A Travellerspoint blog

Week 3 on the Road

Highway 11 through Northern Ontario, a cold Victoria Day, Hearst, Geraldton, Thunder Bay

overcast 10 °C
View TaJ 2019 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

As we publish this blog on May 27 we are at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. We have traveled 4,100 kilometers since leaving our home in Millville, Nova Scotia 19 days ago, on May 8. Of our total mileage, we have towed TaJ for 3,150 kilometers. Gas is near $1.49 per litre in this part of Ontario. That works out to around $5.25 Canadian per US Gallon (roughly $3.65 US per gallon for our American friends)

May 20 - Victoria Day (Canadian Holiday)

It was a dark and stormy night...literally. It rained most of the night and by morning it was 2 degrees Celcius with a 30+ kph wind blowing in off Big Nellie Lake. Our little propane heater was all that was between us and freezing to death. Well, a bit dramatic, but we survive just fine.

The weather was so crappy that most of the people who have been here for Saturday and Sunday bailed out last night and we have an almost deserted campground to ourselves this morning. Nothing for us to do but get our laundry up to date. Nice to have clean everything again. We did our sheets this time and Jenny got her workout in remaking the bed. As any R-pod 179 model owner knows, making the bed is not easy, or pleasant. Kudos to her for doing this massive job.

In the early afternoon the weather cleared a bit and the sun came out and the temperature deigned to increase to a very pleasant +11 C. At this point it feels like a heat wave. We took a drive around the area, checking out a source of propane for tomorrow when we depart with TaJ on the back of Sully, for Hearst, Ontario, another 300 k down the road.

Interestingly, we came upon an Ontario Provincial Police road check...looking for drinking drivers, at 12:30 pm. Wow, they must start drinking early here in the north. Of course, the weather might just drive you to an early couple of pints!

May 21:

As we left Iroquois Falls, we did get a photo of Sully and TaJ with Guy-Paul Trefall, the local log chopping icon. This is the first of many such photos that will populate this blog as we travel.


We filled our propane tank in Iroquois Falls and a good thing too. The tech said we had less than 1 pound in the tank when he put it on the scale. We had used 19 pounds of propane in 6 days, heating our trailer. We headed north on Highway 11, heading through Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, and Kapuskasing, on our way to our destination, Hearst Ontario. Along the way we had to stop for a photo in Moonbeam:


A four hour drive with excellent highway conditions. Instead of Fushimi Lake Provincial Park, we targeted an RV park for our two night stop: Veilleux Camping and Marina, just north of the town. We stopped at the visitor centre and got this lovely picture of the town's moose:


The visitor centre is quite the building. While there we got a tour of the structure. It was built in 2012 and is a totally modern structure. All of the materials used came from local sources and the building is energy efficient. Solar panels, a wind turbine and solar hot water heaters on the roof. The building has a rain water collection system that is used for all outdoor watering. The place has geothermal, in floor heating.


We got situated at the campground and went for a long walk along the backroads near the campground. We got in over 5 k before returning to have our first outdoor beer of the season. It was sunny and +18 C today. We feel like the weather may have made a turn for the better!


We spent the morning of May 22 exploring the area around Hearst. We drove out to Fushimi Lake Provincial Park to have a look at the place we would have camped. The road in was pretty rugged gravel, and with TaJ having more than her share of gravel roads in her past, we are glad we didn't take her out there. We did Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories in 2017 and had to replace her axle last year, so there will not be much gravel road travel for us this year.

We learned that Fushimi Lake is quite popular with Japanese tourists. The lake and the county were named after a visit by a Japanese prince in 1907. The Japanese are very fond of the northern lights, which are regularly visible in this area and they journey here to see them. It is said to be good luck to conceive a baby under the glow of the aurora!

