No matter where you’re from, where you currently live, or where you visit, a sunset anywhere is beautiful, there’s no doubt about that. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, a fact we all know, but what might sometimes be easy to take for granted, is how lucky the residents and visitors of Sault Ste. Marie (and area) are to be able to witness this phenomenon so frequently. Throughout each of the four seasons, and especially over the big lake, we are truly fortunate and blessed to have such easy access and the ability to witness the colours of the rainbow throughout the entire sky, as the sun rises and sets all year-round.
I may be slightly biased, seeing as though the “big lake” is so close to where I live and grew up, but I think a lot of people who live and visit here would agree, a sunset over Lake Superior just hits different.
Sometime early in the pandemic, and after the loss of a loved-one who was dear and near to me, I started taking (almost) weekly drives “up north” on days when I thought I might get the chance to witness, enjoy, and capture something colourful (and potentially remarkable) on my camera to share with the people in my life who might not wander too far from town as often as I have been able to. It was enough of a brief and temporary escape from town each week when going much further wasn’t much of an option for me.
After months of putting on way too many miles on my leased vehicle, burning gas I could have conserved a little bit better, and taking hundreds of pictures just to post a few, a friend of mine asked me, “why drive all that way just for a sunset every week?” I sat and thought about it for a while, and a few things came to mind.
For one, why not? In a time that felt dark and uncertain for a lot of people, it made me (and most of the people I had the opportunity to share them with) happy, as the sun and the lake often do, and it was an escape from the city to some of my favourite places in the Algoma Highlands, and in a way, it made me feel closer to the people that I had lost; it was, essentially, my church.
Two, if you are from here, you know that our winters can be long most years and any chance to enjoy the sun can be enough to change your mood and day completely, even for those residents and visitors that love to play around in the snow and make the most of the colder seasons.
Finally, no two sunsets are alike, and it’s always beautiful to watch each day end differently, whether it was bursting with colour or a little gloomier on the cloudy days. At times, even when the weather was a little darker and greyer, or a storm was rolling in (or had just passed), those days still managed to put out some of the nicest sunsets that I have been able to capture on camera and witness with my naked eye; beautiful sunsets often favour cloudy skies and are brighter after a storm passes by.
What makes it different for those who live and visit any area in the northern part of Algoma and who stay close to the Lake Superior coastline, is how those sunsets appear over Lake Superior. If you’re lucky enough to catch one on a calm day, the mirror-effect from the lake in-front, above and below your eyes is bound to make any good or bad day end better, and although brief, they’re unforgettable moments.
We often stop and notice those aw-inspiring phenomenon like seeing millions of stars when you’re away from city lights, rainbows after a storm, the rare sight of the northern lights dancing in the sky, and depending on the kind of person that you are (the early birds), you might be more likely to catch sunrises, which can also be really beautiful but not entirely the same. We have a bad habit of becoming complacent to the things and opportunities we might see or have access to more often than the rest and sometimes we let those moments pass us by (or we pass them by), even unknowingly and unintentionally, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we should take nothing for granted.
A sunset, is a thirty to sixty minute period of time where you can sit, watch, and take in the beauty of the ever-changing colours of the sky (that often become more brilliant after the sun sets below the western horizon), and be thankful that you had the opportunity to watch one more day come and go as well as having the opportunity to live (or visit) where you do, even if the summers are short and the winters can be long.
If you’ve never had the opportunity, or do not often go out of your way to take the short drive and adventure north to watch one, I highly recommend that you do, any chance that you get, whether it be alone or with friends and family you enjoy spending your time with. Over a decade or so ago, I met a (non-local) man who said something to me that I’ll never forget, he said “You’re lucky you live where you do. God put the mountains in the west, the oceans in the east, and put them both together right here in Northern Ontario, and you get to watch some of the most beautiful sunsets fall over all of it.”
Some of the best places to capture sunsets north of Sault Ste. Marie and against Lake Superior (within 30 minutes to 2.5 hours north): parts of Goulais River, Havilland Bay, Harmony Beach, Batchewana Bay (that face west), Sawpit Bay, Mamainse Harbour, Alona Bay, Montreal River Harbour, and the western-facing parts of the Coastal Trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park.
The timing of a sunset varies throughout the year; you can look up what time the sun will set on a weather app or by using a sun calculator app online. Please note, that the poles are slightly titled, meaning the sun tends to set close to the northwest in the midsummer, and the southwest in midwinter, the exact direction of the sunrise and sunset is determined by the latitude and the time of year.
As part of our family trip to Northern Ontario in partnership with Attractions Ontario, we visited and explored the city of Sault Ste Marie. We’d passed it a few times on trips we’d taken to the USA in years past, but we never stopped to explore. I remember driving over the International bridge and looking at that super blue water down there and thinking: we must visit this place. During this first official visit to SSM we spend 2 days and our impression was amazing: the city is incredible and worth a visit.
Here are some ideas to enjoy your stay in the city with your family. It is worth mentioning that we did this tour with 2 children (3 and 5 years old) and a puppy dog, so many of the tips will be family-oriented.
The Sault Ste. Marie Canal, built in 1895, was the world’s longest lock, the first to operate using electricity, and the last link in a Canadian shipping chain from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Superior. It is still operating, and it also brings history and beauty to the region. It’s certainly a must-see and it’s really cool to read the signs and learn about the history of the place. A super cool activity you can do in the area is to rent a fat bike and explore the region around the St Marys River, including Whitefish Island and South St Mary’s Island (Attikamek Trail). There are several trails there and you even go under the bridge that connects the United States and Canada. If you go hiking around Whitefish Island, be sure to look for “fairy doors”, which are small, colorful doors scattered throughout the park.
