The Grand Algoma - DAY 3
We woke early, packed up our bikes, and were greeted by Brian and Nick of Wawa Tourism for an interpretive talk and tour of the town and the surrounding area.
Our next stop, Young’s General Store, sees 30,000 people visit annually. Amazing! When in Wawa, I highly recommend stopping in and getting a massive pickle from the barrel. Pickle in a bag! It’s also a great place to find authentic souvenirs from local artists. I picked up a few pairs of locally made moccasins for my parents and my baby niece.
Next, we followed Brian and Nick south on the Trans-Canada about 10 minutes from the iconic goose monument to a dirt road off of the highway.
After crossing a beautiful waterfall, we arrived at Sandy Beach. The first thing we saw was the Sandy Beach Learning Pavilion. It tells the history of the early settlements and subsequent relocations over several hundred years of Michipicoten First Nation and its ancestors. It is worth taking a look and read through.
The beach lays on the shores of Lake Superior, where Group of Seven painter A.Y. Jackson’s cottage once sat. As I stood on the sand looking out to the islands that lay in the distance, I was brought back to when I was an elementary school kid taking that class trip to the AGO and my first introduction to the powerful images of the Group of Seven. Where my imagination soared, I could see the familiar landscape portrayals of the Group in real life.
How mesmerizing to see it in person. Waterfalls crossing at Magpie River, dirt roads, and scenic views—I could spend all day exploring this rugged landscape. I encourage you to do that.
We said goodbye to Brian and Nick and as we were heading back to the bikes we had the luck to cross paths with Dianne Whelan. This incredible woman was on a journey by canoe, portage, and hike on the longest trail in the world, the newly opened Great Trail.
We had the wonderful opportunity to talk to her about her travels and her decision to make a very drastic lifestyle change. She's now in a documentary about reconnecting through a journey connected to the first founders of this land. You never know who you will cross paths with up here. The most interesting people with incredible stories. You can learn more about her journey here.
Having been gifted with meeting such inspirational people, we decided to explore the dirt roads in the surrounding areas. We came across Naturally Superior Adventures in a tucked-away spot. They offer canoe and kayak tours, as well as training in stand-up paddling, wilderness first aid, and more. What a great place to do it!
Old Woman Bay is a great place to have a stretch and walk down to the water's edge. As we collected stones to skip in the lake we saw Dianne in the distance, canoeing to a far out island in the distance. I gave her a silent farewell as she continued her spiritual journey across our great land.
Katherine Cove and the Agawa Rock Pictographs
As soon as you enter the park the temptation to explore are endless. We decided to take a little hike at Katherine Cove. Walking the water’s edge, climbing over rocks and beach, we found a wonderfully private rock bath where we jumped in for an icy dip. We didn’t encounter anyone on our hike. It was like it was made for us.
Ten minutes down the Trans-Canada, and still in Lake Superior Provincial Park, we arrived at the Agawa Rock Pictographs. The name in Ojibwe is Mazinaubikiniguning, which means "the adorned rock on Agawa Lake.”
This is a must as you travel through the park. The pictographs are on sacred land of the Objiwe people. They are said to have been created around the 17th and 18th centuries, depicting dreams, events of the time, and possible visions.
The images have endured through some of the harshest of elements over the centuries. That being said, please respect and preserve the pictographs. Do not touch the paintings.
The hike is rugged, descending 30 metres (98 feet) through beautiful cracked boulders, cliffs, and stunningly beautiful forest. The slanted granite cliff’s edge featuring the pictographs is only reachable if weather permits. Lake Superior, the biggest of all the great lakes, can be very unpredictable and very dangerous.
That day, Andrew and I were graced with not only glassy water but again, no one else around. You can’t help but feel the power of this land. This is the time to put the phone and camera away and simply breath into your surroundings. Find the soothing and commanding presence this land offers.
The Best Schnitzel You’re Ever Going to Eat
We arrived late to our next stop, the Lake Shore Salzburger Hof Resort. Two Austrians, Ann and Ralph Elsigan, opened its doors in 1972. Currently run by the whole family, and still committed to authentic Austrian food, they continue to spread the love in Batchawana Bay.
Despite the unrelenting rain pouring down on us as the sun set on Lake Superior, I couldn’t help but have a sense of calm. We rode down the dirt road to the resort and were greeted with lively banter and warmth as we walked in.
We were told it’s the best schnitzel around, so Andrew and I ordered one each with a cup of the house-made split pea soup. The soup tasted just like my mother made it—chunks of ham and hearty veg. The cranberry jam on the bread tasted like the inside of a cranberry pie. We felt at home, most of the people eating were bikers too.
“You know this place is good because it’s busy and it’s out of the way,” Andrew explained. The drive in is about 6 km from Highway 7, then another 2 km down a dirt road.
We were full and happy. With a break in the rain, we figured it was a good time to do the 10-minute ride along Batchawana Bay to our accommodations for the night, the Voyageurs’ Lodge & Cookhouse. This lodge is cozy and rustic. Right off of the highway with a gas station and so close to the restaurant. Pretty convenient.
We throw our bags on to our comfy queen-sized beds and let the rain put us to sleep.
The Grand Algoma - Day 4
We woke to the sounds of a group of motorcycles leaving the gas station around 8 am. Andrew and I made our way to the cookhouse for breakfast. The food was amazing. People don’t mess around up here with the portions or quality of food. Not only that, but the service is splendid. Our server was so lovely, telling us: “There’s just something about the Soo and this area—after so many years I had to come back. This is home.”
I picked up a book about adventures in the Canadian north at the little souvenir shop next to the cashier.
Full and content, we made our way back to the room and packed up the bikes. As we were filling up at the gas station we had a chance to talk to a local, who gave us some smoked trout to try! I love the camaraderie and strong community that exists up here. Everyone supports one another.
We said our goodbyes and set off down Highway 17 to the Lake Superior for a quick dip. The sun was hot and we had the beach all to ourselves again. What a treat.