Superior Road Trip - Part 1

Why would anyone head into the woods for arts and culture? Because that's where the Group of Seven landscape painters found their best subjects. Next year (2020) marks the 100th year of the Group's founding, and one way to put their work in context is a road trip into northern Ontario.

Trans-Canada Highway around lake Superior

Autumn definitely has its benefits: energizing temperatures, less traffic, fewer bugs, and colour foliage to knock your socks off (wear 2 pair).  We headed north from Toronto towards Sault Ste Marie which locals just call "the Soo". 

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The Skinny Title

The town of Parry Sound was already showing signs of G-7 commercialization in a store window. We knew it was a community with a heart when parking at this meter.

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Sudbury is a good place to overnight if you don't want to make the full drive in one day. Read more about the nickel mining capital of Canada in my story or on the city's website.

 

 Weaving past inevitable road construction en route we stopped briefly at the small community of Spanish for curiosity's sake. We found an abandoned 'residential school' that had been part of a national policy system to erase native cultures as recently as the 1960s. Travel leads to all sorts of discoveries.

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Our destination in the Soo was the Water Tower Inn. (No prizes for guessing the name.) The bar was a happening place; in less noisy parts of the hotel I admired the artwork on the walls and watched as a woman sat down at a piano for a moment to herself.

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For tourists the city is most famously known as the terminus for the Agawa Canyon tour train. (The word Agawa is native Ojibway for "shelter.") Also dubbed the Group of Seven train, it runs 114 miles / 183 kilometres north into the wilderness where members of the Group lived in and painted from a specially outfitted boxcar. The scenery is more luxurious than the tour train.  

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Panoramic views when the train stops for 90 minutes in the canyon are the highlight if you can manage the 300+ steps to the observation platform. Also, look for the large painters' easels on the canyon floor for info about surrounding Group of Seven subjects plus other locations.

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Part II will have more to see and do in the Algoma region.

I'll be posting within a few days. See you then!

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Photos, text and design 

© Gary Crallé 2019 

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