Saskatchewan Canada Day Sign

Canadian Road Trip-Winnipeg to Ontario

This post is about our drive from Winnipeg Manitoba eastward along the TransCanada Highway through Northwestern Ontario and home to Southern Ontario. This was a 2 day drive for us. Maps, distance, times and scenery included.

The Way Home

Well we did it. In 8 days we drove from Southern Ontario westbound along the TransCanada Highway to Kamloops British Columbia, and then north through Jasper Alberta and back south and east towards home. It was a shortened trip because we were trying to social distance during the gosh-darned pandemic – but it was lovely, and we were no worse for wear.

Driving Across Canada – alternate Routes

At the time of this trip we drove only through Canada – as the United States/Canada borders were closed due to Covid 19. We treated this closure as an opportunity to travel only within Canada – and take the road less travelled! Normally we would have taken one of two alternate routes through the United States.

Alternate westbound route 1 is through Canada up to Sault Ste. Marie and crossing into Michigan – travelling along the south shore of Lake Superior – through Northern Michigan, into Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota – before travelling back into Canada in Saskatchewan!

Alternate westbound route 2 is to travel southwest through Ontario – to either the Windsor/Detroit or Sarnia/Port Huron Michigan borders and travel west across Michigan, across the top of Indiana around the bottom of Lake Michigan, though Illinois and up through Wisconsin and Minnesota – and either up to Winnipeg Manitoba or across to North Dakota and into Saskatchewan.

These three routes are all lovely summer drives!

During our last 2 days we were returning along mostly the same route that we had traveled west on, so I will try to be a little more brief and just note the major points.


Winnipeg and Onwards!

We woke up in Winnipeg, still feeling a little silly about getting lost during the flood the night before, and we were trying to follow Manitoba’s isolation orders for people from out of province. We headed straight out the door and eastward along the TransCanada Highway towards Ontario.

We were feeling anxious about getting home. Is that an old person thing? We wondered if the grass needed mowing, (it didn’t) were the boys really feeding the dog? (he tells us he went to Starbucks and Tim Hortons alot) and that sort of thing.

Goldendoodle enjoying his Tim Hortons' "Wayne Gretzky" coffee
Max – enjoying some Tim Hortons – did not miss us

Max enjoys Starbucks Puppuccinos – The Starbucks Secret Menu Puppuccino ingredients are whipped cream (cream, milk, mono and diglycerides, carrageenan) and/or Tim Horton’s Wayne Gretzkys – a coffee with nine creams and nine sugars (but he doesn’t really have the coffee) in reference to Wayne Gretzky’s jersey number 99.

Kenora Waterfront
Kenora Waterfront

Winnipeg to Kenora

So we drove quickly towards Ontario, stopping for gas in Kenora. Winnipeg to Kenora on the TransCanada Highway is a little over an easy 2 hour drive. We had taken the Kenora bypass on the way west, but went through the town on the way home. This time, we got a bit of a better look at Kenora, which is a thriving vacation spot with a pretty waterfront. There were tourists with RVs and boats everywhere, heading to and from the lakes. There was no sign of the pandemic in Kenora.

Winnipeg to Kenora drive is 2 hours and 20 minutes or 209 km

Winnipeg to Kenora Drive is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes or 209 kilometers.

Kenora Ontario
Kenora Ontario

Kenora to Thunder Bay

We drove from Kenora to Thunder Bay in about 5 and a half hours. We are inland here – travelling along rugged hills, past smaller lakes and rivers towards the North Shore of Lake Superior at Thunder Bay.

Kenora to Thunder Bay Drive Distance Road Trip
Kenora to Thunder Bay Drive

Kenora to Thunder Bay drive along the TransCanada Highway is approximately 5 and a half hour drive or 488 kilometers.

Red Rock Ontario
Red Rock Ontario
Nipigon Ontario
Nipigon Ontario
Suspension Bridge Nipigon Ontario
Suspension Bridge Nipigon Ontario

Once again in the Thunder Bay area, we were privileged and got another look at a big healthy moose by the side of the road. It was getting a little dark at this point, so he’s hard to see in the trees, but he was happy to pose for photos.

