secondary region in Ontario, Canada
North America > Canada > Ontario > Northern Ontario > Northwestern Ontario

Northwestern Ontario is a region in remote Northern Ontario.

Cities edit

Map of Northwestern Ontario

  • 1 Fort Frances — a popular fishing destination on the American border
  • 2 Dryden — home of Maximillian the Moose, an 18 ft (5.5 m) tall statue
  • 3 Kenora — a vacation resort town
  • 4 Lake of the Woods — a caring, fishing and boating destination
  • 5 Rainy River — a border town between Canada and Northwestern Minnesota in the United States
  • 6 Red Lake — a growing centre for ecotourism, sport fishing, and hunting
  • 7 Sioux Lookout — a summer destination for fishing

Other destinations edit

Understand edit

In the far west of the province, Ontario's Rainy River District is part of the so-called M.O.M. region, where Manitoba borders Ontario and Minnesota. This area is in the Central time zone.

Sparsely-populated Kenora District covers 407,213 km² (almost 38% of the province's land area), extending north to Hudson's Bay and including most of the Ontario-Manitoba border. This area is in the Central time zone.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Bearskin Airlines (based in Thunder Bay) provides services to various smaller communities in Northern Ontario, including Red Lake, Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Kenora from Winnipeg.

By bus edit

Ontario Northland operates the following routes in the region as of Dec 2023:

  • Thunder Bay - Sault Ste. Marie
  • Thunder Bay - Kenora - Winnipeg

Kasper Bus serves these routes as of Dec 2023:

  • Thunder Bay - Longlac
  • Thunder Bay - Sioux Lookout-Winnipeg
  • Thunder Bay - White River

By train edit

Via Rail provides service from Toronto, Parry Sound and Sudbury Junction (10 km from the city), Hornepayne, and Longlac, to Sioux Lookout and several minor stops, through to Winnipeg, Manitoba and westward.

Get around edit

Highway 17 from Thunder Bay through Kenora to the Manitoba border, and Highway 11 from Thunder Bay through Fort Frances and Rainy River to the U.S. border are the principal routes. Highway 71 connects Kenora to Fort Frances.

Aside from the bus and train services listed in "Get in", there is little public transportation.

See edit

Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Manitou Mounds) 33 km from Rainy River, is one of the most significant centres of early habitation and ceremonial burial in Canada. The centre offers interpretive tours and galleries, a collections space with over 16,000 artifacts, a gift shop that showcases artwork by local Indigenous artists, and a restaurant that serves traditional Ojibway cuisine.

The M.S. Kenora cruise is a great way to experience the splendour of Lake of the Woods. The cruise passes by Coney Island beach, through the scenic channels south of Kenora, and returns through the exciting ‘Devil’s Gap’, a channel guarded by a mythical rock bearing its name. Bald eagles and wildlife can also be sighted.


You can see palsa in the far north. Palsas are peat mounds with permanently frozen peat and mineral in the core.

Do edit

The loop from Thunder Bay through Kenora and Fort Frances via Highways 17, 71 and 11 is a beautiful, 1,050-km scenic drive.

The three provincial parks listed above provide great opportunities for hiking, camping and canoeing. Hiking trails are marked.

Many towns through the region have outfitters who will equip you with everything you need for fishing, hunting, wilderness canoeing and camping or snowmobiling trips, and can provide guides, or organize the whole trip for you, often to remote private lodges, some accessible only by float planes.

Stay safe edit

Cell/mobile phone service is not available on many stretches of highways through the region, even those most travelled (Highways 11 and 17). You will have service in and around cities and towns, but you should bring some emergency supplies in the case of a breakdown, such as water, blankets, and food.

Summer edit

Black flies and mosquitoes are abundant throughout Northwestern Ontario. To protect yourself when camping or hiking, wear long sleeve shirts (white or brightly coloured), thick socks, and long pants (tuck the pants into the socks), and apply insect repellent containing DEET. A mosquito net can be nicer than applying repellent to your face. Also some type of bug netting in your tent is advised. Flies are most active at dawn and dusk between mid-June and late July.

Winter edit

Winter driving can be treacherous, given the inclement winters here. Be prepared to adjust or cancel travel plans should the weather conditions require it.

Go next edit

This region travel guide to Northwestern Ontario is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.