There are a lot of unique experiences to have in Northwestern Ontario, like reeling in a walleye as big as your arm on the Kaministiquia River or the thrill of climbing a frozen waterfall.
But how about indulging in some trapper-era nostalgia? We're talking about dogsledding through Ontario's untouched, snow-covered wilderness. Travelling behind a team of dogs hustling through a pristine natural landscape unreachable by car, does it get any more Canadian than that?
Ready to experience it firsthand?
When it comes to dog sledding in the Thunder Bay area, two companies lead the pack. (Pardon the pun!)
Borealis Dogsled Adventures, Vermilion Bay
"Dog sledding lives at the intersection of skill and chaos," or so says the deep, resonating voice of musher Burton Penner in the opening of the award-winning short documentary Pull. Longtime outdoorsman, Penner operates Borealis Dogsled Adventures in Vermilion Bay. He has spent his life beside his dogs and now brings expertise to intrepid guests.
Penner leads teams down ancient Ojibiway trapper trails that showcase some of the most serene and rugged wilderness in Northern Ontario. Adventurers can opt for tours spanning a single day or those lasting up to four, complete with camping out on the trail.
When wilderness is this wild you can be assured the trail camps offer rustic appeal. With warm tents and trapper cabins, and hearty meals of moose, grouse, and fish, riders are treated to a complete and authentic dog sledding experience. The view from the sled is pretty good too!
Borealis Dogsled Adventures is just 400-km west of Thunder Bay. Or rather, just down the road in Northern Ontario terms.
Don't leave Vermilion Bay before...
chowing down on some BBQ.
Peckish outdoor adventurers should know that Vermilion Bay is home to Buster's BBQ. With the reputation of best BBQ joint north of the American South, a visit to the area isn't complete without dining in. Award-winning and featured on the Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here," it dishes up finger-licking Kansas-style ribs, Texas-style brisket, and Canadian pulled pork; the perfect way to wrap a day out in the snow.
Boreal Journeys, Thunder Bay
Those who want to stick closer to Thunder Bay should consider Boreal Journeys. Choose from a custom half day adventure, moonlit night runs, and family runs. If you're up for it, venture on a five day wilderness experience for full immersion into the musher lifestyle.
What can you expect? All tours, no matter how long or short, offer ample time to play with the pups, all of which were adopted or bred from past Iditarod participants. Throughout the trip, adventurers are well fed and made comfortable in their accommodations. Don't be surprised if you find yourself seated in hosts Paul and Andrena's homes in Thunder Bay, listening to trail tales.
During multi-day journeys, rider accommodations include camping in heated canvas tents or cozy B&B-style lodgings. Meals are hearty, made from locally sourced ingredients. While the dogs are thrilled to take guests deep into the Northwestern Ontario wilderness, tours also take visitors around Thunder Bay's unique shopping districts, museums and galleries. (On foot.) These mixed activity itineraries afford the pups well-deserved breaks while visitors learn more about the cultural and natural history of the area.
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