Seeking Eastern Canada riding advice

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Infracaninophile, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. Infracaninophile

    Infracaninophile Finding My Way..

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    Hello:

    Plan on making a trek through some of eastern Canada in early June. Would welcome some advice on places to see, roads to take, roads to avoid.

    I'm heading from Colorado to Massachussetts for a family reunion. Will ride my Adventure.

    My plan is to ride north and east out of Colorado and enter Canada at either Thunder Bay, Ontario or perhaps Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Wind my way east via whatever roads that look good, etc.. over to Nova Scotia and perhaps PEI. Would like to visit Newfoundland but I only have 2 1/2 weeks total for the entire trip with the reunion and return blitz drive taking up about 1 week. So, I have about 10-12 days to ride from Colorado to NS and then back to Dunstable, MA.

    So, being the typical American my knowledge of Canada is pretty bleak. I've secured some decent Canada maps and it looks kind of sparse up there. From Thunder Bay it looks like Route 11 heads in the right direction over towards Kirlkland Lake. Looks like 66 and 117 over to Val-D'Or and then a big loop up north via 113 and then 167 over to Roberval. Looks like I've got to go SW to Quebec and then back NE on 20 and 132 to Grand-Callee and then circle back around SW to Restigouche and then down to Miramichi and then over to PEI and NS.

    I definitely want to come back via Madawaska, Maine just to say I've been to the most NE corner of the US (not sure why, it just appeals to me).

    However, I'd sure like to take in some more scenic or smaller roads if possible.

    So, can you please help out a totally clueless American? Either reply here to to me at tom_vervaeke@yahoo.com.

    Thanks,

    Tom
    #1
  2. kelsow

    kelsow Long timer

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    #2
  3. driller

    driller Twist and Go

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    Kelsow is right. You MUST ride Cape Breton. I was out there last September for a week and there was barely enough time to just do NS. We took the "Cat" over from Bar Harbour-takes about 3 hrs and saves you most of a days riding to get to NS.
    Another way to get over is to take the Scotia Prince over from Portland. It is an elegant way to arrive at about 8:00AM after an overnight passage. You can eat, drink, generally party the way over. :freaky The trip sounds like a blast.
    My only other advise is that you just can't make the kind of road time you are used to out in Colorado so don't underestimate the time needed to get anywhere in Maine or the Maritimes. Look us up here in Western Maine.
    Driller
    #3
  4. Shazam*

    Shazam* Been here awhile

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    Hey
    I am from NS, and posted a few times on riding there.
    Do a search on my name and Nova Scotia, 'cause I ain't typing it again. (sorry)
    Drop me a line... might be able to find a place for you if you need a place when passing through TO.
    East of Toronto, well, you are going to have to make some time.
    If you are really in a hurry, you can fly on the 401, If not, take the 2? along the shore.
    Some beautiful areas in Quebec, but try to get off the beaten path.
    From TO to Halifax took me ~18 hours in the van in winter. You might be able to make it faster, but I was cruising at 120km/h so you risk tickets.
    The roads in NB have improved dramatically in the last few years, but gas stops seem to be more spaced out, so stop early.
    in NS, do CB, but also check out the South Shore. (odd thing, along the south shore of NS, if you are east of Halifax it is the eastern shore, west of halifax it is the south shore. on the north side, you have the fundy and cumberland shores.
    Hmmmm...
    Avoid Montreal at rush hour. They are lunatics, and it is usually pretty nervewracking.
    Drif10 is probably better for advising you on eastern Ontario. Bug him.
    For the extra couple hours, swing down to Niagra Falls and snap a pic (avoid it on weekends though), also swing up to Ottawa just so you can say you've been there.
    Have fun.
    Buy a digital camera
    Post pics.
    #4
  5. boxermoose

    boxermoose Regressive airhead Supporter

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    Stay off #11 - boooooooring

    #17 along the north shore is much nicer - new pavement and twisty's, watch for tourists either way. You can take it down to Ottawa if you want to miss the falls

    There is supposed to be a very nice road from Espanola to Chapplo (?)
    134 or something like that - there is a Max Burns book - On any Wednesday that details this area

    If you're going to be around Niagara Falls PM me - I'm about a 1/2 hour away and I'll make sure the beverages are cold

    Al
    #5
  6. Snivly Dweeb

    Snivly Dweeb Been here awhile

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    Thats a trip and a half :eek1

    Practically the question would be how far do you expect to ride in a day?
    What type of riding are you looking for?
    Thunder bay to the Big Smokey (toronto)can theoretically be done in a day if you are prepared to ride 18 hours....but then it may make more sense at that point to avoid southern ontario and cut through to Northbay on the 11 or 17 and then down to the ottawa-montreal corridor. There could be a few options at that point but so far you would have covered about half of your trip if you were only to go to cape bretton.

