Cochrane

Chimo the Polar Bear in Cochrane, ON

Travel blog lesson #31 – always take a second, empty, non-person photo.  Or else you may end up with a blog full of photos of previous girlfriends.

Most towns would make a big deal of the fact that a former hockey player and doughnut baron hailed from their community.

Instead, Cochrane advertises Nanook, Aurora, and Nakita as its three most famous citizens.

Yep, we’re talking about animals.

If you have a fear of polar bears, steer well clear of Cochrane. I’m just teasing – they’re well contained. Cochrane has adopted the polar bear as their town symbol, even though true polar bear habitat is more than 300 kilometres away.  There are even fake igloos in town.

Chimo, the town mascot, is honoured with a big polar bear statue just as you enter town.  There’s also the Polar Bear Conservatory, where Nanook, Aurora, and Nakita spend their time.  There you can watch feedings, see interpretive displays, and “swim with the polar bears.” Ok, so if you’re more than 4 feet tall it is more of a wade than a swim but don’t let my teasing dissuade you – the Polar Bear Conservatory is interesting. Kids love the wading with the polar bears part. There’s also an adjacent ‘old style’ village with gas pumps, farm implements, and a collection of really awesome vintage skidoos.

Polar bear conservancy in Cochrane, Ontario

This was pretty cool, to be honest

Old Tyme Village ski-doo collection, Cochrane, Ontario

Definitely the most northern Ontario museum in northern Ontario

Cochrane is a very pretty little community of 4500 (slightly more anglophone than francophone) on Highway 11.  No matter what language you’re in, Cochrane is pronounced like cock-ran.  This might seem pretty intuitive but once in a gas station with a bunch of tourists from Belgium who kept asking how to get to a place that sounded like Cosh-rahnne and no-one, not the anglos nor the francos knew what the heck they were talking about.  I only figured it out about a year later.  Hopefully it didn’t take them that long.

Old locomotive on display in Cochrane, Ontario

(Credit: Patrick)

It has a growing tourist industry built on the Polar Bear Express, which runs north to Moosonee twice a day in the summer.  Or at least it did, until the government stopped supporting the railway and now no-one knows what’s happening to the ONR.

Fishing and ATV expeditions often start here.  Greenwater Provincial Park is about an hour west of the town, providing fishing, swimming, and hiking around a series of kettle lakes.  Greenwater is pretty, and quiet. Also notable is the Tim Horton arena, home to the Tim Horton museum, that I didn’t have a chance to visit.

One of the coolest things about Cochrane, in my books at least, is Lake Commando. One -  that’s a sweet name.  Lake Commando. Sure, it’s more like a pond, but the words ‘Lake Commando’ just sounds so cool.  That’s awesome.  That’s even cooler than Geraldton’s Hardrock Drive, or Iroquois Falls’ Oil Tank Road. Two – it’s pretty.  It has parkland around it, a walking trail, and a quaint little bridge.  There’s also a bed and breakfast bordering the lake.

Cochrane, Ontario train station leads to James Bay

Cochrane train station.  (I do not know how to effectively use my camera in any lighting – dark or bright.)

As for amenities, since Cochrane has about 4500 people it’s fairly well served.  If you’re looking to bring out your fancy-pants you may be out of luck, but otherwise there’s everything you need.  Cochrane has a Tim Horton’s (which pays homage to the town’s most famous son with plaques on the walls, memorabilia all around), a KFC, and some other diner-style restaurants.  There’s also a rib/wing place and the Station Inn if you want a real sit-down meal, and, of course, a place serving Authentic Northern Ontario Chinese Food.

Cochrane, Ontario on Highway 11

Can you milk a polar bear? Well, Cochrane sure does. (Photo credit: Patrick)

There’s a small farmer’s market at the north end of town every Saturday, and a country store you’ll see across from the polar bear statue that sells cottagy-type stuff that you see in Muksoka.  Also, Cochrane has the last Giant Tiger on Highway 11 after Kirkland Lake.

