Ontario's Trans-Canada Highway Overview
Here is the route of the Trans-Canada Highway from east to west:
After crossing from Quebec, the highway winds up the fertile and wide Ottawa Valley until it reaches Ottawa, Canada's capital. Originally called "Bytown," and located where the Ottawa River is joined by the Rideau and the Gatineau rivers, the city has many stone buildings dating back before Confederation (1867). Ottawa is also an endpoint of the Rideau Canal, a magnet for small boaters.
The Trans-Canada Highway continues up the Ottawa River along the original fur-trading route through pretty valley towns like Arnprior, Pembroke and Petawawa, to Mattawa.
At Mattawa the highway ventures west through rugged and hilly Canadian Shield along a voyageur route, for the next 1640 km to Manitoba. North Bay, on the eastern end of beautiful Lake Nipissing, was important to early French fur traders, is also where the Trans-Canada Highway splits.
The main route takes you west through Sudbury, which is the nickel capital of the world, because of its fortunate location at an ancient meteor crater.
The highway continues west along the North Channel above Manitoulin Island (the largest island in a lake in the world), to Sault Ste Marie (the "Soo").
Sault Ste Marie is a rare city, in that it has populations on both sides of the International border and locals tend to go over the bridge as if it was any other to take advantage of bar hours or shopping deals.
From there, the Trans-Canada heads north through the Algoma wilderness, the scene of many Group of Seven paintings, and then at Wawa begins the route west along the northern shore of Lake Superior, one of Canada's great drives, past company towns like Marathon and Terrace Bay. The "northern" route takes you through Hearst and most rugged portion of the Canadian Shield.
The two routes link up at Thunder Bay, at the western end of Lake Superior and again at Kenora, in the middle of Ontario's "Lake Country." Both routes offer spectacular wilderness scenery, though you should pay strict attention to road conditions and "last gas" signs (gas stations, like towns, are every 60 to 100 miles). Exercise caution from Vermillion Bay west to Kenora because of its sharp curves and non-existent shoulders. Also watch out for "surprise" traffic lights in Thunder Bay and Kenora.
Northern Ontario Road Map Itineraries along the Trans-Canada:
Is Toronto on the Trans-Canada?
Contrary to popular belief, Canada's largest city Toronto is not on the Trans-Canada, but is 80 miles (128 km) west of Peterborough, on the "southwest" route, which runs from Ottawa through Peterborough, which is the heart of Ontario's "Cottage Country," and then north through Parry Sound to Sudbury.
Fortunately, we have detailed itineraries to get travellers to Toronto, or Torontoians to the Trans-Canada! More about getting to the Trans-Canada Highway from Toronto.
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