We returned to Hearst and went for a long town walk along their riverfront trail. Another 5 k of good walking in for us. We had some poutine at a local meat market. Hearst is quite the place...home to the smallest French language university in Canada...100 students. Many of these students come from countries in Africa and are introduced not only to higher education, but to a Canadian winter. We were told that some students that arrived this winter were greeted by -55 C on arrival. What a shock that must have been to someone used to the weather in Equatorial Africa!

Hearst is also home to a very large saw mill. This is the crane carrying the raw logs from the sort yard to the mill:


Sadly, it began to rain in the mid afternoon, quenching our joy at the change in the weather. At least it is a bit warmer with the rain. We move on tomorrow to Geraldon, Ontario for another 2 night stop.

May 23: We drove through pouring rain to Geraldton, another northern community. We passed through 210 kilometers of virtually nothing, but trees and lakes. Geraldton is a dismal small town that had its heyday back in the 1960's when there were 10 operating gold mines in the vicinity. A fellow we met on street said that at its prime, the town had 8 bars open, and on Saturday night you could not cross the street for the traffic. All the mines shut down in the 1970's and the town had gradually faded from its former glory.

A new mine has been proposed and is expected to get operating in the next year or so, which would bring many new jobs to the area.

We camped at Wild Goose Lake Campground, about 25 kilometers west of town. The campground itself was quite nice, but we were the only people there. The wi-fi was very poor. We set up camp, once again in the rain and settled in for the night. Another cold one...will it never warm up?

May 24: We woke to sun, at least and the temperature promised to get into the mid teens. The weather this spring has been about 5-6 degrees C below the 20 year average. Tied onto a very cold winter and there is not much happening. There is snow in the woods and the trees have not yet leafed out.

We did a 5 k hike on the nature trail at Geraldton. It is built on the tailing pile from one of the old gold mines. We returned to the campground and enjoyed a bit of warmth outdoors for part of the afternoon, but by evening it was raining again. This photo is of one of the old mines that surrounded the town:


May 25: We broke camp in the rain and headed on towards Thunder Bay. Here is a picture of what it looked like on the road:


We had planned a hike along the Palisades, a cliff feature that provides spectacular views, however, when we got to the parking lot, the rain began anew, dashing our plans for a strenous hike. We arrived at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, about 30 k west of Thunder Bay in the mid afternoon. We set up our camp in pretty decent weather. It was +18 C, the warmest temperature we have seen since leaving home 17 days ago. We hope things will continue to improve.

We did a good walk around the campground, and chatted with some Americans up for the Memorial Day weekend and met a couple fro BC heading toward Nova Scotia. We are about 1/2 way across the country here in Thunder Bay.

May 26: We planned to meet up with Wilma Kempe. Wilma and Jenny had spent 6 months together touring Europe in 1974/75 and had kept in touch ever since. Wilma was going to be in town to go to a Quilt Festival at the local fairgrounds. We met up with her around 10:00am


Now, going to a quilt show is a bit like going to an art gallery. I embraced the experience and went through the entire 120 quilts on display with Jenny and Wilma. Some are good, some, no so hot, but I did find these two, with a trailer theme.


We have two more days here to enjoy the city. We stopped at the Sleeping Giant Brewery to pick up some craft beer and did a bit of grocery shopping. We expect to spend much of the next two days exploring the area and getting in as much exercise as we can. We move on mid week towards Kenora and Winnipeg.

Our time on the road is always good. While we can complain about the weather, there is nothing we can do about it. We are having an excellent time, and know that better weather is ahead for us.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:29 Archived in Canada Tagged hearst thunder_bay geraldton highway_11

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Good to read you're getting better weather, still only low double digits here @ home, 10-12, but good for the garden greens. Oh yes we now have a nesting mallard in our garden, trying to keep the crows out of her nest! Watch out for HUGE mosquitos in Winnipeg!

by Jan

Have you photos of the Falls? In Kamloops this week - 29C today.

Yes Mary I have several photos. It was a beautiful day

by Mary Klimek

Cute little quilts. Would have enjoyed that show. Happy trails guys. The weather has got to improve.

by Hilda

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