The Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour is a textbook example of what Northeastern Ontario is all about. Picture cruising down a winding open road, taking in sweeping views of old-growth pine forest, and catching a refreshing breeze off of Lake Temiskaming. BIG is one way to describe the experience. One of five well-known motorcycling routes in the region, the 450-km Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour will take riders through these landscapes; a three-day circumnavigation through two provinces around a beautiful, and historically vital body of water that has been critical for generations of Canadians.
Water has shaped the landscape and lives of the region’s inhabitants. On the border of both Ontario and Quebec, three cultures come together to make for an unforgettable ride along the Ottawa River and Lake Temiskaming. Indigenous peoples have used these trade and travel routes for at least 6,000 years, later sharing them with both French and English traders and settlers. Riders on this time-honoured route will pay homage to them all while cruising along the Ottawa River, taking in the picturesque shoreline of the lake, and stretching their legs at the numerous scenic lookouts and historical sites in this culturally rich region.
A quick note on the scenic views: they are nothing short of spectacular, culminating with the Temagami Fire Tower Lookout, 1300 feet above sea level. Historical sites of interest include a stop at the Fort Temiscamingue National Historical Site – a trading post originally established by French explorers and traders in 1695. Interested in more recent history? Make sure to stop at the town of Cobalt, where you will see and tour the silver mines and shafts that Group of Seven artist Franklin Carmichael famously painted in the early 1900s.
Sound like a good time? Just ask Jean-Paul Bruneau and Marie-Josée Gilbert, winners of the NeONT Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour Contest. Both regular riders since 2008, they were eager to explore a new territory and wide-open Ontario roads. Jean-Paul told us, “this is our first time in Northeastern Ontario area and thanks to this Lake Tour contest we were able take our vacation here this year! It was not a place we even thought of visiting, but we are very happy to have won.”
Jean-Paul and Marie-Josée were great candidates to win the trip. Members of the riding club l’Association Moto Tourism Larochelle, the pair gets out riding on a weekly basis. Just the week before the trip, Jean-Paul had completed an 800-km ride in a single day! These two are no strangers to the open road.
On some of the hottest and most humid days of the summer, Marie-Josée and Jean-Paul departed from Trois Rivieres, Quebec en route for Temiskaming Shores; Marie-Josée on her Suzuki Bandit 650, and Jean-Paul on his Honda VFR 800. With a $250 gas card, accommodations and meals included, they were ready to take on Northeastern Ontario!
Knowing that there is so much to see and do on the Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour, it’s important to build free time into your riding schedule. Marie-Josée mentioned she liked the fact that they had the chance to stop and visit roadside attractions and lookouts. “Normally,” she said, “we ride with not a lot of stopping for [things like] visiting museums and art galleries.”
They came, they saw and they conquered the road, but one thing that stood out time and time again for Marie-Josée was the hospitality they experienced on their trip. “Everywhere we went, we enjoyed talking to people from the area,’’ she said. “Everyone we met on the trip was really nice, welcoming and hospitable.’’ As they're native French speakers themselves, Jean-Paul remarked, “We are very impressed on how many people speak French here. It was really nice for us.’’
Can’t wait to have you back again, Marie-Josee and Jean-Paul. Merci d'avoir visité la GRANDE région du Nord-Est de l’Ontario!