Ontario Trans-Canada Highway #17 between Thunder Bay and Marathon, Ontario

View east to Sleeping Giant

Why travel between Thunder Bay and Marathon?

The western portion of this route has sweeping views of Sleeping Giant and you pass Ouimet Canyon and Ontario's amethyst mines (you can try some). When you reach Nipigon, you cross the SINGLE BRIDGE that connects western Canada with central and eastern Canada. Fortunately its architecturally stunning. East of Nipigon, the "North of Superior" stretch of the highway rises and falls offering stunning lake views as well as vistas of endless Northern Ontario forests.

Here is the itinerary for the 289 km along Highway #17 between Thunder Bay and Marathon:

Terry Fox Monument, just east of Thunder Bay The original Trans-Canada Route was highway 11 (designated "The King's Highway"), which connecting North Bay and Nipigon through northern forests. That highway was started in 1923 and completed as a key war-time project to provide toad access to key mining towns of northern Ontario. When Highway 17 was completed between Marathon and Montreal River in September 1960, it became the new (and much shorter) Trans-Canada Highway.

The Climate around Lake Superior is more moderate than inland away from the lake, because of the moderating influence of a large body of water. In the spring and summer, the shore is cooler, since it lakes longer to lake to defrost and the water to heat up, and in the fall, the shoreline is warmer since it take longer for the lake's water to cool. The immensity of the lake also causes "lake effect" precipitation year-round.

Nipigon River Scene, near Red Rock Just east of Thunder Bay is a monument to Terry Fox, who had lost one leg to cancer and started a cross-Canada "Marathon of Hope" to raise money for cancer research. He began his run in St John's, Newfoundland, and ran 42 km (26 miles) a day along the Trans-Canada, with a detour through Toronto, and ended his run here when he found out he had inoperable cancer in his lungs. Since his untimely passing in 1981, the Marathon of Hope is continued with annual runs in communities across Canada, and around the world and has raised over $400 million. For this monument, you can look eastwards to see the Sibley Peninsula looking like a "Sleeping Giant".

About 50 kilometres east of Thunder Bay is an amethyst mine, which is Ontario's largest mine of its provincial stone. Discovered when a road construction tractor hit an amethyst vein, which was formed when quartz and various minerals accumulated in crevices in Precambrian granite. A little further east is the Ouimet Canyon (and 21 km north of the Trans-Canada), which has been eroded to a depth of 107 metres and a width of 153 metres, and is so sheltered in summer that it has an arctic micro-climate.

Red Rock view, east of Nipigon
 Lake Superior Islands- West of Terrace Bay The Nipigon River is Lake Superior's largest tributary. This was the launch point for the carved wooden canoe and Indian from the children's book (and short film) Paddle-to-the-Sea (filed in the 1960s). The flow of the Nipigon River is often supplemented by water from the Ogoki-Albany river system, which usually flows north into the Hudson's Bay, Under international treaty, this provides extra "Canadian water" for the hydro generation station at Niagara Falls. Because the Hudsons's Bay continental divide is not far north of the highway, the south-facing rivers are steep and often have magnificent waterfalls.

Terrace Bay Lighthouse at Simcoe Plaza Terrace Bay is named for the layers or terraces created by banks of gravel laid down by the lake that grew from Ice Age glacial meltwater, and as water levels fell, the lake receded and a new terrace formed at the new shoreline. Today, shopping & accommodation are on the top terrace, most of homes are on the next level down, with two terraces more below that down to the level of Lake Superior. The town even has a small ski hill.

Trans-Canada Highway History

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

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Detailed Itinerary


Highway Point & Features


Peninsula Rd, (W) to north access to Marathon (5 km), all services (Marathon)  316.1 
Marathon airport (Marathon)  312.1 
Marathon Municipal Airport (CYSP), just NW of highway...

Town of Marathon, about 2.5 km SW of highway..

Marathon District Museum..

Mink Creek Falls..