Cochrane is also notable for receiving Ontario’s first ever permit to serve liquor on a Sunday, for a winter carnival held in the mid 1960s. Despite the devastating fires of 1910, 1911, 1916, and Cochrane still exists to this day.

Thanks to Paul for some of the Cochrane.

Lake Commando, Cochrane, Ontario

Lake Commando.  Still looking for Rambo River. (Come to think of it, there was a Rambo Creek near to where I grew up…800 km away)

Cochrane, Ontario off highway 11 highway11.ca

(Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Cochrane, Ontario street

Streetscape in Cochrane

Cochrane, Ontario municipal building highway 11

A nicer Cochrane streetscape. (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Smooth Rock Falls

Smooth Rock Falls on Highway 11 in OntarioWhen you come into Smooth Rock from the east, don’t be fooled, what you’re seeing is not a one-story IKEA.  It’s the local hospital.

One tourist guide I picked up said that Smooth Rock was the “perfect stop over and supply center.”  Man, those guys really know how to write a tourist brochure.  Talk about underselling…Smooth Rock deserves more than that!

Jeff Buttle, the pride of Smooth Rock Falls, on Highway 11

Jeffrey Buttle, Canadian and World Champion figure skater is from Smooth Rock

Nestled along the picturesque Mattagami River, Smooth Rock is more than just a town that sounds like a radio station.  It was home to Jeffrey Buttle, a recently retired Olympic silver medalist and world champion figure skater; Louise Pitre, a singer who has appeared on Broadway; and JP Parise, a former NHLer who played in the ’72 Summit Series, has coached at the famous Minnesota Shattuck-St Mary’s hockey program, and who is also the father of New Jersey Devils’ forward Zach Parise.  Those are three people that should have their own “Welcome to Smooth Rock, the home of…” signs on the way into town. I’ll pledge 50$ toward that.

Smooth Rock is a largely francophone community of 1800 centered on the pulp and paper mill.  The problem is that “the North’s biggest little town” (their motto, I think) is about to get smaller as the mill shut down indefinitely in July 2006.  Smooth Rock is facing an uncertain future after the loss of their major employer. Which is really sad, since it’s a cute town and probably a great place to grow up and to retire. I’ve heard that the town and its residents are trying to start up a community-based venture to restart the now shuttered mill, but I don’t know if they’ve been successful.

The mill, now shutdown, at Smooth Rock Falls

The mill, now shut since 2006

Smooth Rock doesn’t have a tonne of touristy-type stuff.  There’s the Forget Me Not BnB west of the river.  There’s also a nine-hole golf course, a nice park on the east side of the river, and there are some fishing opportunities as well. Smooth Rock is good place to stop on the way to Kapuskasing and a place to get gas if you’re heading up to Fraserdale.

Smooth Rock Falls's highway 11 moose

Moose sculpture #234 on Highway 11

Northway Restaurant claims they have the “best poutine in the north”, although I’m sure that Poutineland in Timmins gives them a run for their money.  Audrey’s has good breakfast in a spartan setting.  There’s also Coco’s Chip Stand off the highway.  Rue Sixth is the main business section for Smooth Rock.  There’s a full-blown LCBO, an Esso, and a Tim-Br Mart.  The Moose Motel provides accommodations and SRF’s entry into the “some big weird thing” motif that is all the rage on Highway 11: a statue of a moose.  There is no Tim Horton’s or chain stores as far as I have seen.  I don’t know if there is a Chinese restaurant, but it’s northern Ontario so there must be one somewhere.Also, don’t be fooled.  There are signs advertising the “SRF Centre” on Highway 11 in both directions.  It’s not a mall – the “SRF Centre” is a truckstop with some slightly self-aggrandizing tendencies.

On an anecdotal bent, the town of Smooth Rock Falls used to plow each resident’s driveway in the winter.  I don’t know why that service ended.

Fauquier

Fauquier, on Highway 11 in OntarioFauquier is a quiet, clean, and quaint hamlet of about 600 on the Groundhog River, which is crossed by both a rail and road bridge.

