Katrine / Emsdale

Katrine is one of a few tiny hamlets south of Burk’s Falls.

Katrine, Ontario, highway 11

Katrine Winter Carnival

Katrine is bordered on one side by Highway 11 and on the other by Doe Lake.  Katrine holds a number of little festivals during the year, including Summerfest, Octoberfest (I’m not sure if it’s a fall fair or a beer fair), and the Katrine Winterfest Karnival.  Doe View Cottages offers lodging.

There is a nine-hole golf course on the Magnetawan river just outside of Katrine.  The area also offers fishing, camping, and swimming at the Doe Lake beach.

Emsdale, Ontario, Highway 11South of Katrine is Emsdale, a little cluster of houses just a bit off Highway 11 north of Huntsville.

The main attraction in Emsdale is Brooks (not Burk’s) Falls, which has a park, a picnic area, and some hiking trails.  Clear Lake, which is just south of the community, has a public beach and a number of nice housekeeping cottage rentals.  There is a flower farm nearby which specializes in lilies.  Emsdale also has the Perry Old Timer Museum just outside of town.

Booker’s Clear Lake Cottages and Penbrook Resort offer some backroads accommodation near Emsdale.  I’ve read that there is a historical cemetery in town.  Potential activities include ice fishing, cross country skiing, canoeing, bass and trout fishing, and the Seguin Park to Park trail.

There is a gas station just outside of town on the highway. In Emsdale, there is Two Jacks Pizza, although on my drive through I couldn’t tell if it was still open.

Feel free to send me an email or post a comment below if you have anything to add.

Emsdale, ontario, Highway 11

Yes, I took a photo of a garage in Emsdale. No, I don’t not know why.

Highway 11 in Ontario, near Emsdale highway11.ca

Hills near Emsdale, Ontario, just off Highway 11. (Photo: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Burk’s Falls

Burk's Falls, Highway 11Burk’s Falls is a nice village of about 1000 on Highway 11 between Huntsville and North Bay.  It was first settled by loggers in the 1860s.  Eventually the village was built on the banks of the Magnetawan river in 1890.  Burk’s Falls is pretty small and pretty quiet.  They host an annual fall fair on Labour Day weekend, which pretty much coincides with all the other local fall fairs as well.  (You’d think someone would stagger these on the schedule.)  The village hosts Towne Theatre during the summer and there is also Winterfest held during the second week of January.

Burk’s Falls has heritage river walk, a little art gallery, and a pioneer museum which is housed in an 1893 one-room schoolhouse.  There is also Stan Darling Park on the Magnetawan River.  And according to one website, you should visit the post office to start your visit, because “the girls there are quite wonderful.”  (Don’t ask.  I have no idea.  The best I can say is that sometimes when you’re scouring google for info on a relatively small place the comments get a bit more interesting than your usual big-city reviews or complaints.)

Burk's Falls bridge, Highway 11

Bridge in Burk’s Falls over the Magnetawan River

Awsome, Arm wrestling champ, Burk's Falls

Burk’s Falls is home to a former Arm Wrestling Champ of the World.  This is awesome.

The bridge over the Magnetawan River at the dam is nice and provides for some nice views of the river and the town. Burk’s Falls also has a boat launch, and a little tourist info centre that serves cappuccino.

In town there’s a Royal Bank, a credit union, a bowling alley, a Tim-BR Mart, a curling rink, and an LCBO. Be warned though, that this LCBO stocks beer almost exclusively in two-fours, and almost exclusively in run-of-the-mill brands like Wildcat, Carling, and Molson’s Ex. I went in looking for six-pack of middle-of-the-road quality, and there was nothing. Not even Lakeport. The only sixes they had were Heineken. Everything else was a huge case, and not-so-great.  Local industry in Burk’s Falls includes a window factory and a muffler plant.

Burk’s Falls was very small, so I felt a bit conspicuous taking photos of the town’s main street. I managed to take a photo from across the river.  True to form, it is a terrible photo so it is followed by one from User P199 at Wikimedia Commons.

Burk's Falls, Highway 11

My photo:  View of Burk’s Falls, Ontario from across the water

Burk's Falls, Ontario, Highway 11

I spent about ten minutes trying to get a decent photo of Burk’s Falls.  I bet this photo took P199 of Wiki Commons all of five seconds to take.

Hydro Dam, Burks Falls

Hydro Dam on the Magnetawan River in Burk’s Falls

Burk's Falls

Magnetawan River in Burk’s Falls, near the picnic area in town.

Burk's Falls post office off highway 11


“Sunny Sundridge village by the lake, only two and a half hours from Toronto.”  Yeah right!  Lake – yes, sun – maybe (it rained the first two times I visited, and was cloudy on the third).  But two and a half hours north of Toronto?  Maybe at 3 AM doing 140 the whole way and not seeing a truck the whole time. Or maybe I just drive too slowly…

Highway 11 near Sundridge, Ontario

(Photo: user P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Sundridge is a village of about 1000 people strewn along the east side of Highway 11.  Established in 1889 on the shores of Lake Bernard, Sundridge is a former lumber and rail town that now finds itself as pretty much the northernmost extent of southern Ontario cottage country.  One my highschool teachers left their job for a high school in Sundridge, apparently for the solitude and seclusion.  Let me tell you, if you’re looking for quiet and minimal company this is the right place.  Sundridge is small and, for a southern Ontario town, situated pretty far north.