You won’t believe Bellevue Park: it has about 7-8 playgrounds, one next to the other. In addition, the place also has a brand new splash pad and trails for you to walk on the edge of the St Marys River. When we parked the car, I looked at a playground and thought it was fantastic. Then I looked the other way and there were two more and then I looked towards the river and, guess what?, another one. I’m not exaggerating: there are MULTIPLE playgrounds (and all huge and super equipped). The boys were so excited, they did not know where to go. They played in all the playgrounds and also went to the splash pad, which we thought it was super good for the little ones. Ella (our puppy) and I also walked around the river and even saw some turtles. It is a delightful place to stroll around the city.
As soon as you arrive in Sault Ste Marie you will notice how green the city is. And if you do some research before leaving, you will find out that around the city there are many beautiful parks and trails for you to explore. Among the most popular is the Hiawatha Highlands, which is a 3000-acre park with several trails. There is also Crystal Falls, which is located inside Kinsmen Park (north of the city). I must confess that we almost gave up visiting the place because we couldn’t find the entrance (you should look for the park in your GPS and not the waterfall). When you arrive at the park’s parking lot, you will take a super short walk along a platform and you will arrive at the waterfalls: beautiful! There are several observation areas and after arriving at the waterfall you can even follow the trail for more, but we chose to play in the park (including the playground) and enjoy the incredible nature of the place.
You must visit the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre when in The Soo. This is a super interactive museum about planes that land on the water. The Centre has 29 planes and several other attractions such as a 3D cinema, a space for children to learn and even the Entomica Insectarium, which has several insects and you are invited to touch and learn about them. Many of the exhibitions on the day we went were focused on forest fires and I found it super interesting. The boys loved it and didn’t want to leave. There’s a part of the museum where a real mechanic is fixing the planes: he was there and had a little chat with us.
And on your way out, don’t miss the Tap Room at Northern Superior Brewing Co., one of the city’s many breweries and the patio is pet-friendly too!
You cannot get to know a city without going to a local ice cream shop. And Sault Ste Marie has several amazing ice cream shops, which have great reviews and are well worth a visit. See the list below of the most famous ice cream parlors in the city. We ended up choosing to have ice cream at Holy Cow, which was close to the hotel and further from the center, so we thought it was a great option for a late afternoon dessert. The boys ordered the Spiderman flavor – which was a mixture of various fruits and very colorful. They loved it!
Agawa Canyon Tour Train: An all-day train ride from Sault Ste Marie (99 Huron Street) to the Agawa Canyon region, which is only accessible this way. The journey is beautiful and people always do it at the fall to see the autumn colors. All reviews and posts I’ve read said that this is an unforgettable experience.
The Breakfast Pig: breakfast restaurant super famous for its food and for using only local ingredients. It has been showcased on TV shows and just seeing the menu made me want to try it. We didn’t go, but I already included it here so next time I will not miss it.
The Mill Market: this is a farmer’s market from producers in the Algoma region. The market is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Visiting city markets is always a great way to learn more about the region, as well as delight in local products.
The Boiler Room: restaurant with a super nice patio and wood-fired pizza in the Canal District region. In this area, old buildings were restored to become restaurants and shops (same vibe of Toronto’s Distillery District).
Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site: A historic site with historic houses (from the 1800’s) located in the heart of SSM. We stopped by and took some pictures (see photo of Clergue Blockhouse below) but we still want to go inside and explore more about the history of the area.
We stayed at The Water Town Inn. The hotel was perfect for us because the city’s Tesla chargers are in their parking lot, so we didn’t have to drive far to charge our car. We also find the room very spacious and with easy access to the street, which is perfect for those traveling with dogs and also during the pandemic. The room was super clean and we loved the pool area, because it had a children’s pool (boys played a lot). Our room was pet-friendly and had water plate and even snacks for Ella.
It was AMAZING to explore SSM for the first time and we cannot wait to come back and see more.
By Conor Mihell
Nick Brash uses one word to describe the vibe of the 2021 Ultra Trail Stokely Creek: “Joyous.” That’s the overwhelming memory for Brash in organizing his second gathering of 175 running enthusiasts in the Algoma Highlands, just north of Sault Ste. Marie. Indeed, after a year’s hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a welcoming mood of happiness, relief and camaraderie emanates from photographs and videos from the much-anticipated UTSC, held last September amid perfect autumn weather and vibrant colours in the hardwood-clad hills.
“It was like, ‘finally,’” recalls Brash. “We could gather and be one as a community again. Local runners are the driving force of the event. We’re all so excited to show off our backyard. That’s what makes it so inviting for people coming from elsewhere.”
The 2019 UTSC, held at Stokely Creek Lodge in Goulais River, about 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, included 5km, 15km, 32km, 55km and 83km courses. The inaugural event attracted a sell-out crowd of 150 runners from across Ontario and the U.S. Midwest. Brash admits he was floored by the turnout—and equally surprised when the event claimed a Northern Ontario Tourism Innovator award later that year.
Perhaps the greatest accolade, however, came when the prestigious Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, a world-renowned trail race held annually in France, accepted Brash’s upstart, grassroots event as an official points qualifier. The UTSC was red hot and expectations were sky high—escalating into even greater, pent up anticipation when Brash finally received clearance to deliver the sequel in 2021.
