After a good night’s sleep we finally started our way west. First we had to go around Toronto. All destinations we typed in further west went via Toronto. Since it was Friday we were worried that there would be lots of traffic issues. Instead Jamaliah typed in one town at a time to make sure we drove through the Ontario peninsula rather than along lake Ontario.
The first stop we made was at the Wellands canal. The first canal was built in 1833. It was built to circumvent the Niagara river with its large waterfalls and make it possible for Detroit to be connected to the Ocean. The canal was expanded 3 times. The last one with only 8 enormous locks to handle the 100 m height difference between lake Ontario and Lake Erie was completed in 1933. We drove the full length of the 45 m long canal and were lucky to see a large cement carrier navigating through one of the locks. It was a tight fit. We drove a bit along the lovely coastline of Lake Erie and then turned inland and zigzagged North on our way to the Bruce peninsula. It has been sunny and warm these last few days. At the top of the peninsula at Tobermory, we took a car ferry across the Georgian bay of Lake Huron. It took us several attempts to book the ferry. All crossings were fully booked on the website till Sunday evening (in 2 days time). In the end we decided to reserved that crossing. Along the way it was difficult to find a wild camping spot. Every time you saw a small path leading off the main road it ended up at somebody’s house. There is very little common land anymore. One night we stayed at a secluded cul-de-sac at the end of a lakefront suburb and the other time we stayed in a paid camping as it was time for a shower. In Tobermory, at the end of Bruce peninsula, we visited the National park. They have walks through the conifer forest. Unfortunately the original forest were logged up till 1903 but at this section there is a lot of re-growth. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the streets of this touristic town and tasting local snack like beavertail pastry (delicious). One of the main attractions is sailing with a glass bottom boat over several of the wrecks which lay in the bay. Some of them are as shallow as 7 m and clearly visible.
At 17:30 we took the 2 hr ferry to Manitoulin Island and drove across the wooded island to an iOverlander camping spot on the other side. The island has great vista’s looking down towards the lakes in-between the forests. Before leaving the island the next day, we made a stop at a First Nations community centre. They had a handicraft exhibition but unfortunately the items were not for sale. Across the road is a round native catholic church which should have had nice wood carvings. It was closed so we didn’t see them.
For the next 2 days we drove 360 – 480 km per day. First along Lake Huron to Sault Sante. Marie where we had a look at the 1.1 km canal connecting Lake Huron to the 20 m (?) higher Lake Superior. It was built in 1895 and at that time had the world’s longest lock. Next to the lock there is a rusting turning railway bridge and a swing dam which was used to close off the canal in case of emergency. It was put to use in 1909 and is now also rusting away. The canal is replaced by a much larger one on the American side of the water. From the end of the canal you see the iron works across the bay. They are still in Canada.
The drive along Lake Superior towards Thunder Bay is very scenic. Part of the road goes through the Lake Superior Provincial Park. The road is well maintained and compared to the other roads we did in Ontario this was less busy. At several points along the road crews are busy restoring the bridges which are washed away during the annual flooding due to the melting of the snow. We drive a steady pace of 80 – 90 km/hr and are often overtaken by trucks. The area still has its native forest covering the high hills along the lakeshore. Some of the towns started off as mining towns in the beginning of the 20th century. Now the ore (gold) has gone and the town people work in the bigger mines in the interior. There are several rest stops along the way. Some of them go down to the lake. We stopped at two of these lovely wild campsites. Sometimes we are alone and other times were joined by other fellow campers. We have been fortunately with the weather. After several very warm and sunny days it is now a bit cooler with occasional rains in the afternoon followed by cool evenings.