Peninsula Golf Course, 9 holes designed by Stanley Thompson...

Marathon Pulp Inc, pulp mill on waterfront of town (closed indefinitely in Feb 2009, under bankruptcy protection)..

Best Western Airport Motor Inn..

Lakeview Manor..

Marathon Harbour Inn..

Peninsula Inn ..

Travelodge Marathon..

Wayfare Inn, /4 mile west of Marathon Intersection..

Pic River Guest Suite..

Penn Lake Park campground,2 km from highway, in-town..
24  Neys Provincial Park (2km S of hwy) 254.5 
Neys Provincial Park, 2 km S of hwy, with camping, hiking, water sports. The park extends south from the highway over the peninsula...

Crossing Little Pic River, to west of park..

World War II POW (Prisoner of War) Camp, on east bank of Little Pic River...
43  Prairie River Mouth Nature Reserve 207 
Prairie River Mouth Nature Reserve, hiking trail. No other park facilities. ..
50  Steel River Provincial Park (crossing Steel River) 193.2 
Steel River Provincial Park, with 20-metre waterfall, camping & canoeing but no visitor facilities..
50  Jackfish Road (S) to Jackfish (Jackfish)  310.3 
The Coach House Motel, and The Wilderness Cafe restaurant..

Jackfish Lake Cottages..
53  Rest Stop, on Jackfish Lake 190.8 
59  Lake to W of hwy 186.2 
73  Terrace Bay Airport, N side of highway (Terrace Bay)  271.3 
Terrace Bay Airport, now abandoned, and used for annual drag racing festival...
76  Mill Rd (N) (Terrace Bay)  274.9 
Terrace Bay Pulp Mill, 1 km N of highway (filed for creditor protection in 2009)..
77  Ridgewood Dr (S) on N: ski hill, tourist info, scenic viewpoint (Terrace Bay)  270.1 
Access to Pump House Beach, on Lake Superior, 1 km S of town..
77.7  Simcoe Plaza (N), central business district, accommodation (Terrace Bay)  256.9 
Township of Terrace Bay, pop. 1,700..

Imperial Motel, N of highway..

Norwood Motel, N of highway..

Red Dog Inn, just N of highway..

Aguasabon Beach, on Lake Superior, about 1 km S of town..

Golf course, about 1 km S of highway..
78  Lakeview Dr (S), access to hospital (Terrace Bay)  259.1 
McCausland Hospital, 2 blocks SW of highway..

Tourism Information on N side of highway..
79  Cross Aguasabon River (Terrace Bay)  264.3 
Aguasabon Campground, on W side of river..

Aguasabon Falls and Gorge, accessible via Aguasabon Gorge Rd on west side of river...

Trestle Ridge Ski Hill on NE side of river...
80  Hydro Rd (Terrace Bay)  250.5 
Power station to S on Lake Superior, headstocks on Hays Lake above highway, with total drop of 300 ft (100 m)..
91  Drummond St, W to Schreiber (Schreiber)  309.4 
92  Walker Lake Rd, S to Schreiber (Schreiber)  313.9 
Birch Grove Housekeeping Motel ..

Filane's Cosiana Inn, N of highway..

Norwest Motel, N side of highway..

Travel Rest Trailer Park, N side of highway..

Villa Bianca, N side of highway..

McCausland Hospital, 6 blocks S of highway..
92  Winnipeg St, S to Schreiber, all services & accommodation, OPP (Schreiber)  305.1 
Township of Shreiber, pop. 1,200..

Circle Route Motel..

Filane's Fallen Rock Motel..

Sunset Motel..

town has a beach on Lake Superior...
93  Walker Lake to N of hwy (Schreiber)  349.6 
Fallen Rock Motel, just west of lake, on N side of highway...
98  Access to Schreiber Channel Nature Preserve (Schreiber)  400.2 
100  Whitesand/Winston Rd (N), Roadside turnout on S side of hwy 317.6 
Schreiber Channel Nature Preserve, with micro-fossils in the Precambrian rock. No visitor facilities..
103  Rainbow Falls PP, camping, picnic area 269.4 
Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, just N of highway, with waterfalls. camping, watersports, hiking, wildlife, open year-round..
111  East Exit to Rossport, all services & Accommodation (Rossport)  180.7 
Islands Shores B&B..