Sundridge is kinda funny because it’s a name no-one really wanted.  Originally the town was supposed to be named Sunny Ridge, but when they applied for the name in the late 1800’s Canada Post made a mistake and registered it as Sundridge.  As long as the mail came it really didn’t matter, so it stuck.

Sundridge Lake Front park, highway 11

This photo is so bad I’m almost proud of it

The Sundridge that most travellers see is a relatively nondescript rail crossing on the highway with some truckstops and a factory or two on Highway 11.  However if you turn into town you’ll find that although tiny, Sundridge isn’t half bad.  There is a nice little waterfront park with a playground and a little beach on Lake Bernard.  There is a “resort hotel”, a few car dealerships, a grocery store, a LCBO, and a Legion, along with a few other stores like Home Hardware. There is Ten Gables Golf Course, fishing charters, and snowmobiling, icefishing, and sugar shacks in the winter.  Sundridge also hosts an Agricultural Fair in the fall.

Sundridge made national news in August 2008 when the employees of the local Ford dealer won half of Canada’s second-largest lottery jackpot ever. Twenty-five people split 22.5$ million. The owner said that he didn’t expect to lose anyone to retirement right away…they must be a really dedicated lot.

Being in cottage country means that Sundridge has a few more amenities than its neighbours to the north.  There are five bed and breakfasts (Lakeview, Maple Sugar, Mitchell’s, Belrose, and Entwood Forest,) the Relax Shack Retreat, Allenby Cottages, a trailer camp, and a few motels.

For food there is Danny’s Justa Pasta a bit south of town, Double Decker burgers, Ha’s Chinese, a deli, a café, and the Stieirhut Schnitzel Haus (which I’ve always wanted to try, but never have – I love schnitzel).  I had a good breakfast at Jim and Elsie’s Café. In town I also bought the most stale, overpriced croissant ever – I didn’t know that the price of croissants was indexed to the price of gas to rise as you go up the highway.

Sundridge ATV parking, Highway 11

ATVs parked right beside cars like it’s normal? You know northern Ontario is beckoning…!

Sundridge waterfront - way nicer than this photo

Sundridge waterfront – way nicer than this photo

South River

The flamboyantly-named South River is a town of about 1100 people just 45 minutes south of North Bay.

I have to admit, my acquaintance with South River has always been brief.  I don’t usually stop in South River – if I’m still up for a coffee I usually get it in Sundridge, and bomb it the rest of the way to Orillia (if I’m headed south) or to North Bay (if I’m going north.)

South River is really a village with a bit of an outdoorsy bent due to its proximity to Algonquin.  For those not fond of Mother Nature there is an annual arts festival and the South River Black Fly Festival that tries to put a super spin on a super pest, or at least showcase the area’s most famous local invention – the Black Fly Suit.

South River, Highway 11 Ontario highway11.ca

The main drag in South River, Ontario, just off Highway 11 (Photo: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

South River history has some interesting aspects.  South River was founded in the 1860s when Fraser Lumber started logging nearby Algonquin Provincial Park.  Hotels sprouted up in 1881, hydroelectricity twenty years later, and in 1907 the town was officially formed.  South River was home to the Standard Chemical Company, which made wood alcohol and other forest-derived products.  In 1934, Italian and Finnish workers led a massive strike.  German prisoners of war were held in South River in the 1940s, with the more radical ones sent further up Highway 11 to Monteith.  South River also sold the Shay locomotive to Abitibi Consolidated for use further north. The Shay now sits in Iroquois Falls.  It is now home to the Bear Chair Company.

South River is important due to its paddler’s entrance to Algonquin Provincial Park.  South River is the second busiest park access after Highway 60 east of Huntsville.  There are camping, hiking, canoeing, and fishing opportunities in South River due to its proximity to Algonquin and Mikisew Provincial Parks.

There is a local farmer’s market in the summer and some small art studios with pottery and glassware.  There is also a train station, an arena with year-round ice, a curling club, tennis courts, a baseball field, library, daycare, Legion, and two retirement complexes.  And a beer store and an LCBO.

South River is home to the Hockey Opportunity Camp, Swift Canoes and Kayaks, and, as I’ve been told via email more than once, it is also home to “Mr. Meat”, which is supposedly a pretty good grocery store that sells a variety of high quality, ultra-fresh meats.

Trout Creek

Trout Creek, ontario, powassan, community centre, highway 11,

Community Centre and ball diamonds, Trout Creek, Ontario on Highway 11

Trout Creek is a small hydro town of less than a 1000.  My time in Trout Creek has always been brief – usually passing through on an early morning drive up or down Highway 11.  And each time I’ve been through, no matter what hour or what weather, there are always a few people milling about outside the general store.  Small town life always surprises you.

