As a traveler I’ve visited many destinations in North America, which of course includes Ontario and Quebec – but I’m always looking for new territory – a few weeks ago I found one. I (with a number of other bloggers) was invited to explore the beautiful Temiskaming Shores region of Northern Ontario with the many activities the area has to offer. Now to me, this was the far north and a big eye-opener.
Most residents in Southern Ontario are well aware of the cottage country (Muskoka, Haliburton, Kawarthas as well as the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron areas) – it’s where we head to get a few days on the lake. These areas have lots of swimming and boating, a smorgasbord of dining options and a lot of places to stay – it adds up to a big draw and they get the big crowds. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love these destinations, but they are so saturated with bodies during the summer that I long for a more peaceful respite….. And I found it, resting on the Ontario/Quebec border, Lake Temiskaming.
North Bay: A Gateway to Natural Beauty
Our excursion started in North Bay (Ontario). We were picked up at the Airport (modern and welcoming) and deposited on the shores of Lake Nipissing. Much to our pleasure, we discover North Bay has a picturesque waterfront with beaches, paddling, a marina and boat cruises on the lake.
If you’re in North Bay set aside some time to explore!
Jump on board the Chief Commanda II Boat Cruise – take the dinner cruise or just go along for the ride enjoying the coastline and beautiful sunsets on Lake Nipissing. There are three decks, dining room, cafe and open top deck with seating perfect for capturing the scenery on the water.
Looking for fun for the whole family? Visit the Heritage Train and Carousel Park run by North Bay volunteers. The Mini train rides a track built by a contingent of retired railway workers from the CNR, CPR and ONR; the Carousel horses were built in the US then hand-painted by local artists.
Eat well at White Owl Bistro located on the lakefront and featuring a farm-to-table menu. It has a 40-person dining room and a gorgeous patio overlooking the lake. Every item served by Chefs René and his wife Laura Dubois is sourced from local farms. Every dish you order be it trout or bison burger is presented beautifully and full of flavor. The menu also features an excellent old and new world wine list and craft cocktails.
Temiskaming Shores is about an hour and a half above North Bay; the area includes three towns, Haileybury, New Liskeard and Dymond. The first look at “Lake Temiskaming” actually took my breath away.
This lake is over 200 meters (700 feet) deep, 100-km long having an area of 300-sq-km. It’s is a natural paradise for boaters and active visitors, surrounded by rolling hills and agriculture. The area is rich in history, there’s a strong Mennonite community; the Algonquin and Ojibway have lived in the region for over 8000 years; and an Anglo and Francophone population who trace their roots back to the first settlers. (Just imagine the variety of foods I got to enjoy in the local restaurants.)
What to See And Do In Temiskaming Shores:
Lake Temiskaming is a Boating Mecca, if you love being on the water then you’ve come to the right place. Just about everyone either owns or has access to boats, pontoons, and canoes. Most of the land surrounding Temiskaming is crown owned, meaning hassle-free access, so slide your boat in and try fishing for pike or bass.
While on the water you may catch sight of the largest house in Canada – the Grant Mega Mansion – adjacent to the town of Haileybury with 65,000 square feet. Once owned (and never been lived in) by the lumber king Peter Grant until the slump hit the forestry industry, It’s been on the market for over 7 years, asking price today is $25 million.
Devils Rock, a famous landmark, is 2,200 million years old and has a face of 600 feet rising 300 feet above Lake Timiskaming. A short 3-kilometer hike from the road will bring you to the edge of the cliff and provide a Panoramic view of the lake and into Quebec. The view is worth every mosquito bite along the trail!
Lake Tour Passport
Temiskaming Shores has launched a cross border tourism initiative between Ontario and Quebec called “Lake Tour Passport “. This project showcases all the scenic adventures in and around the Lake. What I love about the passport is the layout of things to discover in the region from Temiskaming Shores (Haileybury, New Liskeard) to Notre-Dame-du-Nord. There are approximately 18 stops on the map and if you complete the tour, you’re eligible for some great prizes.
Here are a few highlights from the tour:
HaileyBury: In 1922, Haileybury was ravaged by a fire. Farmers had cleared land by burning bushes and trees to prepare for planting; the embers from the fires spread fast and eventually the town was engulfed. It was one of the most devastating catastrophes’ in Canadian History. The Haileybury Heritage Museum is a must visit for visitors interested in learning more about the great fire of 1922 and the history of the region.
North on Tap is a craft beer festival which takes place in mid-July. It features fine craft beers, music, and foods from local vendors. Nine brewers (Whisky Jack, Steamwhistle, Stack Brewers, North Ontario Brewer etc) showcased their products at the inaugural event on July 15th, 2017. The festival is held at Harbour Place on the Haileybury water-front.
New Liskeard: A visit to the Riverside farmers market is where you’ll find local farmers and producers selling fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods and meats along with crafts. While there to pick up some honey, fresh honey infused donuts, and Thornloe Cheese. The market runs from June to October 8am-12pm.
Not to be missed is the Waterfront Boardwalk and Pete’s Dam a 2 km walk leading to waterfalls. No visit to New Liskeard would be complete without a tour of the Claybelt Homesteaders Museum and a selfie with the town’s most famous resident “Miss Claybelt” herself.
Notre-Dam-du-Nord: In August visitors are welcome to attend the “First Nation Pow-Wow” where traditional music, dancing as well as food and handicraft objects are celebrated. One of my favourite experiences is the Fossilarium, where the museum showcases the geology of the region. You view fossils retrieved from the sea floor (dating back 420-460 million years) once covered by the ice age and then the ocean. Fossilarium arranges fossil safaris at the museum so you can dig up your own fossils in the surrounding fields.
Tip: If you don’t have access to boats, kayaks or canoes dependant on where you stay then rent in North Bay.
Where to Stay in Temiskaming Shores
There are lots of accommodations in the region. Here are a few recommendations:
620 Lakeshore Road South, Haileybury, ON
Seven historical homes provide luxury accommodation in rooms or suites in Haileybury. Amenities include a private beach on Lake Temiskaming, access to private Farr island, bicycles, kayaks, and canoes.
2 Cedar Avenue, New Liskeard, ON
Forty well-appointed rooms are available for guests. With a number facing the lake and boardwalk. Adjoining the hotel is the Rooster Bar and Grill restaurant where food and drink are available.
Photo Gallery on Flickr
If you go:
Temiskaming Shores is approximately 5 hours north of Toronto by driving. From North Bay, it is approximately 1.5 hours.
If you fly, the closest airport is North Bay’s Jack Garland.
Visit Northern Ontario’s official website for more information about the region.