Serendipity Guesthouse..

The Willows B&B..

Beach just off east town entrance..
112  West exit to Rossport (Rossport)  232.9 
Rossport Inn..

Rossport Recreation Hall, by west exit from highway...
117  Roadside Turnout, picnic area (W side) 207.9 
119  Pays Plat Indian Reserve 187.5 
Pays Plat Indian Reserve, both sides of highway..

Pays Plat River crossing, with settlement on East bank..
125  Roadside Turnout, Picnic Area, south side of highway 424.6 
Fire tower on road to south, up hill...

Wabasta Lake to E of highway...
144  Gravel River Nature Preserve, services 189.9 
crossing Gravel River (meandering a lot at this point, vlose to the Lake)..

Gravel River Nature Preserve, with rivers mouth with several tributaries..
153  Wabasta Lake to N of hwy 383.7 
154  Roadside turnout, picnic area with scenic view 275.5 
View Southeast to Kama Point, with Copper Point about 4 km across Kama Bay...

Kama Rock Cut is 1600 ft/500m long to a depth of 70 ft/21 m, excavating 180,000 cu yards of rock & earth. Scene of 1965 postcard.
161  Road access to Kama Hill Nature Reserve 198.4 
Kama Hill Nature Reserve, 1 hectare park, just southeast of highway..

Kama Hill Nature Reserve, has unusual red-purple rock called mudstone..
167  Crossing the Jackpine River 187.8 
180  Junction Hwy 11, North route of Trans-Canada. To Geraldon, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Cobalt & North Bay, Lake Helen Indian Reserve 1 km N of highway. (Nipigon)  210.3 
Town of Geraldton, pop. 2400, mining town, 159 km NE of highway...

Nipigon Provincial Park, rugged wilderness park on Lake Nipigon, no facilities. 60km N of highway..

Helen Indian Reserve, 1 km N of highway, of the Red Rock First Nation..

Highway 11, arches east towards North Bay, and continuing southward to Toronto (where it becomes Yonge Street)..

Dogtooth Mountain, rises to about 1200 ft (about 500 ft above surrounding land), about 2 km SE of town, with Ruby Lake to its immediate east...
180.6  Cross Nipigon River (Nipigon)  188.4 
Nipigon River Bridge, 2 lane highway beside single-track railway bridge. River is 51km long and has flow of 155 cu m (5500 cu. feet) per second..

Lake Nipigon, 50 km N of highway, is largest Canadian body of water entirely within one province, covering 4,848 sq. km...
181  Railway St (east access to Nipigon) (Nipigon)  213.4 
Township of Nipigon, pop. 1750..

several hotels, motels and campgrounds. All services...
183  West access to Nipigon, all services, OPP (Nipigon)  211.5 
Birchville Motel..

Birchwood Campground

Northland Motel..

Red Rock Inn..

Skandia House Bed and Breakfast..

Beaver Motel..

Grey Rocks Inn & Bistro

River's Bend Bed & Breakfast..

Stillwater Trailer Park..

Town & Country Motel..

Logan's Vacationland Motel..
185  Junction Hwy 585 291.7 
Lake Nipigon, 40km to N..