Much bigger than its cousins Strickland or Harty, Fauquier (roughly pronounced Folk-yay) once supported a mill.  Today the community has a few businesses, but I’m told that most residents commute to Kapuskasing.
Fauquier bridges

There’s a statue of a particuarly conniving-looking groundhog just off the highway, as well as a nice gazebo, soldier’s memorial, and a little parkette.  There’s another park just south of the highway, which borders the river and has a little boat launch.

Fauquier's creepy giant smoking groundhog on Highway 11

In northern Ontario, even the groundhogs are smokers

Just east of town, there’s a house with a rather eccentric yard, sporting the Olympic rings (?), some wooden sculptures (??), and a family of inukshuks (???). I didn’t get to take a photo, as the truck behind me was following too closely to safely stop and admire the uniqueness.

Like all the francophone communities on northeastern Highway 11, it is extremely well kept with a church, a dépanneur (convenience store), an LCBO outlet, and a small food store.  There is no gas station, however.

The Den, right on Highway 11, is a good place to stop for breakfast.  I’ve been there a number of times and it’s pretty decent.

Thanks to Patrick for most of the photos.

Fauquier, Ontario on Highway 11

Fauquier sunrise over the tracks

Moonbeam

Ah, Moonbeam.  It’s so cute.  And so goofy.  That’s why it’s so neat.  I like Moonbeam.

Moonbeam, Ontario welcome alien sign on Highway 11

I want to say that the alien’s name is Youpi, but I think that’s the name of the Montréal Expos’s mascot

Moonbeam is a small francophone town of about 1000 (which is big compared to places like Mattice, let alone Harty!)  It is so clean, so well kept, and, well, so spunky.

From what I’ve been told, the town got its name from railway workers who insisted that a beam of light from the moon hit the tracks one night.  And thus Moonbeam was named.  And with the help of hippies and a few dedicated locals, the name stuck.Moonbeam, Ontario's flying saucer on highway 11Moonbeam loves its space theme.  The flying saucer is one of Highway 11’s most famous monuments and is known throughout Ontario.  There is the Blue Moon Motel and Chip Stand (motel + chip truck = awesome combo) which features space stuff on its signs.  Moonbeam has its own mascot which is a little green alien whose name I can’t remember.  He’s on all their signs which are all over Highway 11’s eastern portion. I think I even have him on a shirt pin.

Alien ship stuck in Moonbeam, Ontario because of the cold

It was so cold I had to wear my gorilla gloves. I can’t believe we posed outside without a hat

But it’s not all rockets and asteroids with Moonbeam.  They have a vision and they’re realizing it.  There’s the Centre Culturel and the Leonard Art Gallery.  The town has some of the best hiking, cycling, and walking trails in northeastern Ontario.  Moonbeam has its own snowmobile club with trails that are groomed in the winter (it’s the first place I’ve ever seen a snowmobile trail groomer.)  Just north of town there is Remi Lake and René Brunelle Provincial Park, which I’m told has a waterslide.  There is also fishing, swimming, and canoeing/kayaking.

Moonbeam’s most famous son would be sculptor Maurice Gaudreault.  Gaudreault is well-known within Canadian ceramic circles for his work depicting life in northern Ontario through clay.

Gaudreault sculptureMoonbeam's famous Gaudreault

Gaudreault sculpture

There’s also a short film called Leaving Moonbeam about a young girl trying to hitch a ride out of Moonbeam.

Moonbeam actually has a fair amount to do and is totally worth a stop, or even more so, an actual visit.

Kapuskasing

Kapuskaing, Cold Weather Test Centre, GM, Highway 11 Ontario

Nothing says “welcome, why don’t you stay a while?” like seeing the Cold Weather test centre from your car window

Which Highway 11 town has 9000 people, more than 50 shops and services and was the hometown of the director of movies like Terminator, Aliens, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar?

Yep, Kapuskasing is kindofabigdeal in Highway 11 terms.

