Archive for Ontario

Lake Superior Circle Tour – Ontario and Minnesota

Ralph and I drove the Lake Superior Circle Tour – driving the northern perimeter of Lake Superior thru Ontario.  We entered Canada thru Sault Ste Marie Michigan/Ontario, and came back to the states at Pigeon River, Ontario, and then drove to Duluth, MN.

MY THOUGHTS ON ONTARIO: Each town seemed to look alike with boxy, nondescript looking buildings.  Lots of boarded up/abandoned hotels and businesses. Very poor communities. Maybe an A&W or KFC or Chubby Chicken in each town. Can easily count the open businesses on one hand.

None of the towns except Red Rock [half hour from Thunder Bay] take advantage of being near or on the water. Again, with the possible exception of Red Rock, there really were NO towns that could be described as quaint or cute or any reason to go there to have dinner or picnic near the Lake in a pretty setting.  As you’ve picked up by now, I think that the most pleasant town was Red Rock, which just happened to be having a folk festival while we were there.  Unfortunately, we got there just as it ended.

I was surprised that you couldn’t see/view Lake Superior as much as I would have thought.

We obtained the Circle Tour Adventure Guide for Ontario.  Each town wrote up their own summary, I suspect with the help of a very descriptive fiction writer.  The best one was for Manitouwadge.   The write ups all pretty much say the same thing for each town… wonderful Lake activities, hidden gem, special gem, great campsites …  The Guide should really have an unbiased person write up their thoughts for each town.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE MINNESOTA PORTION: Ahh, this is more like it.  Once you enter back into the States, there is more/better access to the Lake. Unfortunately, there were zero passing lanes on the 2 lane road. 

The little towns are on/next to the Lake.  Resorts on the Lake [NOT so keen about this].  We stopped in Grand Marais, MN and really enjoyed that small, cute lakeside tourist town.

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Crossing the Canadian Border Back Into the States

I was telling Ralph that one time when I was in Maine and driving north to cross the border into Quebec. I was on this deserted 2 lane road. NO other cars. NO houses. NO towns. NO businesses. Just nature and a river. I was surprised that there wasn’t any signs letting me know that the border is 10 miles away, 5 miles away… The first sign I saw was that the border was a half mile away.

We were on the highway from Thunder Bay, Ontario heading towards the US border at Pigeon River. Here they gave us 500m notice!

Again, since I have troubles crossing the border, we had decided beforehand that Ralph would do all the talking.

We got the third degree from the initial border police guy. He seemed “friendly” in asking us a lot of questions. My favorite exchange?

Border Guy: When does your drivers license expire?
Ralph: I don’t know… the renewal date is on the front.
Border Guy: This seems like a really old license, since you look REALLY young in the photo.
Ralph: I still look really young! You wouldn’t guess that I’m 37 … would you??
Border Guy laughs.

They had us pull over for more questions and to inspect the car… “due to us having a rental car”. Riggght.

We proceeded to the very cold office while they asked us more of the same questions. They seemed real interested in Ralph being a professor and what he taught.

We were inside, so I couldn’t tell how much of the car they inspected, but it didn’t seem like much when we returned to the car. They never asked us what all we bought [“anything to declare?”].

They soon let us enter the states.

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Trans-Canada highway 17 – Around Lake Superior in Ontario

Trans-Canada Highway 17 is mostly 2 lanes.  However they did a good job of having lots of passing lanes.  They are also very anti-litter, since I saw a sign for a trash can every 4 -7 miles.  All the public highway signs were bi-lingual [French].

Unfortunately, there was A LOT graffiti on the rocks. There were also a lot of cairns on the rocks. Unsure why.

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NO Yapping on Your Cell Phone While Driving in Ontario

It is against the law to yap on your cell phone while driving in Ontario. I didn’t see one person talking while driving…VERY nice to see people obeying the law.  Unlike here in Bend, where it’s against the law but it seems just about every fourth car/driver is yapping away.

Check out their teenage driving laws for those under the age of 20:

* NO driving between midnight and 5 am.

* Can have only 1 other passenger under 20 in the car for the first 6 months after getting their drivers license, and then no more than 3 passengers under 20 in the car, until the driver reaches the age of 20 or obtains a full license.

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Kakabeka Falls – Outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario

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OLG Casino in Downtown Thunder Bay, Ontario

When we checked into our hotel, and the clerk gave us players club coupons worth $15 each at the OLG Casino.  The casino is owned by the government of Ontario.  It is NON smoking!!!

We decided to use our coupons, and won $21 playing video blackjack!

For What Its Worth: my ATM did NOT work at the casino.

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Terry Fox Memorial – Thunder Bay, Ontario


We were talking to some bikers at a Tim Hortons regarding what she we do in Thunder Bay, and Joe said we needed to see the Terry Fox Memorial.  As we walked away, I laughed to myself that it would have been “funny” if we said “Who’s Terry Fox?”.  As I was telling this to Ralph, he said “Who isTerry Fox?”.  Ahem…he’s too young to remember the made-for-tv-movie!

For others who don’t know who he is, this is from Wikipedia:  In 1980, Terry Fox, with one leg having been amputated due to cancer, embarked on a cross Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. However, the spread of his cancer forced him to end his quest after 143 days and 3,339 miles, and ultimately cost him his life.  He ended his run just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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Aguasabon Falls & Gorge – Near Terrace Bay, Ontario

The photo on the left is the gorge.  Notice something’s missing?  Yep…NO falls, which is in the “official” photo, below.  The photo on the right is of the river after we hiked a mile towards Lake Superior [which is in the background].

This is the official photo from

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White River, Ontario – Home of Winnie the Pooh

We stopped in White River because it is “the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh”, and wanted to find out more about that [see below]. 

The Pooh Festival was taking place the following weekend, featuring singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, who just happens to be one of my favs. We weren’t going to be around, so would be missing it.  That said, I was surprised that the ticket cost to see him was $25!  Which is simply outrageous in this very small, very poor community.

Also, the town features an original Canadian Pacific Railroad Caboose, but it is now closed due to homeless people sleeping in it and trashing it.

Story behind Winnie the Pooh, per White River‘s website: 

In White River, there was a little black bear cub that became an orphan when a hunter killed her mother. She was found by a trapper.  The trapper sold the bear cub to soldier Harry Colebourn who was on a train stopover.  The soldier once lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba and decided to name the little cub “Winnipeg” [Winnie] after his hometown. 

The soldier eventually ended up in England.  Soon he was being shipped to France, so he made arrangements to keep Winnie in the London Zoo until he returned. Winnie soon became a favorite attraction. People would knock on her door and she would open it and come out. She would allow children to ride on her back and she would eat from their hands. The attendants who cared for her stated that Winnie was completely trustworthy. Other bears were not allowed to have such a close relationship with the visiting public.  When Colebourn saw how popular she was, he decided he would not take her back to Canada as he had planned. She was officially donated to the Zoo on December 1, 1918.

Winnie captured the hearts of many visitors to the Zoo, among them A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin Milne.  It was Christopher who added “Pooh” to Winnie’s name. He got the name from his pet swan named Pooh. Christopher was given a bear on his birthday which he called “Winnie-the-Pooh”.

A.A. Milne started to write stories about a love-able bear in his children’s books based on that bear in the Zoo. In his first edition in 1926, he mentioned that these stories were about this bear and his son and his son’s stuffed animals.

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Scenic High Water Falls Near Wawa, Ontario

Scenic High Water Falls on the Magpie River.

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