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
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.
- Summer Salmon Derby
- Wawa Ice Fishing Derby
- National Drag Race
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.
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.
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 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.