Kap has some neat sites.  The old Ontario Northland train station has been recently fixed up and has a little area for art exhibitions from the area.  There’s an old locomotive adjacent to the station that houses train memorabilia and neat facts about the CNR’s history.

Highway 11 Ontario, Kapuskasing, bear

Kap’s entry into the “some big weird thing” – a bear

Originally named Macpherson, the ‘model town of the North’ was built around the pulp mill that originally supplied paper to the New York Times.  When they built the mill, they decided to build a company town, and since it was a company town they planned it as the ‘model town of the north’ complete with planned parks (quite nice), its own power supply (which used to serve the town and mill exclusively), and an English-style traffic circle, which residents and visitors alike find confusing to this day.

MOdel Town of the North, Kapuskasing's roundabout

You know roundabouts are confusing when they are a pain even in a town this small

With about 9000 people, Kapuskasing is the largest town on Highway 11 between Kirkland Lake and Thunder Bay.  It’s even has its own spot on the North American professional lumberjackery circuit.  Every July the Kapuskasing Lumberjack Festival is broadcast live on television across Canada, and maybe even into the States. (Heck, Canada doesn’t even have a soccer league, but it has a lumberjack circuit?  And is sustainable with stops in towns like Kap?  Who would have guessed it…)

POWs

Kapuskasing POW memorial, Highway 11I was surprised to find, by accident, two little memorials just west of Kap.  There’s one for Ukrainian-Canadian detainees tha

t were interred near Kap during the First World War (the photo of the guy with the hat.)  Further in off the highway there’s one for German/Austrian/Turkish Prisoners Of War (the photo with the little crosses) that died while being imprisoned.

I found out from some locals at the site that during the First World War Kap was the site of a POW camp.  It was decided that

Kapuskasing POW camp memorial, Highway 11 Ontario

Kapuskasing POW camp memorial

Kapuskasing was perfect because at the time the only way in and out of town, at that time, was by train.  In other words, everyone detained there was stuck – there was no way to escape and nowhere to go if you did.  They used their labour to clear land for Kapuskasing’s experimental farm, which is right beside the 24 graves of the POWs.

In addition, Paul emailed me to tell me about Kapuskasing’s former life as a station on the ONR rail line. Every time a train derailed, the local foreman of the track maintenance crew at Kapuskasing was required to file a report with the head office of ONR in Toronto. His reports were apparently quite lengthy and detailed. After receiving many of these “eloquent” and “descriptive” reports, about train derailments the foreman (named Flanigan) was advised by the head office people to write reports that weren’t so lengthy. So, after the next derailment, the following telegram was received in the head office, as follows:

Re: ONR train derailment at Kapuskasing:
”Off again – on again – gone again” (Signed) FLANIGAN.

Farm near Kapuskasing. Highway 11

Still farm country this far north

Kapuskasing Today

Like all the francophone towns (it’s about 30/70 anglo/franco) of the north, Kapuskasing is really quite nice.  Although a James Bay tourism brochure bogusly claims that Kap is a town of “street dances” (who wrote that thing?), there is a fair amount to do for a city of its size.

Kapuskasing train station

Kap’s train station is pretty magnifique, with a museum and gallery

There is a farmer’s market in the summer.  If you can make it past the downtown traffic circle in the direction of your desire, you’ll find a really nice lakefront park and some good walking paths.

Kap has a bunch of services that are too long to go into detail here.  What’s important is that there is a Tim Horton’s.  There’s a McDonald’s too.  There are some honest-to-goodness northern Ontario Chinese food restaurants.  There is a Walmart but no Giant Tiger.  Apparently Kapuskasing also has the most productive Casey’s restaurant in all of Ontario.  Take that, Front and University (the downtown Toronto location.)

Pub Max, right on Highway 11, also has good food, especially the chicken salad sandwich.  There are two touristy stores on Highway 11 in Kap, namely Marbleworks and the Moonbeam Country Store.