To meet UTMB requirements Brash added a 170-km category for 2021, attracting 15 hard-core entrants (only five managed to finish the punishing long-distance course). Regardless of the race distance, they’re all meant to be tough, the organizer insists. The UTSC routes exploit “every scrap of elevation gain” in the rugged Algoma Highlands, including swooping single-track through intimate hardwood forests, exposed granite ridges and technical rocky climbs and descents.
With few (if any, depending on the distance) road segments, an overwhelming sense of wilderness pervades and runners must keep close track of trail markers. The popular 17km category ascends King Mountain, one of Ontario’s highest points of land, affording views to Lake Superior. Brash, an avid runner and founder of Bear in Mind Running, a local trail race organizer, mapped routes with all of his favourite heart-pounding climbs and jaw-dropping lookouts for his flagship UTSC event.
But all the challenges come with definite rewards. “I tried to include everything that I would want to see if I was a runner coming here for the first time,” adds Brash. “I wanted to make sure to include every possible view that needed to be seen out there.”
Having travelled across Canada for running events, it was natural for Sault Ste. Marie-based runner Mir Shafiee to support a race in his own backyard. Shafiee, who has participated in both installments of the UTSC, contends the Algoma Highlands scenery is truly world-class. “Last year, I remember scenes of sunrise, quiet lakes and thick fog,” says Shafiee, 53, who ran the 56km event in 2021. “It felt like I was running in the clouds on Robertson Cliffs.
“Trail running is always a challenge because of the uneven footing,” he adds. “But I never grow tired of it. Stokely is a challenging course. But it will teach you how to be persistent, and how to keep going forward.”
As much as Brash, who has run the epic 100-miler at UTMB in France, admires the long-distance competitors, he maintains that the UTSC is for everyone. The shorter races are popular with youth, first-time runners and high-school athletes alike. As the buzz continues to grow around Stokely’s “ultra”-length races, Brash says continued interest amongst recreational runners in the 5km and 17km categories will ultimately drive registration to his goal of 300-plus participants when UTSC returns on September 23-24, 2022.
For Ramin Emad, the 5km event at Stokely was a perfect way to wrap up his first season of trail running. Emad, 40, who moved to Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto in 2020, recalls being nearly overwhelmed by the initial uphill climb—and then equally awestruck from the scenery as the trail levelled off. “It’s like you’re on top of the world, surrounded by all the fall colours,” he says. “I had to stop to enjoy the view and just take it all in.”
Of course, Brash is far too busy on race day to lace up his own running shoes. But he shares in the thrilling sense of accomplishment runners feel as they cross the finish line. “It’s like a tailgate party,” he says. “It’s a celebration, not a competition.”
Emad recalls feeling just that as he completed his first UTSC. “It was so friendly and there was such great camaraderie,” he says. “The cowbells were ringing and I felt great.”
By Conor Mihell
Crank the Shield is a 3-day mountain biking event held in the Algoma Highlands just north of Sault Ste. Marie. With the city having some of the best mountain bike trails in Ontario, bringing the race back is in 2022 is a perfect fit for the community. Registration for this year’s event, being held from July 29-31, is now open. Sault Tourism spoke to event organizer Sean Ruppel about this year’s installment.
In the three years that have passed since the last installment of the Crank the Shield mountain bike stage race, organizer Sean Ruppel has had plenty of time to reflect on what makes this three-day event so special to him. “It’s always been about the type of riding,” says Ruppel, the Muskoka-based owner of Superfly Racing. “It’s all about backcountry adventure riding, out in the wilderness with real mountains and pristine rivers. There’s no better mountain biking anywhere else in the province.”
The long, pandemic-caused wait for the next Crank the Shield event has built up a lot of enthusiasm in Ruppel and race participants. Ruppel’s business plans, coordinates and hosts adventure races across Ontario. In the inaugural, 2018 Sault Ste. Marie event, Ruppel felt like he was sharing a secret treasure with the broader mountain biking community. Ruppel envisioned an epic 230-km route on many of the rugged Algoma trails he had been exploring all his life from a family cottage on Lake Superior. “Make no mistake—this is as ‘real’ as mountain biking gets!” he wrote in the race prospectus.
Ruppel’s mission was accomplished: 180 participants were awestruck (and seriously exhausted) by the expansiveness of the terrain, which included grinding climbs to some of Ontario’s highest peaks, obscure logging roads, multiple river crossings, and swooping single-track. Crank the Shield starts with a wilderness train ride aboard the famous Agawa Canyon Tour Train, and includes overnight stops at Stokely Creek Lodge and Searchmont Resort before wrapping up in Sault Ste. Marie’s Hiawatha Highlands. The 2019 sequel only added fuel to the fire. “It’s like suddenly mountain bikers from elsewhere in Ontario were aware of how epic the off-road riding is up here,” Ruppel notes. “People were starting to look north.”
Then, of course, came all the confusion and uncertainty of Covid-19, which put Crank the Shield on pause. Now, as pandemic restrictions are lifted, Ruppel is equal parts thrilled and refreshed to return to organizing the event July 29 to 31, 2022. Besides the personal pleasure of returning to his own favourite landscape of Canadian Shield mountains, wild rivers and labyrinthine trails, Ruppel believes lockdowns revealed the sense of freedom and great adventures available in Northern Ontario. “So many people have had an awakening,” he says. At the same time, Sault Ste. Marie made huge investments in mountain biking trail infrastructure, expanding the network of single-track at Hiawatha Highlands and investing in new machine-built flow trails for riders of all levels. “The Soo has always been super welcoming and friendly,” Ruppel notes, “but now it’s an even cooler vibe. The city has embraced cycling and the local community of riders is growing rapidly.”
