Archives – First Person – David Coward, Brewster’s Lake

PAR David Coward Posted on

*This article was published in Vol. 51 No. 6 of Cycle Canada digital magazine.

Last summer I had an amazing pandemic motorcycle road trip to Ontario’s near North with two great friends, Brian and Mike. I left on a Saturday and headed northeast, cutting around the bottom of Georgian Bay, to meet Brian in Waubaushene, and from there we headed up to North Bay, meeting Mike at a trailer park on the shore of Lake Nipissing. It was a hot night, so after a good dinner at the Crown and Beaver Pub we walked down to the lake for a swim.

Sunday morning, we headed northeast on Hwy 63 into Quebec, then along provincial road 101 to Rouyn-Noranda, where he had brunch. Another hot day so we stopped at the Kiwanis Park for a swim, but the water was so warm it didn’t refresh us. We next travelled east to Esker Lakes Provincial Park, had dinner at a Kirkland Lake burrito joint, then hit the beach for more swimming—another hot night, and we were kept up by some drunk idiots from Barrie who partied till 4:30 in the campsite across from us.

On Monday we rode to Timmins and had breakfast at Tourjours Mike’s, a fantastic place. Then we headed north on Ontario Hwy 655 to meet up with the TCA, Hwy 11. We spent that night at Renne Brunelle Provincial Park and the swimming was the best so far. We rode into Kapuskasing and were saddened by the depressed state of the town, but dinner at O’Brien’s was great.

On Tuesday, Brian checked the weather and we put on rain gear. Despite Brian’s assurance that we’d be okay, we rode into a serious storm just before Kapuskasing, with cars pulling off the road. We found a picnic shelter and stayed there until the storm eased up, then rode to Longlac, where we pulled over in front of a restaurant and were greeted by the town prostitute, who offered her services before we even had our helmets off. When we said no thanks, she pulled a beer out of her shirt and offered to sell it to us. Again, we said no thanks. She replied that she thought Mike was very handsome and invited him to a party. We decided that we didn’t want to leave our packed bikes on the town’s main street and headed out in the raid to Geraldton, where businesses were boarded up and abandoned. We got some Chinese food and chicken and headed to a park by the town’s administration offices. The whole area was in Phase 2 of the pandemic plan; restaurants were not allowed to use outdoor patios, and First Nations were restricting visitors.

We headed to MacLeod Provincial Park, where a couple of retired sisters who said they got together every year for six weeks of camping joined us around the campfire for a nice evening. The lake there is the summer home to a colony of pelicans, and in the morning, when a huge bald eagle swooped down over the lake, I truly felt that I was on vacation and the eagle was the symbol of my inner peace. We went for a swim before breakfast and it was great. I love swimming and I would swim at every lake and river I passed if I could. Brian is not as excited about swimming, but the Provincial Park showers were not open because of the virus so it was the only way to get the road stink off.

Wednesday turned out to be the best day of motorcycle riding in my life. We headed west on Highway 11 and we rode through the mountains surrounding Lake Nipigon. The ride from Jellico to Nipigon is the most amazing road: 500 foot granite cliffs on one side and lakes and rivers on the other side. We had lunch in Nipigon and Mike noticed that Brian’s rear tire looked soft. He pulled out his puncture kit and put a plug in the hole and re-inflated his tire, but the patch didn’t create a good seal, though he was still able to ride. So Brian headed to a dealership in Thunder Bay, and Mike and I rode south along Hwy 17 to Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. The road south from Nipigon to Rainbow Falls was breathtaking and the Provincial Park was the best that we stayed at during the whole trip.

On Thursday, Brian met us in the afternoon at Terrace Bay, which was an amazing place. Maybe I can convince Barb that we should retire to Terrace Bay one day! Brian joined us as we were having a picnic lunch on the beach on Lake Superior. We followed Highway 17 south to Wawa, and the 20 km between Wawa and Lake Superior Provincial Park might be the most beautiful 20 km on the planet.

In the morning, we backtracked to Wawa and then headed east on 101. We had a picnic lunch on the river at Chapleau and then headed south on Highway 129. There is a YouTube video that calls 129 “Ontario’s Tail of the Dragon.” I’ve never ridden the infamous Tail of the Dragon but I know that 129 is a superb ride. It was also our longest ride of the vacation, getting close to 500 km. We camped at Serpent River and we had a brilliant whitefish  dinner at a chip truck in Spanish.

Saturday morning Brian and I headed to South Baymouth to catch the Chi-Cheemaun ferry to Tobermory and Mike went east back to Montreal. Once we reached the Bruce Peninsula the number of cars on the road was truly stressful. I could not believe the number of cars heading north and I was glad to be heading in the opposite direction. We skirted Owen Sound and jumped on Grey Road 40 to avoid the highway 26 traffic. I arrived home at 3:30 in the afternoon. A brilliant trip with great friends and I am itching to head back up to Superior again soon.

First Person is dedicated to readers of Cycle Canada. Tell us about a motorcycle trip, tale or experience that you won’t soon forget.

Contributors will be granted a free 3-year subscription to the magazine. Send by email 500 words and a photograph.


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