    As for Montreal-Cape Bretton it is an Iron but in a day if you want, but that would using superslab wherever possible.

    As for the Rock (Newf) it is something that you have to see, but I went last year with the big "let see everything " plan and it only dawned on me when I got there that this is about the same size as the island of Great Briton without the roads or the population.So I guess I will be going back and again and again. Its 950 km from the ferry at Port au Baques to St John`s and early in the year the ferry only leaves from PoB. The Argentia (St John area ) ferry only starts latter in the year for the summer tourist season, so figure its all the way back to PoB (the road is rather dull from deer lake to the Terra nova park)

    Sounds like I am trying to be on the down beat side but in reality I`m just jealous :waysad


    Snivly in Montreal

    PS :you will be riding in prime Black Fly season. :huh
    #6
  7. Jabba

    Jabba "HOLD THE LIGHT!!!"

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    Your plan doesn't match the amount of time you have- plain and simple. Nova Scotia/Cape Breton is enough- or Newf...but I don't see how you can do both. The ferry time to Newf would eat into it considerably- and that really should be its own trip. I'd punch down through Maine from Quebec- you'll see some "northwoods" that you'll enjoy- including lots of Moose (guaranteed). Take the cat from Bar Harbor (worth the trip in itself- be sure to do the loop road through the National park at a minimum while on Mt Desert Island. Top of Mt. Catahdin is a must, also). Do the South shore of NS up to Cape Breton... it's beautiful! On Cape Breton you'll find the Cabot Trail- an icon of eastern tours- and one of the few places within riding distance on the east coast where you can see icebergs floating by! Then come back down through New Brunswick and take in (overnight) Fundy N.P. on the North side of the bay... you don't want to miss this place- and you need at least 6 or 10 hours to observe the tide change. Sounds like watching grass grow- but wait till you see it! Another side benefit of the Fundy area are the hummingbirds- they're everywhere! Pretty cool to have dinner in a restaurant overlooking the harbor- and have 4 or 5 hummers outside the window competing for the flowerpots. Down through Maine- the "Airplane road" from the border to Bangor is pretty fun- as long as it's paved this year! LL Bean in Freeport is worth a stop too- and a spin through my old home town of Portsmouth on the NH/ME border is worth the detour. Look for the tug boats-

    Hope you have a good trip Tom- it's a pretty place to spend some time. Bring your bug repellent and your raingear- no, they can't actually carry you away- and you won't ever melt, either! :thumb
    #7
  8. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    sault ste marie to montreal is pretty bland riding -- moreso the further away you get from sault ste marie. I reccomend entering canada at thunder bay. From thunder bay to sault ste marie is really nice riding near the great lakes. I'd try to get deep out east as quickly as possible after that. North of lake superior can be quite cold in the middle of the summer -- I had some freezing rain last June.
    #8
  9. Jabba

    Jabba "HOLD THE LIGHT!!!"

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    Lake Champlain in VT is some really nice riding- drop down in upstate NY and cross into VT by traversing the islands of the north end of the lake- the route is obvious... then through the white mtns of New Hampshire- not the rockies- but very pretty just the same... Then again- if you stay in Canada a little longer you could see old Quebec City... Lots of great choices- you're gonna have a hell of a trip!
    #9
  10. K2ride

    K2ride Single track mind!

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    If your not looking to do an iron butt style ride, you`d better forget Newfoundland.
    Quebec, Maine , NewBrunswick & Nova Scotia are huge playgrounds with so much to see & ride; you could easely
    spend to weeks in Nova Scotia alone without ever being bored!
    From Montreal go through the Eastern Townships region right up to the US border in the Lake Megantic area, cross over to Maine & ride down on route 27 (moose country) making your way to
    Bar Harbor on the Maine coast. From there, you could take the ferry to Nova Scotia or you could drive up the Maine coast, through NewBrunswick (southern coast) right into Nova Scotia. Once there, go for Cape Breton to do the Cabot Trail in a Counter clockwise direction (best views & effect) on a clear day! You should also go see the Louisbourg fortress not far from Sydney before leaving Cape Breton island. After that go for the south west part of Nova Scotia & make your way back home. One thing to consider; fuel, food & lodging are few and far appart not to mention that everything closes down early out there (be warned)!
    There`s so much to be seen in Nova Scotia alone that I`ve been there 3 times & I`ll be going back for a full 2 weeks in the near future to continue exploring.
    Oh... go visit the Glenora scotch Brewery; it`s the only place in the world, outside Scotland, were they can produce a true scotch & is situated in the middle of nowhere (beautifull place & a very interesting experience).
    Anyway, if you want more info, just send me a PM. :thumb
    #10
  11. MattS

