North of Superior

When you travel northwest along Highway 17 from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, you enter a place of wonder. The Ojibwe refer to it as “Gichigami” or “to be a great sea”. It is none other than our greatest great lake, Lake Superior. With its allure, the scenery of the northern shores has captured the attention of many for centuries, including the famous Canadian painters – the Group of Seven. Although I had travelled it once before, I was too young to appreciate its beauty to the extent that it deserved. Despite some poor weather, I was in no way disappointed on my return. This place has a particular meaning for me, and even after our visit, the call has already taken roots within me to return again – hopefully sooner than later.

We took our first stop at the beaches of Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

After enjoying the beaches we did a hike of the Lookout Trail. It provided some wonderful views of where we had just visited, the surrounding forest valleys, and some interesting flora. As you can see, fall had already started to take hold.

We decided to stay at the Agawa Bay Campground of Lake Superior Provincial Park. Pleasantly surprised, we discovered the campsites were yours to choose from, first-come, first-served during non-peak times. Obviously, a beachfront was necessary.

Along our drive, we pulled to the shoulder numerous times to snap photos. Sometimes there were even viewing points.

We left Agawa Bay the next day in merciless weather. The winds picked up, the clouds opened, and the temperature dropped. We had meant to hike the many trails of the park, but after attempting the pictographs (and managing some iPhone photos), we were bested.

The best course of action was to press onwards to Schreiber, Ontario for our motel room – the weather was just getting worse and we didn’t want to cook dinner in the downpour. Stuck with our iPhones in the rain, we did the best we could.

In the morning the wind persisted while the rain passed. As we packed the car from our impromptu stay, I remained optimistic about our visit to Lake Nipigon – the reason why this portion of the trip was so important to me. 

The ugly weather started to subside when we got closer.

In 2005, my parents along with the majority of my mother’s side of the family took a trip North of Superior. I was of course brought along. As an unruly and rebellious thirteen-year-old (along with being the only kid), I was quite moody the entire two weeks. Sadly, this trip would mark the last family excursion for some members of the family, including my dad. Nine years later the grounds we stayed at on Reflection Lake near the entrance to Lake Nipigon (McCollum’s) had not changed one bit. As I looked on, I closed my eyes. I could see them all; cooking fish, sharing jokes, enjoying their time together. To finally appreciate that, as I had not all those years before, was a moment I won’t forget. It was as if no time had passed. I was finally among the merriment.

We decided to go on to witness the eastern shores of Lake Nipigon. Requiring a drive to Beardmore, Ontario and a short jaunt west along 580, this would mark the farthest north I have ever been.

Had to call my mom to share the moment and I could only get service atop this rock on the point.

We had a short stop in the actual town of Nipigon before entering Thunder Bay in the evening.

Although North of Superior held particular sentimental value to me, it is a place in Ontario that everyone should see. At no time are you driving on flat road. You are either going up or you are going down. The road brings you scenes of valleys filled with birch, hemlock, cedar, pine and countless other trees. If it wasn’t a valley it was smaller lakes, rivers, bright red sandstone, and views of the endless shores of Superior itself. There can be magnificence in the words, the pictures, and the paintings we use to express our perspective and time with Lake Superior, but if you really want to do this place justice you must go and see its grandeur first hand.

For now, adios. Jasmine will be picking up the next few posts as she was kind enough to pass this one to me.

– Aaron


3 replies »

  1. Your pictures are beautiful and your prose has left me wishing I was on the road seeing Canada’s grandeur once again. I think North of Superior leaves a special, permanent imprint on everyone who passes. Thank you for sharing yours.

  2. Wonderful comments …the both of you. Thank you. It is a very special place, indeed. The memories it holds are quite treasured.

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