on the road

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gadfly homepage on the road home last contact: 7/2007 first contact: 8/2001

ON Trip Stats (7/07):


Municipalities visited: 21

Last visited: 7/2007


Best municipality: Algoma District

Town visited most: Sault Ste. Marie

Places slept in: Goulais River (Pineshores), Niagara Falls, Toronto (Scarborough), Sleeping Giant PP (tent), Rainbow Falls PP (tent), Kakabeka Falls PP (tent), Norfolk CA (tent)

Most impressive town: Niagara on the Lake

Least impressive town: London

Biggest town: Toronto

Most scenic area: The Laurentian Mts. as seen from TC-17 along east coast of Lake Superior

Most scenic spot: Falls at Wawa

Aurora Borealis spotted: at Goulais River mouth and along TC-17

Most dangerous: Agawa Rock

Three Words: isolated, huge, eh?

Best Food: Haviland Shores.



Road Trips: several, including Northland Trip (2006), Lk Superior Circle (2004), Trout Lk (2004), Niagara Loop (2004), Yooper Star (2001), New England (2007)


Neighboring States/Provinces: MI, NY, MN, NT, QC, MB


Major passes: In 2004 made two major passes, one in the North and one in the South. In March passed from Toronto to Windsor to cap off a trip east around Lake Erie to Niagara Falls. In August, camped around Lake Superior from Thunder Bay to the Sault.  In 2007 drove across southern Ontario along ON-401 from Sarnia to the Thousand Islands.


Areas throughly explored: East Coast of Lake Superior, been here now about five times. Been to Thudner Bay area twice.


Future Plans: I have long dreamed of seeing the Hudson Bay. The train that leaves from the Sault hooks up with another in Hearst that leads to the bay. TC-11 and its bluff-lined course north along the Nipigon River excited me greatly, but I was forced to turn around. In the extreme west, there are some petroglyph parks that seem interesting, as is the Bruce Peninsula. This province seems like it contains a lifetime of promising trips.


A foreign land: Canada is a different country with its own history, traditions, and feel. Canadian towns are a bit more "lived in" than American towns. The people of Ontario are proud and friendly, but seemed a little unnerved by the fact I was American at times. I felt there was a tendancy to blame too many problems on the unruly neighbors to the south.


Best: public campgrounds, public radio shows, cold and flu medicine aisles, thrift stores, buffalo burger, place to get car broken into, accents, beaches Worst: Gas prices


Heroes: I could have done without the Avril Lavigne and Bryan Adams and I never saw so many portraits of Queen Elizabeth, one in the tiny Goulais post office (actually a mobile home) and one in a Soo thrift shop and every twenty dollar bill... Near Niagara, at Queenston Heights, there is a monument built to Sir Isaac Brock, the British commander who fought back American invaders during the War of 1812. He is not so huge a hero as the loyalists who moved here from what is now the U.S. Canadians are quick to remind Americans that there is a fine line between what a Canadian is and what an American is. And then there is Terry Fox, a cancer victim who attempted a marathon across Canada. Monuments abound to him near Thunder Bay where he gave up his run and his shoes are a big part of the Bata Museum in Toronto.


Border Crossings: Sault Ste. Marie (9), Pigeon River (3), Niagara Rainbow Br. (1), Detroit-Windsor (1), Sarnia (1), Thousand Islands (1)





First Contact: Crossing the I-75 bridge over the St. Mary's Rapids with Jessica, Mike, and Dana while on a day trip during our 2001 Upper Peninsula vacation was my first time in a foreign country. The border crossing was a lot less intimidating than I felt it was going to be and Canadians seemed as "nice" as advertised. We drove through Sault Ste. Marie and toward the forested hills of Pancake Bay where we climbed Chippewa Falls and swam in the cold, clear water of Lake Superior. We did what any American would do in their first few moments in Canada, taking photos of moose crossing signs and making fun of their pink and blue paper currency. Since then I have grown to love Ontario, but am unsure if it has ever loved me back.