Settlers came up in 1880s when railroad was being built.  With the creation of a rail station and a few other amenities, settlers came in to log nearby Algonquin Provincial Park, and with the discovery of a waterfall, tap the rivers for a sawmill and for electricity.  A hotel was eventually built but unfortunately, everything was destroyed in 1892 by fire.

Today Trout Creek still has logging and still has a sawmill.  There is a little library in town, as well as a few shops and stores.  The Trout Creek Hotel and TJ’s Restaurant and Motel have room and board both, while the Princess Motel and Tracy’s Fresh Abundance Restaurant have room and board, respectively.  Trout Creek hosts a winter carnival every February and a fishing derby in July.

Trout Creek is the home of former Boston marathon winner James Corkery.

Trout Creek, Ontario, HIghway 11, lumber, mill, yonge street, powassan

Trout Creek, Ontario lumber yard or lumber mill? I’m not sure. But at six am on a Monday, I wasn’t going to get out and ask.

Trout Creek, Ontario, Highway 11, Church, fishing derby, yonge street

Evidence of creeping northernOntarioness in the upper-south: a fishing derby, and an our lady of sacred something, in Trout Creek, just south of North Bay.

Trout Creek, Ontario, on Highway 11

I wanted to get a shot of the general store on Main Street, but as is my luck a bunch of guys were sitting outside having a smoke at six in the morning.  So, instead, I give you Trout Creek, Ontario, on Highway 11 (Photo: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)


20-MK-Powassan-powPowassan is kind of funny because if it was north of North Bay it’d be considered a freakin metropolis fairly large town.  When I first wrote up most of this website, I was in my northern traveller mode.  When you’re used to places like Latchford or Jellicoe, Powassan seems pretty big.

We had been staying at Piebird Farmstay B&B, just west of Powassan in Nipissing Village.  But five-plus years removed from my northern Ontario adventures, just having finished a short hike in Restoule Provincial Park and promising the ravenous wife a reasonable diner meal, I headed 40 minutes east to Powassan based on hazy comparisons of Powassan to places that truly were dots on a map.  It must have a place we can get a sandwich.  A Tim Horton’s maybe, even.

I distinctly remembered a two story building in the downtown.  So it had to be pretty “big”, right?

Downtown Powassan, ON

Downtown Powassan, Ontario on Highway 11 / Yonge Street

There was the China Garden, and the Hawk n’ Eye Pub and …well…that’s it.  Strange for a Saturday, for this urbanite at least, the café was closed.  There wasn’t much else.  Jugding by the packed parking lot, everyone, it seems, was spending their Saturday lunch at the arena.  Despite being the largest town between Huntsville and North Bay, Powassan is really just one of many small towns found along Highway 11.  (If you can, arrange a dinner at Piebird.  You won’t be disappointed.)

Powassan is a First Nations word that means “bend.”  I’m assuming that’s not a command but a description of a place on the river.  I’m not sure exactly how it is pronounced, but I sure hope it is old-school Adam West Batman-style.

Anthony was kind enough to send in some info about Powassan. First, yes, the name Powassan means “bend in the river”. Second, that river is Genesese Creek, which flows into the South River, eventually making it to Lake Nipissing. And third, Powassan is the only place in the world named Powassan.

Founded in 1905, Powassan soon became the site of a lumber and grist mill.  Today it is focused on power generation, lumber, maple syrup and some small scale agriculture.  It is also the unfortunate namesake of Powassan Encephalitis – a tick-spread virus I used to joke about on here until I found out that it could kill you.  It’s killed 40 people in the US alone since 2008.

Can you believe this?  "Sappy" at the syrup festival in Powassan, highway 11

I can’t get over this. This is so awesome. Awesome name (“Sappy”). Awesome costume (syrup can). This kid is my hero. I WANT TO BE THIS KID.

I adore small towns.  Each time I’ve been here Powassan has had that feel.  There are some nicely restored buildings on Main Street.  In the summer there’s a small farmer’s market.  There are two seasonal fairs – the Agricultural Society Fair on Labour Day Weekend and the Maple Syrup Festival (with ‘Sappy’ the mascot) in the fall.

Powassan is also home to a lookout on Powassan Mountain, (which I’m sure is a “mountain” in the same spirit of Hamilton’s “mountain”.)   A space conservatory is in the planning stages for Powassan. I have to be honest, I’m not sure what a space conservatory is. A planetarium maybe? I dunno.  Maybe they can pick up the Dunlap Observatory, drive it 307 kilometres north, and plunk it down in Powassan?

Powassan, Ontario, highway11.ca

I don’t see Powassan Mountain.  (Photo credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons)

Horse farms and stables, just north of Powassan's downtown drag

Knowlton Ridge horse farm and stables, just north of Powassan’s main drag

I used to get dragged to my Mom's work at a preschool in a church basement every PD Day.  I wish it was Powassan's church basement - there's a bookstore down there!

As a kid, I used to get dragged to my Mom’s work at a preschool in a church basement every PD Day. I wish it was Powassan’s church basement – there’s a bookstore down there!

Backroads just northeast of Powassan, Ontario near Highway 11

Backroads just northeast of Powassan, Ontario near Highway 11