Agrium Mine, Kapuskasing

Aerial view of a mine, near Kapuskasing

Harty / Val Rita

Harty, Ontario, Highway 11Harty and Val Rita are two more clean, quaint, and cute francophone hamlets in the heart of French-speaking Highway 11.  There’s not a tonne of stuff in Harty – St. Stanislas Church (founded in 1932), maybe 30 houses, and a playground.

Harty’s town sign is nifty as you can see it from both directions on Highway 11 – there are letters on both sides of the pillars. The photo does not do this justice as it is hard to see the town letters carved into the concrete.

Val Rita, Ontario, Highway 11

Bienvenue a Val Rita (Both photos c/o user P199 at Wiki Commons.)

As for Val Rita, well it’s a bit larger but unless you want to eat, get gas, wash your car, or go to church…yep those are your options.

Val Rita chip stand, Highway 11, Ontario

I shoulda made a website on HIghway 11 chip-stands…

In terms of food, there’s a small Foodmart, as well as the Val Rita Chip Stand.  The 24-hour The Auberge Inn (Auberge means ‘inn’ in French, no? So effectively the place is named The Inn Inn? That’s almost like “The La Trattoria” from the movie Mickey Blue Eyes) offers rooms, breakfast, and gas.  There’s also a car wash and a caisse.

Help me add more to this page, send an email to info (at) highway11 (dot) ca, or post below.

Churhc, Val Rita Ontario, Highway 11

Val Rita’s church

Opasatika

Opasatika is a former mill town with about 300 residents set on the Opasatika River.

Opasatika, Ontario, Highway 11 fish

This is actually pretty cool in person. Well done, Opaz.

Opaz (as it is commonly called along northern Highway 11) used to have its own mill (and supposedly, from what I was told, its own dance club), but changes to the forestry industry in northern Ontario have meant that a lot of the smaller mills are being closed.  This means that communities like Opasatika, Smooth Rock, and Longlac are losing their mills, and fighting for their lives in the process. I was told that it used to be that there was a little mill in each little town from Hearst through to Smooth Rock.

Of course, Opasatika has its “some weird big thing” as you enter the town.  There’s a random fish statue . There’s also a mini logging boat sitting in the field.  Normally there are plaques for these kinds of things but not here – I guess everyone around here is just in-the-know. A resident emailed me to tell me that the fish was supposed to have a commemorative plaque, and be the start of a historical site. However, progress was delayed when the town mill was closed – and subsequently, all civic efforts have gone into finding a solution for the mill. That’s understandable, and unfortunate.

Lumber boat, Opasatika, Ontario Highway 11

Take note Longlac – it is obvious what this boat’s purpose is

Opasatika (pronounced locally as Opa-set-ticka) also has a nice little waterfront park with a boat launch to the river, and two marshes – du Village and des Lambert.  Sixty kilometres south of Opasatika you can find Christopher Waterfall which leads into Rufus Lake.

Opasatika River launch, Highway 11

NO SWIMMING. Okay Opaz, you made it clear.

As for businesses, Magazin Martel is a depanneur with a little LCBO outlet.  Mandy’s Beanerie serves coffee and meals as well.  There might be more for food and services, but I’m not sure. I haven’t been back in a while.

There used to be a mushroom farm in Opasatika.  I’m not sure if it is still running. I don’t know if it gives tours, but you could enquire – I’ve always found visiting any kind of factory/workplace type thing to actually pretty interesting. The farmhouse you see on the right is actually in Val Rita, and has some personal significance to its owner, a testament to the agriculture that used to occur in this area.Lonely farm, Opasatika, Highway 11On a personal note, Opasatika is the first place where my car was chased by a dog on the journey.  Imagine, if you live on Highway 11 and you have a dog that chases cars or trucks?  Boy are you in trouble…

Thanks to Anick for help with Opaz.

Mattice

When you enter Mattice from the east, you’ll be greeted by a dinosaur.

T-Rex has no cultural significance to the town.  There isn’t a museum around.  He’s not the town mascot. To my knowledge no dinosaur bones have been found in the area. It’s just decoration on someone’s front lawn.  Think of it as an especially eccentric garden gnome.

