Ontario Trans-Canada Highway #17 between Ignace and Thunder Bay

Kakabeka Falls are just west of Thunder Bay

Why travel between between Ignace and Thunder Bay?

Near Thunder Bay, this route passes the important fur trading for of Fort William, and the stunning Kakabeka Falls. As you move along the highway, you not only cross from Eastern to Central Time Zones, but the rivers (and you cross many of them) shift from flowing into the Great Lakes and the Atlantic to flowing up to Hudson's Bay. You see stunning wilderness vistas, and drive through some very impressive rock cuts.

Here is the itinerary for the 247 km along #17 between Ignace and Thunder Bay:

Ignace Welcome Sign Ignace was founded in 1879 and was a key water route to Lake of the Woods for early settlers. When the CPR was built through northern Ontario, it became a divisional point for taking on water and coal. Today is a jumping off point for prospectors and miners.

This area is traversed by waterways, which were much more convenient for travel and transportation by First Nations and early explorers, than cutting through the dense forests. The English River starts its westward path to the Winnipeg River into Hudson's Bay, and was a major fur trading route into the area. Today, the river generates significant amounts of hydro power. Towns like Upsala are key points for visitors to get to the many fly-in fishing resorts in the area.

Kakabeka Falls, on  the Trans-Canada west of Thunder Bay Early fur traders used a portage at Savanne Portage to connect east to Lac du Mielieu (near Raith) to the Kaministkwia River to complete a fur trading route between Lake of the Woods and Lake Superior, at Thunder Bay. Raith marks another Continental Divide, with points to the north and west flowing into Hudson's Bay, and points to the southeast flowing to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic.

Current River, flowing into lake Superior at Thunder Bay The highway passes Kakabeka Falls, where the Kaministikwia River plunges 40 metres into a gorge. Kakabeka is Ojibwa for "thundering waters". According to legend, an invading party of Sioux Indians captured the daughter of the local Ojibwa chief who escaped by jumping over the falls, and warning her tribe to successfully fight off the Sioux..

Grain Elevators and Flour Mills, seen from Boulevard Lake The soils from here to Thunder Bay are flat and have rich sandy soils, well suited to potato farming, as well as for forage crops fed to cattle, sheep and pigs. Before you reach the Thunder Bay Expressway, which bypasses the on a high hill overlooking Lake Superior, you will pass close to the original fur trading for, Fort William. It was established by the Montreal-based North West Company in 1789, and became a Hudson's Bay company fort after the firms amalgamated in 1821.

Today, Thunder Bays is a key shipping point for prairie wheat, as indicated by the many grain elevators seen along the waterfront.

Trans-Canada Highway History

Trans-Canada Highway Itinerary Map

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Next West: Kenora to Ignace Next East: Thunder Bay to Marathon

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Detailed Itinerary


Highway Point & Features


Junction Hwy 102, Dawson Rd (W), Red River Rd (E) (Thunder Bay)  242.9 
Highway 102 (Dawson Rd), west access to Highway 17 West..

Red River Rd, access to downtown North Ward (Port Arthur), 3.3 km to E of highway..

Gas stations to NW of junction: Petro-Canada, Canadian Tire, Sunys. Gas Stations to SE of junction: 7-Eleven...

Landmark Inn, 0.2 km NW of junction..

Prince Arthur Hotel, in downtown, 3.3 km from highway..

Ramada Hotel Thunder Bay, just NW of highway junction..

Kaylee's Bed & Breakfast, downtown, 3.3 km E of highway..

Shoreline Motor Hotel, downtown, 3.4 km E of highway..

Old Country Motel, downtown, 3.4 km E of highway..

Thunder Bay Inn, 2.5 km NW of highway, via Dawson Rd..
Junction John St, access to Downtown North (Port Arthur), Casino, Marina (Thunder Bay)  239 
Oliver Rd , access to Downtown North (Port Arthur), Casino, Marina (Thunder Bay)  218.2 
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (Hospital), 1.5 km E of highway..

Lakehead University Campus, 2 km E of hihgway..

Venture Inn THunder Bay, 4.4 km E of highway via 17B (Memorial Ave)..

Venture Inn Thunder Bay, 4.4 km E of higway, via 17B/Merial Ave)..

Travelodge4.4 km E of highway via 17B (Memorial Ave)..
Harbour Expressway (E) to Intercity shopping & services (Thunder Bay)  202.1 
Confederation College campus., 1.4 km SE of highway, via Golf Links Rd..

