Northeastern Ontario is a region of remote Northern Ontario.
The Highway 11 corridor
From east to west:
- Timiskaming — mining country, near the Ontario-Quebec border:
- 4 Timmins — its main attractions are mining tours and outdoor recreation
- 5 Cochrane — its Polar Bear Habitat takes care of three polar bears that are unable to survive in the wild
- 6 Kapuskasing — mostly a company town that serves an enormous paper mill
- 7 Hearst — a place to break the journey 208 km west of Cochrane
- 8 Hornepayne — a stopping point on Highway 631 that connects Highway 11 and Highway 17
- Greenstone — a municipality that stretches for 185 km along the highway
Northeastern Ontario has a sizable Franco-Ontarian population, but most people will also understand English.
Via Rail provides service from Toronto, Parry Sound and Sudbury Junction (10 km from the city), and continues through Northern Ontario with stops at Hornepayne, Longlac, Sioux Lookout and several minor stops, to Winnipeg, Manitoba and westward.
Ontario Northland operates the following routes in the region as of Sep 2021:
- North Bay - Timmins - Cochrane
- Sudbury - Timmins - Hearst
Highway 11 is in good condition, and can be driven safely with some precautions:
- You will not have cellphone/mobile service along some sections.
- There are stretches of the highway that run 200-300 km without services like gas stations — keep an eye on your fuel levels.
- The heavy logging trucks that are common on the roads here take a long time to stop. Be sure to give them a lot of space, as cutting one off is a quick ticket to a collision that you will lose.
- Winter driving can be dangerous for those who are unaccustomed to it or who are unprepared.
The Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane is opportunity to see polar bears not in a zoo that is accessible from Canada's Highway system.
Many towns celebrate their mining and forestry heritage with museums. Timmins, in particular, is known for this.
Many towns through the region have outfitters who will equip you with everything you need for fishing, hunting, wilderness canoeing and camping or snowmobiling trips, and can provide guides, or organize the whole trip for you, often to remote private lodges.
Cell/mobile phone service is not available on many stretches of highways through the region, even those most travelled (Highways 11 and 17). You will have service in and around cities and towns, but you should bring some emergency supplies in the case of a breakdown, such as water, blankets, and food.
Black flies and mosquitoes are abundant throughout Northeastern Ontario. To protect yourself when camping or hiking, wear long sleeve shirts (white or brightly coloured), thick socks, and long pants (tuck the pants into the socks), and apply insect repellent containing DEET. A mosquito net can be nicer than applying repellent to your face. Also some type of bug netting in your tent is advised. Flies are most active at dawn and dusk between mid-June and late July.
Winter driving can be treacherous, given the inclement winters here. Be prepared to adjust or cancel travel plans should the weather conditions require it.