Neys Provincial Park is just outside of Terrace Bay, about 20 kilometres west of Marathon. There was once a prison camp on site.

Much like Schreiber and Jackfish, Neys was also the site of a work camp for Japanese-Canadians. During World War Two, the Canadian government forcibly removed from them from their homes in British Columbia, and shipped out east forcing them to build the TransCanada Highway. Nazi POWs were also housed at Neys between 1941 and 1945.

Neys Ontario highway 17 work camp japanese

News was one of many Japanese Internment Camp sites during the Second World War

According to the Neys Lunch and Campground website, few security measures were taken at the camp because the impenetrable shore of Lake Superior formed a natural barrier. This did not deter some prisoners from trying to escape. One creative instance occurred when a prisoner whittled a pair of wooden skates in hopes of skating over to the American border after the Lake froze — to his disappointment he learned that Lake Superior did not freeze in the winter. And even if it did, it’s the world’s largest freshwater lake.

After the war, the camp was turned into a small prison and was eventually dismantled in 1954.

Terrace Bay

Terrace Bay sunset, highway 17Terrace Bay is a town of 2000 on Highway 17 and the last major town until Marathon.  It is about two hours east of Thunder Bay.  Terrace Bay is named for a number of underwater terraces carved by glacial movement in Lake Superior.

Companies noticed that Terrace Bay was a good place for hydro and paper development, and in the 1940s Kenogami and Aguasabon Rivers were diverted to power a new town built in 1947.

Terrace Bay Highway 17 caribou slate islands

This guy will stare you down if you get too close to his home on the Slate Islands

Terrace Bay is a ‘model town’ like Kapuskasing that was supposed to be a model for future urban development.  Unfortunately for Terrace Bay, its status as a model for the rest of the country was short-lived as it never really grew out of its original plans as a company pulp and paper town.

Terrace Bay seems pretty neat although I did not stop in for a visit.

Slate Island is one of the most interesting features is nearby.  Just outside of Terrace Bay in Lake Superior, Slate Island is uninhabited by humans but habited by its own herd of caribou.  This isolated population comes under much study by naturalists and researchers.  You can visit Slate Island Provincial Park, replete with caribou, and a little lighthouse via an arranged boat tour.

Aguasabon Falls near Terrace Bay, Ontario highway 17 highway 11

Aguasabon Falls near Terrace Bay, Ontario

Aguasabon Falls is also just outside of town, you can visit the roaring waters and the gorge at the local provincial park.  There is a local beach, canoeing, swimming, and fishing in the area.  The town hosts an annual dragfest in August and a Fall Fair in September.  For golfers, there is the Aguasabon Golf Course and for hikers Terrace Bay is the end of the 47 kilometre Voyageur hiking trail that links it to Rossport and Schreiber.

Terrace Bay is sort of a low-to-medium size for a northern Ontario town.  There is the Red Dog inn, the Coach House and Imperial motels, a home hardware, a family food market, a mini Pizza Hut, a few shops, and some gas stations.  Roy’s serve pizza and subs while Wah’s serves Chinese, although I don’t know if it’s true Northern Ontario Chinese Food or not.

I don’t know if there is a mall or not – if not, you can hit Marathon about an hour and a bit to the east.  There is an A&W in town, I’ve read about the Northern Lites diner serving a good breakfast.  It is supposedly located next to the municipal bureau and the local Amethyst Monument.

Terrace Bay is essentially the last pretty coastal town on Highway 17.  After this the highway moves inland and the views subside.  Enjoy towns like Rossport, Schreiber, and Terrace Bay while you can.

Terrace Bay, Ontario lighthouse Highway 17

Another lighthouse! A bit bigger than Barwick‘s. (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Slate Islands off Terrace Bay

Slate Islands off Terrace Bay


Schreiber, Highway 17, Ontario,

Highway 17 as it runs between Schreiber, Ontario and the cliffs associated with this portion of Lake Superior. (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons)

Schreiber is a town of approximately 900 people on the most northerly point on Lake Superior, about 2 and a half hours east of Thunder Bay.

Schreiber is known for being a railroad stop, its having an above-average perecntage of its population from Italian origin, being the home of scrappy Olympic boxer Dominic Filane, and for being the home of northern Ontario’s answer to Dean Martin, the apparently larger-than-life Cosimo Filane and his family.

The town was originally founded as Isbister’s Landing in the 1880s. It served as a railway camp and supply depot where Great Lakes ships could unload cargo for the Canadian Pacific Railways.

In the 1940s, Schreiber was the site of one of four work camps where Japanese-Canadians were interred during WWII. The federal government, which forcibly relocated Japanese families during the war, forced young men out to the Schreiber area to build portions of the TransCanada Highway between Schreiber and Jackfish.

Schreiber, Ontario,

Schreiber, Ontario, in town off Highway 17. (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Interestingly, Schreiber is unique for its exceedingly high Italian population – I read online that at one point, more than half of the town’s residents traced their roots back to a single town in Calabria. One resident immigrated to Canada from southern Italy in 1905, and his letters of successful employment and good fortune with the railway attracted family members, friends, and fellow townsfolk from Siderno, Italy. Today, nearly all remaining citizens of Italian descent can trace their heritage back to that first guy. There’s a short documentary on the town and its Italian origins available on the web.

Schreiber is nestled between majestic Lake Superior and the rocky rises of the Canadian Shield. Even driving past on Highway 17, Schreiber’s surroundings are particularly scenic (in my opinion.)

