Welcome to the Northern Ontario, Canada! Bigger than Texas, wilder than the west, more welcoming than a campfire in October, Northern Ontario is like no place else. The Northwest is famous for its spectacular fishing lakes, Algoma Countryhas Lake Superior as their back yard, and the Northeast provides excellent vacation destinations close to Toronto and other large urban centres in Southern Ontario.
Learn to kayak this summer
From the rocky shores of Lake Superior to the Toronto Harbourfront, Ontario is home to a wealth of stunning places to paddle; matched with world class instruction and expertise.
Take a dip in the waters of Georgian Bay near Parry Sound. White Squall, with 25 years of experience in kayak instruction, has classes running June through to September for every skill level. Try a workshop for beginners exploring essential strokes within a calm sheltered lake. Venture further out in the waters with one of many courses designed to fine tune your paddling technique. You can maximize your stay in the area by joining one of the weekend kayak trips exploring the nearby islands.
The sleek and fast design of the kayak is ideal for challenging whitewater adventures. The Madawaska Kanu Centre offers weekend and 5 day kayak courses; along with thrilling white water rafting trips along the Madawaska and Ottawa river. World renowned for kayak instruction, weekend kayak clinics will take you from flatwater to currents! Five day courses are arranged by skill level and gradually prepare you for more challenging whitewater.
Experience the big water of Lake Superior with certified instruction from Naturally Superior Adventures. Their Lake Superior paddling centre is a unique site with opportunities to go from sheltered flatwater to more advanced currents. Naturally Superior offers courses from beginner to advanced including sea kayak guide training, instructor level courses and four-day wilderness trips. Here you can learn basic skills for kayaking on white water in just one weekend!
Staying in the city? Head down to the Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre for one of many weekend and evening kayak courses. The centre features pool practice nights, kayak rescue courses, private lessons, kayak exercise classes and even a morning social paddle. Their weekend kayak courses are taught in small groups and offer you a chance to explore the Toronto Island Archipelago. Guided kayak tours, map and compass training and certification courses are also available.
For these and more great Ontario outdoor adventures visit: www.OntarioTravel.net/outdoor
Come for the fish and chips, stay for the adventure - Parry Sound
Welcome to Parry Sound! Read the signs that were plastered everywhere as we drove into the sleepy cottage town on the shores of Georgian Bay in central Ontario. We weren't sure if they were a warm welcome or quite protest, but they did demonstrated that the locals love their town and we were about to find out why.
It was a gorgeous summer day and Kevin and I decided to jump in the car and make the 3 hr drive from Peterborough to Parry Sound after receiving an invite from the local tourism group. We arrived at the visitor centre nice and early in the morning to meet with staff and find out what we had gotten ourselves into.
First Stop: Fly & Dine with Georgian Bay Airways
Our first stop of the day, after meeting the tourism folks, was at Georgian Bay Airways to do their signature trip: the Fly and Dine
Georgian Bay Airways hosts over 800 “Fly & Diners” a year, for an unforgettable lunch or dinner experience at World Famous Henry’s Fish Restaurant on Frying Pan Island in Sans Souci. Departing from their base in Parry Sound Harbour you will fly directly to Henry’s – accessed only by boat or seaplane – where you’ll be fed the best Pickerel (Walleye) you’ve ever had! Enjoy your meal while overlooking magnificent yachts parked at the docks, and beautiful Georgian Bay, then hop back on the plan for your return flight.
Operating from May to October out of Parry Sound’s beautiful downtown waterfront in the Heart of the 30,000 Islands, Georgian Bay Airways proudly offers a modern fleet of seaplanes to service all kinds of flying needs. Sightseeing Air Tours, Charters, and Flying Adventures are just a sample of the Georgian Bay Airways experience.
Second Stop: White Squall Paddling Centre
Our second stop was to see the folks at White Squall. Although they have a store right in town, we ventured just outside of town to see their paddling centre.
White Squall was born in 1985 with the simple desire to share the outdoors and paddling with others. Beginners of all ages, experience the fun of paddling with us in a quiet and easy way. The name came from the late Stan Roger’s song “White Squall”, a haunting ballad that captures the mystery and power of Georgian Bay.
White Squall is a leader in sea kayaking and offers a full range of skill and instructor certification through Paddle Canada for keen beginners to experts – with some of the best teaching staff in Canada. More than that, they simply love paddling through the islands of Georgian Bay, the largest freshwater island archipelago in the world and a UNESCO world biosphere reserve. Their trip groups are small, with a strong attention to environmental awareness. The geological and natural story of the coast is a fascinating tale. Wholesome, hearty meals are a highlight after being on the water, and you’ll have lots of time to swim, explore and simply take in the solitude of the Bay and her islands. Trips are led by a fully qualified guide and assistant guide and often a third apprentice comes along for training. Friendly staff will guide you on your way even if you have never kayaked before. Learn more on their kayak adventure page.
