If you’re like many northerners who spend time outdoors, you probably enjoy seeing the fall colors arrive this time of year.
From the Quebec border near Mattawa to the Manitoba border near Lake of the Woods, the forests are ablaze with spectacular colors. And the district of Algoma surrounding Sault Ste. Marie is right in the middle of all this spectacular (yes, it’s a word!).
But like many northerners — and Lindsay Ambeault of Sault Ste. Marie is one of them — you might also take those fall colors for granted because you’ve just grown up surrounded by spectacular maples, poplars, birches and elms.
“Absolutely. I don’t think it was until I started working for the tourist train that I realized how lucky we are to have this,” Ambeault said. “And we take that for granted. We sit in our backyards and the colors are all around us. But we have people who travel around the world just to see those colors that are right next to us.
Ambeault is the operations representative for the iconic Agawa Canyon Sightseeing Train which travels north from Sault Ste. Marie daily from August to October to show off the fall colors in the Algoma District. The train line is now owned by watcoa transportation service company, but was formerly the Algoma Central Railway. She said she had to thank her mother for her appreciation of the wilderness offered by the train tour. Ambeault said his mother had worked on the railroad for more than 30 years. She herself started working on the train six years ago.
These days, she laughs at how her attitude towards nature has changed.
“Absolutely, yeah. Everything about it, the train, the wilderness, the colors, I absolutely took for granted. I thought it was boring when I was a kid.”
Ambeault said while the colors of the falls are incredible to behold, the other big attraction is the four-hour train ride to the canyon itself through wilderness in a beautiful part of northern Ontario. which features postcard scenery through the train’s large windows every few minutes. No wonder Canada is famous Group of Seven once documented this part of the country with their works of art.
Ambeault said it was his luck to be able to travel by tourist train at least once a week. Along with his professional demands, Ambeault said his favorite thing is watching the different varieties of maple trees gradually change from green to yellow to orange to red. She said that kind of scenery is what people love the most and despite the many marketing campaigns, that’s what people talk about.
“Honestly, a lot of it is word of mouth. People from other countries come because they don’t have the luxury of color-changing maple trees. So for them, it’s a really amazing thing. They literally come here for the train to see the maple trees. They come all this way. Some come from China, South Korea, Germany, Scotland, Finland, etc. They came here just to see the maple trees,” she said.
Ambeault said the one common thing is everyone telling him they love the scenery.
“They love it, everyone. I mean, the only comment that isn’t great is that they wish they had more time when they got to Agawa Canyon Park, okay, which isn’t isn’t really a negative thing. People just want more time,” she added. said.
The train did not run in the first year of the pandemic and only made a U-turn in the second year in 2021.
“This year has been a great year, especially coming out of COVID people who just want to do things and so they’re very happy to be able to do that.”
Ambeault said from his observations that about two-thirds of visitors come from Canada and the United States. The others are visitors from other countries of the world.
Once the train arrives at the canyon site, there is a park where passengers can get off the train and spend 90 minutes enjoying the scenery. This includes local hiking trails as well as a 300 step jaunt to an elevated viewing area.
She added that most of the daily 900-seat train tours are sold out, but there are usually last-minute tickets sold out every morning. The Agawa Canyon Tour Train departs from a newly constructed station at 99 Huron Street in Sault Ste. The historic Canal de Marie district, adjacent to the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the 8 AM departure time. Free parking is available. Le Soo nearby the waterfront is the perfect place to explore the city before and after your trip.
If you are wondering when is the best time to go out and see the trees, you can check out the Ontario Parks website which has a fall color guide to let you know where to go and when.
Tickets for the tourist train can be purchased online.
If you miss the train or can’t book tickets, don’t worry, you can still take a ride in the fall colors most parts of Northern Ontario.
Len Gillis is a reporter for Sudbury.com. Bold is made possible through our Community Leaders program.