The great lakes and major waterways of Ontario are known to be some of the finest freshwater cruising grounds in the world and consequently are generally quite busy. But there is a lesser-known lake that shares a border with Quebec and Ontario that offers something completely different, without sacrificing key amenities like great marinas, full-service accommodations, and top-notch restaurants along the way.
Although this place is thought of as "remote," it really only takes a few hours to get there. And when you're there, you're not competing for space.
Lake Temiskaming is just over 100 km long, and about 300 square km in total area. The lake is quite deep with depths over 200 meters (700 feet) in some places, making for safe navigation regardless of your boat's draft. With 90% of the shoreline being Crown Land, taking a closer look and exploring the land is easy and accessible.
The lake itself has dozens of islands of varying sizes, so it offers up some interesting navigation possibilities. The lake itself was formed as part of glacial activity combined with a fault line that created some of the incredible landscape seen on this waterway. Most notable is likely Devil's Rock, an ancient cliff that vaults 300 feet in the air from the waters of Lake Temiskaming, and is a favourite among hikers and boaters.
The land surrounding the lake ranges from the dense boreal forest and rocks of the Canadian Shield to wide-open rolling hills that sit on a natural clay belt, making the region well suited for the large amount of agricultural activity that takes place here. The northern section of the lake is even known for some local delicacies that can only be found in this region. The most useful document in navigating the lake and discovering some of these truly unique features is the Lake Temiskaming Tour pamphlet.
The water and islands here are easily navigable and navigation maps readily from the Canadian Hydrographic Services, and any of the marinas can be counted on to offer intelligent information on how to traverse this waterway safely and with the most possible enjoyment for yourself and your passengers.
There are five marinas on the lake: Temiskaming Shores (New Liskeard), Temiskaming Shores (Haileybury), Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Ville-Marie, and Témiscaming. These marinas are set in the major cities along the lake, each with their own personalities. The City of Temiskaming Shores is in Ontario, with major shopping centres and smaller shops throughout with a bustling downtown. Ville-Marie is at about the middle point of the lake on the Quebec side and home to the foodie festival "La Foire Gourmande." Duhamel-Ouest is just north of Ville-Marie and is home to great historical sites. Notre-Dame-du-Nord is in the farthest northern reaches of the lake.
As the lake is bordered by two provinces and includes First Nations lands of the Algonquin people, you'll typically find that both French and English being spoken in the region, regardless of where you are on the lake.
Perhaps the best thing about this cultural diversity is how their cultural pride translates into events that transcend the run-of-the-mill with impeccable theatre, incredible culinary festivals, and a great knowledge, respect and a kind of joyful preservation of their past, rarely seen elsewhere in the province.
Children and families love the Haileybury beach and waterslide and the "Harder for Carter" Skate Park in New Liskeard. There's also a fossilarium in Notre-Dame-du-Nord and a renowned chocolate store "Chocolats Martine" in Ville-Marie.
Golfers will love being able to access two golf courses just a short distance from their boat, and shopping in New Liskeard and Ville-Marie are just a step away from the marina, some stores even offering a pick-up service at the dock.
Fort Témiscamingue-Obadjiwan National Historic Site in Duhamel-Ouest is an incredible trip back in time and demonstrates the importance of the fur trade to the settlement of this region—it's also very accessible by boat, with a great dock system to welcome boaters and personal watercraft users. This site shares a small peninsula with La Bannik, a full-service resort that includes a gourmet restaurant with a truly incomparable view of the lake.
Getting great food is only a few steps from the marina in all towns; from chip stands to sophisticated nights out, the region covers many bases.
Accommodations best setup to handle boaters in this region are the President's Suites in Haileybury, the Waterfront Inn in New Liskeard, La Bannik in Duhamel Ouest (with private cabins as well as an RV park) and the Eugène Auberge and Bistro in Ville-Marie. The most striking views of the lake from restaurants happen at the Eugene Bistro, La Bannik and Rooster's in New Liskeard, which is directly connected to the Waterfront Inn.
So next time you're thinking about a weekend or longer outing on your boat, you might want to think about changing the scenery and challenging your navigation skills by exploring a waterway that boasts three cultures, two provinces, and one big, amazing lake.