Ontario Trans-Canada Highway #17 between Marathon and Wawa, Ontario

Rock Cut near Terrace Bay

Why travel between Marathon and Wawa?

This section provides lots of great lake views, sweeping forest vistas, great rock cuts, and views of the trans-continental railroad. The highway passes through or by several one-industry company towns for extracting Ontario's amazing resource wealth and getting it to the world, via the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway.

Here is the itinerary of the 180 km along #17 between Marathon and Wawa:

Lake Superior islands-Pearl, west of Terrace Bay The forests in this leg of the Trans-Canada indicate a major shift in eco-zones. The forests north of Wawa are most coniferous Boreal Forest, while the forests south of Wawa are mixed deciduous-coniferous which are part of the Great-lakes St Lawrence ecozone.

Cobble Beach along Lake Superior Marathon was a company town, which used to be a fur trading post which grew to a population of about 2500 in the 1940s when the Marathon Corporation of Canada (now part of American Can Company) built a kraft pulp mill there.

Obatanga Provincial Park Sign, near White River Heron Bay is 5 km south of the Trans-Canada, at highway #627, which continues south to the Pic River Indian Reserve and Pukaskwa National Park. This town was built by the Ontario Paper Company, which used Great Lakes freighters to ship logs from the nearby Black River and Pic River valleys to their plant near St Catherines. When the company switched to rail transport in the 1960s they abandoned the town.

White River is in a "bowl" which shelters is from Lake Superior's moderating influence, and because colder air falls down, it tends to be colder than surrounding communities. White River was settled as a Canadian Pacific Railway deport.

Views of Superior west of  White River
High Railway Bridge between White River and Terrace Bay About midway between White River and Wawa is the Obatanaga Provincial Park. It has several large lakes and is popular with shorebirds. Southeast of this park the terrain moves into an area rich in iron. The iron found in this region was a key factor in locating a major steel plant at Sault Ste Marie, where access to the Great Lakes enabled shipment of finished steel to manufacturers in both Canada and the US.

Wawa was built on terraces left behind by the receding shorelines of Ice Age glacial lakes (just like the terraces at Terrace Bay, to the west). Wawa boomed due to a chance gold discovery in 1896, but after the gold petered out, the prospectors shifted to iron required by American industry.

Trans-Canada Highway History

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Next West: Thunder Bay to Marathon Next East: Wawa to Sault Ste Marie

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Detailed Itinerary


Highway Point & Features


Junction Hwy 101, Wawa Info Centre, N to Wawa airport, town of Wawa, all services (Wawa)  282.5 
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..

Parkway Motel, 3 km S of junction, on Highway 17..

Miss Ellie's Bed & Breakfast..

Wawa Motor Inn..

Michipicoten's 9 Hole Golf Course..

Visitor Information Centre, with the famous statue of the Wawa Canada Goose. public washrooms...

Lady Dunn Health Centre, 3.7 km Nof highway, via Hwy 101 & Broadway Ave..
Cross Magpie River (Wawa)  249.6 
Magpie River Rd, S to Wawa RV Resort & Campground (Wawa)  254.5 
Wawa RV Resort & Campground..
Services, W side of Hwy 295 
Services, W side of Hwy 289.3 
39  Hwy 519 N to Dubreuilville & Algoma Central Railway 440.7 
Town of Dubreuilville, pop. 900, 35 km NE of highway..
54  Obatanga Provincial Park, S of hwy 422.8 
Obatanga Provincial Park, with 32 lakes, day-use area, camping, water sports, winter sports...
61  Services, Lodging, E side of hwy 429.2 
63  Passing Hammer Lake, lake is to W of highway for 6 km 427.9 
74  Roadside Turnout, picnic area, west side of hwy 438.3 
85  crossing small lake 406.9 
86  creek crossing 398.1 
90  Highway Junction Hwy 631, S to town of White River (services along the hwy) (White River)  375.5 
Town of White River, to S of highway..

White River Heritage Museum, celebrating the home of Winnie the Pooh, the early CPR, and AJ Cason of the Group of Seven painters...

Continental Hotel and Restaurant ..

White River Motel..

Township of Hornepayne, 97 km NE of highway..

Winnie the Pooh Statue in White River..

Thermometer at east entrance to White River, marking coldest spot in Canada..
108  Crossing White River 345 
112  Crossing White River 342 
117  Road S to Pic Mobert North Indian Reserve, and town of Mobert (8 km) and access to Pukuskwa National Park 356.6 
Pic Mobert North Indian Reserve, on east shore of White Lake..

Access to Pukuskwa National Park, via White River..
123  Bridge over White Lake 322.5 
Over east side of White Lake..

White Lake Provincial Park, south of highway, on west side of White Lake. Camping, water sports, sandy beaches winter sports...
127  Bridge over Dunc Lake 322.5 
over northern portion of Dunc Lake..
135  Cedar Lake S of hwy 312.4 
140  Junction Hwy 614 N to Manitouwadge (58 km), Roadside turnout on S side just W of junction 312.1 
Township of Manitouwadge, pop. 2300, 58 km N of highway. Home to Golden Giant gold mine...

Early 1980s, gold was discovered at Hemlo, near highway junction. Several open pit mines in the area,..

small rest stops with bathrooms just to W of junction. both sides of highway..

Prairie Lake Project uranium mine, operated by Nuinsco Resources Limited, 28 km N of Hihgway
145  Gravel Pit mine to N of hwy 321.6 
154  Passing Lake S side of hwy 260.6 
Rious Lake to S of highway, about 1.7 across...
167  Crossing Black River 240.2 
173  hwy 627, S to Pic River Indian Reserve 50 212.8 
Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation..

community of Heron Bay, 10 km S of highway, in the Pic River 50 Reserve..

mouth of Pic River is 20 km S of highway, and has sandy beaches with dunes on the N side of the river's mouth...

Pukaskwa National Park, Hattie Cove entrance. Pukaskwa is the only wilderness national park in Ontario...
173  Crossing Pic River 197.5 
Pedestrian bridge on N side of hihgway, accessed by trails along S side of highway (go figure!)..
176  East access to Marathon, all services, OPP (Marathon)  311.8 
Superior Slopes Ski Hill, just W of highway junction. Ski hill (325 ft, 11 runs) slopes away form the road...

Gravel pits on N side of highway, one a km E of junction, 1 a km W of junction...

Craig's Pit Provincial Park, 5 km SW of highway. Hiking trails to access glacial kettles in gravel beds. No facilities...

south side of highway, beside Superior Slopes Ski Hill..

Service station on N (westbound) side of highway, about 1.3 km W of this junction...
180  Peninsula Rd, (W) to north access to Marathon (5 km), all services (Marathon)  316.1 
Marathon Municipal Airport (CYSP), just NW of highway..

Town of Marathon, about 2.5 km SW of highway..

Marathon District Museum..

Mink Creek Falls..

Peninsula Golf Course, 9 holes designed by Stanley Thompson..

Best Western Airport Motor Inn..

Lakeview Manor..

Marathon Harbour Inn ..

Peninsula Inn..

Travelodge Marathon..

Wayfare Inn, /4 mile west of Marathon Intersection..

Pic River Guest Suite..

Penn Lake Park campground,2 km from highway, in-town..


Highway Point & Features


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