“It was the winter of 2015-2016 when I was introduced for the first time to Northern Ontario. Being the 'city slicker' I am, I really was unaware of what must be one this province's most spectacularfeatures or landscapes. My impression of Northern Ontario was limited to my visits in the Muskoka’s, a mere few hours outside of the city. Rather embarrassing to say the least, considering Northern Ontario would soon become my home base, I thought it would be inhabited from there on up.
As a relative newcomer to snowmobiling, I was fortunate to cut my teeth in what is considered the best sledding conditions in all of Ontario, "District 15", the Cochrane region. The first time riding the renown Abitibi Canyon loop was definatly an unforgettable experience. Typically, further south you are used to stop signs every 2 minutes and riding through towns to get hot chocolates. Never mind ever considering a “no gas” sign for 150km, I soon discovered that Northern Ontario was not at all like Muskoka! After enduring a 3 hour ride and experiencing the northern weather that is now "normal" for me (in my snowboard boots and my "cool" helmet), I came to the first and only stop sign which was accompanied with a food sign on the trail. This is when I discovered the “camp”, which has obviously now become an integral part of my life. My initial reaction when I came around the corner to Base Camp was.... lol... "I'm not gonna make it out of here". Meaning only the fact that I was expecting a Boston Pizza among numerous other restaurant choices and phone service. I quickly understood that this is what "out in the bush" really meant. I was asked by my foster parent, Joe, who had taken up there, "do you think this would be something you might like to do?" And in no uncertain terms, after 2 weeks of volunteer working and seeing if it was something that would interest me, I said "Absolutely!"
There is something special about being up North, for me it’s a feeling of freedom and peacefulness. A place that allows you to mentally and spiritually stay fit. I am passionate about snowmobiling and believe that there is a real need to offer a safe and reliable experience / service for people of every age, gender and skill. My vision is to establish Abitibi Canyon was to become the #1 destination loop in Ontario, and to make the Base Camp a fun, safe and reliable place for riders.
Some things to note about our location in Fraserdale, Ontario, is simply think twice and considerately try to rationalize and understand EXACTLY where you are when it comes to the premium essential services that we provide 24/7 for you. We do NOT have cell phone service or wi-fi. We have no hydro and rely on generators and an oil heater. We have invested in new fuel tanks to ensure that there are no more fuel shortages and we now have heated washrooms on site. Uncle Monty also does his best to keep up the food orders. We have been known to have the best hotdogs and chilli in all of Abitibi! It is nothing new for us to have line ups and when it’s busy (and it can get that way), we thank you for your patience. Lastly, we had custom built containers modified into sleeping quarters. That way we can support the volunteer groomers that spend a minimum of 10 hours ONE WAY to the camp. We will top up their fuel and ensure that they can have a good rest.
Like any other company, one of the most important aspects of our business is the relationships we have made not only with our customers, but with our communities. At Abitibi Base Camp, it is ultimately the towns that our trails run to and we need to support them. Whether you come from the east side (Cochrane, ON) or the west side (Smoothrock Falls, ON), Base Camp has become a major conduit for the tourism industry in these Northern communities. As a local business, we do our part to promote each of these townships. It is also our responsibility to support the Indigenous lands and communities north of us, including Moosonee, ON. It's all these relationships working together that will allow this amazing industry to continue to thrive in a healthy way, bringing positive opportunities to everyone.
Believe me, the emotional and physical demands to maintain a high standard of service while dealing with the challenges and solitude of northern winters can be daunting. However, the beauty and freedom of the Abitibi Canyon, the friends that I have made (and continue to make), and the great people in the sledding industry in general make it all worthwhile.
The camp is continuing to evolve, and we don’t expect that to change. We continue to add to our services and infrastructure every year. Our commitment is to ensure that your Base Camp experience, like my first visit, exceeds your expectations!
We hope to see you this season at the Abitibi Canyon Loop. Once again, we appreciate your business and you can be sure that we will always do our best to serve you.
Stay safe and be well.
Owner / Manager
By Shelby Mahon • January 23, 2017
With new owners taking over this past September, Abitibi Canyon Base Camp is set to have a dramatic makeover, much to the excitement of the snowmobile community! Without it, there would be no reason or way for the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club (OFSC) groomers to make the long, 12 hour trip up the stunning 103A trail.
Now under the care of a new owner and management, team Abitibi Canyon Base Camp stands to become a premier location for snowmobilers in Northeastern Ontario! Having visited the Base Camp myself a few years ago and then venturing northward at the beginning of the 2017 season, I was beyond excited to see the changes that have already taken place.
Only a few short minutes from Abitibi Canyon itself, the Base Camp is the perfectly located. If you’ve never been to Abitibi you’re missing out on amazing trails, incredible backcountry, and some of the most scenic riding in the province. Base Camp Abitibi Canyon is just the icing on top of the perfect snowmobile paradise sundae. This area has always been one of my favourite places to ride for the views, the friendly people, the delicious food and the reliable fact that there is always SNOW!
I truly felt that the Base Camp was a great place to grab a bite to eat, warm up and talk about the day’s adventures, and reminisce on my once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were lucky enough to also have the chance to stay on-site and wake up only minutes from the Canyon! Pretty soon it will also be a great place for many more people to hang their helmets up and catch some zzz’s after an awesome day riding trails or boondocking with friends.
The new team working under Joe McDonald and, Michael Lobb, have been able to make major improvements to the facility since they took over in September of 2016. They have brought in two brand new fuel tanks filled with premium and diesel fuel, updated the current building, added a brand new storage container (that can be heated) for fixing broken machines, and new sleeping quarters.
With plenty of space to park a truck and trailer, you can also stay on site. As of the date this article was published, a heated washroom unit has arrived on site, but aren’t quite ready to be used. The Base Camp team has been working tirelessly to have them ready to go by the time the season takes off in early February.
Next season Michael and the Base Camp team are planning to have more rooms for people to rent, a bigger kitchen with more meal options.
For anyone looking to make the journey north to where they measure snow in feet instead of inches, the Abitibi Canyon loop from Cochrane or Smooth Rock Falls is certainly a must.
Say “Hi” to the guys at Base Camp Abitibi Canyon for me! And let them know how much we sledders appreciate them running their facility in the dead of winter for us!