A week or so ago I didn’t know any of these places existed! Sault Ste. Marie is just north of the Michigan border in Ontario, Canada. As a matter of fact, it’s connected to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan, it’s sister city by the three mile long International Bridge. Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Soo Saint Marie) is an industrial city on the shores of Lake Superior. It’s a little bit like the land time forgot. The main downtown area on Queen Street is full of shops that are well past their prime. The entire heart of the city moved out onto Highway 17 when the Wal Mart opened up a few years ago. It’s kind of sad but progress is progress!
The most amazing part of the city for me was this crazy wetlands park in the middle of the most industrial area you could imagine. Located underneath the International Bridge is the most incredible and unexpected natural habitat, with tons of birds, snakes, frogs, foxes and the most beautiful natural landscape. It was such a contradiction to what you would expect. I think that’s why I loved it so much, it just seemed so out of place and yet it fit perfectly. I went there every evening around 7 or so to wander on the boardwalk and listen to the sounds of the 100 or so different species of birds.
The other highlights of the area were the Bush Plane Museum, a drive north through Lake Superior Provincial Park up to Wawa and a boat tour of the Soo Locks, which is in Sault Ste. Marie Michigan. They stopped doing tours on the Canadian side about two years ago for economic reasons. I also really enjoyed The Museum Ship Valley Camp. It’s a giant steamer that’s now a museum and has a great exhibit about the sinking of The Edmund Fitzgerald as well as showing you what life was like aboard one of these enormous freighters. Oh the other highlight of my visit to Sault Ste Marie was watching an open audition for a local production of The King and I in the Galaxy Mall!
The reason I came to Sault Ste. Marie in the first place was to do the Agawa Canyon Train Tour. It’s pretty early in the season up here so the train is only running a couple of times a week. I actually went on the maiden voyage which was June 7th. When I spoke to Kelly the manager in the train office she suggested one thing I could do was take the passenger train and stay at Errington’s Wilderness Lodge. That’s exactly what I was going to do! Errington’s looked amazing!! Located at Mile 206 on the train, the owner Al comes to get you and takes you by boat to the remote lodge. We spoke by phone several times and I was looking forward to meeting him and his wife Doris who run the lodge. I spoke to several people who had been there and had nothing but rave reviews! I was so excited for this part of the trip. I showed up at the train yard for the 10 hour trip to Errington’s only to be told that the passenger train was not working! Wow, huge bummer! After a few attempts to get me there other ways I had to settle on the one day tour to Agawa Canyon on the tourist train the following day. Kelly was really very nice and even comped my ticket. Thank you Kelly!
It was well worth it. As far as I know it’s the only park thats accessible solely by train. You disembark for 90 minutes, so it’s a bit of a challenge to see everything but if you’re the indestructible tourist like I am, it’s totally possible. Head straight to the lookout for one of the most amazing views you’ll ever see! Then do one or several of the other trails to Beaver Falls, Bridal Veil Falls or the trail that runs along the river. The new train is very impressive with huge windows, a very nice commentary and some seriously amazing snacks! I never remember Amtrak serving homemade butter tarts! There’s a rather charming bell that rings whenever you’re approaching something thats of special interest.
So as always here are my favorite photos from the past week at all of these wonderful places. I loved my time in Canada and the “other” Sault Ste. Marie in the states as well. I do hope to make it to Errington’s one of these days though. Al owes me some moose and bear sightings and I plan on collecting!