Wawa – A Place to Work, Live, and Play

Wawa – A Place to Work, Live, and Play

Northern Ontario Towns

The Town of Wawa lies just over 2 hours from Sault Ste Marie and just over 5 hours from Thunder Bay. Best known for the Big Goose that overlooks the TransCanada Highway, it is the quintessential Northern Ontario town.

With a population of approximately 3,500 people, there is endless opportunity for adventures in Wawa. Being minutes away from Lake Superior one way and bush trails on the other, it truly is an outdoor paradise.

History of Wawa

helen-mines-wawa-ontario
(Credit to Tom Haddow)
Wawa was found after a Gold discovery in the early 1900’s. Although, the gold didn’t pan out, hematite ore was found which is used in the steel-making process. The ore became the main source of employment for the town. The ore was sent by rail to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste Marie as part of their steel-making operations.

As Algoma Steel began going through financial difficulties, the business decision was made to close the Wawa mine site. Although the Wawa economy was hit hard, it did not take long for it to rebound. An oriented strandboard mill opened nearly 20 minutes out of town on the shores of the Michipicoten River. After undergoing a number of ownership changes, the mill was eventually sold to Rentech. Rentech with the intentions of creating a pellet mill, has since run out of money at the mill. Currently, the main employment is mining at River Gold and in nearby Dubreuilville.

What to do in Wawa?

Wawa is steps away from the outdoors. With endless trails for snowmachining, ATVing, and countless lakes nearby, there are tons of opportunities for any outdoorsmen. There is family camping near Wawa around including Lake Superior Provincial Park and Obatanga Provincial Park.

There are three major tourist events that happen in Wawa, that bring many participants in.

  1. Summer Salmon Derby
  2. The summer salmon derby brings participants from all over Northern Ontario and the Michigan upper Peninsula. With large cash prizes, the summer derby is enjoyable for everyone. As a spectator, you can watch the boats fish from the shores of Sandy Beach or as they bring in their fish at Buck’s Marina.

  3. Wawa Ice Fishing Derby
  4. The Wawa Ice Fishing Derby is one of the largest in Ontario. With up to 1,300 participants from all over Northern Ontario, the prizes are in excess of $100,000. Fishermen are able to fish on Wawa Lake, Hawk Lake as well as Manitowik Lake. There are 6 prizes per Lake and have been boats and ATV’s in the past.

  5. National Drag Race
  6. Relatively new to Wawa is the annual Drag Race. The Northern Nationals Drag Race takes place in early August and is a sanctioned NHRA event. Racers come from all over Ontario and Michigan to race in this high speed event. The Wawa drag race will be going into its 5th year in 2017.

What to see in Wawa?

The proximity to Lake Superior and Lake Superior Provincial Park gives plenty of opportunities for things to see in Wawa. With plenty of hiking trails, Lake Superior Park has sights for everyone.

A little closer to Wawa is Scenic High Falls. High Falls has a walking area that you can climb up beside the falls. It is a beautiful area with a gazebo for picnics or weddings.

Wawa-Lake-Highway-101-Ghost-Lake-HillWawa Lake is one of the largest spring-fed lakes in Northern Ontario. Although cold, it produces amazing sunrises and the Lake points almost due east. Nearly 7 kilometers long, there is road at the end of the Lake that can take you to Sir James Dunn pit and one of the best blueberry patches anywhere.

However, the main attraction is the large Wawa goose that watches over Highway 17 travellers. Multiple questions on Jeopardy have referred to the Goose and is a monument known across Canada. Although it has seen better days, money has been pledged to bring it back to its former glory. Geese sit on top of the Wawa Motor Inn and besides Young General store to pay homage to the original Goose.

Wawa is truly an outdoorsman paradise. With miles of trails, lakes and hiking, there is never a dull moment in this truly resilient little Northern Ontario town.

Lake Superior Provincial Park

Lake Superior Provincial Park

Northern Ontario Provincial Parks

Agawa-Bay-Lake-Superior-Provincial-ParkLake Superior Provincial Park stretches 83 kilometers along Highway 17 in Northern Ontario. Lake Superior Park begins approximately 20 kilometers south of Wawa at Treeby Lake and extends to the Montreal River. The south side of the park is approximately 125 kilometers north of Sault Ste Marie.

The Provincial Park runs down the Eastern shores of Lake Superior, often referred to as Gitchee Gumee, the largest fresh-water lake in the world. The Native Americans named the Lake Gitche Gumee which means ‘Big Water’. Inside the over 1,600 square kilometer park, you will find many lakes and Northern Ontario wilderness. Many rivers, waterfalls and streams run through the Park and empty into Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Provincial Park – The Campgrounds

The park once featured three separate campgrounds. Since Crescent Lake Campground is no longer in operations, the Park now features two amazing campgrounds. The two campgrounds are Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground at the North end and Agawa Bay Campground at the South End.

Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground features 60 campsites with one-third of them being electrical. The campsites are located on a small inland Lake that has it’s own beach and boat launch. Rabbit Blanket is just off Highway 17 and provides an excellent opportunity for nature seekers to be at one with the Lake Superior wilderness. The comfort station has flush toilets, showers as well as laundry facilities.

Agawa Bay Campground, many consider one of the best campgrounds on Lake Superior. Along with Pancake Bay Provincial Park, Agawa Bay is right on the Eastern coast of Lake Superior. The campground features nearly 150 campsites with 38 of them being electrical. Half of the campsites are on or right across from the water whereas the other half are through a small forest divider. You can feel the breeze from Lake Superior on every site off of Agawa Bay. There are two comfort stations on site that feature showers, flush toilets as well as laundry facilities. The Natural Heritage Education staff put on many activities for the children as well as movies at the Amphitheatre.

What to do in Lake Superior Provincial Park?

The Visitor Centre at Agawa Bay campground is a reminder of how great Gitchee Gumee is. Relatively new, the features are incredible and open up children’s mind to the Great Lakes. From a large lighthouse to skeletal displays, the Visitor centre is a must visit when you are in the park. The views overlooking Lake Superior will make you stop and just marvel at its beauty.

Lake Superior Park visitors have access to many different hiking trails and picnic areas. The eleven hiking trails in Lake Superior Park range from amateur to advanced and all points in between. The image below outlines the difficulty range, distance and location of every Hiking Trail in Lake Superior Park.

Picnic Areas in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Sand-River-Lake-Superior-Provincial-ParkThere are four main picnic areas in Lake Superior Park. All of these picnic areas are just off of Highway 17.

Beginning on the North End of the Provincial Park, Old Woman’s Bay is the first area. The Bay gets its name from the formation of the cliffs that can be seen from the Beach.
Many boating enthusiasts can see a woman’s face in the rocks, hence the name, Old Woman’s Bay.

Second is Katherine’s Cove. Katherine’s cove is a nice but smaller picnic area that has sand beaches. One of the features near Katherine’s cove is Bathtub Island. Bathtub Island is known for having pools of water that become extremely warm and can be reached from Katherine’s Cove.

Third is Sand River, this picnic area is right beside the rushing rapids of Sand River. The crashing of the water down on the rocks of the Sand River provides harmonious music while lunch is enjoyed. During the spring melt, the rapids at Sand River are a sight to be seen. Sand River rapids can be seen off of Highway 17.

The final picnic area is at the Visitor centre in Agawa Bay. After your lunch, enjoy the rocky shores of Lake Superior. The rocks are so smooth from the waves crashing on the rocks for thousands of years.