White River, population 607, was established as a railway village on the Canadian Pacific mainline in 1885. Its primary industry is forestry; the township's population has been in steep decline since Domtar closed its mill in 2007. While the village is a good jumping-off point for fishing and canoeing on the White River, and its location on the main east-west route cross country makes it difficult to miss, it's tiny enough that it might not even be on the map were it not for the notability of its most famous resident: an orphan black bear cub who left with a group of soldiers in 1914.
The soldiers? Fort Garry Horse regiment from Winnipeg, Manitoba – a cavalry unit and their horses off to fight the Great War in Europe. Their unofficial mascot? Winnie the bear, who literary travellers will immediately recognise as a character in a few A. A. Milne books.
"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, and the rest is history.
While the village has an anglophone majority, one in six speak French as a first language.
White River is northern by Ontario standards and temperatures as cold as -40° are not unheard of in winter.
The Canadian Pacific mainline from Thunder Bay has had no passenger service since 1989. Sudbury is reachable from White River on a two-car VIA train which runs each way three times weekly with a long list of stops at isolated, otherwise-inaccessible points; the end-to-end trip is eight to ten hours.
Access is primarily by road. There's a motel with a Greyhound bus stop on the Trans-Canada Highway:
- Greyhound, 210 Winnipeg St, ☏ .
There is no local taxi service in the village.
- Winnie-the-Pooh statue, White River Visitor Park. A colourful twenty-five-foot statue of Winnie in a tree is visible from the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway.
- White River Heritage Museum, 200 Elgin St, ☏ . Local history, including the Canadian Pacific railway and a very famous local bear. Souvenir shop.
- Swimming, boating, fishing and hunting in summer
- Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and showshoeing in winter
- A playground and picnic area is available at the White River Tourist Information Centre (555 Elgin, phone +1 807 822-2794 or +1-888-517-1673, washrooms, snowmobiling and trail information, washrooms and RV dump station).
- Northern Visions Art Studio, 200 Elgin St (beside the Café and the Heritage Museum), ☏ . 10AM-5PM daily.
- White River Air, ☏ . Remote fishing outpost with lodging (2 bed, 1 bath) on White River, accessible only by air.
- Winnie's Hometown Festival. third weekend in August. Parade, trade show, dance, arts and crafts show, fireworks display, games, competitions and entertainment.
There is a grocer, a Home Hardware and a Husky fuel station in the village. Winnie the Pooh memorabilia is available at the travel info centre and the heritage museum.
- River City Café, 200 Elgin Street, ☏ . 8AM-7PM. Café.
- Catz, Highway 17, ☏ . Family-style restaurant.
- White River Motel, 210 Highway 17, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Rooms and housekeeping cabins.
Local telephone calls are seven digits. The local postal code is P0M 3G0 for the entire village; all mail is addressed to PO boxes as there is no local household delivery.
- White River Public Library, 123 Superior St, ☏ . Public access computers and wi-fi, copy/print/fax, book and media lending. Open four or five days a week, depending on season.
|Routes through White River|
|Thunder Bay ← Marathon ←||W E||→ Wawa → Sault Ste Marie|