Timmins Ontario travel guide

The gold mining capital of Canada is also the snowmobiling centre of Ontario


Timmins Ontario is a small city (in population) in Northern Ontario that has evolved into somewhat of a hub for tourists heading to areas further north. The city itself also has a number of interesting attractions that make it a great place to stop for a day or two before heading to another destination.

Situated on the Mattagami River it has a population of just over 43,000 and the city itself is one of the largest in Canada in size as it encompasses a total area of 2,962 sq. kilometres (1840 sq. miles). Famous for the large deposits of precious metals (particularly gold) found within its boundaries the area has been inhabited by aboriginal peoples since ancient times.

The Timmins Ontario region and in particular the Mattagami River were part of the extensive fur trading route in the 17th and 18th centuries and the famous Porcupine Trail that linked the Mattagami River to the Abitibi River went straight through the current location of the city.

In the early 20th century prospectors including Benny Hollinger began scouring the area for precious minerals and in 1909 they stuck the motherlode in Timmins when they discovered a huge vein of gold called the “Golden Staircase”. Legend has it that a prospector slipped on some moss and fell exposing gold. The discovery immediately sparked one of the largest gold rushes in North American history and led to the formation of the Dome Mine. At first the town developed a little further east near Porcupine Lake but in 1911 a fire swept through the camp completely devastating it.

A new town was founded at its present site and was named Timmins after prospector Noah Timmins one of the founders of the Hollinger Gold Mine. The gold mines at Timmins continue to produce today and to date have produced over 70 million ounces of gold, the second most productive mines in the world. They continue to be expanded and are the backbone of the city’s economy and the city’s nickname is “The City With A Heart of Gold”.

Other precious metals mined in the area include:

  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Silver
  • Nickel

Location of Timmins Ontario


How to get to Timmins:

By Car:

Please note that if you are traveling in the winter months the roads can be very dangerous and you should always check the weather conditions online before beginning the journey.

From Southern Ontario:

  • Depending on your starting point navigate to highway 401 and head either east or west toward Toronto.
  • Take Highway 400 North
  • Just north of the City of Barrie take Highway #11 north towards North Bay
  • Continue on Highway #11 past North Bay for approximately 300 kilometres (180 miles)
  • Just past the Town of Matheson take Highway #101 West towards Timmins

From Eastern Ontario:

  • Take Highway #17 Norty towards North Bay
  • In North Bay take Highway #11 North
  • Continue on Highway #11 past North Bay for approximately 300 kilometres (180 miles)
  • Just past the Town of Matheson take Highway #101 West towards Timmins

From Northern Ontario:

  • Take Highway #17 East
  • Just past the Town of Nipigon take Highway #11 to Timmins

By Public Transport

By Bus:

Timmins Ontario is well served by bus and easy to get to.

By Rail:

Passenger rail service no longer is offered directly to Timmins Ontario but you can take the train from nearby Matheson than transfer to bus to continue the journey to Timmins.

By Air:

The city is serviced by Victor M. Power Airport. It currently does not handle international flights but it is well connected to both Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and Thunder Bay International Airport. Domestic flights arrive daily and the airport then serves as a hub for many of the smaller communities further north.


Timmins Ontario Attractions and Activities

Attention: Please note that two of Timmins Ontario’s main tourist attractions have closed despite what you may read online. As of January 8, 2013 it has been announced that the City of Timmins has permanently shut down the Shania Twain Centre and the Timmins Underground Mine Tour. The buildings and land have been sold to a local mine company and they plan to demolish the sites and begin an open pit mining project.

Timmins Museum – National Exhibition Centre

The museum displays artifacts and photographs that chronicle the history and heritage of the Timmins Ontario region with a particular emphasis on the mining sector that has played such a significant part in the history and development of the area. Highlights include photographs from the original Porcupine Mining Camp. There is also a gallery that exhibits artwork from local artists.

