Northern Ontario covers 90% of the area of Ontario, but has only 6% of its population. Sparse and natural, the area is known for its outdoors activities and rugged inhabitants. Distances are large in Northern Ontario – it's 1600km (1000 miles) from North Bay to the Manitoba border.
Cities and towns
- Blind River
- Elliot Lake
- Fort Frances
- North Bay
- Parry Sound
- Red Rock
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Temiskaming Shores
- Terrace Bay
- Thunder Bay
- White River (Ontario)
- Blue Lake Provincial Park
- Iroquois Falls
- Lake Superior Provincial Park - The Agawa Pictographs
- Quetico Provincial Park
There are several small francophone communities in Northern Ontario, however English speaking travellers shouldn't encounter any issues with language since most of those living in these communities are bilingual (English-French). There are also many communities that speak mainly Cree, however this is usually on reserves and, once again, there are usually English speakers as well.
Air Canada Jazz provides daily service from Toronto Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ) to North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Thunder Bay from Toronto (Thunder Bay also served from Winnipeg, Manitoba). Westjet flies to Thunder Bay from Toronto. Bearskin Airlines (based in Thunder Bay) provides services to various smaller communities in Northern Ontario, including Red Lake, Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Kenora from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Porter Airlines flies to Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto City Island Airport (IATA: YTZ).
The 2 main routes through Northern Ontario are Highways #11 and #17. They diverge at North Bay with Hwy. 11 going north and Hwy. 17 going west to Sault Ste. Marie then north from there. Both highways continue on to the Manitoba border. The distance by vehicle from North Bay to the Manitoba border is approximately 1650km (1050mi).
ViaRail provides service from Toronto to Sudbury and continues through Northern Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba and westward. Sudbury is the only major city in Northern Ontario ViaRail operates to. While the former Ontario Northland passenger rail service from Toronto to North Bay and Cochrane, Ontario has been replaced by a bus, there is passenger rail service from Cochrane to Moosonee on the Polar Bear Express. Algoma Central Railway operates from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst on alternate days.
Greyhound provides service to Northern Ontario from Toronto and Winnipeg, Manitoba along highways #11 and #17. Ontario Northland coach service routes are from Toronto to Hearst, Ontario along the Hwy #11 corridor as well as Hwy #69 and #144 to Sudbury and Timmins. Excel Bus Lines runs along Highway 105 to the communitites of Red Lake and Ear Falls. Caribou Coach based in Thunder Bay, services from Hearst to Fort Frances.
Car rental services are available in most of the larger centres, including Kenora, Red Lake, Thunder Bay, Nipigon, Terrace Bay, Marathon, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, and North Bay.
- Aguasabon Falls, Terrace Bay, Ontario
- Ouimet Canyon, Dorion, Ontario
Camping: Northern Ontario has a lot of provincial parks, some for day use only and others that have camping facilities. There are 3 large ones accessible by highways: Quetico Provincial Park; Lake Superior Provincial Park and Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. There is one national park: Pukaskwa (pronounced puck-a-saw) which offers day use and overnight facilities. No motorized boats are allowed to be used in the park except those that access the park from Lake Superior.
Train Excursions: Ontario Northland operates an one-day train tour called the Polar Bear Express. It departs Cochrane at 09:00am and arrives in Moosenee 5.5 hours later, returning to Cochrane arriving at 10:30PM. This train one of the few remaining in North America that lets you flag it down to get picked up. Algoma Central Railway operates the Agawa Canyon Tour train departing from Sault Ste. Marie going north to Agawa Canyon and returning the same day.
Black flies and mosquitoes are abundant throughout Northern Ontario. To protect yourself when camping or hiking, wear long sleeve shirts (white or brightly colored), thick socks, and long pants (tuck the pants into the socks) and apply insect repellent containing DEET. A mosquito net can be nicer than applying repellent to one's face. Also some type of bug netting in your tent is advised. Flies are most active at dawn and dusk between mid June and late July.
Winter driving in the North can be treacherous, given the inclement winters here. Be prepared to adjust or cancel travel plans should the weather conditions require it.