Why leave the province for a life-changing vacation alone or with your family when a hidden treasure is within driving distance? Located only 72 air miles from Wawa, Ontario, Pine Portage is the premiere fly-in resort in the province and is arguably one of the best fresh-water fishing spots in Ontario. Well known with customers coming from all over the world, Pine Portage has become a best-kept secret to the Province of Ontario – which they hope to change!
Pine Portage Lodge has been “serving those who love the great outdoors” for the past 75 years. With the amenities that many prefer when choosing a vacation spot, “We’re roughing it in comfort,” says Betty McGie, who grew up at the lodge, began working there at the age of 13, and has managed it since the early 1980s. “It's been my life. I worked the better part of 40 years with my father until he retired in the 90s – he was my mentor all those years.”
Although now under new ownership, McGie’s father, who passed away in 2010, started the resort with a dream, one cabin and a boat in 1946 after returning from WWII at 23 years old. A fighter pilot whom McGie proudly says went on 90 missions and was shot down and survived three times, her father never lost his love for flying and flew the float planes from Wawa to the resort until he was 72 years of age.
Access to the resort is by floatplane, which takes off and lands on the water. “These pilots can land softer on lakes than those landing on the runways – you touch down and you don't even realize you're on the water.” A highlight experience in itself, the cost of the flight is included in the price of your stay at Pine Portage.
Pine Portage lodge can accommodate up to 95 guests, from solo fishing trips to couples, men's groups, families, and corporate retreats. Guests can choose from an all-inclusive meal plan or bring your own food. For those choosing to indulge in the food at the lodge’s dining room, “We have a different main entree each night of the week and cater to diet issues and allergies,” says McGie, “Our breakfast offers an a la carte menu and cereal/fruit bar. For lunch, you can have your own freshly caught fish cooked on an open fire at one of our many shore lunch sites on the lake.”
For fishing enthusiasts – and especially those still learning to fish – Pine Portage Lodge is an ideal spot to be
“You can’t get the quality of fish at a drive-in lake as you can remote,” adds McGie, “For young fishermen, because fishing is so good here, it's easier to entertain them while out on the lake because they will actually catch fish. Then you get to build a shore lunch fire and cook your own fish you just caught. It’s all exciting to young families who have never experienced that.” Pine Portage also has a guide service for anyone new to the lake to help them get oriented to the many bays and fishing practices. The First Nations translation for Kabinagami Lake means “lake of many bays” and covers over 30,000 acres of water.
Many celebrities have also enjoyed a stay at Pine Portage over the past several decades. “‘Fish’n Canada’ is coming again this year and we have celebrities and renowned outdoor writers that have come and gone in the industry since back in the 60s — from the likes of Babe Winkleman, Canada in the Rough, and Fish TV.”
A favourite for patrons is a one-day canoe trip where staff will take canoeists across the ¾ mile portage to the Oba River for a six-mile canoe trip downriver. “It’s an experience as you never know what you're going to see paddling down a river that’s so remote, such as moose, beavers, and anything else that goes with the natural waterways,” says McGie, “You come out to the mouth of the river on one of the bays in the lake. For novice canoeists, it's a fun trip because you’re paddling with the current.” If you don’t want to paddle across the lake the approximately 6 miles (10 km) back to the resort, your boat is left at the river mouth for your arrival and the canoe can be towed back to the lodge with you.
Because Pine Portage is so remote, the potential to see wildlife is definitely great. “Everyone stays in log cabins built from trees in the area,” adds McGie. There are many beaches on the lake for swimming, canoes and kayaks for the guests to use, and other activities geared to wilderness adventure regardless of fitness level. “When it’s dark at night, the sky is ablaze with millions of stars because there is nothing here to distract the view – definitely not like the city at all!”
This summer, the Province of Ontario is offering the Staycation Tax Credit, which means eligible travellers within Ontario can receive a tax refund of up to $400 at the end of the year. The Staycation Tax Credit is applicable to accommodations when travelling recreationally, including accommodations like those available at Pine Portage. So now is an excellent time to visit Pine Portage Lodge and join the multiple generations of visitors who can’t get enough of it.
Find out more about Pine Portage and book your stay for the summer here.