McIntyre Community Centre

This multi-purpose 1300 seat rink was built in 1938 for some local mining employees. It’s main interest lies in the fact that local legend has it being a scale model exact copy of Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. While the building does have some nice architectural features including green, blue and red seats and end balconies it definitively is not a scale version of this famous building.

Saint Anthony of Padua Cathedral

Located at 274 Fifth Avenue this is a beautiful French baroque style church built in 1936-37. There is also a cross on the site dedicated to Jacques Cartier’s 400th anniversary of his voyages to Canada.

Downtown Timmins

A quaint little downtown that is worthy for a quick walkthrough to see some of its interesting sites. There is the former train station originally constructed in 1912. On the right side of Third Avenue (the city’s main street) the city has erected a “Walk of Fame” with plaques honoring prominent local citizens including a plaque and the hand prints of country singer Shania Twain, its most famous resident. You can also visit the oldest business in the city still in operation: Bucovetsky’s Department Store established in 1909.

Gold Mine Road

This road connects Timmins to South Porcupine and is known to locals as the “Backroad”. The road contains a number of historic mines, many that have since been closed down, but it does include the former Dome mine (now Goldcorp’s Porcupine Gold Mine) the place where gold was originally discovered in the area when a prospector slipped and fell on some moss while climbing on a dome shaped rock exposing gold. This is the only mine in continuous operation since 1910.

Hollinger Park

A beautiful historic park located in the heart of the city on the site of a former mine.

Cedar Meadows Wildlife Park

Overlooking the beautiful Mattagami River this park is part of a resort and spa. This 175 acre park is most famous for its wagon rides where visitors can see a multitude of animals in their natural habitat including:

  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Bison

In the winter months the wagon ride is exchanged for a sleigh ride that makes for a beautiful way to spend and hour or two.

Summer Industrial Tours

Each summer two of the local mining companies offer free tours of their facilities.

  • The RioTinto Minerals-Luzenac your outlines how talc is produced.
  • The Porcupine Gold Mine-Goldcorp tour takes individuals to an open pit mine.

The city of Timmins Ontario is surrounded by forests, lakes and rivers and it is outdoor activities where it has its main draw. Camping, fishing, boating and canoeing are very popular in the summer while skiing (both downhill and cross-country) snowshoeing and snowmobiling are huge activities in the winter. It is also a main staging point for wilderness adventures to more northern locations and many outfitters are based here. Some of the more popular outdoor activities include:

Kamiskotia Snow Resort

This alpine skiing resort is located on top of an extinct volcano. This 68-acre destination has 12 runs with a top elevation of 397 metres (1,202 feet) with the longest run being 1,100 metres (3,500 feet). Enjoy downhill skiing, tubing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Porcupine Ski Runners

Located just outside the city this is a cross-country skiing destination that is accessible at all hours of the day as over 4 kilometres (2.4 miles) of trails are lit up for night skiing. The site can also be utilized for snowshoeing.

The Timmins Snowmobile Club

Snowmobiling is a huge activity in the Timmins area and is one of the driving forces of the local economy in the winter months as participants from across the globe flock to the region to partake in some of the best snowmobiling in the world. The local club maintains a vast network of groomed trails and it is possible to snowmobile to places as far away as Chapleau with some trails being over 700 kilometres (420 miles) long. Permits are required to snowmobile.

Kettle Lakes Provincial Park

Located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) east of the city this popular provincial park is comprised of 22 small kettle lakes that are spring fed. The park is popular year round and provides a variety of activities including:

  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Picnicking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing

Dana-Jowsey Provincial Park

Located about 38 kilometres (24 miles) west of the city the park has not really been developed as of yet but offers fishing, swimming, boating and hiking. The park is ideal and a very popular place for canoeing and kayaking.

Timmins Ontario has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. It also makes for a great launching point to further adventures in the far north. While still at the centre of gold mining in Canada it makes for a great place to discover a little bit more about this important Canadian industry.

While not on everyone’s plans when coming to Ontario many tourists that do venture to northern Ontario do eventually find there way to the city as it is somewhat of a hub in the region


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