Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada



The Agawa Rock pictographs are believed to have been drawn between 150 and 400 years ago by Ojibwa spiritual leaders. Shamans used a mixture of crushed rock, fish oil and animal fat to create a long-lasting blood-red pigment.

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was battling 30-foot waves when it plummeted into the Canadian waters of Whitefish Bay, on Lake Superior just 17 miles from Sault Ste. Marie. All 29 on board perished. Gordon Lightfoot made the tragedy famous with his 1976 song.

Francis H. Clergue saw the potential of Sault Ste. Marie as a transportation hub rich in natural resources. The Algoma Central Railway was another Clergue brainchild, created to haul the raw materials to feed his industries.

Early French explorers named Sault Ste. Marie “Falls of St. Mary” after the St. Marys River’s two-kilometre stretch of rapids and waterfalls. To the Ojibwa, this rich fishing area was known as “Bawating”—at the place of the rapids.

The Treaty of Ghent forced British troops to relocate from Fort Michillimackinac in Michigan to St. Joseph Island, in the colony of Upper Canada. They didn’t stay there for long. At the outset of the War of 1812 they surprised the Americans at present-day Mackinac Island and reclaimed the fort. Today, Fort St. Joseph is open for tours as a National Historic Site of Canada.

In the 1920s, Group of Seven members J.E.H. MacDonald, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris and Frank Johnston painted the spectacular fall colours of the Algoma Highlands—inspired by the natural beauty of the Agawa Canyon.

Among the final (and most expensive) legs of the Trans Canada Highway was the 100-kilometre stretch through Lake Superior Provincial Park. Once complete, the scenic highway connected residents of Wawa to the rest of the world.

Dr. Roberta Bondar, a neurologist, held the position of NASA’s chief of space medicine for more than a decade. In January 1992, she flew on shuttle mission STS-42, becoming Canada’s first female astronaut in space.

The famed Agawa Canyon, which drops down 500 feet,was created over 1.2 billion years ago by faulting and widened and reshaped by the last Ice Age that retreated 10,000 years ago.

Though peak colour varies each season, the last two weeks of September and the first week of October can offer the best colour for fall leaves in Algoma.

The colour of the Agawa River is the result of staining by tannic acid, which leaches out of the root systems and bark of cedar trees. The substance is common for the area and can also be found in red wine and tea.

The granitic bedrock underlying the Agawa Canyon was created over 2.5 billion years ago, making it one of the oldest rock formations in the entire world.

Ice climbers use spiky, boot-mounted crampons and specialized axe-like hand tools to climb frozen waterfalls in the Agawa Canyon and in Northwestern Ontario’s Orient Bay. Locals have mapped out hundreds of climbs in the region, which range from beginner-friendly to expert-only.

Located in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Old Woman Bay’s towering 600-foot cliffs provide a stunning backdrop for Bill Mason’s award-winning films, which remain amongst the National Film Board of Canada’s most popular.

Phil and Tony Esposito grew up in Sault Ste. Marie and spent their best years playing for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, respectively. They played together for Team Canada in the legendary 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

Wayne Gretzky, the “Great One”, played his only season with the Greyhounds as a 16-year-old, but he left his mark. Gretzky scored a team-record 70 goals, 112 assists and 182 points, and came second in Ontario Hockey League scoring.

Northern Ontario’s largest celebration is Bon Soo, held annually in February. Ten days’ of festivities include ice-skating, sledding and the world-famous Polar Bear Swim.

The recently upgraded Agawa Canyon Tour Train features advanced GPS triggered commentary, which is available in five languages. Riders can learn all about upcoming points of interest and the rich history of the region with stories of the Ojibway, fur traders, explorers and entrepreneurs.

At Mile 114 of the Agawa Canyon Tour Train ride, you can climb up over 300 stairs to the breathtaking Lookout, which is perched 250 feet above the canyon floor.

The recent improvements made to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which include oversized windows, flat screen monitors, GPS triggered commentary and locomotive mounted cameras, cost $11.02 million.

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