Ontario: #17 between Wawa and Sault Ste Marie

Mile 1 Hill, near Heyden, north of Sault Ste Marie on the #17

Why travel between Wawa and Sault Ste Marie?

This was one of the most challenging sections of the Trans-Canada to build (see the "history" articles) through the Algoma Wilderness. The northern portion of this route has stunning high bridges, and the southern portion winds its way up and down hills overlooking Lake Superior's eastern shoreline. Take an iconic "selfie" with the Wawa goose, and beside the Trans-Canada's midpoint plaque at Batchwana Bay.

Here is the itinerary for the 224 km along #17 between Wawa and Sault Ste Marie:

Wawa Goose, statue near TCH The original Trans-Canada Route was highway 11 (designated "The King's Highway"), which connecting North Bay and Nipigon through northern forests. That highway was started in 1923 and completed as a key war-time project to provide toad access to key mining towns of northern Ontario. When Highway 17 was completed between Marathon and Montreal River in September 1960, it became the new (and much shorter) Trans-Canada Highway.

he Rocks along Lake Superior were created about 2 billion years ago, and are part of the Precambrian Shield ("the Canadian Shield"). The rock was scoured by the last Ice Age, leaving thousands of lakes and ponds.

Highway North of Superior around Wawa TWhile the highway was gradually extended east from Thunder Bay, the stretch from Schreiber to Wawa was built over the 1930s, hindered by the harsh rugged terrain of Lake Superior's north shore. Similar difficulties were encountered highway 17 was extended northwards from Sault Ste Marie to Montreal River on Agawa Bay. All that remained was a gap of 165 miles between the Agawa River, appropriately called "The Big Gap". This area was so rugged it was by-passed by the Algoma Central Railway (which connected Sault Ste Marie to northern mining towns), and was a popular dropping-off spot for the famed "Group of Seven" painters on the early 1900s.

The "Big Gap" area was rugged, inaccessible, and covered with virgin timber. Building the highway required clearing a 50 metre (150 ft) right of way before the road construction could begin. The Big Gap had several deep gorges and large rivers that necessitated building 25 bridges, including a 173 metre (685 ft) Big Pic River bridge rising 40 metres (130 ft) just east of Marathon. The five mile stretch north of the Agawa River, required 1 million cubic metres of rock to be moved before road construction could begin.

Highway 171 Mile Hill, near Heyden The Montreal River is only 104 km long, but because it falls swiftly through granite steep-walled canyons was easily dammed and now has 4 hydro-electric generating plants along its short length, two of which are easily accessible from the Trans-Canada.

Beside Hibbard Bay, at Mamainse is an ancient First Nations copper mine, that may have been worked as far back as 6000 BC. . Etienne Brule, the first European explorer to reach Lake Superior sent new of the copper mine to the King of France back in 1623, but mining did not commence in 1772. Another copper mine was discovered in 1889, but petered out in only 5 years.

Chippewa Falls,near Batchwana Bay, the midpoint of the Trans-Canada Batchwana Bay, about 65 km north of Sault Ste Marie, marks the halfway point of the Trans-Canada with as many miles to the east as to the west. A Hudson's Bay fur trading post was opened up here in 1824, but was closed down in 1894. Nearby Chippewa Falls has a very scenic waterfalls/rapids right beside the Tran-Canada Highway.

Agawa Train unloading passengers From this point southwards, travelers enter the St Mary's River lowlands which connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Because Lake Superior's water level was originally much higher, beach deposits are found even on higher hilltops making for very good agricultural land, though today that land is used for residential and recreational purposes.

Soo Locks Tour Boat Sault Ste Marie was long an important gathering place for Ojibwa Indians, and the Jesuits built a mission here and called it Sault de Ste Marie (or St Mary's Rapids, in French). Later, the fur traders of the Northwest Company and the Hudson's Bay Company built trading forts here.. The strategic location, at the junction of three Great Lakes, made it a key defensive position for both British and Americans during the War of 1812. Both sides built fortifications and canals, though today, only the American locks are used by modern St Lawrence Seaway shipping.

Trans-Canada Highway History

Trans-Canada Highway Itinerary Map

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Next West: Marathon to Wawa Next East: Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury

Ontario Highways road condition reports for this segment.

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Detailed Itinerary


Highway Point & Features


-8  Western boundary of Garden River Indian Reserve 14 (Sault Ste Marie)  184.4 
Garden River First Nation, member of the North Shore Tribal Council..

Mamaweswen, North Shore Tribal Council web site..
-7  Trunk Rd & Fournier Rd, access S to Queen St, and S to access Rankin Location Indian Reserve 14 along St Mary River (Sault Ste Marie)  186.2 
-2  Trunk Rd & Black Rd, WB traffic can head N to bypass Sault Ste Marie, west to downtown, and International Bridge (Sault Ste Marie)  191.1 
-2  Trunk Rd & Market St, Wellington Square Mall on S side (Sault Ste Marie)  190.2 
-2  Trunk Rd & Boundary Rd, south to SSM Golf & Country club, N to access Rankin Location Indian Reserve 15D (Sault Ste Marie)  189.3 
Rankin Location Indian Reserve 15D, member of the Batchewana First Nation..