Moose - Thunder bay
Moose – Thunder bay
Moose - Thunder bay
Moose – Thunder Bay
Moose - Thunder bay
Roadside Moose – Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay to Wawa

From Thunder Bay to Wawa is another 5 hours of scenic driving. At the tourist bathroom stop in Wawa Ontario, a black bear cub ran directly in front of us across the road in broad daylight. We didn’t catch a picture, but it was nice to see him run past the tourists at the rest stop. Perhaps the town hires him to entertain the tourists.

Thunder Bay to Wawa Drive Distance Road Trip
Thunder Bay to Wawa Drive

The Thunder Bay to Wawa Drive along the TransCanada Highway is approximately 5 hours and 15 minutes or 477 kilometers.

As we headed along the North Shore of Lake Superior, we had torrential rain for quite a long time. I was reminded of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. The driver at this time, didn’t find my musical quotes funny at all……

“The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead When the skies of November turn gloomy

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead When the skies of November turn gloomy
The Lake it is said never gives up her dead…….

Winnipeg to Sault Ste. Marie

We pulled into the Best Western Water Tower Inn in Sault Ste. Marie. Winnipeg to the Sault, on the Canadian only route is 15 hours or so, and we were seeing a lot of deer near the roadside and on the road – so we decided it would be safer to stop for the night in the Sault and take another 7 1/2 hour drive the rest of the way home the next day. The drive would have been about an hour less through the United States – (someday soon we will be able to visit again neighbours!)

Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury to Muskoka

From Sault Ste Marie Ontario through Sudbury to the Muskoka district, we travelled along the North Shore of Lake Huron which is about a 5 3/4 hours. From there, we would just have another 2 hours or so to home.

Map from Sault Ste. Marie to Greater Sudbury Distance Road Trip
Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury

The drive from Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury is about 3 hours and 24 minutes or 308 kilometers.

The area from the North Shore of Lake Huron at Whitefish Falls to the Sudbury District and down towards Parry Sound is known as Rainbow Country. Through the pouring rain we were happy to see many oversized rainbows. This reminded us of an early 1970s show called “Adventures in Rainbow Country”, about a family living in a hunting lodge. Did you know that the mom on this show was the actress that played Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond movies? It’s amazing the trivia we can look up during a LOOONG drive.

North Shore Lake Huron
North Shore Lake Huron
Rainbow country through the windshield
Rainbow country through the windshield

When we approached the wildlife crossing bridge, near Sudbury, we had sunnier weather. About one kilometer north of the wildlife crossing bridge, there is a wildlife underpass AND we actually saw another moose. So there you go – the animals actually use the wildlife crossings.

We headed the rest of the way home, enjoying our ride. When we got home, the house was still there, the weather had been dry and the grass did not need mowing. I think we could have stayed away a little longer, and no one would have noticed.

We had a wonderful trip, even though it was 8 days of driving and physical distancing. We were privileged to enjoy such a variety of beautiful scenery. Dining out, mixing with the locals and visiting tourist stops would be nice, but we saw lots of wonderful things anyway! The good news of course was all the wildlife that we got to see…..Black bears, a grizzly, moose, mule deer, white tail deer, antelope, fox, sandcranes, magpies, prairie dogs, wild horses – and we didn’t even mention the skunk, bald eagles, beaver and numerous bunnies.

We felt a little guilty returning our rental car to Enterprise with 8900 kilometres on it, but they didn’t blink an eye, and there was no extra mileage charge. Woohoo!

Our comfortable rental car
Our comfortable rental car

We look forward to the days when the U.S./Canada borders open, and when the eastern provincial and regional travel restrictions are removed – but we feel patient to wait for this darned virus to get under control. Stay healthy.

Saskatchewan Canada Day Sign
Saskatchewan Canada Day Sign

Thanks for following along on our 8 day road trip. Our borders may be closed to international tourists currently – but Canadians clearly have been out and about all summer enjoying the summer weather and scenery.

We travelled early in the summer, while Covid cases were going down, and the western and central provinces were opening up in stage 3. We found almost everyone open for business, but very few people wearing masks. I know that now people are wearing masks across Canada and although there are now increases in Covid, I am hopeful that we will get things back under control. Take care!

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7 thoughts on “Canadian Road Trip-Winnipeg to Ontario

    1. We didn’t get to see much of Winnipeg this time around, but I know there is a beautiful Ukrainian cathedral. Hope we get out of this pandemic soon, so we can travel and visit a bit more.

    1. It was beautiful and sunny and easy driving on the way out, and a little more tiring on the way back, but not too tiring. Thanks Allan!

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