A Manitoban's Guide to Sunset Country

Helping you navigate your trip
Gerry Cariou
By Gerry Cariou

Gerry Cariou is the Executive Director of Ontario's Sunset Country.

Last Updated: July 8, 2020

Your Guide to Vacationing in Ontario's Sunset Country

Let's all admit that 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride with COVID-19 dominating not only the news headlines but all of our lives. Given the situation we're in, many people are looking this summer to vacation in a safe environment that is close to home. For the people who live in Manitoba, Ontario's Sunset Country is definitely a place you should consider. Not only are we right next door our sprawling landscape of lakes and forests is about as safe a place as you can get when it comes to choosing a summer vacation destination.

In Sunset Country, there are more lakes than people and if you love to experience nature, this is a place you can do that. We are an ideal family vacation destination with a wide variety of activities to keep your kids engaged and happy. This article has been written to help you navigate your trip and learn more about what a visit here entails. We're biased of course but think this is the ideal place for travellers from Manitoba to visit this summer. Read on and you'll see why we think that.

Aurora Borealis over Lake of the Woods Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where exactly is Ontario's Sunset Country?

A: Well, it's the area of Ontario that most Manitoba folks refer to as "Northwestern Ontario" - you see us on your nightly weather reports on TV. We're your next-door neighbours and our historical ties are strong. The Ontario-Manitoba border is just a 1 hour and15-minute drive from Winnipeg and then the fun begins from there.

Sunset Country gets its name from the fact we are the last part of Ontario where the sun sets each day - hence Ontario's Sunset Country. Our southern border is with the US state of Minnesota and our eastern boundary is roughly in line with Upsala, Ontario. The Sunset Country region extends north all the way to Hudson Bay covering about 100,000 square kilometres in total!

Q: As a Manitoba resident, do I still have to self-isolate for 14-days upon returning to Manitoba after visiting Sunset Country?

A: No, you do not have to self-isolate anymore. As of June 26, 2020, the Government of Manitoba removed this requirement as long as residents don't go any further east than Terrace Bay, Ontario, you and anyone travelling with you are exempt from the self-isolation order. No conditions apply to Manitoba residents once in Ontario other than standard social distancing rules. For more info see the Manitoba Government COVID-19 website.

Q: Are people from Manitoba welcome in the region?

A: While some have said things about people travelling here, that was back in early May. Since then all of us have worked hard to flatten the curve and it worked! Be assured you are welcome and wanted here. Our area depends on tourism in the summer months.

Q: What accommodation options are available?

A: The short answer is all kinds are available including:

Lodges in Ontario's Sunset Country

Towns & Cities in Sunset Country

Our region is dotted with many small towns and cities. Here's a quick overview of some places you can visit:

Atikokan: Located just north of the famous Quetico Provincial Park, many of you may have visited this sleepy town if you love to paddle. Quetico is a world-class canoe destination and has been for over a century. The area is in Seine River Country and there are many interconnected lakes and some of the best trout lakes in Sunset Country are near Atikokan. More info: Tourism Atikokan

Dryden: This mill town is a major service center for just about everyone in Sunset Country and a great place to stop and visit. Located smack dab in the center of the region, you can get to just about anywhere from Dryden. There are many lodges and resorts located in the area and some nice hotels are in Dryden. Aaron Provincial Park just east of town is a great place to stop More information: Dryden Tourism

Ear Falls: Located on the western shore of famous Lac Seul, Ear Falls proudly calls itself the Bald Eagle Capital with countless sightings of this majestic bird around the community. Lac Seul is a walleye factory for those who love to fish, and there are many resorts around the community. In town, you can stock up on all the needed supplies for your vacation. More info: Town of Ear Falls 

Ear Falls Ontario Bald Eagle capital

Emo: This small town located between Fort Frances and Rainy River is an important service centre for a vigorous agricultural community in the area - one of the few in Sunset Country. Did you know one of the smallest churches in the world - The Norlund Chapel - is located here? The area is also close to some excellent fishing lakes and there are many retailers in town and a hospital. More info: Emo Facebook page

