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Slingshot Through the Valley

Slingshot Through the Valley

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Good Vibrations From New Liskeard to Ottawa and Points West

A visitor to Canada takes in two of Ontario's motorcycling sweet spots. What are YOU doing this summer?



Safely discover Ontario when the time is right. For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca.

Do your part by following public health advice. It is important to wear a face mask or covering, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Editor's Note: In July 2013, writer/photographer John Flores visited Northeastern Ontario and, as he soon realized, what a lucky man he was! First, there was New Liskeard (now known as Temiskaming Shores) and the site of the annual Bikers Reunion, where each year thousands of bikers gather from all over North America, Europe and beyond, raising money to fight cancer. From there it was southeast towards the Ottawa Valley, known for being the twistiest part of Ontario. The Ottawa Valley is where riders go for sweeping, uncrowded country roads, food, culture and breathtaking views—what a wonderful place to visit... and What A Ride.

Here, Flores gives us a few of his impressions from his incredible journey. Look out for John's full article, which is scheduled to appear in RoadRUNNER Magazine this winter.

Sometimes the luck rolls your way. We must have helped an old lady cross the street in a previous life because we’ve got two Hondas (an NC700x and VFR1200DCT) waiting for us outside the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Newmarket. Their tanks are filled with gas, and our internal compass points towards a long weekend of backroads exploration.

Flores 2

New Liskeard, our first stop, is about 500 clicks due north of the CN Tower, but in reality it’s a world away. The herd of overladen sedans and pop-up campers leaving Metro Toronto thins with each passing kilometre, and soon we are cutting west towards Georgian Bay, rolling through Parry Sound, then tacking north once again. Larry’s Chip Shop in Sturgeon Falls fills our tanks for the last push to New Liskeard.

Check out the new Go Tour Ontario Interactive Motorcycle Trip Planner to choose your best route:

Temiskaming Loop Go Tour Trip Planner Screenshot

Up in New Liskeard you can join what may be the friendliest bike rally on the planet, The Bikers Reunion. Sure, there’s lots of leather and tats, but you’re more likely to receive a smile than a scowl from this group of two wheeled do-gooders. Now over a decade old, the rally raises money for the local Temiskaming Hospital Cancer Care Program, with a family-friendly weekend featuring fireworks, live music, and a ride where the locals smile and cheer as bikes ride by, waving handmade signs that say “Thank You” a hundred different ways. The Quality Inn on the Transcontinental Highway proves to be a good base of operations, right along the route and just a stone’s throw from downtown.

Flores 3

We leave New Liskeard the next morning with a feel good hangover and cruise along the fertile Ottawa River Valley past farms and field tucked into valleys and hollows. We feel a million miles from home as we dance with the river, first on our right as we ride in Quebec, and then on our left, often out of sight but never far away. We refuel our bikes and our bellies in Mattawa, enjoying down home cooking and pies at Draper’s Bakery. Post lunch, the Trans-Canada is mellow, matching our kicked back mood.

In the fading afternoon light we turn westward past golden fields of rapeseed, then along roads that start to twist and turn with more verve. The country luxe Calabogie Peaks Resort is our home for the evening. We dine in the shadow of the resort’s black diamond trails.

The next morning, friendly staff give us towels to wipe our bikes down, and we’re ready for another great day. Calabogie is the gateway to some truly epic backroad boogie woogie, roads twisting tortuously along an undulating landscape thick with woods and dotted with pristine lakes. Calabogie Road, Centennial Lake Road, and Matawachan Road, thank you for existing.

Flores 4 

After a particularly knotted piece of road we end up at Wilno Tavern, where we once again enjoy the friendly company of complete strangers. We continue westward for an out and back run through Algonquin Provincial Park, the oldest provincial park in Canada. You need a canoe and a good pair of hiking boots to see most of the park, but a ride along Route 60 is a great way to get a flavor. We spot two moose along the way, a personal one-day record. Moose-sighting complete, we turn around and head to Spectacle Lake Lodge in the fading light.

Spectacle Lake Lodge is an old school getaway with a new school menu. The modest cabins sit serenely upon a picturesque shore while the dining room buzzes with flavors and spices more at home in an upscale Toronto restaurant than in the woods. It’s a heady cocktail of country charm and city cuisine.

Flores 5

We arise the next morning to crystal blue skies. We’ve got a couple more twisties to unwind before heading back to Toronto. We’ll savor every last kilometer of this soul-recharging sojourn. We’ll chat and laugh with the waitress at the Porch & Pint Pub in Peterborough, and then we’ll sprint back to the metropolis. As the saying goes, you meet the nicest people on a Honda. After exploring the backroads of Ontario on a pair of red ones, we’d agree.

Click here or here for more on New Liskeard's Bikers Reunion or here for an article with a great video. Click here for an excellent motorcycle route along the shores of Lake Temiskaming.

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