    MattS Been here awhile

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    Like Jabba says, Québec City is pretty amazing ... like you got dropped into a small European town.

    When traveling through the province of Québec, keep in mind that the dominant language is French, and it always helps to speak a little, if even only "Bon Jour" and "Bon Soir." Radar detectors are illegal, and all the road signs are in French. Downtown is "Centre Ville" ... Prohibited is "Interdit" ... Customs is "Douanes" ... speed limits are posted in KPH.
    #11
  12. K2ride

    K2ride Single track mind!

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    And... let us not forget ze bread, ze wine & ze sheese! :freaky
    #12
  13. Infracaninophile

    Infracaninophile Finding My Way..

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    Thanks to all of you who have sent along ideas and thoughts on routes and such.

    Just 1 point of clarification: I am NOT considering going to NEWF. Not sure where that came from. This is sort of a "scouting mission" ride for me. I tend to do this over the years. Find a new area, spend a short amount of time scouting it out and then come back later several times for extended rides/trips. Thus, a sort of quick waltz across the middle of Canada and then a loop of NS and PEI before heading back to the US.

    A few points did leap out at me:

    1. The chance of freezing rain or really cold temps as i cross through Canada. Really?

    2. The amount of time it takes to make miles. Yup, got that. My wife and I are originally from the NY and MD area and I realize you can't make time on the east coast like you can out here in the West. I'll have about 11 or 12 days to do the trip.

    3. Thus, I can just do LESS trip but do it more slowly and thoroughly and leave more for next time. Or, I can zip all the way across the US and up into Maine and THEN go into Canada right near PEI/NS. Not sure which.

    4. As I get closer to leaving (about 5 weeks) I'll firm up my plans. I don't like to overplan as I tend to make shit us as I go along, i.e. I find a nice lake/motel and spend a day or two sitting around versus keeping to some sort of killer schedule.

    Tom
    #13
  14. Global Rider

    Global Rider Alps Adventurer

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    Tom, never admit to anything. :D

    Order up your FREE Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia

    You're right, Newfoundland would be too much of a rush with only 2 1/2 weeks. The road along the eastern shore of New Brunswick didn't offer many ocean views as expected, otherwise it was a road that offered a relaxed pace.

    The Confederation Bridge to PEI is free to the island. You either pay returning, or you pay when taking the ferry to Caribou Island in Nova Scotia. The latter may be your best bet.

    I only have a few pics of NB and NS (Cabot Trail) on my web site - 2003 Eastern Canada Tour. I should have stopped more often for more pics, but I was short on time.

    The route you're taking in Ontario and Quebec avoids the more travelled roads further south. The 132 around the Gaspe is very nice. I plan to do it again over a weekend.
    #14
  15. Infracaninophile

    Infracaninophile Finding My Way..

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    A few questions about the ferries and gas in Canada:

    #1 I was considering taking one of the ferries from north of Quebec over the short distance (St Lawrence river?) to the east. Example: Baie-Comeau -> Matane or St. Simeon -> St Pascal. Do these ferries run a lot? Meaning, if I ride up at noon can I get aboard a ferrie in a few hours or is it a day's wait? It doesn't matter WHERE I cross but this way I don't have to go down into Quebec in order to get over to the land on the east side.

    #2. The ferries from NS back to ME. Example: Yarmouth to Bar Harbor or Portland. Since my trip will be "on the fly" I won't be able to book in advance for either of these ferries. Do I need to? Or, can I get onto one of these ferries with say, < 1 days notice? If I would have to wait a lot then I'd rather just ride up and around the peninsula and down into Maine. I hate to wait.

    #3. Gas price? What are the price (just samples) of premiu unleaded up north? About the same as the US or a lot more?

