The name Agawa is Ojibway for “sheltered harbour”. The Algoma Central Railway was begun in 1899 to connect the mining towns of north-central Ontario with the Great Lakes at Sault Ste Marie and Mitchipicotin Harbour. The 516 km route stretches all the way to Hearst. In 1997, Algoma Steel announced it was closing down its ore mine in Wawa and ran its final ore train in 1998, ending that chapter in the railway’s history.
The route passes the scenic Agawa Canyon, only 180 km up the route. In this stretch, the railway drops 500 feet from the surrounding hills into the canyon floor, and then hugs the narrow canyon walls. The famous Group of Seven artists used to come up here in the 1920s and became famous for their paintings of the rugged northern Ontario landscape.
There are famous pictographs at Agawa Bay on Agawa Rock, rediscovered in
1851 by American ethnologist Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.
Today the train stops in the Agawa Canyon, giving you an opportunity to explore the scenery in the canyon. There are a number of trails giving different views for people with differing abilities and interests
Agawa Canyon Attractions
Otter Creek Trail
This 15 minute trail takes you past one of the area’s smallest waterfalls 15 m (45 ft) in height. There are trout pools below the falls and beaver ponds above it.
Ed Foote Trail
This 20 minute loop follows a river terrace of pinkish grey rocks 50 feet above the railway tracks. Along this trail you can see a number of flora and fauna (please be gentle)
This trail continues past the Ed Foote Trail along the base of the West Canyon Wall. Talus is the name for the rock debris at the bottom of the canyon, much of it lichen covered. You can hike up to 53 m (175 foot) Black Beaver Falls or 70 m (225 foot) Bridal Veil Falls (a 30-40 minute round-trip hike, respectively)
This is a challenging trail and ascends 250 feet above the tracks for a panoramic view of the canyon. The trail is a combination of graveled paths and wooden stairs, and there is an intermediate platform halfway up the 40 minute (round-trip) trail.