Sault Sainte Marie (Ontario)

Sault Ste. Marie is a city of approximately 78,000 people, in Northern Ontario. Directly across the St. Mary's River -- and the Canada/US border -- is its twin city, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.


International Bridge.

The area boasts rugged shores, sandy beaches, untouched forests, winding rivers, and two Great Lakes.

The history of the area involves a fascinating eclectic mix of cultures. "The Meeting Place" as it was once called, drew inhabitants from all over Europe and North American tribes. Sault Ste. Marie was established in the 1600s as a fur trading post and later in the 1900s as a site for steel making.

Get in

By plane

Sault Ste. Marie Airport, (IATA: YAM, is 20 km from downtown on the western outskirts. It is accessible by taking Second Line and turning south to Airport Road.

Airlines serving the airport include: Air Canada Jazz with frequent daily flights to Toronto-Pearson, Porter Airlines to Toronto Downtown Airport YTZ, Bearskin Airlines to Ottawa (via North Bay and Sudbury) and Thunder Bay, and Sunwing Airlines (seasonally) to Varadero, Cuba.

There is no bus service from the downtown area to the airport. Taxis and limos provide flat-rate service between the airport and anywhere in the city. Taxi: 7500 Taxi, +1 705-945-7500. Car rental is available from Avis and National.

Also airports on the Michigan side: Chippewa County (IATA: CIU) and Sault Ste. Marie Municipal (Sanderson Field, IATA: ANJ).

By train

Sault Ste. Marie is not linked to any other major city by passenger train.

As of 2015, Algoma Central Railway still provides passenger service north of the Sault to Hearst. This train makes all station stops and can drop off and pick up passengers at any point on the line, accommodating people heading to private camps, a wilderness lodge getaway, or to go fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, or ATVing. As there is no food service aboard the train, voyagers are encouraged to bring whatever food they will need for the journey.

There are no reliable connections with Via Rail; the ACR line crosses with the routes of the Canadian in Oba and the Lake Superior at Franz, but wait time to make the connection can be 24 hours or more. There is no station building or other shelter at either stop.

There is a bus connection in Hearst to Cochrane.

Local politicians and interest groups are lobbying the government to reinstate passenger rail service between the Sault and Sudbury; however, this seems unlikely to happen in the near future. Funding for the existing passenger service to Hearst was slated for termination in 2014, but that service was given a reprieve until 2018 and its operation contracted to a Canadian subsidiary of Railmark Holdings.

By car

Highway 17, which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway system, connects the Sault with Thunder Bay to the northwest and Sudbury to the east. The International Bridge crosses the St. Mary's River and connects with the beginning of the Interstate 75 freeway in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, USA continuing further south to Saginaw, Flint, Detroit, and eventually Miami, FL, USA. A new limited access truck route known as Carmen's Way (after the late MP Carmen Provenzano) provides easy access to main roads and Hwy 17. Plans are currently under way to connect Second Line to a new four-lane section of Hwy 17 that recently opened.

By bus

Greyhound Canada provides daily bus service to and from the Sault. Eastbound busses head towards Sudbury, and from thence onwards towards Ottawa or Toronto. Westbound buses head north towards Wawa, Marathon, and Thunder Bay, and from thence westwards towards Winnipeg, Vancouver, and all other points west.

The Greyhound bus terminal is on the east side of town at the Howard Johnson (563 Trunk Road); it was relocated from its previous downtown location in 2012. The McNabb city bus route stops nearby.

By snowmobile

There are approximately 400 km of snowmobile trails in the Sault area and 1,000 km of trails in the Algoma district with connecting trails to Sudbury. Trails are maintained by the Sault Trailblazers Snowmobile club and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) and they operate on a user-pay system that requires users to purchase a trail permit. Official staging area is on the north side of McNabb Street one block east of Black Road. Sault Trailblazers Snowmobile Club for more information.

Get around

Getting around is easy - you can walk, bike (if you don't mind getting clipped off by cars) or take the is a big town with a small town atmosphere. If you are driving, don't expect any traffic jams or road rage. This is a nice, relaxing place to be and it is very convenient to get around. Beaches, rugged outdoors and ski hills are less than 30 minutes away from the city centre.

By bus

Sault Transit Services operates from a centrally-located transit terminal at 160 Queen Street East at Dennis St. There are 8 regular routes running 19 hours a day, 7 days a week except statutory holidays: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Civic Holiday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Cash fare is $2.50 for all riders and you must have exact fare as drivers do not provide change. Children 12 years of age and under ride free when accompanied by an adult; to qualify, children must be under 5 feet (150cm) tall. You can also get a multi-ride pass with 20 rides for $40. Monthly adult, student, and senior passes are available upon advance purchase.