Ottawa-based cyclist Rob Parniak was pushed to his limits by previous installments of Crank the Shield. “The route was harder than I expected,” recalls Parniak. “The first stage with rough trails, river crossings and lots of climbing was one of the most challenging days I’ve ever spent on a bicycle. Getting through it felt like a commendable accomplishment.”
For Parniak, a Sault Ste. Marie native, Crank the Shield was a reunion. He always recognized the city’s outdoor potential, and was blown away when it was put on full display. “I see a sort of scrappy pride in a lot of Sault people of my generation,” says Parniak. “It’s as if they’re determined to defy the stereotypes. They’re creating their own happiness by building their own place. The cycling scene–the bike shops, the trails, the club, this race–are tangible examples.”
Ruppel says the 2022 Crank the Shield race, (July 29-31) will fall back on what made it so successful and impactful in the past, including great hospitality at Stokely Creek and Searchmont and a vibrant after-party at the Bushplane Museum on the waterfront in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. But mostly, Ruppel insists Crank the Shield is all about the riding. “It’s a niche event,” he says. “You have to be a serious off-road rider to take on three days of this type of distance in this kind of terrain.”
Tweaks to the route bring the cumulative three-day distance to 200 km. Upgrades include: an optional climb to the summit of Batchewana Mountain, capped at 20 participants, for those seeking a high-adventure, quad-pumping climb to Algoma’s highest point that won’t be counted in total race time; improved single- and double-track segments in the Algoma Highlands and Searchmont portions of the race; and a velvety smooth, fast finish on 35-km of purpose-built mountain bike trails at Sault Ste. Marie’s Hiawatha Highlands on day three.
“This event has made such an impact on everyone who has ridden it,” says Ruppel, “and after the few years away, I’m excited to get back at it. This is my opus, my dream race. I can’t wait to provide riders with an introduction to my favourite place on earth.”
By Conor Mihell
It’s no surprise that a community located in the heart of the Great Lakes would embrace all forms of paddlesports. Not only is Sault Ste. Marie the gateway city for some of the best coastal sea kayaking and wilderness canoeing in Canada, it also boasts amazing options for paddling minutes from downtown. Regardless if you’re passionate about standup paddleboarding, canoe tripping, sea kayaking, whitewater or recreational kayaking, there’s something for you in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre is a community hub on the shore of the St. Marys River. Not only does the gorgeous facility feature a cafe with amazing views, the Waterfront Adventure Centre rents canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards to explore the historic waterway that has always been central to Sault Ste. Marie’s raison d’etre. Evening is the best time of day for a paddleboard tour on the St. Marys River. Head east (downstream), past the Pine Street Marina, hugging the shore to appreciate the wildlife-rich wetlands of Bellevue Park, watching for ducks, mink and beaver. Rounding the isthmus of Topsail Island provides a new perspective on the city’s most popular park. If you time it right you’ll be graced with a spectacular sunset over the International Bridge on your way back.
Thrive Tours, a local Indigenous nature-based tour operator, offers guided canoe trips from the Waterfront Adventure Centre. These beginner-friendly outings share the full story of how the St. Marys River has supported life since time immemorial.
A downriver trip on the Goulais River, located just north of Sault Ste. Marie, is a springtime rite of passage for whitewater paddlers. This section of river requires high water, and the section from Mountainview Lodge on Highway 556 to the Highway 552 bridge can be done in as little as 4 hours thanks to a steady current. It’s best to make it a day trip to enjoy the Goulais’s soaring, pine-clad hills and great wildlife, including moose, waterfowl and beaver. This section includes Class I and II rapids, as well as plenty of swift water, making it suitable for novice whitewater paddlers–just make sure you travel with companions and dress for cold water temperatures. Stay at the nearby Bellevue Valley Lodge and pack a lunch to enjoy on one of the Goulais’s many gravel bars. As water levels decrease in late May and early June this section is great for anglers, with abundant walleye and smallmouth bass, as well as the possibility of rainbow- and brook trout.
Forest the Canoe offer guided nature tours on the lakes and rivers in the area, as well as on Lake Superior.
You won’t find a more remote–and picture perfect–retreat than Norm’s Cabin, tucked away in the Precambrian hills of the Algoma Highlands, north of Sault Ste. Marie. This off-grid cabin is located in Goulais River, a half-hour drive north of Sault Ste. Marie, and is accessible only by food or mountain bike. Rental comes with access to a canoe, and the freedom to explore gem-like lakes atop the rooftop of Ontario. Norm’s is popular for couples, families and getaways with friends. Contact Blaq Bear Eco Adventure Routes to plan your stay.
The hamlet of Gros Cap at the end of Highway 550, only 20 minutes west of Sault Ste. Marie, marks the eastern terminus of Lake Superior. An official launch on the Lake Superior Water Trail (a segment of the Trans Canada Trail) includes an accessibility dock, outhouses, picnic area and kayak storage locker. Paddling west provides an immediate glimpse of Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline: you’ll encounter spectacular cliffs, gravel beaches and a vast, open horizon along the 10-km section to Red Rock. Be sure to check the weather conditions in advance; this exposed stretch of shoreline is suitable for experienced paddlers only, with sea kayaks, sprayskirts and safety gear to mitigate the risk of cold water.
Central Algoma is a bucolic landscape of maple, oak and pine forests and small inland lakes, just east of Sault Ste. Marie. There are several public parks accessible via Highway 638, a quiet secondary route between Echo Bay and Bruce Mines, with great options for canoeing and recreational kayaking on calm and sheltered water. Visit Old Mill Beach Park on Rock Lake to discover a family-friendly waterfront for swimming and quiet paddling at the mouth of the meandering Thessalon River; this area is especially attractive to birders and naturalists, with a wide variety of song- and shorebirds and aquatic mammals. The Central Algoma Freshwater Coalition has produced an adventure map highlighting paddling and other outdoor activities throughout the region.
