updated on: July 4, 2017
Planning an Accessible Wilderness Getaway
Everyone can enjoy all that the Great Outdoors has to offer in Northeastern Ontario!
Everyone should be able to enjoy Northeastern Ontario’s beautiful wilderness and tourism destinations, regardless of age or ability. Planning a trip can be stressful enough, even without taking accessibility into account. This article aims to help individuals with mobility limitations plan a wilderness adventure by highlighting some of the accessible accommodations and activities in the French River, Manitoulin Island, and Temiskaming Shores regions.
Editor's Note: Please note that these aren't the only options available! Check out our operator profiles for those with the green "Wheelchair Accessible" tag to get started.
The French River
Home to some of Ontario’s best fishing and boating, the French River is an ideal setting for a wilderness adventure. This scenic and historically significant trade route flows from Lake Nipissing into Georgian Bay. Along the way you will find thousands of small islands, rapids, waterfalls, and close-knit communities to explore.
Totem Point Lodge
The family-owned Totem Point Lodge located on Wolseley Bay offers accessible accommodation and fishing experiences. There are three wheelchair accessible cabins (#6, 7, and 9) with ramps to entry, wide doorways which allow access to every room, and some bathroom equipment (grab bars and higher toilets). Guests will need to provide their own tub bench or shower chair if needed. The docks are accessible to individuals who use mobility devices, including wheelchairs. The lodge offers a pontoon boat as an accessible option for fishing.
Mashkinonje Provincial Park, West Nipissing
The barrier-free trail starts at the Loudon Peatlands trailhead, approximately 10 minutes south of Lavigne. The first 600 metres of trail was redeveloped in 2012 to become completely wheelchair-accessible. This portion of trail includes multiple rest stops, viewpoints, and a boardwalk (pictured above) that leads to a lookout platform with a stunning view of the wetland. The trail also features accessible washrooms, parking and picnic tables.
The French River Trading Post
No trip to the French River is complete without a stop at the French River Trading Post. The trading post sells local First Nation handicrafts, a wide selection of Canadian-made moccasins, souvenirs, and delicious homemade fudge. Further satisfy your sweet tooth with some ice cream or enjoy some locally-caught fresh fish at the adjacent Hungry Bear Restaurant. Both the trading post and restaurant are equipped with ramps to entry and automatic doors.
Manitoulin Island is the world’s largest freshwater island and boasts breathtaking scenery including over 100 inland lakes, rivers, escarpments and boreal forest. A visit to this beautiful island is sure to please any nature lover.
Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre
The Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre in Little Current was built in 2013, making it the first hotel built on the island in over a century. Its design was inspired by the rich history of the First Nations people in the area. Located on the North Channel of Lake Huron, this hotel would make a great base for exploring all the natural beauty this island has to offer. There are seven wheelchair-accessible King rooms and four wheelchair accessible King suites available.
If you are looking for a more rustic accommodation, Pirate’s Cove on Mindemoya Lake offers one wheelchair accessible cottage. This cottage is equipped with three main floor bedrooms and a loft. The bathroom has grab bars, a high toilet, and a pedestal sink; however, there is a bathtub. The dock area is also wheelchair accessible, but be aware that the beach is down a small hill. The nearby waterfront Ketchankookem Trail has an accessible portion (paved road) for 5 km.
Providence Bay Beach Boardwalk
Providence Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Northeastern Ontario. It is located on the southern shore of Manitoulin Island and offers visitors not only gorgeous views of Lake Huron, but also a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk trail and playground.
Misery Bay Provincial Park Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve
There is barrier-free access to the Misery Bay Visitor Centre, which offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the alvar ecosystem and significant wetland found in the park. Portions of a trail from the Visitor Centre are wheelchair-accessible. The Friends of Misery Bay began working on this 1.1-km barrier-free trail last year, and it is anticipated to be completed in 2018.
The vibrant community of Temiskaming Shores is nestled at the head of Lake Temiskaming, which goes on to become the Ottawa River. Temiskaming Shores is a hub of agriculture, forestry, and mining activity, and is well-suited to meet the needs of any type of traveller.
Les Suites des Presidents
Les Suites des Presidents offers accommodation in historical homes in the quaint community of Haileybury. The resort’s new restaurant Café Meteor Bistro, named after a steamship that navigated Lake Temiskaming for 40 years, features a ramp and automatic doors for the entrance and bathroom.
The Ferland Suite is a good option for guests with reduced mobility, including wheelchair users. It features a level entry, ramp to access the large veranda, toilet and tub grab bars, raised toilet seat, and tub transfer bench. There is also adequate space for a mechanical lift under the bed if needed.
The owners also plan on making the Lumber Baron Suite’s main floor accessible by adding a ramp to enter. Once this is done, the 2,000-square-foot main floor will be wheelchair accessible.
South Temiskaming Trail
Thanks to the efforts of the South Temiskaming Active Travel Organization (STATO), everybody can enjoy the paved South Temiskaming waterfront trail. STATO is working toward connecting the three communities of Dymond, New Liskeard and Haileybury through this accessible, year-round, multi-use trail system with around 19 km completed so far.
Elk Lake Eco Centre
Located north of Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Park, the Elk Lake Eco Centre is a multi-use facility offering programs involving sustainability and outdoor adventure. It also functions as a conference centre, training facility, and event venue. The main centre is wheelchair-accessible and has two dining areas and conference rooms. All chalet entrances are ground level and one chalet is specially equipped for wheelchair users. This accessible chalet has wider doors and a large roll-in shower with grab bars and a seat. Although the Centre’s docks are not accessible, there are nearby docks with ramp access, and the Centre can arrange a pontoon boat excursion upon request.