From Thunder Bay, head east on the Trans-Canada Highway for the 700-kilometre drive along the windswept north shore of Lake Superior, immortalized in paintings by the Group of Seven. Along this stretch, if you see a gas station, fill up; it might be 100 kilometres or more before you see another.
Leave time to stop en route at Lake Superior Provincial Park, wherefrom late spring until early fall, you can see the red-ochre Agawa Rock Pictographs created by Ojibwe artists over generations. Once you leave the park, it’s an 80-minute drive south to Sault Ste. Marie.
As you’ve probably realized by now, settlements in this region are widely scattered. At the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, you can learn about the small planes that connect northern Ontario’s far-flung regions with urban centres. “The Soo” is also home base for the popular Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which takes passengers to a wilderness park along a 114-kilometre route through sweeping forests dotted with lakes and granite outcrops.
Although it’s surrounded by wilderness, the city also offers lots of cool urban fun. Check out the one-of-a-kind Shabby Motley, a cafe/needlework store (come for the gluten-free brunch, stay for the knitting class!), or drop into LopLops Lounge to enjoy single malts, craft beers and live music. And since one in five Soo residents can trace their roots to Italy, many restaurants serve classic Italian dishes (Muio’s has been dishing up gnocchi, spaghetti and other standards since 1961).