Thunder Bay Golf & Country Club, 1 km E of highway..

Thunder Bay Art Gallery, on Confederation College campus..

Ridgecrest Willows B&B, 1.2 km E of highway..

Intercity Shopping Centre, 3.5 km E of highway..

12 screen multiplex movie theatre (only one in Thunder Bay), 3.5 km E of highway..

Days Inn & Suites Thunder Bay, 2 km E of highway via Sibley Dr...

Harbourfront and grain elevators, 4.5 km E of highway (se photos)..
Arthur Street Market (N) (Thunder Bay)  199 
Arthur Street Marketplace, shopping mall on NE side of intersection...
Neebing Ave (N) Valhalla Inn Rd (S), access to service and accommodation (Thunder Bay)  198.1 
Shell gas station on SW corner of intersection..

Valhalla Inn Thunder Bay, 0.1 km to S of highway..
Neebing River crossing (Thunder Bay)  196.9 
8.6  Junction: Highway 17 West and Thunder Bay Expressway (Highway 17 E) heading North (Thunder Bay)  189.9 
West-bound traffic make right turn here, to continue on #17. Eastbound traffic make left-turn here, to continue on #17...

Arthur Street W (17B), continues east into Thunder Bay's South Ward (Fort William) downtown, about 4 km to E of highway, all services...

Highway 61 South, to Thunder Bay Airport, Fort William Indian Reserve, Mount McKay, and US border...

Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT), 1.3 km S of highway..

White Fox Inn, about 10 km S of highway, via 15th Sideroad and Mountain Rd...

Fort William Indian Reserve 52, about 6 km S of highway..

Best Western - Nor'Wester Resort Hotel, 9 km S of highway..

Loch Lomond ski resort, 12 km S of highway, via #61 and Loch Lomond Rd. downthill, cross-country, ski-jumping...

US border (Minnesota) 58 km S of highway...

Best Western Crossroads Motor Inn, just east of highway junction..

Airlane Hotel, just east of highway junction..

Victoria Inn, 0.5 km E of highway junction..

Travelodge Thunder Bay Airport, jsut east of Highway junction..

Comfort Inn by Journey's End, just E of highway junction..

Archibald Arbor Bed & Breakfast. 3.8 km E of highway junction..

Ritz Motel, 1.8 km E of highway junction..

Kingsway Motel, 2.7 km E of junction via Kingsway..

Fort Motel and Variety, 3.4 km E of highway junction, via Kingsway..

Algma Lodge, downtown South Ward, 4.3 km E of highway, via 17B (May St)..

Empire Hotel, downtown South Ward, 5.7 km E of highway..

Casino Thunder Bay, downtown North Ward, 5 km E of highway...

Historic Fort William Trading Post Historic Site, 7.6 km SW of junciton, via Broadway Ave & King St..

Kaministiquia River and Industrial Area (see photos)..

Duluth, MN (pop. 85,000) 307 km to S. Access to Interstate 35 South to Minneapolis-St Paul (total 545 km to S)...
Parkdale Blvd (N) access to shopping, Morgan Ave (S), Thunder Bay Airport boundary (Thunder Bay)  199 
10  Vanguard Ave (N), (Thunder Bay)  203 
Thunder Bay Airport boundary to S, access to east via Highway 61..
11  Garden Ave 206.3 
12  20th Sideroad (S) 210.9 
12  Mapleward Rd (N) 210 
13  Overpass Motel, S ide of Highway 212.4 
Overpass Motel on S side of highway..
14  25th Sideroad (N) 213.1 
15  25th Sideroad (S) junction 217 
Hwy 17 to the east of here is also Arthur St W..
17  Twin City Crossroads (Hwy 130) crossing 219.8 
18.9  Vibert Rd (N), and WB access to Harbour Expressway back into Thunder Bay 221 
19  Clergue St (N) 224.9 
19.5  West access to Harbour Expressway, access to Vibert Rd (N), and to Intercity shopping area, Intercity industrial areas, harbourfront, and grain elevators. 223.7 
21  Fraser Rd crossing 239 
23  Railway underpass 242.9 
25  McFarlane Rd crossing 244.1 
28  Hwy 588 (S) Junction (Kakabeka Falls)  269.7 
River Rat Tubing, 1.5 km S of highway, on the Kamistoquia River (takes 2-3 hours)..
31  Happy Land Campground (Kakabeka Falls)  269.7 
Happy Land Campground om E (westbound) side of highway. camping, cabins,...
33  Exit to Kakabeka Falls viewpoint (Kakabeka Falls)  281.6 
Kakabeka Falls viewpoint, 0.6 km east of bridge over Kaministoquaia River (or just W of town)..

Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, camping, hiking, watersports, open year-round. Park includes the river from the townsite upstream to the power dam...

Kakabeka Falls Generating Station, south of town, with intake dam, at N end of Provincial Park...

Kakabeka Falls Motor Hotel..
34  Junction Hwy 590 (W) to Bible Camp & camping, crossing river above falls (Kakabeka Falls)  266.1 
36  Hunt Rd (W), pass Lake to E 299.6 
40  Lundstrom Rd crossing 395 
43  Mokomon Rd crossing 395.6 
47  Wiljala Dr (W) 428.5 
49.8  Sistonen's Corners, junction Highway 102 (Dawson Rd) 352.7 
Highway 102 (Dawson Rd), alternate route to Thunder Bay, to North Ward..
50  Sunshine Loop, east exit 335 
51.4  Shebandowan River Crossing 337.7 
51.8  Finmark Rd, town of Finmark, OPP detachment (Finmark)  395 
Town of Finmark, about 2 km N of highway..
52  Shebandowan River Crossing, Sunshine Loop (S) western exit 332.2 
70  Junction Hwy 11 (to Fort Frances), & 17 395.9 
Junction with Hwy 11 southern route via Fort Frances/International Falls (USA)..

Fort Frances, ON and International Falls, MN (USA), 282 km to W of highway..

Atikokan, 138 km W of highway..

Quetico Provincial Park, camping, water sports, open year-round. Near Atikokan...
70  East Oskandaga River crossing 395.9 
96  Roadside Turnout with viewpoint on south side (Raith)  487.1 
99  Lake Rd, town of Raith (Raith)  483.1 
101  Time Zone Change, east bound traffic, put watches ahead 1 hour, west bound traffic, set watches 1 hour back 474.9 
Change clocks: east-bound traffic, put watches ahead 1 hour, west-bound traffic, set watches 1 hour back..
105  Spencer Rd, and view of Florence Lake 474.9 
106  Dog River Rd (N) 481.3 
120  Services N side of hwy 474.9 
125  Little Savanne River crossing (Savanne)  457.2 
Little Savanne River, flows south into Mille Lacs Lake..
125  Exit to Savanne River Resort (Savanne)  459 
Savanne River Resort, just S of hihgway, on the Savanne River..
128  Sawmill Bay Rd, access to accommodation 469.1 
Camp Sawmill Bay, cabins, sandy beach, 24 km N of highway..
133  Rd crossing, to Lac des Mille Lac Indian Reservation 483.1 
Lac Des Mille Lacs Reserve, Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation member of Bimose Tribal Council..

Bimose Tribal Council..
137  Mille Lakes Rd, access to accommodation 473 
Thousand Lakes Resort, 10 km to S of hihgway, on Lac Des Mille Lacs. fishing, hunting, beach, cabins & campground...
139  Inwood Township Rd, information center 484.9 
144  Gonyou Rd (W) (Upsala)  481.6 
145  Town of Upsala, OPP detachment (Upsala)  484.6 
158  Little Fire Steel River crossing 476.4 
161  Fire Steel River crossing 462.7 
161  Graham Road, N to Graham, and to Brightsand River PP 463.6 
Brightsand River Provincial Park, 55 km N of highway. wilderness park, no facilities...

Graham, about 20 km N of highway..

Wawang Lake Resort, about 30 km N of highway. hunting, fishing (closed Winter)..
162  Picnic area, N side 463.3 
164  Beaver Creek crossing 474.3 
179  Picnic area W side 460.6 
191  English River town & river crossing (English River)  471.5 
234  Green Pines Campground R V Park, north side of highway 472.7 
Green Pines Campground R V Park , N side of highway..
247  Junction Hwy 599, N to Silver Dollar (69 km) (Ignace)  466 
Silver Dollar, 69 km to NE of highway...

Silver Dollar Inn and Campground, camping, hunting, fishing, gas station & general store, restaurant...

Sandbar Lake Provincial Park, camping, fishing, water sports (fine sandy beach), wildlife...


Highway Point & Features


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