Soo Locks and into Ontario

12 Jul

We arrived in Sault St Marie on the 4th of July and were surprised by how down beat the day seemed. We had expected the Independence Day Celebrations to be a lively affair. Maybe it was something to do with the sudden increase in heat and humidity that caused our fellow campers to lounge around most of the afternoon. A parade was due to take place in the town main street around 8pm followed by fireworks at the park. We opted to join the laid back gang and sauntered to the waters edge in the campground with picnic chairs around 9.15 pm to watch the fireworks. It was still around 75 degrees even after the sun had gone down a comfortable temperature to sit and watch the display.

It did rain overnight but next morning was just as humid. As we were preparing to walk to the locks a huge boat came into sight on the water in front of us.


Twenty five minutes and a mile and a half later we caught up with it as it entered the lock.


The lock allows boats to navigate from Lake Superior along the St Marys river and into Lake Huron (or the opposite direction) ultimately it allows vessels to travel from the Atlantic through the Great Lakes and into the Mississippi finally arriving at the Gulf of Mexico although few do complete this full passage.

Viewing platforms allow the public to gain a birds eye view of the passing vessels, it was amazing how patiently the crowd of people were, standing watching the huge craft inch slowly upwards as the water flowed into the lock. Eventually it towered above us even more until the gates were opened to allow it to move on into Lake Huron to continue its voyage.


The visitors centre just behind the locks gives information about the history and mechanics of the locks along with history of the first people, the Indians who lived on the land here. We noticed on the board in the centre a list of boats due to pass through the locks that day, we had just seen the Richelieu which was 730 ft x 77ft, the longest boats to navigate the locks are 1000 ft and at 3pm one of these was due. We opted to walk back to the campground for some lunch knowing we would be able to spot the boat as it passed us and still get to the locks in time.


There she blows!

We expected to spot the boat at around 2.30 it was early…we quickly got on our shoes locked up and began the mile and a half brisk walk back to the locks, again just managing to get there as it made its way into the lock.

This time it was in the lock slightly further over, I am not sure if it was because it was further away but it just did not look 250ft longer than the other one!



However it still proved impossible to get the whole boat in one picture!

By comparison the little tourist boats were minute as the big boat was going up they were going down, the top of the mast just visible below maybe gives some perspective to the size of the bigger vessel.


Next day we crossed over the International Bridge from Soo Michigan to Sault St Marie Ontario Canada with one of the most uneventful border crossings ever and the pleasantest of Border Patrol Guards. We had booked two nights at the campground in Elliot Lake to enable us to meet up with an ex Ashington, Northumberland couple, Doreen and Joe whom we had previously met in Munising, Michigan.

Temperatures across the region were soaring in a heat wave backlash from the first hurricane/tropical storm of the season but we enjoyed a great evening of chat and gossip with Doreen and Joe who arranged to collect us next day and take us a drive of the area.

Ontario is a huge Province with vast expanses of land without roads, or that is how it looks on the Provincial map, one road the 108 leaves  highway 17 and heads up to Elliot Lake, passes through the town and then the road continues for 15 or so more miles towards Mississagi Provincial Park and onwards to wilderness.

Joe and Doreen drove us several miles along the 108 from Elliot Lake to the fire look out point where we got a 360degree view all be it a little hazy from the heat, we then drove on to a Lodge for a lovely lunch, sat outside near the lake. A stroll after lunch took us alongside a waterfall and up to the upper lake. Small cabins dotted among the trees are available to rent and the vacationers could enjoy dabbling their toes in the cool water whilst sitting on the rustic chairs positioned on the rocks, very inviting on such a hot afternoon.

P1140005 (Yes the colour is a little blue – don’t ask!)

All along the road as we travelled back to Elliot Lake were small lakes which were possible haunts for Moose but any sensible creature was either under water or hiding in the shade until the heat of the day passed by.

With only a few days left before we fly to England we made our way from Elliot Lake towards Toronto with out much to relate except that finally the heat wave broke and for one night we were able to enjoy a cool sleep. We were disappointed to have driven around 400 within throwing distance of Lake Huron without being able to camp alongside it. Much of the waterfront is inaccessible either because it is wooded or residential. 

We are now at Caledon, about 30min drive from Toronto and will spend the next few days getting haRVey ready to put into storage until our return in September.

So my next blog I expect to be from UK soil….. look out for it soon….


One Response to “Soo Locks and into Ontario”

  1. Susan July 14, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Lake Huron IS beautiful-it reminds me of the Caribbean.
    We used to keep our boat on Lake St. Clair, and several times we boated up to Lake Huron.
    Have a great time back home-post when you can.

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