts off in the heart of downtown Toronto, goes due north and gets relabeled Hwy 11, crosses Hwy 17 at North Bay, and continues north (past the turn off to my place, ha ha), over the top at Hearst and Longlac and meets back with Hwy 17 at the Nipigon River Bridge. On the west side of Thunder Bay it separates from Hwy 17 again, and goes all the way to Rainy River south of Kenora near the Manitoba border and across the river from Minnesota.

So if your traveling from Toronto to western Canada, or the other way, you will have to take either Hwy 11 or Hwy 17 over the big lake. If you are in a hurry you will take Hwy 11. You will be traveling with all the cross country truckers, but you will take 3-4 hrs. less than traveling Hwy 17. The area between Kapuskasing and Longlac touches on the James Bay lowlands and its mostly flat and straight with lots of bridge crossings.

Here are a couple of pictures of  the moose and wolf display in Hearst.

Just how big is that moose..........BIG.

If your a tourist or just have time to view the spectacular scenery, then Hyw 17 is the way to go. Its a challenging drive. You are up and down for most of the north shore of Lake Superior. You will get breathtaking views from 800' drop offs straight into the lake. Takes longer but if you like landscape pictures, you will get lots on this drive.

Everyone who has traveled Hwy 17 over Superior has seen this icon, the Wawa Goose. Various versions of it have existed since the Trans Canada Highway 17 was first built. The poor picture below is one I took on a camping trip with my son. It was showing signs of rust back then.

This is a picture of the newest version, recommissioned and installed a few years ago.

This is an engineers rendering of the Nipigon River Bridge. Hwys 11 and 17 join just before crossing this bridge, which means all traffic traveling to or from western Canada has to cross this bridge. The only detour is through the States (I know, they really should do something about that, before Trump decides to put up a WALL. It seems, he thinks, were still the Brits that burned down the White House in 1812 ). It was just recently rebuilt to the nice structure you see below.

Edit: A little more info for the interested. The Nipigon river flows out of Lake Nipigon, south for close to 60 miles into Lake Superior, seen at the top left corner of the picture. The Nipigon river is home to the worlds largest brook trout. Many past records including the current world record for brook trout where all caught on this river (further north near the outlet from lake Nipigon).

After crossing the Nipigon River Bridge you head south to Thunder Bay. Just before reaching Thunder Bay you will see the Terry Fox memorial. Terry Fox a true Canadian hero. The one legged runner lost one leg to cancer. In his run across the country, his cancer spread on this stretch of road and he had to stop. He passed away soon after, a true hero.

I have posted a few pictures of Thunder Bay before. This area is a photo hounds dream, breathtaking views of Lake Superior and surrounding landforms, everywhere. Ouimet Canyon below is a good example.

There's a suspension bridge across it now. I will have to go for a visit soon.