Tourism opportunities include hiking, snowmobiling, trainspotting, and swimming at the local beach on Lake Superior. There’s a Junior A hockey team called the Schreiber Diesels. Schreiber also hosts some community festivals: Heritage Days in July, Superior Classiscs Drag Racing in August, and the Peel Off Carnival in February.

Schreiber ontairo beach lake superior

Lake Superior beach at Schreiber

In terms of services, Schreiber has a gas stations, a foodmart, four churches, a boxing gym, and a library, among the many other general services you would find in a small town. I’m not sure what kind of fast food is available, but there is a KFC Express in town. Diners include the Voyageur Restaurant, Villa Bianca, Rosie and Josie’s Restaurant, and Jimmy Shell’s Chip Stand. There are six motels in town, two of which are operated by the family of decorated Canadian boxer Domenic Filane.  Click here for an old pre-Olympic TV profile of Domenic Filane.  (Pronounced fill-ane?  Wow Italian last names sure lose their zip when they get anglicized.)

Up for some entertainment? Well, you’re in luck. You can do no worse than stopping in at Filane’s Entertainment Centre and Fallen Rock Motel to hear to sweet voice of local crooner Cosimo Filane. Cosimo is not only a musician but also an author (a book on minor hockey titled You Can’t Win Them All – Don Cherry says he found it “highly entertaining…I really enjoyed the book. Tells behind the scenes of coaching minor hockey. Blue enjoyed it too.” I had always pegged Blue as an avid reader…), and runs a family-based business that supplies baby needs and sportswear and gasoline and spring water and embroidery and hockey camps and food and dining and accommodations and entertainment and music and boxing lessons and a youtube channel.

It seems he has five albums of song from the great American song book. It’s almost as if his album titles aptly mirror stages in his career – from Small Town Boy they progress through This is It!; then Love Me the Way That I Am; then I’m Gonna Try it Again!; to Forget About It.

Five albums and a star in northern Ontario, Cosimo Filane rocks Schreiber and the north

I got this from Filane’s multi-faceted website and I had to post this here.  Why?  Well, I’m part Italian. And I love northern Ontario. So this makes my head want to explode in joy and pride and awesomeness. It just doesn’t get more northern Ontario Italian than this.  Honestly, I’m impressed.  Good for him.  (And because Cosimo in his younger days looks like my old boss, who still scared the **** out of me.)

Can’t make it to Schreiber? Then you need not worry, Cosimo is a 21st century songsmith with albums available online, care of the Filane’s link at the top of this page. Heck, take a listen to one of his tracks right now — click here for streaming audio.

In all seriousness, it’s pretty impressive that Schreiber’s Filanes have been so successful.  Just another cool story from a northern Ontario town.


Rossport is a little hamlet of 200 people nestled between Lake Superior and the Transcanada Highway 17.

Rossport, Ontario on Highway 17

Cutesy and quaint Rossport offers great Lake Superior access. (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

While it started out as small settlement known as McKay’s Bay, like many of the other towns on this stretch of Highway 17, Rossport was truly built for the railway and named after an engineer that helped build the CPR. The town became an important fishing centre after the railway arrived in 1885, and was even served by a luxury steam liner which sank nearby in 1911.

Today Rossport is a small community which grows in the summer with cottagers and outdoorists. There is camping in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, which also has hiking trails, a waterfront boardwalk, and access to both Whitesand Lake and Lake Superior. Interpretive programs are available on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer at the Park.

Highway 17 near Rossport

No, it’s this photo has not been Instagram-ed, this is Highway 17 near Rossport long before I ever traveled this stretch of the Highway

The Rossport Inn (click here for reviews) is the highlight of the town – originally built in the 1880s to serve the railway, today the inn serves meals and acts as a bed and breakfast. I’ve read about it online and in print, so it looks like it is worth visiting if you’re passing through.
There is talk of creating a Lake Superior Marine National Park, which would encompass parts of the Rossport Shoreline.

I didn’t have a chance to stop in Rossport so please feel free to send photos or add to this.  My email is info (at) highway11 (dot) ca

Pays Plat

The Pays Plat First Nation is right in between Cavers and Rossport on Highway 11.  The community is nestled under some cliffs on the north side of the Highway and is easily accessible without much of a detour. A guy named Alexander McKay set up a fur trading post here in the 1860s. The place was named by the French, as it was the flat between two mountains (according to Wikipedia.)

The gas bar is open early and has gas, snacks, and drinks but no diner.  There is some beading for sale made by members of the First Nation.

Pays Plat First Nation, highway 11 ontario

Pays Plat in off Highway 17. (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

I stopped in Pay Plat at 5 am to get some orange juice. Being 5 am I promptly paid for my juice and proceeded to leave it at the counter and drive away to Timmins without it, not noticing until I hit White River that I was juiceless.

I wasn’t in Pays Plat long enough to take any photos or get any more info, so if you have anything to add please send it to info (at) highway11 (dot) ca.


Cavers is a small town on Highway 17 about 50 minutes east of Nipigon.  While I remember passing a sign that said Cavers, I don’t really remember much.  I assume the town is slightly south of the Transcanada.

The Gravel River Provincial Nature Reserve is just a bit west of town on the shore of Lake Superior.  Unless you need gas immediately, I’d wait until Schreiber to get off Highway 17.

If you have any information or any photos, please send them my way.  My email is info (at) highway11 (dot) ca.