Aguasabon Falls & Gorge, Butter Tarts, Fort William Historical Park, Gitchi Gumi, Lake Superior, Ontario, Pickle Lake, Thunder Bay
With our plan having now evolved to checking out Lake Superior on our way to Thunder Bay we crossed into Ontario on RT 101 where the traffic was almost at once much lighter. Don’t know why but it gave Ed a break as he regularly tends to drive on the shoulder (when there is one) to allow folks to pass us easily. We were headed for Wawa where we’d take the TCH 17 which is the Ontario part of the Lake Superior Circle Tour. NOTE: The Trans Canada Highway is generally just called the TCH but notice that it has a number. That is because it’s actually many different roads. It can be equated to our interstates.
The landscaped changed with more rock and initially some small mountains, but that didn’t last although the rock did.
In Wawa at the Embassy Restaurant, which has a very grand name for a very down home place, we had a really good cheeseburger. Believing it’s always right to help folks hanging on, we recommend you too stop for a meal if in the area.
Our next stop for the night was in Marathon another town barely hanging on but they have a very nice municipal park, Penn Lake Park where we stayed two nights. In town there is also one of the nicest coin laundries I’ve ever used, although it was a bit expensive. There’s also Rumours where we had our first homemade butter tarts WOW! I don’t particularly care for real sweet and rich but OMG!!! They are reason enough to go to Marathon, Ontario, YUM!
We stopped for the short walk out to Aguasabon Falls & Gorge. This is a man made waterfall! In the late 1940’s in an effort to assure ample water for the Aguasabon Generating Station, Ontario Hydro built a dam at the northern end of Long Lake to redirect its northern flow, south. This in turn, massively enlarged Hays Lake. The spillway from Hays created these falls.
We have been chuckling to ourselves because for a great deal of this route is too far away from Lake Superior to see it. Where it is visible it’s often through trees and just “oh there’s water out there”. We’ll see a sign indicating a lookout (in the US we call that a scenic view) and there is nothing to see and/or too many trees to see anything anyway. Several times there’s a lovely view but the official lookout is past the good view! It also didn’t help that the light was really crummy. We never took a picture because the view was crummy.
We stopped for the night at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park which is on Marie Louise Lake.
In the morning we drove on down 587 to the end of Sleeping Giant where there’s a very narrow loop through the small summer cottages by Lake Superior. Then back north up RT 587 to the 5.6 mile long dirt road that goes to the excellent Thunder Bay Lookout. This is not a road for anything larger than us, (nor wary drivers) and the end is a bit hazardous to tires, but we are so glad we went!
After enjoying the view of Thunder Bay and carefully driving back down we headed for Fort William Historical Park just south of the city where we camped for two nights. NOTE: Contrary to what the webpage says, the campground is not on the banks of anything and certainly not wilderness, but it is convenient with good wifi.
However if your are lucky, you will have good neighbors like we did with Paul and Anita. If you are really lucky, somebody like little Izzy will come jump in your lap!
The original Fort William (so named in 1807) was established in 1803. The North West Company (Nor’Westers ) had been operating their fur trade out of Grand Portage but after the signing of the Jay Treaty between England and America ceded that area to the US, Nor’Westers moved to Canada to avoid paying US taxes. Initially located at the mouth of the Kaministiquia River near Lake Superior the site was lost in the 1880’s to railroad tracks and coal piles. This reconstructed Fort William Historical Site further up the Kaministiquia River opened in 1973 and is most impressive in size and authenticity.
As I mentioned in our last post some of this particular adventure has been about “just to say we’ve been there” and to that end Ed wanted to go to Pickle Lake. This is the furthest north one can drive in Ontario Province on paved road.
Our last two nights in Canada were at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park just north of Thunder Bay.
We have enjoyed this visit to Canada but are happy to now be back to the States. We have stayed in many provincial and municipal parks this time and recommend them…HOWEVER….most have varying degrees of leveling issues, some pretty bad. Most only have electric at some/most sites. Water is generally available but not always. Dump stations also may not be available. Electric, especially in Ontario can be a LONG ways away from your site. We worked things out but we have lots of leveling blocks, extra water hose and electric cable and in truth aren’t too particular. So while we do recommend staying in these parks, go prepared and with a sense of humor…or at least a bottle of wine after you’re settled in 🙂