Sault Ste. Marie Country Club, 2 km S of highway..
-1  Wellington St & Pine St, S to Bellevue Park (Sault Ste Marie)  189.6 
-1  Wellington St & Trunk Rd at Elizabeth St, Park on S side, Churchill Plaza on E site (Sault Ste Marie)  190.2 
-1  Trunk Rd & Lake St (Sault Ste Marie)  192.9 
Great Northern Rd & Wellington St. west to downtown Sault Ste Marie, International Bridge, east to Highway 17,North to Wawa (Sault Ste Marie)  190.2 
Sault Ste Marie..

Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, 6 km SW of intersection..

Downtown Sault Ste Marie Ontario) shopping, 1 km W of intersection..

Downtown Sault Ste Marie (ON) has 9 hotels... see listings..

International Bridge to Sault Ste Marie, MI (3 km to W of intersection)..

Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada, 3 km W of intersection..

Algonquin Hotel (Soo), 3 blocks S of intersection..

Eastgate Hotel, 3 blocks S of intersection..

St Christopher's Inn, 3 blocks S of intersection..

Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, 0.6 km SW of intersection, via Bay St..

Sault Ste Marie Museum, 07 km W of intersection, via East St...

Sault Area Hospital, 0.5 km S of intersection on Queen St..
McNabb St, Cambrian Mall on E side (Sault Ste Marie)  215.5 
Cambrian Mall, on E side of highway..

Knight Home B&B, about 1 km to SE of intersection, via Bruce St..

Canadian Tire Store in Cambrian Mall..

Canadian Motel on Sw side of intersection..

Bel Air Motel, 0.4 km to SE of intersection..

Knights Inn 0.4 km to SE of intersection..
2nd Line E (hwy 550), EB travelers can head E for Sault Ste Marie bypass, W to Fort Creek Conservation Area (8 km), S to Kmart Plaza (Sault Ste Marie)  242.3 
Fort Creek Conservation Area, hiking, picnic area, winter sports. 2 km W of highway..

Algomas Water Tower Inn, on Se corner of intersection..

Comfort Inn, on SW corner of intersection..

Best Western - Great Northern Resort and Conference Centre..

Sault College, 1 km to E of highway..

Sault Ste Marie Airport (YAM) about 18 km W of intersection. Served by Air Canada, Bearskin Airlines, Sunwing..

2nd Line East is the Highway 17 bypass around downtown Sault Ste Marie..
Northern Ave, shopping (Sault Ste Marie)  239 
Super 8 - Sault Ste Marie, to SE of intersection..

Catalina Motel, to SE of intersection..

Skyline Motel, to SE of intersection..
Terrance Ave (E) (Sault Ste Marie)  242.6 
Villa Inn, to NE of intersection..

Adams Inn, to SW of intersection..
3rd Line E (Sault Ste Marie)  232.6 
4th Line E, NE to Maplewood Golf Course (Sault Ste Marie)  242.9 
Maplewood Golf Course on W side of highway..

Root River Golf Course on E side of hihgway..
5th Line E, W to KOA campground, E to Hiawatha Park & Conservation Area, Hwy 17 S of this point is also Great Northern Road (Sault Ste Marie)  274 
KOA Camping Resort..

Hiawatha Park & Conservation Area..
Access to RV park, E of hwy, and Root River Golf Club (Sault Ste Marie)  264.6 
Large gravel pit to W of hwy (Sault Ste Marie)  287.7 
11  Glenview Vacation Cottages & RV Park & Campground 309.1 
Glenview Vacation Cottages & RV Park & Campground..
11  6th Line Rd (Sault Ste Marie)  307.8 
15  Trout Lake Rd, E, with RV dealer E of hwy 317.9 
16  Junction 556, NE to Searchmont ski resort, services at junction 330.1 
Searchmont, and ski resort..
19  Truck Weigh Station, W side of hwy 346.9 
26  Pine Shores Rd, W access to town of Goulais River (2 km) 197.8 
Goulais River, 2 km E of highway..

