Road Trip! Travelling through the Canadian Shield

This month, my wife and I took a fantastic road trip to Temiscaming, Quebec. Our journey there and back took us through a total of nearly 3600 km of pure Canadian Shield. We reconnected with family, made new friends, and saw plenty of interesting sights along the way.

 

Getting Ready

The goal of this trip was to attend a family reunion, and so we have known about it for awhile now. Planning it out to maximize our use of time and see all the places we wanted to see has made the last couple months more exciting. Heading there, we would take a more northern route, while on the way back we would stay more to the south. Numerous points of interest along the way would give us plenty of places to stop on both routes. With lot’s of snacks, camping equipment, and for some reason more pairs of clean underwear than days we would actually be away, the highway awaited.

Road Trip!

Let’s do this!

 

Driving through the Canadian Shield

It didn’t take long for the flat, straight highways of home to become winding and hilly. Driving is a lot more interesting when you actually have to pay attention to which direction the road will take you next. There is no setting the cruise control and daydreaming the drive away on these roads!

The terrain changed quickly to that beautiful Canadian Shield that I love so much. Thick bush gave way to rocky cliffs, which in turn hid calm clear lakes and twisting rivers. An abundance of wildlife sightings helped keep us alert and on the lookout. Herons, eagles, foxes, deer, even a lynx and a cow and calf moose made their appearances throughout the drive.

Hi there momma moose!

 

Sights to See

I’m always a bit amused at the number of towns that have statues of a giant something. Sudbury has it’s giant nickel, Beardmore displays a giant snowman, and of course who could forget Vermillion Bay’s sasquatch?

I certainly won’t be able to, no matter how much I try

Outside of the towns and cities, we had endless amazing scenery to look at. The hills got bigger as we went east, and many areas actually reminded me of driving through the mountains. Certain spots along the way opened up into huge lakes on one side and tall cliffs on the other. Everything was very scenic, and there were very few boring stretches.

My favorite views

 

Kakabeka Falls

For the first day of driving, we ended at Kakabeka Falls campground, where we had booked a site for the night. The falls were absolutely gorgeous, and so we spent a chunk of time walking around and taking it all in.

 

Compared to the backwoods of the Canadian Shield, a campground is not nearly as nice. However, the site was clean, the fire pit was a good size, and the weather was nice. It was a comfy enough place to sleep for the night, and we had no issues.

Morning came quickly, and so we were up bright and early. We packed up camp quickly before taking another quick walk around the falls. After that, it was back on the road for another long day.

 

Temiscaming at last

Day 2 of driving finally brought us to our ultimate destination of Temiscaming, Quebec.

 

Temiscaming was a nice little town and we had a fantastic time meeting my wife’s extended family. We partied hard, ate well, and fished a lot. What more could we ask for?

Even wifey caught fish

I could write a whole separate article on the experience of the family reunion with a family the size of hers, so I won’t include it here. Suffice it to say, it was sad when the time came to leave, but we had a lot of driving left ahead of us, and a lot of sights left to see.

Our nation’s capital

We diverted for one day to check out Ottawa. Ottawa is an old city and has a lot of really cool things to see. We checked out Parliament Hill, of course, but arrived too late to get in for a tour. Even in the pouring rain, it was still pretty neat just to be able to walk around and see the grounds. There was a farmers market going on at the same time, which we browsed as well.

Without a doubt, one of the highlights for me was dinner, which included an amazing, authentic poutine. Cheese curds, gravy, pickles, and Montreal smoked meat on top of fries. Could there be a more perfect food?

I think not

The other point of interest of our stop at the capital was the Canadian Museum of Nature. This place had everything. Rocks, fossils, live bugs, it was a blast for a nerd like me. We spent a solid 3 hours wandering around there before we had to head out and get ready for the long drive back home.

One day I’ll catch something this big…

Great Lakes

Our route back home took us through the Lake Superior Provincial Park. For me, this was the most gorgeous part of Ontario that we drove through on the whole trip. Surrounded on all sides by huge rock hills and cliffs, and interspersed with hundreds of small rivers and lakes, it was a joy to behold. A real prime example of the Canadian Shield type of terrain that I will just never get enough of.

Naturally, we had to stop at a rest area overlooking Lake Superior itself. I couldn’t resist hopping the railing and climbing down to the shore to snap a few pictures. Pictures don’t do this lake justice when trying to describe the feeling of size and scale it imparts.

 

 

 

 

Home sweet home

Driving home ended up being a bit more than we bargained for. As we came up to the campsite we had reserved for the night, it was raining hard, windy, and a severe storm watch was in effect. Essentially, it was the exact conditions that you don’t want to camp in with just a tent.

We made the decision to drive on through the night and get home in the morning. This made for an extremely long drive totaling approximately 25 hours from Ottawa to home.

Needless to say, we made good use of the many beautiful rest areas that line the highway. Some of these rest areas were nicer than most campgrounds I’ve stayed in, and we certainly appreciated their frequency and how well kept they are. I even managed to get some extra fishing in at a few of these stops, since most of them overlook some form of water.Canadian Shield rest stop

Finally, around noon, and after driving a full day and night, we made it home. Our dogs were elated, our cat was a fraction less indifferent than usual, and we spent the rest of the day appreciating hot showers and our own bed.

All in all, it was a real adventure and an unforgettable experience. We were happy that we made the decision to drive instead of fly, and we would absolutely make a drive through the Canadian Shield like that again.

 

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