Third Stop: Killbear Provincial Park
Our third stop was at Killbear, just down the road from White Squall.
Killbear is one of the most visited Provincial Parks. It’s no surprise why, some campers consider Killbear to be their second home. Year after year people visit the park to take in the splendour of Georgian Bay; to relax on white sandy beaches protected by rocky headlands or walk a network of nature trails leading through tranquil woods. Water play is key at the park; whether it’s windsurfing, kayaking, motor cruising or sailing. Park regulars also take full advantage of the renowned natural heritage programming available and prime local attractions.
Killbear has the best of both worlds; it’s a place where the blustery wild winds off Georgian Bay give a sense of the neighbouring northern landscape and the multitude of nearby southern attractions make for an active holiday outing. One day you’ll find yourself kayaking through a cluster of the notable 30,000 Islands or taking a shoreline hike on top of a craggy outcrop to watch the sun set. Then the next you’re going into Parry Sound to experience the local farmer's market, art gallery or the two hour Island Queen’s inner-island tour.
And last but not least a good nights sleep
We ended our crazy adventure with a new appreciation for this not-so-sleepy-adventure-destination-of-a-town and a great nights sleep at the Bayside Inn.
“When you go there you sit around and you feel you’re there with them - they’re still there; they’ve left their mark in the way they painted that scene, and one gets to feel good about that.” - Jim Waddington
Simple curiosity. That’s all it took to launch a 30-year art history wilderness adventure. A journey of discovery that would unearth 160 Group of Seven sketching sites along with the stories and shared passions that brought the artists to these remote locations.
After choosing A.Y. Jackson’s painting, Hills, Killarney, Ontario (Nellie Lake), as inspiration for a rug hooking craft, Sue Waddington, and her husband Jim, decided to see if A.Y Jackson’s Nellie Lake was indeed the same one that is found in Killarney Provincial Park. With low expectations, but a great excuse for a family vacation, they packed up the kids and headed off to Killarney. After hefty portages and a lengthy hike up a blueberry filled ridge, to their amazement, laid out in front of them was the exact view that is in A.Y. Jackson’s painting.
Driven by the same curiosity and sense of adventure that many people said A.Y. Jackson had, the Waddington family pushed on even deeper into Killarney to another isolated lake. A few years later they discovered that a number of their photos from this trip looked strikingly familiar. After a visit to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, they returned to Killarney with copies of Group of Seven art and a rejuvenated hunger for discovery; a hunger that would reveal 160 Group of Seven sketch sites over a 30 year period.
Inspired by the enthusiasm of Jim and Sue, the McMichael launched a project celebrating the adventures of the Waddingtons that includes an interactive website and a gallery exhibition. Titled FootPrints: Legacy of the Group of Seven, the website takes visitors on six different adventures - through audio, video, text and images - that explore the Waddingtons’ extraordinary quest. You can read the story of the Group of Seven, get involved by checking out the teaching resources, learning about new ideas in education, or research the McMichael’s extensive collection database. The FootPrints project also encourages you to make your own history by sharing your stories about art and creativity using their community message board.
Following in the Footsteps of the Group of Seven is a gallery exhibit showcasing photographs of the sketching and painting locations tracked down by the Waddingtons and the corresponding Group of Seven artworks by Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, and J.E.H. MacDonald.
Let a little inspiration spark your adventurous spirit. You might find your eureka moment waiting for you in the landscape of Ontario Parks.
This story originally appeared in the Ontario Parks Insider e-newsletter: become an Insider today
Explore Ontario From The Trees This Spring
What is zip-lining?
Zip-lining is best described as close to flying through the trees with the birds as it comes. Participants don a harness with a carabiner that is attached to a wheel on a cable strung between trees. You push off from a platform on one tree and zip along the cable to a platform on another tree. You can be anywhere from 20- to 80-feet off the ground and, literally, flying between the trees at a height where birds hang out.
The thing about zip-lining is, in contrast to the idea that it’s an extreme sport it’s very much geared for a wide range of ages and abilities. There are a few different options available in Ontario – from straight lines running down hill, to multi-platform full canopy tours.
Spring is a season of transition, as we move from our favourite winter activities into gearing up for fun outdoors in warmer weather. It’s a time when we put our waterproofing to the test for the last few thrills in the snow and bit of chill in the air.