It’s amazing to discover a quiet, scenic, wilderness canoe route on Crown land barely 30 minutes from downtown Sault Ste. Marie. The Jarvis Circle Route is a perfect long-weekend getaway for novice and intermediate paddlers. The journey begins at a small public launch on Northland Lake, located off of Highway 556. A series of rugged portages (watch for discrete yellow signs to mark most) links nearly a dozen secluded lakes with many options for primitive camping, including Jarvis, Reserve and Crooked lakes—all of which boast excellent fishing for trout. This is a great area to practice your canoe tripping skills and get a taste of the wilderness of Northern Ontario.
By Sault Tourism
Sault Ste. Marie has some of the best sandy beaches in Ontario. Our beaches are incredible! All around our city you’ll find perfectly beautiful, long sandy beaches with crystal clear water that are perfect for a swim, a play in the sand or just to relax and soak up the sun. Great beaches are just one reason Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for a summer vacation.
Click here to check out 6 of the best sandy beaches in Ontario, all just a short drive from Sault Ste. Marie.
Sault Ste. Marie is the best destination for mountain biking in Ontario. Discover trails for every age, ability or style from jump and flow trails to enduro-style trails carved out of the Canadian Shield. Come and see why Sault Ste. Marie is being called Ontario’s new bike town.
Visit the Hiawatha Highlands, with over 40km of trails including 12km of newly built world-class trails — just a short ride from downtown. If you’re looking for more adrenaline, head to Bellevue Valley, where a 5km trail drops 200m into a beautiful valley of lush maple trees. Visit out new Mountain Bike page for more info.
It’s back in 2022! After a phenomenal first season which had everyone talking, the “Superior Rocket” is back in the Soo for a limited run series of high-speed adventure tours.
Departing from downtown Sault Ste. Marie in July, this unique Ontario tourism attraction allows up to 12 passengers at a time to experience the thrill of 90 km/h speeds, skimming along the surface of the St Marys River and out to Lake Superior.
Traditionally known as Bawating (“the place of the rapids”), Sault Ste. Marie is a place of cultural importance. Follow this long weekend itinerary to experience and learn about Anishinaabe culture in our city.
New to 2022, Thrive Tours will be offering a ‘Learn to Powwow‘ tour; a guided experience of vibrant celebrations of Indigenous life. Or if you are visiting in June, experience the Summer Moon Festival featuring real-time creation of large-scale public art.
Visit our Indigenous Tourism page for more info.
The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is one of north America’s iconic train rides and a Destination Canada signature experience. See the boreal forests, rivers, and waterfalls that inspired Canada’s most iconic artists – the Group of Seven, and if traveling in latter part of summer, witness some of the most incredible colours as the maple forests create a stunning palette of reds, oranges and yellows.
This year’s tour season is tentatively planned for Aug. 1 through Oct. 10. More details on pricing and purchasing tickets will be available soon at the Agawa train website.
Stay up to date by visiting our Events page here!
Nestled between Great Lakes Superior and Huron, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect jumping off point to discover wild rivers, majestic channels, hidden coves, stunning waterfalls and more freshwater lakes than you could ever count. This is what makes us one of Canada’s top outdoor adventure destinations.
Take a tour with Canoes for Conservation, Blaq Bear Eco Adventures, Forest the Canoe and Thrive Tours or do it yourself. Our website will give you all you need to begin your adventure, as well as some Travel Inspiration stories to inspire you!
After a day of adventuring you’ll want to refuel and recharge, and we have some great restaurants serving some fantastic food for any taste. From Syrian Shawarma to spicy Indian, delicious Italian or sizzling steak, the Sault has so many great restaurants.
If the two buildings, the Old Stone House and the Blockhouse, could talk, they would tell stories steeped in adventure and intrigue about the rich and turbulent times of the fur trade; the aches and pains of early pioneer life and the development of industry along the St. Marys River.
Visit the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site to take a trip back in time over 200 years. See how some of the earliest European settlers in Sault Ste. Marie lived. Learn about the war of 1812 through interactive displays. Take part in some great events throughout the year that will bring these historic buildings to life. Enjoy an interactive audio tour to help guide you through the site or sit in the 50-seat theatre to watch a 25 minute movie that introduces visitors to the history of the area, the historic on-site buildings and the people that lived in them.
Learn more about Sault Ste. Marie’s rich history on a tour of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site.
The Ermatinger Old Stone House has been fully restored to depict the domestic and professional life of Charles Oakes Ermatinger, a prominent business man who lived in Sault Ste. Marie from 1812 – 1828. Visitors can step back in time by walking through rooms recreated to resemble life 200 years ago. Fascinating pieces of information along the way will enhance the experience, such as learning about how, in the years after Charles Ermatinger had left, the house became a hotel, later a courtroom and also boarding house!
This iconic building dates back to 1819 when it was first build and used as a powder magazine. Later, at the turn of the century, Francis Hector Clergue added an upper level and converted it into a house with two bedrooms, a large living space, and the first indoor washroom. Visitors can tour through the building’s two levels getting another sample of historic Sault Ste. Marie life while learning more about Francis H. Clergue himself.
The War of 1812 was a 32-month long conflict between the United States and Great Britain fought in Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site contains a fantastic, interactive gallery of the war that shaped the North America we know today. Learn why the war was fought, what was the outcome, what were the key battles, and who were the famous faces. Read about famous naval skirmishes, and check out the uniforms worn during the war.
