She's also another one of those super handy DIYers that put me and mine to shame. I should hate her for how much she can accomplish with a sewing machine, but she's cool so instead of being insanely jealous, I'm just a super fan of hers. Oh, and it helps that she totally gets my humor and isn't offended when I go on a rant about something or other on Twitter. In fact, she's been known to encourage me a time or two.
But I digress ... take a moment, sit back, and learn to love Canada.
When Becky mentioned that she was looking to do blog collaborations or guest posts featuring favourite trips or vacation spots of other bloggers while she was away in Scotland (!!) I was flattered that she extended the invitation to me, considering that I'm no where near as well travelled as many of the other bloggers she was connecting with and not to mention that my own blog has slipped into a vegetative state. But I was also a little daunted, having only gone to Vancouver briefly this year and considering that I don't really count driving three hours to see family on a weekend as "vacation" or a full fledged trip as it's become our norm, I was a little uncertain what I could offer.
Then it hit me: I live in one of the largest tourist regions of Canada, with over 10 million visitors to the area per year— I live in a coveted vacation destination year round. That I get to live somewhere so immersed in nature is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life (aside from family, health and freedoms of course), and is something I constantly want to share with others who may not be so lucky.
"Northwestern Ontario is the region within the Canadian province of Ontario which lies north and west of Lake Superior, and west of Hudson Bay and James Bay. It includes most of subarctic Ontario" (from Wikipedia) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
What draws visitors to "Sunset Country" (Northwestern Ontario) is the appeal of outdoor adventures among pristine wilderness. With literal unending tracts of boreal forests, the region draws visitors from around the globe and is known internationally as "the land of lakes" because you can barely turn around without finding another one. With a geographical area of 526,372 km² and over 200,000 lakes to swim, fish, kayak, canoe or camp on there is much to be said about the rugged wilderness that lays to the lesser known (and sparsely populated) western half of my province.
Fishing, hunting and Eco-tourism are the big three reasons people come to Northwestern Ontario. Okay, big fish are probably the number one reason most tourists flock here but only because that is what we are best known for, ridiculous monster fish. Each town or city hosts its own fishing tournament annually some of which are internationally renowned which lends to the local legends that "the fish are bigger up north" including the KBI (http://www.kbifishing.com/), Annual Souix Narrows Bass tournament (http://www.bassinforbucks.
com/), the Fall Classic (http://redlakefallclassic. com/), and the Walleye Masters (http://drydenwalleyemasters. com/) there is always something for the avid sportsmen or angler.
From remote fly-in camps to drive-in resorts and guided tours there are endless options for those looking to see wildlife up close and personal. Whether you want to rent a cabin on a quiet lake, a condo on Bustling Lake of The Woods, or rough it in a tent on crown land or in one of our numerous provincial parks, there's something for everyone. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, water-sports, even houseboat rentals, there is always something to do on the lake.
Even if the great outdoors aren't your thing there is shopping and entertainment year round to be enjoyed at the many local museums, boutiques, art galleries, pubs, theatres open mic nights and numerous restaurants throughout the region. Or take in the expansive beauty of Sunset Country with a Float plane tour if you don't want to get up close and personal with nature.
The climate might leave something to be desired to those used to more temperate weather, our winters are long and cold and our summers are relatively short but moderately warm without being stiflingly hot or unbearable. To most I would recommend visiting the region between May and September and if you're inclined to only the fairest weather June through August would provided the warmest, sunniest days.
With so many lakes and rivers, the region is littered with miles of pristine beaches, private coves, and more waterfalls and rapids than I can count. Perfect for a summer getaway. If you've ever wanted to take a lengthy canoe or kayak trip, I would strongly suggest considering the Rainy River chain as you can easily travel from one end of the region to another completely immersed in nature. If you're not the type to "rough it" and would rather the convenience of a less remote spot, each town and city in the region boasts public access to at least two beaches (often more) and several lakes, where boat rentals and guided tours are available daily.
Aside from outdoorsy activities, there are numerous festivals, tournaments and attractions held annually—most held during the fairer summer months—such as Habourfest in Kenora, the Blueberry Festival in Souix Lookout, Dryden Days & the Blue Moon Music Festival in Dryden, Norseman Days in Red Lake, The Trout Forest Music Festival in Ear Falls to name a few, plus many typical county "agricultural" fairs.
I've read a number of references and reviews saying to never visit Northwestern Ontario during the winter because it's "too cold" or because there's "too much snow" or "nothing to do" and I have to laugh at the shortsightedness of those remarks. Northwestern Ontario isn't your typical travel destination: people come for the nature, a place to "get away from it all." Period. Just because some of the resorts and cabin rentals shut down during the winter months and there aren't as many festivals doesn't mean there aren't things to do. If you love the great outdoors and winter then Sunset Country still has much to offer in those cold snowy months, be it skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing or just watching the Aurora Borealis at night Northwestern Ontario still offers itself as a wilderness getaway while the snow is on the ground. Though, as a year round resident I would caution against travel during January as it tends to be the coldest and have the least favourable weather out of the year.