Fort Frances: One of the largest and certainly the oldest community in Sunset Country is Fort Frances, located on the US/Canada border and along the shores of beautiful Rainy Lake. Rainy Lake is known far and wide as one of the continent's premier fisheries for smallmouth bass and there is also excellent pike, walleye and crappie fishing on the lake. There are lots of places to shop and some nice hotels in town. More Info: fishrainylake.ca

Ignace: Located on Highway 17 between Thunder Bay and Dryden, Ignace is still a drivable destination for Manitoba visitors. While it may take you a little longer to get there, the town's location on Agimak Lake makes the drive worthwhile. This lake is great to swim in and the beach in town is really nice. There are many lodges and resorts located on lakes in the vicinity of the town. More info: Visit Ignace

Raleigh Falls in Ignace, Ontario

Kenora: The largest community in Ontario's Sunset Country, Kenora is a well-known tourism destination. It is also the first community someone from Manitoba encounters after crossing the border into Ontario. Kenora is a popular vacation destination for the day, weekend or the week. There is certainly a lot to do as there are 5 beaches you can visit in town! More information: Tourism Kenora

Kakabeka Falls: Located about 20 kilometres east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the highlight of this small community is what many call the "Niagara of the North". Kakabeka Falls are magnificent especially in the spring and after heavy rainfalls. The gorge and falls can be safely viewed from observation decks in the Provincial Park, the entrance to which is located right in town. Campsites are also available and there are several lodges in the area. More Info: Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

Minaki: Located just 45 minutes north of the City of Kenora, Minaki is situated on the mighty Winnipeg River and is home to a number of drive-in accessible fishing lodges. Minaki was once the location of the famous Minaki Lodge but it burned down over a decade ago. The area is a great place to visit and spend some time outdoors!

Morson: Located on the southern shore of Lake of the Woods, Morson is a true tourism community with dozens of lodges and resorts calling the area home. This part of Lake of the Woods offers spectacular fishing with many islands and tranquil back bays. The muskie fishing is really good on this part of the lake! More info: Morson Tourism Association

Morson Ontario resorts and lodges

Nestor Falls: Tourism is what the small community of Nestor Falls is all about. Now amalgamated with Sioux Narrows, Nestor Falls is the smaller of the two communities but it is well worth a visit. See the water flow from Crooked Pine Lake into Lake of the Woods at the falls and giving the town its name. There are many resorts and lodges on this part of the lake. More information: snnf.ca

Perrault Falls: This sleepy place is definitely potential if you blink you might miss it but Perrault Falls is a place you could definitely fall in love with. Located just south of Ear Falls on Hwy 105, the area has some great lodge destinations offering access to the Perrault Falls Adventure Area and Cedar River watershed. There is spectacular fishing in this part of Sunset Country! More info: Perrault Falls Adventure Area

Pickle Lake: Known as "Ontario's Last Frontier" Pickle Lake is literally at the end of the road. Located at the terminus of Highway 599, it is definitely worth the long trip to Pickle, especially if you love fishing. Incredible Lake St. Joseph and other lakes in the area offer a world-class angling experience, beyond most anything else. More Info: Township of Pickle Lake

Fishing near Pickle Lake, Ontario

Rainy River: This railroad town and service centre for the Lake of the Woods Township is an important border entry point for US visitors into Sunset Country but not this year. You can get to Rainy River from Manitoba by taking the bypass north of Kenora on 17 and then go south on Highway 71 just past Kenora then west on Highway 11. Bucket lister is a trip to the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre. For more info: Town of Rainy River or Township of Morley

Red Lake: Red Lake Municipality is known as one of the largest gold camps in the world but it is also a big tourism destination. The Municipality is adjacent to many lakes, rivers and streams offering spectacular fishing. There are many remote outpost operators based in the Red Lake area. The Red Lake Heritage Centre is a star attraction in town. More info: Highway 105 Tourism & Marketing Board