A superb selection of souvenirs are available at the gift shop. This includes souvenirs from Sault Ste. Marie and Canada as a whole, a selection of Group of Seven merchandise and work by local artists including local Indigenous artists. The gift shop also sells seeds and produce from the garden! Come and check it out, you’ll find a variety of things and everything special about Algoma.
12 events are planned throughout the year. In June there is the fantastic Lilac and Lavender festival and Poutine Feast – 4 days of Poutine from 8 different vendors with live music and kids entertainments! This is followed by the Strawberry Festival in July, Blueberry Festival in August. September is a big month for events with Fall Rendezvous which in 2022 will include a harvest festival and well as the traditional reenactors on the front lawn. Other events are planned for October including Halloween House and Halloween on Queen. Check out our events page here or follow the Ermatinger Facebook page here for all the latest info!
In 2019 Sault Ste. Marie commissioned the creation of large scale murals by both globally renowned artists as well as exceptional talent within our own community. The next year local partners launched the inaugural Summer Moon Festival created to celebrate art and the many voices in our community.
Now in 2022, the Summer Moon Festival has grown to become an arts & music festival that not only includes real-time creation of large-scale public art, but also a pow wow in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, live music performances as well as interdisciplinary artist workshops. Click here to learn more about 2022’s the Summer Moon Festival, happening June 21st – 25th.
Enjoy the murals year-round on a walking tour of Sault Ste. Marie with all the information below.
Battle for the Seven Clans
Thomas Sinclair is Ojibway from Couchiching First Nation. As a young boy, Thomas was mentored in the art of Woodland style by the late Isadore Wadow. Currently residing in Sault Ste. Marie, Thomas has found happiness in returning to these roots and sharing his art with the world.
The inspiration for this mural comes from the sacred stories passed down for generations through the Anishinaabe Indigenous Peoples. Stories of Aadizookaan, Tales of Nanabijou, and pictographs of the area. The mural features Mishipeshu which is a very prominent mythological water being that is featured in the Agawa Pictographs. Nanabijou was a shape shifter that is part human, bear, thunderbird, and plant.
In the creation story Nanabijou and Mishipeshu were battling one another for the seven clans and overall humanity. In the mural these incredible beings are powered by women on either side. The North wall features a woman with berries in her hair. She has a strawberry heart and is holding a bear cub and thunderbird nest. This woman represents the spiritual medicine. Mishipeshu is powered by a woman on the west side of the building. Her spine made of strawberry and also has a heart berry. Her hand is made of a vine that grows more Berries. Both of these women draw their strength from Mother Earth.
Known for his works lining the alleyways and streets of Toronto, Alex ‘Bacon’ Lazich began painting in the 1990s as a teenager. His work has evolved to deconstructing traditional graffiti spray techniques to create an abstract graffiti style while maintaining letter form.
This mural depicts a Canadian goose found in the Sault Ste. Marie area, painted in a kaleidoscope stained letter style of graffiti lettering, lines, shapes and shadows. The style of this mural is very modern, but is inspired by classic artists including impressionists and Old Masters. Bacon’s goal with his art is to make people smile and change the vibe of neighborhoods.
By Cindy Haat
848 Queen St (North Wall)
Cindy began painting professionally in the medium of oil on canvas following her university studies in fine arts. Photography and sketching have been the main tools used in researching and composing her artwork. Cindy currently enjoy the freedom of painting with acrylics and her work has been described as “…energetic, fearless, full of emotion”. She strives to be free and relaxed in her approach to the actual painting process and enjoys researching subjects and trying to capture the essence of people, animals, and places as vibrantly as possible.
Inspired by the animated movie ‘Spirit’. “When the kids were little we watched it over and over again. At the time I had been exploring Metis heritage through art, exploring Ojibway style woodland type of painting. The horse and sun and land are all connected as we are to Mother Earth. Bebezhigooganzhii is the Ojibwa word for horse.”
Rolling Pictures Horse
Jerry Rugg aka birdO is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. While his surreal geometric animals can be found on canvas, in digital print, and installation, birdO is primarily known for his large-scale mural work on walls and buildings around the world.
Painting on the side of the Rolling Pictures building, birdO reimagines the company’s horse in his unique surreal style. With a cohesive colour scheme and elements of motion, the large-scale galloping creature is impossible to miss. Painted within the eye of the horse is a reflection of the church on Spring St. in the Soo.
Daniela is from Columbia and was inspired by her homeland to paint a jungle theme with big bold graphics depicting nature and flowers.
A colourful magical jungle piece featuring Bachué. A mother goddess that according to the Muisca religion is the mother of humanity.
Throw Kindness Around
The Kindness Mural, a bold and graphic explosion of line and form, draws attention to the message to throw kindness around like confetti. Painted in the height of Covid-19 Annie was inspired to create a municipal landmark that sparks positivity and connection in isolated times.
Annie’s work melds the borders of drawing, sculpture and media installation, most recently exploring our interactions to the natural environment through observations of natural phenomena, and when she’s not doing that she paints pretty pictures of flora and fauna for no particular reason.
Rihkee Strapp is a two-spirited Métis of the Wolverine Clan and was born in the small Northwestern community of Red Lake, Ontario. They are a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice includes traditional woodland painting, installation, performance, and social practice. Growing up, Rihkee was inspired by their grandmother’s print collective by the Woodland artists of the Triple K Cooperative silk screen company, who came out of Red Lake.
