Strategically situated beside St Mary’s River, the tortuous link between lakes Superior and Huron, industrial SAULT STE MARIE – more popularly The Soo – sits opposite the Michigan town of the same name and sees constant two-way traffic, with two sets of tourists keen to see how the other lot lives. The Soo, 300km from Sudbury, is northern Ontario’s oldest community, originally settled by Ojibwa fishing parties. The French called these Ojibwa Saulteux (“people of the falls”) and the Jesuit missionaries who followed added the Christian sobriquet to give the town its present name. Initially, The Soo flourished as a gateway to the fur-rich regions inland, but it was the construction of a lock and canal in the nineteenth century that launched its career as a Great Lakes port and industrial centre, churning out pulp, paper and steel. Too industrial to be pretty,
Some 2km long and three blocks wide, The Soo’s downtown core runs parallel to the waterfront to either side of the main drag, Queen Street East. All the principal sights and most visitor facilities are located here, the pick of which stretch along the waterfront, but its real appeal is as the starting point for a splendid wilderness train ride on the Algoma Central Railway.