Algoma District (2001)

I have been here many times. It is a perfect, wonderful place. Sault Ste. Marie. Crossed the border here many times. It is a hard-working, blue-collar city, but friendly like a small town. I was there during the Great Blackout of 2002. I like the walk along the rapids of the St. Mary River. Exchange money at the mall at the end of the Algoma Railroad. Goulais River. A hidden town along the Trans-Canada Hwy across from the hills of the Lauretian highlands on the rapid river of the same name. Stayed here in a rental owned by a local postman, who had some passionate opinions on the American treatment of loyalists during the Revolution. Dogs roamed the streets. The house was a canoe ride across the river near its mouth from a quiet, warm beach on the Goulais Bay. Beavers plentiful in river. Local Catholic church was very welcoming. Saw the northern lights here. Haviland Shores. There is a nice breakfast place below the hills on the shores of Lk Superior. Lumber acticity in the hills.  Pancake Bay PP. The best free beach in the world, as far as I am concerned. The warm water in Batchawana Bay and sandy bottom make this a perfect place to cool down as I have on a few occassions. Batchawana Bay. The hills around here make for some majestic scenes. Chippewa Falls along the side of the road are great for climbing through the boreal forest. Agawa Indian Crafts is a huge tourist mall where you can pick up a coonskin cap if you need one.  Montreal River. Lk Superior PP. Visited a few times to climb the rocks through some holy Algonk woodland. A slippery rock cliff here is decorated with the Agawa Petroglyphs that tell the tale of an early native explorer of Lk Superior. Dangerous waves lap up against the rock as if the lake wants to keep this spot a secret as so many other Algonk petroglyphs remain around the rocky lakeshore. The park is filled with waterfalls and rapids. Michipicoten. Wawa. Means "goose" in Algonk. Small town is a welcoming place and the edge of a vast wilderness that goes on to the polar bear shores of the Hudson Bay. Guarded by a huge fiberglass Canada Goose. Don't ask me. Beautiful falls nearby carve out an L-shaped valley. Obatanga PP. A quiet, boreal forest here that is the end of a chain of lakes. White River. The birthplace of "Winnie-the-Pooh," a source of pride for this small town in the middle of nowhere. Just east are amazing,  endless miles of tree stumps.

Niagara Co. (2004)

Niagara Falls. Stayed a few blocks from the roaring falls. This city is really two. One side is a poor, working-class border town and the other half is a gaudy tourist town. Luckily the falls are incredible enough to not be ruined at all by the wax museums and casinos built along the river. I fully recommend spending a few days and Loonies here. The rainbows along the walk are wonder-full. Queenston. The spot of a War of 1812 battle where British General Brock died and is buried beneath a tower overlooking a park dedicated to the Canadian patriot. Niagara-on-the-Lake. The end of the Niagara Parkway and a small touristy town for the most wealthy visitors. Old 18th century fort is visible on the American side. The first place I saw Lk Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River. St. Catharines. Medium-sized city west of Niagara River across from the escarpment. Interesting lakeshore bridge. 

Hamilton Co. (2004)

Hamilton. Passed through large, industrial city on Lk Ontario while going to Toronto. I saw a lot of evidence that hockey rules here.

Halton Co. (2004)

Burlington. Passed through on the way to Toronto. Suburban.

Peel Co. (2004)

Mississauga. Large, twin city to Toronto. Looked like a highly developed suburb, but I didn't stop.

Wellington Co. (2004)

Toronto. This city is expensive like big cities should be and reminded me a lot of Chicago, another large city on a Great Lake. It had unique and varied ethnic neighborhoods like Chicago, a fully developed transit system like Chicago, and crime like Chicago. (My car was broken into here.) The ROM is no big deal and neither is the zoo. The best attraction is probably the Bata Shoe Museum. The main drag is quite an experience and the history around it was palpable. The people of Toronto seem messy to me and do not hesitate to litter. I was surprised at that. I liked the guano covered shore near Scarborough Bluffs.

Waterloo Co. (2004)

Passed through on the way home from Toronto. Kitchener.

Oxford Co. (2004)

Passed through on the way home from Toronto. Woodstock. Stopped at a truck stop near this city.

Middlesex Co. (2004)

Passed through on the way home from Toronto. London. Has a surprisingly large skyline. I had never heard of this city before passing through.

Elgin Co. (2004)

St. Thomas. Aylmer. Port Burwell. Vienna.

Chatham-Kent Co. (2004)

Passed through this farmland on the way home from Toronto.