Stillwater Tent & Trailer Pak, W of highway junction..
189  Golf Course Rd 264.9 
North Shore Golf Club, 18 holes...
190  Hwy 628 to Red Rock (7 km) 221.3 
Township of Red Rock, pop. 1050, 7 km S of highway, with Inn and marina..
200  Black Sturgeon River crossing 198.7 
211  Hwy 528 (S) to Hurkett (3 km) (Hurkett)  241.1 
213  Hwy 582 (E) to Hurkett, Black Sturgeon Rd (N) (Hurkett)  213.1 
Hurkett, pop 300, 3 km E of highway..
217  Fish Hatchery Rd (W) 208.8 
217  Wolf River crossing 203 
222  Dorian Loop Rd N to Dorian (1km) 205.7 
Cavern Lake Provincial Pak, to NW of highway..
225  Ouimet Canyon Rd (W) Access to Ouimet Provincial Park, no campgrounds, day use, picnic tables, hiking (Ouimet)  225.9 
Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, deep canyon with rare arctic and sub-arctic plants. hiking, boardwalk, say-sue...
233  Welch Creek river crossing 217.9 
237  Road No 5 N (Pearl)  257.9 
240  Silver Lake Rd 280.4 
243  East Loon Rd, Loon Lake to N of hwy 321 
Amethyst Mine Panorama, 8 NW of highway. North America's largest amethyst deposit. Amethyst is Ontario's official gem..
249  Junction Hwy 587 (S) to Pass Lake (6 km), Sibley Peninsula and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park 251.2 
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. 123 km S of highway..

Pass Lake, 6 km S of highway, services..
253  Eldorado Beach Rd 235.9 
Eldorado Beach on Lake Superior Bed and Breakfast, 1.5 km SE of highway..
259  Amethyst Harbour Rd (S) (Amethyst)  214 
262.9  Mackenzie Heights Rd 210.9 
263  Mackenzie River crossing (rapids & waterfalls both sides of hwy), Mackenzie Beach Rd 207 
Mackenzie River, with rapids & waterfalls both sides of highway...
264  Lakeshore Dr 218.5 
265  Mackenzie Station Rd 217.9 
273  Railway underpass 237.4 
278  Junction Hwy 527, N to Armstrong (126 km), Spruce River Rd (S) to KOA Thunder Bay 247.2 
KOA Thunder Bay, south of highway..
282  Terry Fox Memorial, N side of Hwy, rest area, picnic area, washrooms, 248.7 
Terry Fox Memorial, N side of highway, marked end-point of cancer-striken Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. (see photos)..
282.5  Hodder Ave (S) (also Hwy 178 ) to downtown Port Arthur, N to Trowbridge Falls city park (Thunder Bay)  249.6 
Strathcona Motel, 1.2 km S of highway..

Strathcona Golf Course, 18 holes, just to S of highway..

Current River Industrial Area along waterfront, 3 km S of highway. With Abitibi Thunder Bay Mill...

Hodder Rd (S) into city, connects to Cumberland St and Port Arthur's waterfront, downtown & attractions. Towbridge Rd (N) access to camping...

Trowbridge Falls Campground (Municipal), just to N of highway, alongside scenic Current River..
282.9  Roadside Turnout, north side of highway 257.3 
hiking trail to Shuniah Lake, and some views to Lake Superior & Sleeping Giant...
285  Current River crossing,. Blvd Park to E (Thunder Bay)  242.3 
Centennial Park with Boulevard Lake to SE of highway, access via Balsam to W or Hodder to E. See photos..

The Bluffs Scenic Lookout, in Centennial Park, view to The Sleeping Giant to east (see photos)..

Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital to W of Centennial Park, to SE of highway..
286.5  Junction Balsam Ave (Thunder Bay)  249.3 
287  EB Exit for Huron Ave (Thunder Bay)  248.7 
288  Crossing McVicar Creek, Shuniah Park to W of hwy (Thunder Bay)  241.1 
289  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..

More Thunder bay attractions and hotels on next westbound itinerary..

Thunder Bay Marina (Port Arthur) see photos..

various Port Arthur (North Ward) photos..

Prince Arthur's Landing at Marina Park Skateboard/BMX Plaza, at waterfront..

Silver Falls Provincial park, Holocene-era features, with many post-glacial features. 35 km NW of highway..


Highway Point & Features


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