    #4 Lodging? Will it be sort of like the US where I can reasonably expect to be able to find a motel every night or should I drag a small tent/sleeping bag along in case I can't find something? I prefer to travel light and don't normally camp in the east due to humitity, insects, etc..

    #5 Speeds: Is it true that 100 or 110 KM/HR is the going speed limit on bigger roads?

    Thanks,

    Tom
    #15
  16. Shazam*

    Shazam* Been here awhile

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    AFAIK, they run pretty regularly. At least, I always see them going, rather than sitting.

    I think you should be ok. Most people just go. Esp with a bike, it should not be a prob.


    Premium gas is currently ~$Can0.95/L so... $Can1.00 =~ $US0.74 and 4L =~ 1Gallon therefore.. ~$US2.80 a Gallon?

    No prob, you should be able to find motels without any difficulty unless you head way the hell off the beaten path. (and I mean WAY off the path)


    True. I usually cruise at 120km/h on major roads. Never been stopped and people still pass me. I just figure that is fast enough (ticket prices start going up after that)

    Oh, and the chance if freezing rain/really cold temps is quite low unless you loop way north.
    Thanks,

    Tom[/QUOTE]
    #16
  17. Jabba

    Jabba "HOLD THE LIGHT!!!"

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    If you plan to take the ferry from Yarmouth to Portland (the "bluenose?") then I would recommend a reservation... I've often heard of sell outs in the summer. I would imagine the Cat from Bar Harbour would be even worse- it's quite a bit smaller...and DEFINITELY the way to go- because it makes the trip in a very short amount of time- Two hours or so? ...that thing FLIES! The Bluenose is an overnight deal and it's got a reputation for being very loud and for making folks seasick. CAt is stable and FAST FAST FAST. One more thing Tom- make sure you do the Cabot trail of all the choice up there- it's wonderful... while riding the trail take the turn off for "Meat Cove" on the NE corner of the island. You don't want to miss this little hamlet- looks like an Irish fishing village.
    #17
  18. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

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    Here is the link to the Quebec Ferries.

    http://www.traversiers.gouv.qc.ca/

    We took the Godbout to Matane ship a few years ago and there was lots of room for the bikes. However we did book ahead.

    [​IMG]

    The Cat from Yarmouth NS to Bar Harbour MUST be booked ahead. It sells out in tourest season. We talked to riders who had waited in town for a few days for a cancelation.

    Here is a WORD.doc of some of the route we took. Started/met in Vermont, did Northern Quebec, the Gaspe, through New Brunswick, up to Cape Breton, down Nova Scotia and back to New England. IMHO the highlights are Northern Quebec, the Gaspe, the interior of New Brunswick and then Cape Breton. If pushed for time, haul ass to Cape Breton and enjoy.

    Do a right mouse click and save as:

    http://www.whitepond.org/d/bmwhp/ECBMaps.doc

    Lots o pics here:

    http://www.i-bmw.com/easternblur/

    DW
    #18
  19. Infracaninophile

    Infracaninophile Finding My Way..

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    Wow, lots of great info here including the ferry link. I'm thinking of sending this URL to my wife and having her call the ferry for a reservation when I'm 1-2 days away and try to book the 1 p.m. If I can't get on then I can cut south to Quebec and up.

    For the cat, I might go ahead and book now as I'm pretty sure this will be about 1 day from the end of my tour, i.e. if I end up in Bar Harbor mid-day I know I can make to to Dunstalbe, MA by the end of the next day at the latest.

    Tom


    #19
  20. Infracaninophile

    Infracaninophile Finding My Way..

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    BMWHP: Wow, your trip report with pictures and route are awesome. Just printed them off on my color laserjet and stuck them in my travel folder.

    Went ahead and booked my Cat ferry just now. The web page didn't function too well today so did it over the phone. This is just FYI for anyone else who might venture this way:

    Link to the Cat Ferry: http://www.catferry.com/



    Costs: Total was $113 US which breaks down to $55 for the bike, $45 for 1 passenger, and them some $$ for the goverments (both sides). I think the rates go up a bit later in June. I booked for Monday, 6/14 as I have to be back in Mass by 5 p.m. on Wed 6/16. I left 1/2 day to play around in Bar Harbor at the National Park there and plan to ride up Cadillac mountain at sunrise.

    Then a quick buzz down a bit in Maine and then over the Kangamangas Highway to NH and down to MA.

    Tom
    #20