Goulais Bay Reserve , Member of the Batchewana First Nation...
27  Bridge over Goulais River (Goulais River)  194.8 
28  Services, fuel (Goulais River)  193.9 
29  Junction Hwy 552 E & W 225.6 
38  Road W along Batchwana Bay 183.2 
43  Harmony Beach Rd N along coast 189 
44  Irwin Island Rd, W 185.9 
44  Harmony Beach Rd S along coast 191.1 
49  Whiskey Bay Rd, W 189.6 
55  Mile 38 Rd E 235.3 
55  Chippewa River crossing, Chippewa Falls to E of hwy, viewpoint on S side of river 198.1 
Chippewa Falls photos..
63  River crossing, rest area to N & S of hwy 182.9 
63  Sand Point Rd 183.8 
67  Hwy 563 junction, W to Batchwana PP, plaque marking midpoint of the TCH 186.2 
Batchwana Provincial Park, with sandy beach. Day use, water sports...

plaque marking midpoint of the TCH..

Batchewana First Nation..
78  Rd to Pancake Bay PP 192.3 
Pancake Bay Provincial Park. camping, watersports, hiking..
81  Weston Rd, W 201.2 
96.4  Southern Boundary of Lake Superior Provincial Park 358.1 
Lake Superior Provincial Park, camping, day-use, hiking, water sports, winter sports..

Niijkiwenhwag - Friends of Lake Superior Park blog..
103  Alona Bay roadside turnout, W side of hwy 256.3 
110  Road E & W, services on W side 246 
115  Road E, hwy services E &W 278.9 
116  Montreal River Nature Reserve 232.3 
Montreal River Nature Reserve, significant for its lichen barrens..
118  Trail End Rd, W access to camping (Montreal River)  195.7 
Twilight Resort campground..
119  Crossing Montreal River, electrical generating facility to E (Montreal River)  242.3 
124  Rd E to Gartshore Generating Station, Montreal Falls, camping 340.2 
Gartshore Generating Station..
140  crossing Agawa River 187.5 
144  Agawa Rock Information Centre, camping, W side of hwy 263.3 
Agawa Rock Indian Pictographs Trail..

Agawa Rock Visitor Centre..
149  Turnoff, E side of hwy 225.2 
Agawa Bay Campground, Lake Superior Provincial Park..
153  Crossing Sand River, picnic area E of hwy, N of river 182.9 
159  Katherine Cove, rest area and toilets W of hwy, hiking trails 182.9 
160  EB view of Lake Superior's Agawa Bay & islands. Bald Head (1050 ft) to W, E to mouth of Coldwater River 188.7 
161  Services E side of hwy 260 
168  Trapper's Trail. E of hwy 284.1 
173  Gargantua Rd 297.5 
174  Roadside Turnout, Cross-country ski area, east side of highway 301.8 
177  Baldhead River with rapids to W of highway 358.7 
182  Road to E of hwy 369.1 
184  Mijnemungshing Rd E 380.1 
186  park road W 382.5 
192  park roads E & W, Park office, Services 354.2 
199  Rabbit Blanket Lake, camping, cross country skiing, canoeing, S side of hwy 351.4 
Rabbit Blanket Lake..

Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground..
200  Highway Roadside Turnout, picnic area, scenic view of Old Women Bay 179.5 
206  Highway Roadside Turnout on E side of hwy 291.4 
210  north boundary of Lake Superior Provincial Park 281.3 
Lake Superior Provincial Park, camping, day-use, hiking, water sports, winter sports..

Niijkiwenhwag - Friends of Lake Superior Park blog..
218  Crossing Michipicoten River 185.3 
219  Historical Plaque, W side of highway, Michipicoten River Village Rd, W to Michipicoten Provincial Park (Michipicoten River )  207.3 
Parkway Motel, just N of Michipicoten River Village Rd. (in W side of Hwy)..
222  Scenic Magpie Hills Falls Rd, access to Michipicoten Provinial Park, Gros Cap Indian Reserve 281.9 
Michipicoten Post Provincial Park., ruins of old trading posts, hiking, no facilities...

Michipicoten First Nation..

Gros Cap Indian Reserve m part of Michipicoten Fist Nation..
223  Pinewood Dr. S access (Wawa)  278.6 
224  Junction Hwy 101, Wawa Info Centre, N to Wawa airport, town of Wawa, all services (Wawa)  282.5 
Visitor Information Centre, with the famous statue of the Wawa Canada Goose. public washrooms...

Municipality of Wawa, 3 km to the N of the highway..

Highway 101, as Mission Rd in to Wawa, continues E to Chapleau..

Chapleau, pop. 2300, 130 km E of highway..

Algoma Motel..

Beaver Motel..

Best Northern Resort & Restaurant..

Bristol Motel..

Camp Michi Wawa..

High Falls Motel and Cabins..

Lakeview Hotel..

Lakewood Motel..

Mystic Isle Motel..

Northern Lights Motel & Breakfast..

Miss Ellie's Bed & Breakfast..

Wawa Motor Inn ..

Michipicoten's 9 Hole Golf Course..

Wawa photos..

Lady Dunn Health Centre, 3.7 km Nof highway, via Hwy 101 & Broadway Ave..
224  Pinewood Dr. N access (Wawa)  282.5 


Highway Point & Features


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