North-Eastern Ontario is the near north. Yes it’s up there, but at only about a half days drive from Toronto, the near north is easily accessible whether for a weekend escape or a week-long adventure. The area offers modern cities and towns tucked into the raw beauty of our untamed Canadian wilderness. For boaters, it’s the best of both worlds – convenience and nature. Whether it’s the hot, sandy beaches, the quiet coves, or the shore side campgrounds, this region offers it all for a variety of boaters and budgets.
Magnetawan River Area
Near Sundridge you can head down Highway 124 to the town of Magnetawan to enjoy excellent fishing, as well as an historical museum and recreation facilities. The reconstruction of the historic Magnetawan Lock was completed in 1998 and re-opened the area to boat traffic. There’s a walkway right across to the island in Lake Cecebe and in addition to offering full marina services, the area is part of a 40-mile waterway system leading to Ahmic Lake and the majestic Magnetawan River. Dunchurch is the only town in the area with a direct public access road to the district’s second largest body of water, Whitestone Lake.
North Bay is the first big city you’ll come to on your journey up Highway 11. The city is a popular spot for recreational boaters to access Lake Nipissing. There’s an excellent full-service marina and once you’re on the water, visitors will love the fascinating scenery and the area’s excellent fishing. In fact, a true testament to North Bay’s active waters, are the many popular fishing camps and lodges, which attract countless sportsmen every year. If you want even more angling excitement, head down either the French or Mattawa Rivers.
Lake Nipissing and North Bay are not limited to boating and fishing. Great shopping, art galleries, museums, entertaining nightlife, plus fine and casual dining all await transient travelers. There are also several summer events that take place throughout the season. You may also want to visit Callander, a neighbouring region that takes its name from Callander, Scotland. The community has a grocery store, shopping and many amenities. The town commemorates its heritage every year with the popular Celtic Festival held over the Victoria Day weekend in May.
Temagami and Lake Temagami
Further north, the town of Temagami on Hwy 11 offers the ideal Northern Ontario experience. A true sense of its history is borne out with the several stone drawings and artifacts that have been discovered here and date as far back as 6000 B.C. Today, however, countless boating enthusiasts enjoy the over 2,500 kilometres of interconnecting waterways that accommodate both sail and power. There’s always a relaxing spot to drop anchor, and the fishing is nothing short of fantastic. For the more adventurous, the area is perfect to enjoy canoeing, windsurfing, kayaking, diving or mountain biking. Several inns, resorts, lodges and campgrounds provide accommodation and two marinas will meet your every need. Finlayson Point Provincial Park, located south of Temagami’s business centre, offers 114 campsites, a comfort station, children’s playground, beaches, boat launching and dockage.
The Ottawa River Waterway
The next stop on the way up Highway 11 is Temsikaming Shores (the amalgamation of Haileybury, New Liskeard and Dymond), which is situated on the west shore of Lake Temiskaming, at the headwaters of the Ottawa River. The town boasts a full-service marina, as well as a sandy beach and several amenities. There’s excellent fishing for pike, bass and muskie. New Liskeard offers another full-service marina along with restaurants, shopping and insightful museums.
Make a point to checkout Temiskaming Treasure Tours for a guided tour of the area, which includes a visit to Cobalt, the country’s Silver Mining Capital. Over five hundred years ago, Samuel de Champlain in nothing more than a birch bark canoe explored the Ottawa River, from the headwaters, down past present day Ottawa and the Rideau Canal, as far south as present day Montreal and the St.-Lawrence Seaway. Today, thanks to a unique system of hydraulic trailers that portage six dams and rapids, boaters of all types and sizes can navigate these 1,300 kilometers of one of the great historic rivers of North America.
Along this route there are six rapids and dams that boats are portaged over using tow vehicles hooked to marine hydraulic trailers. The hydraulic trailers are designed to accommodate powerboats up to 30 feet and 15,000 pounds of displacement, while pontoons up to 28 feet can be moved on special bunk trailers. Houseboats or sailboats not equipped with retractable keels or quick-stepping masts cannot be accommodated. The entire process takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes and booking 24 hours in advance is required . The bypass sites include Temiskaming, Mattawa, Rapides-des-Joachims, Desjardinville, Chapeau, Bryson and Portage-du-Fort. These communities also feature docks and concrete launch ramps. Some offer overnight docking.
Further south on Highway 17 at Deep River, boaters will find a local yacht club plus a number of marinas offering transient slips available on a first-come, first-served basis. Petawawa is home to the Canadian Airborne Forces Museum that exhibits the country’s 45-year history of military parachuting. In the heart of the Ottawa Valley is Pembroke, which caters to recreational boaters with its recently refurbished waterfront, countless marina services and extensive choice of accommodations.
The fishing here is also superb and the bird watching is excellent. A key attraction is Driftwood Provincial Park with its camping, boating facilities and sandy beaches. Arnprior, the last community along the route before reaching Ottawa, has many attractions for the passing boater including a modern marina and launch area.
Plan a weekend getaway to one of these very near north communities, one of the many sections along the Ottawa River Waterway, or take an extended excursion and see it all. North Eastern Ontario has plenty to do and see with restaurants, great shopping and events and attractions all season and some of the most spectacular scenery and wilderness offered along any of Ontario’s waterways.
Boaters can also spend time in the sheltered coves, exploring scenic rocky look-outs, securing their boats on gently sloping sand beaches, and there are campgrounds at various points along the shoreline. Comfortable, alternate accommodations are provided by the many hotels, motels and lodges throughout this region.