T-Rex in Mattice, Northern Ontario, Highway 11

Mattice does its bit to continue Highway 11′s many “WTF? moments.

I’ve been told by a Mattice resident that the T-Rex was built by the owner of the Mattice Motel to attract tourists.  There used to be a stegosaurus in town, as well.  It turns out that the stegosaurus was destroyed by a new owner when the previous owner left to pursue his dinosaur dreams elsewhere.  Seriously.  It turns out he left to build a concrete Jurassic park in the Ottawa region.

A francophone town in the heart of French-speaking Ontario, Mattice (rhymes with ice) is one of these small northern towns (population approximately 500) on Highway 11 that has a little bar, an a full-blown LCBO, and a skidoo repair shop … but only the tiniest of grocery stores that would barely qualify as a fruit stand in more urban areas in southern Ontario.

Fur trading monument, Mattice, Highway 11 Ontario

Mattice used to be the launchpad for old fur trading expeditions

Set on the Missinaibi River, Mattice used to be a starting point for Voyageurs heading downstream for the fur trade.  There’s a historical plaque and one of Highway 11’s classier statues to commemorate its history.  About two kilometres upstream, there’s a traditional Aboriginal burial ground.

Mattice emergency service skidoo, Highway 11

Ambulance northern Ontario style

If you go north on one of Mattice’s side street you’ll find the nice riverfront park.  It’s actually quite a nice park, with a boat launch, a picnic area, and an inexplicable pile of rocks (that, it turns out, were used in the refurbishment of the Missinaibi Bridge.  And then left there for posterity’s sake.)

Rock pile, Mattice, Highway 11

Lacking a woodpile, this pile of rocks will have to do

Hallébourg / Val Coté

Hallébourg – a cluster of approximately 20 homes east of Hearst on Highway 11 – is one of the smallest of the francophone hamlets on Highway 11.  I think only Strickland or Harty are smaller.

Hallebourg, Ontario, highway11.ca on Highway 11

(This and the next photo both c/o user P199 at Wiki Commons)

Just east of Hallébourg, Val Coté used to be a tiny farming hamlet, but as farming became less profitable in agriculturally minor areas of Ontario like up here, it soon lost its economic raison d’etre.Val-Cote, Ontario Highway 11, highway11.ca

There are about 15 houses in Val Coté along with an old barn or two, a church, and a tiny caisse.  In the church parking lot there’s a sign advertising the Val Cote Musée Des Pierres, a rock museum.

Church in Val Coté, Ontario, Highway 11

Val Coté’s church

Val Coté, Ontario's Rock Museum, Highway 11

Sadly not open at 8.45 AM on a long-weekend Friday.

 

Hearst

There’s something really interesting about Hearst.

Hearst is the frontier of northern Ontario – you either live in Hearst, east of Hearst, or you live waaaaaaaaaaaaaay west of it.  It even has a Northern Store (how’s that for remote.)

Hearst, Ontario on Highway 11

Hearst from the air

Where else would a town of 6000 have so many bars, the “northern ballet”, and yet still have four or five churches?

What other place keeps you in their town by telling you just how far away everywhere else is?  I mean, Longlac is 210 kilometres west, with nothing in between.  Hearst has the last McDonald’s for 500 kilometres – I know it because I checked, in person. There isn’t another McD’s until Thunder Bay

The tourist office in Hearst. Highway 11

The tourist office in Hearst. So awesome.

I once applied for a government job in Hearst, but never got an interview.  To be fair, I realize now that I was woefully underqualified.  I swear that the ad had listed French as “an asset”.  Well, no French isn’t an asset – in Hearst, it’s a requirement.

One of the most interesting things about Hearst, however, is that it is the most francophone community in Ontario – something like 85-90 percent.  Hearst even has residents that only speak French, and no English.  Rue George is the downtown drag and it’s really cute, with small shops, a library, a diner, and a movie theatre showing French-language movies.  It’s reminds me of Penetanguishene, but more with more French.

