Rail Travel and Tourism Opportunities in the North

From Sault Ste. Marie-Bawating, a historical landmark for Anishnabe (Ojibwa) and Missanabie (Cree) First Nations, French voyageurs, and English settlers alike, to Hearst, with deep-routed Francophone and First Nations’ roots, and every stop in between, Northern Ontario has a number of wilderness landscapes and cultural wonders to explore, made all the more accessible by train (Algoma Country, 2017). Whether you are looking for an exhilarating adventure, a little art history, or just to relax on the Northern Ontario shores – renewed rail service from the Sault to Hearst under Missanabie Cree First Nation leadership can satisfy the needs of all travel desires.

If you are passionate about the environment and protecting fragile ecosystems, train travel is the most environmentally responsible option for pursuing travel and tourism opportunities. With lower C02 emissions than air, car, and bus travel, as well as the preservation of natural reserves – as there is no need to further develop road networks with train use – rail service is a much greener option that driving in a car (UIC & CER, 2015, p. 45). Although trains do emit pollutants, the equivalent number of cars that it would take to transport the same number of people would increase that number by four times, as displayed below;

(Chart found at Blue&Green Tomorrow)

– And in fact, recent data is suggesting that cars may have a worse environmental impact than planes do! For more information on that, check out this article.

But in addition to getting to and from your destination in the greenest manner possible, tour operators along the rail corridor also offer a number of eco-friendly tourism opportunities, including canoeing, kayaking, ice-climbing, and paddling (CAPT, 2017). There are also activities you can pursue on your own, such as hiking, bird-watching, photography, and tenting. Eco-tourism and travel is a great way to immerse yourself in nature while also respecting the beautiful natural environment around you.

Adrenaline junkies, outdoorspeople, those who live and breathe the outdoors – yeah, this one is for you. Trekking, hiking, fishing, canoeing, and paddling are just scratching the surface of the adventurous opportunities that the North has to offer (Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, 2017). Winter opportunists, don’t fret. There’s always snow in the North to fulfill your snowmobiling, ice climbing, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing desires! Along the rail corridor, we have a number of tour operators who are eager to help you embark on your next bold undertaking – or even take part in it with you!

(Photo credit from Algoma Country)

As one of the oldest settlements in North America, Sault Ste. Marie-Bawating has a lot to offer our history, art, and culture buffs. Visiting the rapids on Whitefish Island will teach you all about how the Anishinabe (Ojibwa) who lived by the river based their livelihood off of fish and trade for thousands of years before colonization (Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, 2017). From there, Mask-Wa Oo-Ta-Ban will give you the opportunity to hop aboard and take a walk in the Group of Seven’s footsteps, exploring the diverse landscapes where they lived and painted (CAPT, 2017). Immerse yourself in the rich cultures and history of a Cree First Nation by checking out the Constance Lake First Nation Annual Pow Wow near Hearst (CLFN, 2010). Regardless of what your interest in Northern Ontario culture is, Mask-Wa Oo-Ta-Ban, the Bear Train, will not leave you short on options for learning a little (or a lot!) about what has shaped the peoples of this land, while also getting your creative juices flowing in the process.

(Photo credit from Algoma Country)

So folks, there you have it, all the ways that passenger train service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst can boost tourism in Northern Ontario. For more information, email riley@beartrain.ca, or visit our Facebook page here!

Algoma Country and the Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association. (2017). Hearst. Retrieved from https://www.algomacountry.com/cities-towns/hearst/

Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT). (2017). Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains: Protecting and Enhancing Algoma’s Passenger Rail. Retrieved from captrains.ca

Constance Lake First Nation (CLFN). (2010). Constance Lake First Nation. Retrieved from www.clfn.on.ca

Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. (2017). The Sault. Retrieved from http://www.saulttourism.com/the-sault/

UIC, The International Railway Association & CER, The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies. (September, 2015). Rail Transport and Environment: Facts and Figures. 45. Retrieved from http://www.cer.be/sites/default/files/publication/Facts%20and%20figures%202014.pdf

10 Replies to “Rail Travel and Tourism Opportunities in the North”

  1. Please get the Train Back, I need to get to my camp. Instead of 10 trips North to my Camp
    Im getting there only 2 or 3 times because of the Rd (logging) conditions

  2. I so enjoyed visiting Sand Lake with friends in 2016 and would love to go again but the road is too bad. I am from near Oxford in England. I find it incomprehensible that a train service does not continue to operate to give tourists like myself the opportunity to explore the Lake and wilderness. It is a loss all round: financial, cultural and educational. With some assistance, the train service will be a WIN/WIN for everyone, near and far away.

  3. This would be a huge boost to tourism for Ontario and for the Native peoples. I know that lots of Americans would love to come visit and invest in the economy.

  4. Good Luck, I can still make it in to my camp, but this year with the rain the beavers are having a great time building new and bigger dams. There are 4 spots on the abandoned logging road we have to use where the beaver dams are built along the track. The level of water is 3 to 4 ft. higher than the road, it won’t be long til our only route to the 17 cottages on our lake is finished. We need the passenger service back. Our lake is also the entry to an ancient portage route of 3 to 5 days out to Lake Superior. Adventurers and naturalists came from all over the world to catch the passenger train to Sandlake, with canoes and sometimes guides to travel that portage route, that opportunity to draw tourists to Algoma and to create eco tourism to enjoy this adventure ended with the passenger service.

  5. Report from Eton, again.
    , The logging Rd is brutal right now. Plus I had another flat tire coming out. It was a nightmare, Not level so jacking up was scary.
    plushad trouble with the spare and was almost stranded in there. These
    roads put you into a position to be in big trouble. Fortunately there was no kids with me this time. I like adventure but these roads are pushing the envelope. The train is SO much safer. We need it back

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