Superior Road Trip - Part II The Soo

Sault Ste. Marie's own and Canada's first female astronaut, Dr. Roberta Bondar, crewed one of the United States' Discovery space missions. A modest waterfront park is named in her honour.  

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A few minutes' drive east of the park is another tribute to flight and development of the north: The Bushplane Heritage Centre. Among the aircraft on display is one of the first DeHavilland Otters, as gutsy as the pilots who've flown it over vast stretches of uncharted lakes and forests. There's also a replica of the plane Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic.

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Across the street sits an older Canadian story. The Ermatinger stone house and Clergue blockhouse, named after their occupants, form a National Historic Site comprising the oldest buildings northwest of Toronto. Entering the Discovery Centre beneath a mobile fish sculpture opens a world of fur trading and colonial history. I could live in that blockhouse!

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White Island Fish Reserve rubs shoulders with boat locks dating to 1897 and essential to freighters travelling between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Superior. Batchewana First Nations Chief Dean Sayers explained how this original meeting place for Ojibwe has long been considered a sacred centre. It's a piece of nature preserved, known as Bawaating, a "gathering place."

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Anglers regard the St. Mary's River as having some of the best salmon fishing in the world, despite decreased stocks due to the locks. Expert fly-fishing guide John Giuliani (johngiuliani123@gmail.com  705-575-5570) showed deft use of rod and reel from 25 years' experience as he gave me a lesson. We — not me — made a nice catch before returning a young male salmon to the river.

 

It was a better experience than a childhood initiation with my well-intentioned grandfather who took an enthusiastic pre-teen on what turned out to be an arduous, mosquito-infested, sodden, sleepless expedition deep into the woods of Algoma as an introduction to the joys of fishing. But I lived to tell the story.

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Above 3 photos by Lis Turner

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‘We’re superior. It’s a Northern thing.’  So says the Northern Brewing Company website. This is a small brewery with 5 big tastes, resurrected from dormancy by a few guys who yearned to brew in the Soo once again. Co-brewer Derek Turner showed us their suds.

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They took some flack for this one.

A few restaurants to try: Muio's a downtown Queen Street institution since 1961; Burger Don, a prohibition-era burger joint popular with families; the Mill Steakhouse and Wine Bar, fine dining in the cellar of the old Millworks.

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The Art Gallery of Algoma has a rotating collection by the Group of Seven. Their legacy continues through local artists like John Laford, Lucie Gagnon and Warren Peterson whom we met at the gallery.

John (center) is an Ojibway artist from Manitoulin Island; his work is in several private collections around the globe. Lucie moved to regional Algoma from James Bay to take up pencil sketching inspired by nature's fine details. Warren is a transplanted Torontonian who has long admired the Group of Seven while experimenting with his own painting style. 

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Photos, text and design 

© Gary Crallé 2019 

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