I’ve been writing about touring Northern Ontario by motorcycle for the last three years, and this is probably one of the first and most important routes I learned about or worked to help promote. This map also has over 12,000 hits – probably the most popular web thing I’ve ever done!

Temiskaming Loop – We Start This Journey Tomorrow

Just What Is Northern Ontario?

One of the first questions we get asked is “What’s Northern Ontario?” This is usually asked by people living in the North, so I assume they mean “What area are you calling Northern Ontario?” Basically we’re calling everything north of Toronto Northern Ontario. You could get into some finicky details, but for our limited purposes, we’re calling it that.

The other question we got (only once, by one of the staff of Young’s General Store in Wawa) was “The Ultimate Northern Ontario Road Trip? What’s so Ultimate about it?” At the time, I said “Well…it’s 40 days on the road. 8000km. RV. Two motorcycles. Pretty ultimate, in fuel consumption alone.” But now that we’re a little further along, and have sampled lots of the different regions (although we’ve still got lots to explore) I think the incredible variety of places, people, cultures, towns, wildernesses, etc is the “Ultimate.”

However, the real reason I started this post was to draw out some of my thoughts on what the experience of Northern Ontario is – for RVers, for motorcyclists, for destination tourists who drive somewhere and stay there for a week or more, or for people road tripping and driving from place to place.

It is a lot of things. Some of the best things it is, as of now:

  • Friendly, easy-going people.
  • Spectacular scenery that varies widely.
  • Vast areas with nothing but nature.
  • Trees. Lakes. Rivers. Animals.
  • Open roads.
  • Probably most importantly: Peace of mind

Something about being out here, either at the edge of the shore of Lake Superior and all it’s majestic awesomeness, or in the forest at a campground that deer walk through as if they own the place (which they really do), or at the side of the road, taking a break to sip some water and not hearing a car coming in any direction for minutes on end, makes life make sense again. Only the things that truly matter get any attention.

People often ask another question – “So, do you guys want to kill each other yet?” And the response is no. Actually we’re too chilled out by our surroundings to ever really let the little things bother us. And even when something gets seriously screwed up, we find it easier that usual to forgive and move on, working together so we can all continue to enjoy this all-too-brief moment, and to bring the message to the rest of the world. If you want to let all the grime of the soul wash away, you’ve only got to step out into your backyard.

Join us.

– Michael Jacobs, President, The Ultimate Northern Ontario Road Trip (UNORT)


OK, so last weekend, we went out to the OFTR Family Day dirt-bike-a-thon. See the previous post if this string of words makes no sense to you. Basically you go out to this huge tract of woods where the dirt bike association for Ontario has carved out amazing trails of every variety and they teach you how to manage everything from motocross style circuits, to riding directly over fallen logs, to squirelling around rocks and stumps at a 45 degree uphill angle.

But, what I didn’t reveal is that we took out the RV for the weekend to get a thorough understanding of what living in a motorized home really entails.

Mike Driving an RV

The fine folks at CanaDream sent us out with a 27 footer, with all the amenities – TV, refrigerator, microwave, queen bed, shower, slide out living room – the works. There were three “full-grown” men in the RV, and we didn’t have any trouble keeping out of each others hair, even when we were all inside.

On the first night, we arrived late at the campground, and had to sleep in the parking lot. Only down side to this is you need electrical hookups to run your heat, but it wasn’t too cold. And I have a new found respect for polar fleece! Silver linings everywhere.

The next day we drove over to the dirt bike session and parked the behemoth in the lot while we did our morning session. Ed slept in it during lunch, then we tore back to the camp ground at the end of the day. Needless to say, the ample refrigerator had kept our beverages nice and frosty, and we had our fill. 

Ed and I slept in the bunks over the cab, with more than adequate comfort, and Pete took the queen bed in back. We all shook the earth mightily with our snoring.

The next morning we drove Ed to his farm in Varney, Ontario (don’t try and find it on a map) through some gorgeous agricultural landscape. The wind was a bit intense, and the RV does get pushed around a bit, but it’s an easy adjustment to driving style once you’re prepared. On the way there we stopped at Eugenia Falls in Grey County. We parked at the corner store and took an easy two minute walk down the path to the falls:

WOW. Aparently you can hike to the bottom of the falls from further down the road and go swimming. Shamazing.

Pickle Man Eugenia Falls

Just outside the park, we stopped back in the corner store. I bought some of Pickle Man’s Extra Hot Horseradish and some Mint Chocolate Fudge for a friend back in TO.

In all, the driving experience was pretty good. Most of the time the RV feels just like driving a moving van, and it’s size is only an issue when parking. I mean, think about how many 18 wheelers are on the road, and they get around fine! And as long as you think ahead, parking isn’t much of a big deal either. Mainly, think about how you’re going to get out of where you are. Thankfully rural Ontario has lots of space, so it never became an issue for us.

The living experience was great. We made meals in the RV, slept comfortably, used the amenities, even tested out dumping the grey and black water, and it was so simple – whatever challenges we face on this trip, the vehicle will probably not be one of them. Also, the comfort of picking up an RV that is totally clean, with all of the necessities already in it (soap, plates, rubber gloves, pans, pots etc) and then dropping it off (we did clean out the garbage and swept up the dirt after our adventure) makes life just peachy.

(stay tuned for video of Eugenia Falls)

The Camera Records A GPS Path As You Ride, Right Into The Video Image! Watch the video On This Page For The Full Details. Might Have To Get One…

Contour GPS Cam

“At Hwy 503, Jog Left And Then Right Onto Hwy 507 At Gooderham. This Town Was Named In 1873 After The Founder Of The Gooderham And Worts Distillery Made A Large Donation To Build A Local Church, Although Local Legend Says It Was Named In Honour Of A Drunken Bash Resulting From The Donation Of Free Whisky To Local Hotels.”

Highway 507 – One of Ontario’s Best Riding Roads

This Is A Pretty Slick Piece Done On Riding In Ontario


This is a pretty slick piece done on riding in Ontario. I’ve done some of these roads!

The “Mattawa Shortcut”, Highway 533.

The “Mattawa Shortcut”, Highway 533. Best suited to riders with adventure-tourers or dual-sport bikes.

Etienne Brulé and The Unadulterated History of Ontario

Unadulterated Ontario

Ontario occasionally comes across as a highly efficient province of vast natural resources and impeccable infrastructure. And it is, but it is also a ticking time-bomb of history and wonder.

I’m currently reading Max Braithwaite’s Ontario and there are some real gems in Ontario’s history. The first is Etienne Brule. He was the first white man to see Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, the place where Toronto would eventually be built, and Lake Erie, Huron and Superior. Sent to explore Ontario by Samuel de Champlain, he was one of the first coureurs de bois. Max’s passage describes the Brule better than I ever could:

“Etienne was a lean, powerful, audacious young man who scorned the establishment and preferred the more natural life and sexual mores of the Indians with whom he travelled…he learned the Indian ways and language, loved the Indian maidens and, inevitably quarelled with their menfolk so that they executed him. (But even in death he was useful, for, according to one story, they Indians had him for supper.)”

Etienne and Samuel de Champlain

I’d like to be the first to claim Etienne as the spirit animal of our vast adventure.