Mishiikenh Kwe (Turtle Woman) is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe/Odawa) from the caribou clan, her community is Magnetawan First Nation. She grew up listening to stories from her grandmother who is an Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language) teacher from Wiikwemkoong and draw most of my inspiration for paintings from those stories, thoughts and teachings I got from her and from ceremonies I attend.
Mishiikenh Kwe and Rihkee Strapp first began painting murals together at Nimkii Aazhibikong. Mishiikenh Kwe has always loved painting snakes because of her experience working in species at risk. While doing community outreach Mishiikenh Kwe noticed that lots of people expressed fear and dislike for snakes. Together the artists want to honour the snake and to build appreciation. Ring necked snakes are named for their distinct coloured pattern around their neck. This small local snake, if threatened will displays its bright underbelly to scare off predators.
“My work, and by extension, my life; has always been heavily influenced by horror, science fiction and comic books. When the owners of Outspoken brewery requested dragons burning down a city as their contribution to the downtown’s arts initiative, I got the call. My initial sketch was enthusiastically approved as it captured the 80’s metal album cover and post-apocalyptic feel that they were looking for. I don’t often get the opportunity to do commercial work that I can invest so much of my personality into; as a result, this has been amongst the more rewarding commissions of my career. I can only hope that the final product stokes the imagination and creativity of those who visit the terrace, enjoying a pint whilst bathed in dragonfire. “
Thomas Sinclair’s second mural is found opposite Outspoken brewery on Queen street. Its part of the story of Aadizookaan, sacred story. Normally the story is only spoken when snow is on the ground, or when the Pleiades is in the sky. Thomas believes it’s so important to share these stories, because we are losing so many of our elders and knowledge carriers.
Tree of Life on The Rapids
“Tree of Life on the Rapids” was created to make people feel good, and to remind the viewer that all things in this life are connected. It depicts the “Tree of Life”, an iconic symbol for many cultures, which Sault Ste. Marie is becoming a home for. Behind the tree is the sun, which provides the energy needed for everything here on earth relies. From the tree of life comes our food, tools we need, wood for our homes, and the fire we use to keep ourselves warm.
As your eye travels down the trunk, the roots remind us that we need a firm foundation so we can stay grounded in this life. Another essential part of our life is water, which roots will always seek. As your eye scans to the right you can see them transforming into the rapids that Sault Ste. Marie has long been known for. In the middle of this transition is the raven. Before the use of modern technology, they were used to carry messages over long distances. Using the raven as a symbol of communication, visually represents Village Media and their goal of conveying community news.
Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mark Grandinetti is a local artist who primarily creates pop art pieces often featuring cartoon and comic book characters, as well as images and figures from sports and entertainment. Heavily influenced by street art, graffiti, and modern art, his work often employs bold colours and evokes a sense of nostalgia.
This mural is inspired by the Soo Greyhounds, who play hockey across the street from the mural. It’s a recognition of the impact of hockey in the town and Mark hopes the mural will be an inspiration to artists and hockey players alike.
The painting features former Greyhound stars including Wayne Gretzky, Joe Thornton, Matt Murray and Darnell Nurse, who not only went on to have illustrious careers in the NHL, but have also proven to be great ambassadors for the game. Greyhounds hockey brings people together and helps to create a sense of community in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Hockey is more than a game. In Canada, it is a way of life. It encourages us to be gracious in victory and defeat. It teaches us to stay humble and play hard and to never give up ever.”
Cultural Connections is a truly unique collaboration between three great artists. On the right hand side facing the mural is the Falcon. The Falcon is representative of the area.
In the centre is Peru’s art. Peru143 is an internationally recognized Peruvian-Canadian muralist. Rooted in Positivism, Peru’s work aims to heal and uplift people’s spirits by transforming neglected and often oppressive spaces into safe, playful, and imaginative worlds. He describes his style as “playful geometry”. “All my work revolves around one common purpose; to heal, inspire and uplift people’s spirits. I didn’t know what I was going to paint until the moment we were all staring at the wall together. I was given the word “Biindigen” which means “Welcome” in Ojibwe and ran with it. This was the most effortless collaboration I’ve ever been a part of with communication often reduced to a nod. I couldn’t be prouder to have worked alongside legends Bacon and QueRock on this magical mural. 3 guys, 3 days and over 300 cans. One Love.”
QRock’s mural is on the left hand side. It depicts a medicine wheel; seven grandfathers and the thirteen grandmother clan system. Lots of geometry in the painting is based off of the teachings. Medicine wheels is 4 directions, seasons, earth, wind, fire, water. Wanted to create those layers of sacred geometry, so that it gives you a visual healing effect.
Whether you’re road-tripping through Northern Ontario or looking for somewhere to get away for the day, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for family adventure! There are so many exciting things to do in Sault Ste. Marie, from biking and boating to eating delicious treats and enjoying local artwork! With all these great places to visit in Sault Ste. Marie (nicknamed “the Soo”), this will be a day that everyone in the family will love!
Start your day off with some coffee from The Machine Shop and then head over to the Soo Canal. When the lock was built here in 1895, it was the longest in all of Canada. Today, pleasure watercraft are transported up and down the river through the lock to bypass the St. Marys River Rapids. Here you can enjoy watching the boats lock through as you walk along the canal.
Next, grab your bicycles and get ready to explore the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront. Bikes can be rented at the canal or from the Roberta Bonda marina in town during summer months.
Take one of the bridges across the canal lock gates to get over to Whitefish Island. Bike or hike along trails and boardwalks as you take in views of the rapids along St. Marys River. You can learn about the island’s culture and history by reading the information signs along the trail. Make sure you also keep a lookout for the fairy doors painted around the island!