One of the best activities to get you out of the slush and feeling that exhilarating high of adventure is zip-lining. The event gained a lot of attention this winter in Vancouver at the Olympics, but there’s no need to go west for the experience. In fact, Ontario is home to several zip-line courses. From tree top adventures, complete with observation platforms and scenic guides, to the sheer thrill of soaring straight down hill at top speeds reaching 50 kilometres per hour.
1 ARBRASKA TREE TOP TREKKING
Location: Horseshoe Valley (Barrie)
Relive your childhood dreams at Treetop Trekking Horseshoe, situated at Horseshoe Valley Resort, an hour’s drive north of Toronto and just minutes outside of Barrie. You’ll discover the park in the Copeland forest located on the resort.
2 EAGLECREST AERIAL PARK
Billed as the “Ultimate Treetop Experience" for the whole family, teams, groups and corporate training, spend three hours at 10-50 feet in the forest canopy of the majestic pines located along the Muskoka River. The giant 350ft zip-line across water will give you a thrilling ride.
3 LONG POINT ECO-ADVENTURE
Location: St. Williams
Travel high above the forest floor and take in the views overlooking Long Point Bay World Biosphere and Turkey Point Marsh. Between each zip you will be able to enjoy the amazing views from the observation platforms.
4 PINE RIDGE ZIP LINES
Location: Chicopee Hills (Kitchener)
Experience over 300 meters of soaring fun, starting from one of the highest and most scenic elevations that the Chicopee Hills have to offer. Enjoy a breathtaking ride while taking in a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and trees.
5 SCENIC CAVES/NATURE ADVENTURES/ECO ADVENTURE TOUR
Location: Blue Mountain (Collingwood)
High among 200 year-old oak trees, up to 60 feet above the ground, get ready for an experience like no other. Explore the beauty and wildlife of the picturesque forest valley at the top of Blue Mountain, as you become one with the birds, then soar along the new 1,000ft zip line.
6 TREETOP ADVENTURES
Location: Goulais River
Ride the Big Zip, play some paintball or test your agility on the tree-top obstacle course. Trek across cables, beams, and logs, cross wobbly bridges, swing like Tarzan, zip line with speed, and test your balance as you maneuver through many obstacles, all while safely attached with two carabiners.
Location: Canopy Tour, Haliburton
Take a “Walk in the Clouds" through treetops on the world’s longest canopy walkway at Halliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve. Over half a kilometer long, the canopy boardwalk winds through the treetops some 10-20 meters above the forest floor. A platform suspended from the treetops above, becomes the gathering place where your guide elaborates on the forest environment surrounding you.
For more ideas on Spring Highlight in Ontario, visit www.ontariotravel.net/outdoor
Photography workshops in the wilds of Ontario
Ever wonder how photographers capture the vividness of autumn colours or the raw crisp edges of a rugged coastline? Ever wish you could capture an extraordinary glimpse of a moose or rare bird? Bring your camera and come discover the nuances of nature photography from Ontario's best. You can learn all the skills and techniques necessary to produce exceptional photographs; meanwhile taking time to explore some of Ontario's most unique landscapes.
Moose Photography in Algonquin Park
Algonquin Park is one of Ontario's most well known spots for canoeing and viewing moose. Voyageur Quest offers the opportunity to combine a canoe tripping experience with some hands-on instruction in moose photography. This 3 day and 2 night canoe trip will take you through the Northwest corner of Algonquin with professional photographer Rob Stimpson. Here, with the help of your skilled guides, you'll have the opportunity view and photograph one of Canada's most iconic animals - the moose. The trip will take you through gorgeous mixed maple forests and several spectacular wildlife viewing locations. All accommodations, meals, equipment, park permits, workshops and campsites are included. For more information visit: VoyageurQuest.com
The Best of the Bruce
Looking for luxury? Come join this small group photography workshop combined with incredible accommodations, fine foods and the spectacular beauty of the Georgian Bay shoreline. Through custom chartered boat excursions, participants will explore landscapes not accessible by foot. Guided by expert photographer Ethan Meleg, the workshop is hosted at the renowned award winning ecolodge E'Terra. Rise early to catch the wonderful light of the sunset and learn more about practical lighting techniques in the field, composition and image contrast. For more information visit: EthanMeleg.com
For the avid birder, an overnight workshop is the perfect way to explore techniques related to nature and wildlife photography in the heart of Presqu'il Provincial Park. An ideal location for viewing a wide variety of birds, this workshop is guided by experienced nature and wildlife photographer Tony Beck. Covering techniques specific to this form of photography, participants will explore a region known for being a birding 'hot spot'. The workshop takes place during peak fall migration and a myriad of different bird species will be encountered. For more details visit OntarioTravel.net/outdoor
Not having to buy all that camping gear makes trying it out very affordable
Don’t have camping gear? or looking for more hands on learning? Check out these all inclusive camping packages, which include instruction on how to use all that gear.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park is offering an all inclusive camping experience that includes all equipment and activities, from pick-up in Honey Harbour and pre-assembled luxury tents to guided hikes, canoeing and campfires. Located in the south east corner of Georgian Bay, this park is only accessible by water, which means every campsite is an island site. It also means that you will be surrounded by canoeing , kayaking, hiking, boating and great swimming options. More information and reservations can be made at www.pccamping.ca
A bit further to the north east, Algonquin North Outfitters is offering a similar program in either Algonquin or Samuel de Champlain provincial park. Each Discover Camping trip is customized and you get to decide where to camp. The program includes a 2 hour learn to camp tutorial, campground fees, comfortable tents, all your cooking gear along with optional activities, such as canoeing or a GPS lesson.
