Getty Images/All Canada Photos

Northern Ontario

'Big' is a theme in Northern Ontario. The area is so vast that it could fit six Englands and still have room for a Scotland or two. Industry is big here, too: most of the world's silver and nickel ore comes from local mines, while boundless forests have made the region a key timber producer. What's not so big is the local population; as of the most recent census, none of the cities have over 100,000 residents.

Two main highways weave an intersecting course across the province. Hwy 17 (the Trans-Canada) unveils the area's scenic pièce de résistance, the northern crest over Lake Superior. From Sudbury, misty fjord-like passages hide isolated beaches among dense thickets of pine, cedar and birch. Further north, Hwy 11 traverses through Cochrane – where the Polar Bear Express connects to Moosonee – to Thunder Bay, the intersection of the two highways.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northern Ontario.