The main loop will take a family with young kids around 45 minutes to complete by bike or an hour hiking. Side trails are available if you want to extend your adventure – like going under the international bridge! There are plenty of trail maps to keep you on track.
After exploring Whitefish Island, you can continue your bike ride or stroll along the John Rowswell Hub trail. This beautiful trail & boardwalk provides you with amazing views of the St. Marys River as you pass significant landmarks along the waterfront. Stop to eat a sweet treat at BeaverTails located right on the boardwalk and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
The whole loop is 22.5km and a great ride for the adventurous family, but equally, you can divide and conquer smaller sections too. The Fort Creek section is a beautiful 6km there-and-back trail with three awesome bridges that take you high over the ravine below. Parking is available at the south end.
Next, head into town to get some lunch or continue along the Hub Trail to Bellevue Park to enjoy a picnic. With 7 separate playground structures, Bellevue Park is a kid’s dream come true. Along with its impressive playgrounds, the park also includes a splash pad, beautiful paths along the waterfront and picnic areas.
Now it’s time to experience Sault Ste. Marie from the St. Marys River! You can launch your canoe or kayaks from the accessible boat launch located at Bellevue Marina, making it easy for you to get in the water and explore the river. Don’t have your own boat? No problem! Canoes and kayaks can be rented from the Waterfront Adventure Centre or from Thrive Tours who operate from the same building.
After enjoying your time on the water, head downtown to see the incredible mural artwork around Sault Ste. Marie. These murals have been painted by local and visiting artists, adding vibrant character to the city! If you are visiting during the month of June, you can watch new murals being painted as part of the Summer Moon Festival.
While you’re downtown, be sure to stop by Elliot’s Ice Cream for a treat that not only tastes delicious but also looks like a work of art!
Crystal Falls is located in Kinsmen Park at the North edge of Sault Ste. Marie. The falls are a short walk from the parking lot and can be accessed by walking along a wooden boardwalk. The amazing views keep coming as you walk up a series of steps to viewing platforms and experience the many layers of this waterfall.
If you have time, you can continue your hike along some of the many great trails nearby into the Hiawatha Highlands and the Voyageur trail system.
Now it’s time to relax while eating supper at one of the many delicious restaurants in town. Finish off your day by watching the sunset over the St. Marys River and then get some well deserved rest at one of Sault Ste. Marie’s hotels.
After such a great day of family fun and activities, the whole family will want to come back and do it all again! Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect place for family adventure.
The Bushplane Museum in Sault Ste. Marie is one of the Ontario’s top attractions. The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (to use its full name) features a collage of attractions that suit all types of customers. Aviation enthusiasts will love the collection of vintage aircraft, families will find an educational and safe environment for their children to play and explore while an array of offerings is sure to entertain with something for everybody.
Here are some of top attractions and biggest reasons to visit the Bushplane Museum, in Sault Ste. Marie.
A staple of the Museum, the De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, is the museum’s iconic airplane. Visible within the first few steps of the doors, the Beaver glimmers in the light cascading in from the large hangar doors. In 1978 the Canadian Engineering Centennial Board selected the Beaver as one of, “Canada’s most outstanding engineering achievements of the 20th Century.” Beaver CF-OBS, the feature of the museum, was the second Beaver to come off the production line, and the second to ever be produced. With just over 1600 produced, the Beaver is a must see in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Canadair CL-215 is the largest aircraft in the collection and has a rich history in forest firefighting. This aircraft was sold to France and used in efforts in maintaining their forests. After being decommissioned due to reaching its maximum number of “in air hours” and also as a result of the aircraft’s exposure to salt water over time. It was donated to the Centre by the French and was delivered directly off-the-ship via the St. Mary’s River. It had to be reassembled in the Museum due to its massive size.
For those with little ones, the Children’s Learning Centre is a fantastic way to introduce your children to flight and the science behind it. With arcade-style game consoles, interactive displays, and separated real airplane cockpits the Children’s Learning Center provides hands-on learning experiences for children of all ages.
Entomica Insectarium, run under the professional direction of President Dr. John Dedes, is a new addition and instant favourite in the museum. The award-winning non-profit organization sets out to educate the public on the complexity and true beauty that their insects hold. This mission combined with their vibrant and outstanding vivariums and insects from around the world provide an interactive and fun learning experience for groups of all sizes, people of all ages, and everyone in the family. In this sensational setting you may have the opportunity to handle some exotic insects under the supervision of their knowledgeable “bug wrangler” staff.
…Like the Ranger Tower. Trek your way up the Ranger Tower to practice your fire spotting skills. A great vantage point of the exhibit space and a unique opportunity for a photo.
The KR-34 Centennial Restoration is another key exhibit and project underway at the Bushplane Museum. This plane in particular, C-FADH, logged over 1900 hours in its open cockpit form. Although the current restoration is for display purposes only, it is still being fully re-covered and painted. You may find volunteers hard at work while still taking time to answer questions about the project and chat. This restoration began in January 2021 and will take between 2-3 years to complete based on the overall condition of the aircraft. The museum’s goal is to have the restoration completed by 2024, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Ontario Provincial Air Service.
On the other end of forest firefighting endeavors would be the Museum’s Bell 47-D helicopter. It was first owned by Ontario Lands and Forests and was acquired in 1953. It was the first helicopter to be owned by a government agency in Canada and was donated by Canadore College in North Bay. It was used to spot and combat forest fires right here in Ontario.3. The helicopter was restored by CBHC volunteers after it was donated.