Sioux Lookout: Located up Highway 572 just past Dryden is the community of Sioux Lookout on beautiful Pelican Lake.  The area is home to the Minnitaki Chain of Lakes and the fishing is off the charts goods. Many area lodges are waiting to serve a Manitoba clientele> Sioux Lookout is a major service centre in Sunset Country and has the largest hospital in the entire region and the busiest airport. More Info: Sioux Lookout Chamber of Commerce

Red Lake Norseman Park

Sioux Narrows: Located on the east side of Lake of the Woods, Sioux Narrows is a popular travel destination for tourists from just about anywhere. Very accessible to people from Manitoba, there are many resorts, lodges and camping choices available in the area. Some of the best gift shops in Sunset Country are in Sioux Narrows. More info: Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls Tourism

Shebandowan/Armstrong: Both these destinations are, technically-speaking, in the Superior Country region of Ontario but we have a few members in these towns. The fishing is excellent and Armstrong is used as a gateway into Wabakimi Provincial Park by paddlers and anglers alike. 

Thunder Bay: The one large city in Northwestern Ontario is Thunder Bay and for you folks from Manitoba, the city is well within the permitted travel zone where you don't have to self-isolate when returning to MB. There is a lot to see and do and check out the waterfront development. For more info visit Tourism Thunder Bay.

Vermilion Bay: This quiet town on Highway 17 offers access to the waters of famous Eagle Lake, the Indian Lake Chain and many others. In town, you can find supplies at excellent retail stores and for the kids, stop in at Fort Vermilion. Vermilion Bay is the location where the Red Lake Road begins with access to more great outdoor vacations. Blue Lake Provincial Park is just north of Vermilion Bay and a must-stop is Egli's Sheep Farm in Minnitaki, just east of town.

Additional Travel Information

Hospitals in Sunset Country

EMERGENCY (Ambulance, Police, Fire): CALL 911

Atikokan: Atikokan General Hospital 120 Dorothy St. (807) 597-4215

Dryden: Dryden Regional Health Centre 58 Goodall St (807) 223-8200

Ear Falls: Ear Falls Community Health Centre Spruce Street (807) 222-3728 (closes at 5 PM closest hospital is in Red Lake)

Emo: Emo Health Centre 170 Front St riversidehealthcare.ca

Fort Frances: La Verendrye Hospital 110 Victoria Avenue (807) 274-3261

Ignace:  Mary Berglund Community Health Centre Main Street, Ignace (807) 934-2251 (open until 4:30 PM closest hospital is in Dryden)

Kenora: Lake of the Woods District Hospital 21 Sylvan St (807) 468-9861

Morson: No hospital, the nearest hospital is in Rainy River (807) 274-3261

Pickle Lake: Pickle Lake Health Clinic (807) 928-2047

Rainy River: Rainy River Medical Centre 115 4th St (807) 274-3261

Red Lake:  Margaret Couchenour Memorial Hospital 51 ON-105 (807) 727-2231

Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls: 2 choices - Sioux Narrows go to Lake of the Woods District Hospital (see contact info under Kenora) or Nestor Falls, go to La Verendrye Health Centre (Fort Frances) or Riverside Health Centre (Emo)

Sioux Lookout: Meno Ya Win Health Centre 1 Meno Ya Win Way (807) 737-3030

Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre 980 Oliver Rd (807) 684-6000

Fort Frances Ontario waterfront

Liquor Control Board of Ontario: Find the store nearest to your location here. The age of majority in Ontario is 19.

Ontario Cannabis Store: The only store is in Thunder Bay. The age of majority in Ontario is 19.

Shopping: Ontario's Sunset Country Shops and Restaurants 

Events: Many events have been cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Our events Facebook Page is likely the best source of information on events that may still happen. 

Provincial Parks: Locate a Provincial Park using the Park Locator

Ontario COVID-19 Resources/Info: Click Here

Planning Your Trip: Get your FREE copy of the 2020 Sunset Country Guide & Map

The reason we call it Sunset Country