Essex Co. (2004)

Comber. Felt like Wisconsin. Blytheswood. Leamington. Since I live on Leamington Avenue, I had to visit a city where people wouldn't ask me how to spell it. Claims to be the tomato capital of Canada. Veggie farming is prevelant in the soil around the southern Great Lakes. Point Pelee NP. The southernmost point in Canada where monarch butterflies gather by the thousands every fall. A spit of beach emerges from the forest and points south into the furious waves of Lake Erie. It is a powerful place. Windsor. Red Wings fans abound in this twin city to Detroit. There are no highways named for Tucumseh in America, are there?

Thunder Bay District (2004)

Beautiful wilderness abounds, isolated from the over-commercialized world. Pigeon River. Crossed border here. The Lk Superior hills open up a bit. Cloud Bay. Thunder Bay. A industrial port city in the middle of the woods on Lk Superior. It was much more interesting during my second visit. beautiful vista from atop the Terry Fox monument. Pass Lake. Last place to get supplies if you are headed down the peninsula. Sleeping Giant PP. Camped miles deep in the woods on this peninsula in the middle of a wind storm. Saw a black bear by the side of the road right before I began cooking beside a lake near loons and the "Giant," a hill shaped like a man laying down. Dorion. Panorama Mine. Amethyst mines that we explored on two occassions. This is the largest amethyst mine in the world and is different every time we visit. They let you dig through their junk... but a mine's junk can be your treasure for sure. The owner, an elderly mining veteran, is a world-class entrepeneur, saving rocks for when they cecome marketable. Hurkett. The edge of the wild is just north of here. Nipigon. Cold even in the middle of the summer. Isolated port atop Lk Superior. Lake Helen Res. Indian Reservation on the Nipigon Bluffs rise up along the Nipigon RIver. Shrouded with fog. Really wanted to keep going north along TC-11. Rossport. Rainbow Falls PP. Camped here in a bear-infested forest. Enjoyed hiking along the falls hidden in the woods. Schreiber. Terrace Bay. Planned city near a lumber area. Thank you to the stores here for clothing me after my unfortunate fall in Lk Superior. Marathon. Neys PP. I injured myself on the rocks here where a small stream meets Lk Superior. Extremely scenic and isolated. Kakabeka Falls. Slept near this quiet town along the Trans-Canada Hwy west of Thunder Bay. Everything closes early, but we managed to spot a pizza place that was open. It was just us and a few local truck drivers. Kakabeka Falls PP. Camped here in a very pleasant provincial park that features the beautiful falls. The falls look best shrouded in the early morning mist.

Lambton Co. (7/2007)

Sarnia. Passed through the border at the outlet of Lake Huron and stopped to change cash and get information in this small city. Sarnia is an underdog for sure. The area around it is surrounded by a mix of farmland interrupted by small glades.

Norfolk Co. (7/2007)

Port Rowan. Long Point PP. Turkey Point PP. Norfolk CA. Port Dover.

Haldimand Co. (7/2007)

Jarvis. Hagersville. Six Nations Res. Caledonia

Durham Co. (7/2007)

Passed through along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway on the way to the Adirondacks.

Northumberland Co. (7/2007)

Passed through along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway on the way to the Adirondacks.

Hastings Co. (7/2007)

Passed through along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway on the way to the Adirondacks.

Lennox & Addington Co. (7/2007)

Passed through along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway on the way to the Adirondacks.

Frontenac Co. (7/2007)

Passed through along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway on the way to the Adirondacks. Kingston.

Leeds & Grenville Co. (7/2007)

Passed through along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway on the way to the Adirondacks.

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A huge fiberglass Canadian Goose stands guard over TC-17 atop a hill overlooking the town of Wawa. "Wawa" is the Algonk word  for "Goose."

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These rocks on the shore of Lake Superior in Neys Provincial Park were so slippery that I injured myself climbing them.

The falls that give the nearby town of Kakabeka Falls its name. (2006)

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Sunset near Cape Gargantua on Lake Superior.

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The "gondola" that teeters above the dangerous Whirlpool of the Niagara River near Queenston.(2004)

The north shore of Lake Erie near Turkey Point. (2007)

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A rainbow atop the Horseshoe Falls of Niagara. (2004)


All photos (c) 2007 J. Bezold. All rights reserved.