If you are looking to kick it up a notch on the scale of comfort and instruction, then head to Samuel de Champlain provincial park just outside Mattawa. They are offering a more intensive learn to camp experience that is geared towards groups of 8 to 20. The two night package will provide the novice camper with hands on experience on all aspects of camping from cooking to lighting a fire. One of the highlights will be retiring each night to your ultra comfy tent for a good nights sleep.
Bookings and details on both these experiences can be found at www.visitmattawa.travel
For more great camping ideas, visit www.ontariotravel.net/outdoor
Northwestern Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park and northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are among North America’s best-known canoe destinations but North of Superior’s lesser-known Wabakimi Provincial Park is as big as those two areas combined, offering some 2000 kilometres of amazing canoe routes.
Wabakimi Park is a true northern wilderness, featuring the world’s largest boreal forest reserves and spectacular views of the Canadian Shield. Home to woodland caribou, moose, eagles and wolves, the park was established in 1983, largely due to the efforts of Thunder Bay/Superior North’s new MP Bruce Hyer as well as many other long time residents of the Town of Armstrong.
Visitors can fly from Armstrong’s numerous fly-in bases in to remote lodges and camps to sport fish or they can enter the 892,061 (2.3 million acre) park by train and canoe. Paddling treks can take as few as three days and are a great chance for novices (with help of guides) to sample variety of types of paddling, from gentle streams, crystal clear lakes (there are 12,000 of them in the park) and long rapids.
Wabakimi is also known for outstanding fishing for trophy walleye and great northern pike along with lake trout and speckled trout. Ask your guide to take you to all the hot spots and be sure to visit www.northofsuperior.org for a long list of lodges and outfitters in the Wabakimi Park area!
Chuck and I chalked up another good fishing and boating season at Limerick Lake. We always enjoy our visits to Northern Ontario, especially at the lodge and meeting the friendly cottagers around the lake. Even my wife, Nancy, became a full-fledged bass angler at Limerick and always looks forward to her trips to the lake.
We enjoy occasional trips to the busy little town of Bancroft. They're doing a good job with the improvements to the lodge and cabins. The Limerick Lake web site is outstanding with its photos of successful anglers, lake activities and updates. It's a good source of information for anyone interested in a fishing trip to Limerick Lake, especially anglers from here in the states. As always, we are looking forward to our trips in the next year. As Chuck always says, "a vacation at Limerick Lake is good for whatever ails you."
I have been taking fishing trips in Northern Ontario for the past two years. Klotz Lake Camp is very clean, affordable for families, and easy to reach. The cabins they have are nicely situated, close to the washroom facility, and the fish cleaning station.
Being a family run business for more then 40 years, there is very little that the owners cannot help with. When it comes to directions the owners know where all of the best spots are. Whether it's a fishing hole that's hidden away, or a remote lake, these guys know their way around.
The washrooms are spotless and cleaned daily. They have cabins with cold running water, or more modern cabins with hot and cold with showers. For those wishing to take their RV, they have water and electric hook-ups in a quiet area past the boat launch, however we have had seven people fit comfortably in a cabin without any problems at all.
There are many lakes to fish from while visiting Klotz Lake Camp; Klotz Lake, Flynn Lake, Flint Lake, Peanut Lake, Batiste Lake, and Chowder Lake, just to name a few. If you need any supplies most of the lakes have a small store that has many supplies on hand, however the town on Longlac is only about a 30 minute drive away. Sometimes one of the owners (Mike and Toni) may be heading that way, they're always happy to pick up any supplies you may need.
I definitely would recommend Klotz Lake Camp to anyone looking for a great time fishing in Nothern Ontario. I have nothing but good things to say about this camp.