Hearst, OntarioI (h)EART (h)EARST

Erst (as it is pronounced locally) is a pretty special town.  It has:

•    The motto: “The Moose capital of Canada” (or so they boast)
•    The only tin man on Highway 11 (he keeps watch over an appliance store)
•    The most millionaires per capita (or so someone emailed, apparently it’s due to the local forestry?)
•    The largest moose sculpture on Highway 11 (Believe me, I’ve seen them all)
•    The most suburbs (two) of any small town Highway 11 town (take that, King Kirkland or Geraldton East)
•    The most truckstops per capita (or so I’ve calculated, roughly)
•    The biggest woodpile on Highway 11 (I’ve seen them all too)

Trust me.  When it's not getting snowbombed, Hearst's downtown is super cute

Trust me. When it’s not getting snowbombed, Hearst’s downtown is super cute.  The problem is that it gets hammered all the time.

Heck, I’ve been to Hearst three times.  Most of the photos here are from the first time that I hadn’t been snowed in (because it was August.)  Both other times, I was stuck for three days in storms even that locals found nasty.

Set on the Mattawishkwia River, Hearst is a forestry town (hence the massive woodpile.)  It also has a tourism industry set around hunting, outfitters, and its proximity to three Provincial Parks:  Fushimi Lake, Missinaibi and Nagagamisis.  It is also the end of the Algoma Line, which runs fall colours rail tours from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst.

Despite its francophone heritage, Hearst was once the site of a Slovak settlement.  Bradlo, nestled 11 kilometres south of Hearst, the community persisted until the 1950s when the residents realized that the land was agriculturally marginal, and wouldn’t support farming in a modern economy.

Sculpture jsut outside of Hearst

Hearst is so cool, this wolf vs. moose sculpture doesn’t even count as their “some big weird thing”…

Hearst tin man, Highway 11

…instead, this does!

Food and Fun in a Frontier Town

Hearst is a center for most of the little communities west of Kapsukasing, and is the largest town between Thunder Bay and Kapsukasing on Highway 11.  And probably for Hornepayne on Highway 631, about an hour and a half south.  (Head off-route and take a trip along 631 here.)

No McDonald's for 500 km in Hearst, Highway 11

I’ve used this photo about a twenty-two times on this website and it never gets old

Therefore, Hearst has an abundance of services.  It has the only McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s that you’ll see until Thunder Bay.  In addition to the 24-hour garage and towing company that is advertised throughout northern Ontario, there are shops downtown and food everywhere.  Hearst also has an overabundance of places that serve Northern Ontario Chinese Food.

Hearst has something for everyone – the northern ‘hotel’ scene (the Waverly or the Windsor), cafés (although Café Duo doesn’t serve coffee, go figure), fast food (McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, and the only Pizza Pizza west of Timmins), authentic chip stands (Micko’s is great), sit down restaurants (Mom’s, John’s, Pizza Place has ok pasta), fine dining (you can find filet mignon, steak, and Cuban cigars at Ailleurs), and even a little night club (OK, fine, it’s the bar at the Companion.)

Snowstorm, Hearst, Highway 11

Highway 11 in Hearst, getting walloped, again

There are motels aplenty in Hearst so you should have no trouble finding a place to stay.  (A note to those staying at the Queens Motel, keep your kids away from the funny channels at the end of the TV dial there!)  There is also hockey in the winter – in fact, Hearst is the hometown of Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers superstar, as well as Pierre LeBrun, a hockey commentator who has appearanced on TSN, ESPN, and Hockey Night in Canada. Hearst is home to the local team les Elans de Hearst. And, there is bowling.

Come on, it’s northern Ontario. Of course there is bowling!

Super awesome Hearst woodpile, Highway 11

Hearst – simply the best woodpile of any Highway 11 community

Hearst, Ontario highway11.ca

And this is what happens to a woodpile on Highway 11, in Hearst (Credit: Wiki Commons contributor P199)

 

Hearst, Ontario airport

Not sure why I took a photo of Hearst’s airport