If paying fare by cash or multi-ride pass and you need to use more than one bus to complete your trip, you will need a transfer. Ask the driver for a transfer after you pay the fare.

Request stop service, where the driver will let you off at a location along the route other than a bus stop, is available in the evenings -- either when the street lights turn on, or after 21:00, whichever is earlier. Speak to the driver a few blocks in advance, and they'll let you off as close as possible to your request, so long as they can stop safely. Exit via the front doors.

Parabus Service

Sault Transit also operates a Parabus service for passengers who

as well as attendants or companions.

Trips on Tue-Fri are booked the day before; trips on Sat-Mon are booked by 4pm Fri. Same-day service is offered if scheduling permits. Call the Parabus office at +1 705-942-1404 to book a trip.

Residents need to submit an application form to use the Parabus, but visitors to the area are accommodated as well. Visitors are requested to call the Parabus office to make arrangements.

Cash fare is $2.50; a 40-ride pass is also available for $70.

By taxi

If the driver was helpful to you, it is customary to tip the driver about 10% and a dollar per bag that they carry for you (not just unload). At the very least, you should round fares up to the nearest dollar.


On your visit you can walk to boardwalk along the river or take a Sault Locks tour to cruise the first original canoe lock, the original Ermatinger-Clergue Old Stone House, Bush Plane Museum, the Sault Ste. Marie Art Gallery and Museum and the Sault Ste. Marie Canal.

Along the waterfront in the city centre are many historic sites and attractions.


Train Tours


Casino Sault Ste. Marie is a charity casino located downtown near the Station Mall and close to the International Bridge that is operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission and Northern Ontario's first full-time casino. It features a 35,000 sq. ft. (3,252 sq. metre) gaming floor with 450 slot machines and 21 gaming tables along with a 100-seat restaurant and bar. By law, you must be 19 years of age or older to enter. This casino attracts many visitors from USA due to the lower drinking age (19 as opposed to 21) and that the Canadian government does not tax gambling winnings.











Mobile phone coverage

Mobile service from Sault Ste. Marie westward through Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border is operated not by the major Canadian cell providers, but by TBayTel. The rugged landscape of this area, combined with the significant gaps between towers, means that a signal is by no means guaranteed.

In Sault Ste. Marie, limited cellphone coverage can be expected outside the city centre, especially north (Fifth Line, Hiawatha Park) and west of town (Airport, Pointe des Chênes, Gros Cap). Coverage on Highway 17 north from Sault Ste Marie to Wawa is sporadic; huge areas have no coverage at all. Leave the beaten path (the Trans-Canada Highway or the few cities) and there's nothing. Much of the road to Wawa is parkland with few services of any kind.

Roaming is supported for clients of the three major Canadian '3G' networks (UMTS/WCDMA on 850/1900 MHz). There is no '2G' capability as TBayTel shut down all CDMA coverage on October 1, 2014. While TBayTel advertises something it calls `4G` in limited areas, this is HSPA+ (a faster version of the `3G` UMTS standard) and not LTE.

Unless your handset supports 3G/UMTS on the North American frequencies, you will get no service... not even to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Do not rely on having cellphone coverage on this route! Before heading out on this relatively remote section of highway, it is strongly recommended to carefully examine your cell provider's coverage maps and bring appropriate supplies for use if stranded by a breakdown.

Internet and Wi-Fi

Stay safe


Winter Driving

Winters in Northern Ontario are often severe, making auto travel in winter an unpredictable venture. Whether travelling locally or on the highways, one must be prudent, allow extra travel time, and be prepared to be flexible with one's travel plans. See the Winter driving topic for a general backgrounder.

Highway 17 North from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa sits in a snowbelt and receives heavy amounts of snow every year. The prevailing westerly winds pick up moisture as they blow across Lake Superior, which then gets visited on the shoreline as lake-effect snow and snow squalls. As such, this section of highway is frequently closed in winter, sometimes for days at a time. Closures may occur because of crashes, because of whiteouts that reduce visibility to near zero, or because snow is simply accumulating too quickly for the snowplow crews to keep up.

Highway 17 East is also occasionally closed by crashes or inclement weather, though considerably less often than the northern route. To the south, into the United States, US-2 is sometimes closed, as well as the Mackinac Bridge; I-75 is very rarely closed, though if surrounding roads are, travel on it may be inadvisable as well.

Go next

Routes through Sault Sainte Marie

Thunder Bay Lake Superior Provincial Park  W  E  Jct to St. Joseph IslandBlind River Sudbury
END  N  S  Sault Ste. Marie Mackinaw City

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, October 19, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.