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Elliot Lake

As my trip to Elliot Lake comes to an end I thought it would be worth while to give some of my impressions of the area.

Firstly I should say that it wouldn't have been possible to have done so much without the help of James and Joyce MacKenzie and John Muir and my heartfelt thanks to James & Joyce for organising so many things for me to do and for running me around the area. A big thanks to John Muir for providing accommodation and broadband access without which these many pages would not have been possible.

My overall impression is that if you are an outdoors type you're going to love Elliot Lake as there is just so much to do and see. The wildlife is great with bears, moose, elk, foxes, ducks, geese, birds of all kinds.. You can canoe the many lakes and rivers, sail and boat around them as well. ATV 1200k of trails, snowmobile, ski, hike, camp, fish, hunt, and lots more. There is genuine all year round activity. They are also in the process of building an 18 hole golf course which should be ready by August 2005 but there are three other courses within an hours drive of the area. There are even some beaches in the area and parts are set aside for children with life guards in attendance. Lots of picnic spots with BBQ facilities as well as camping and RV sites.

Yes there are black flies to contend with but usually May/June and it's all over. Mosquitos are around in the evening but not for long. There are also a lot of bears around the area so one needs to be aware of that when coming here but no-one had been killed that I am aware off but certainly they can give you a good scare. I would add that I didn't see one while I was here!

As this city is being promoted for retirement living there are plenty of facilities for seniors with loads of clubs and organisations just ready to engage you if you want. There is even a good bus service.

There are properties for rent and for sale and Lakeshore Properties are selling lots around the various lakes in the area where you can build your own home.

Shopping I would say is adequate and there are various fast food places like Tim Hortons, MacDonalds, KFC, and a good local Fish and Chip shop. Various pubs in town cater for most needs and also do meals. There are two larger city's around 2 hours drive either way which have everything you would need. Sears also have a drop off point in the city so you can order from their catalogue and have items delivered to Elliot Lake.

The city also has its own airport where charter flights come in and out and if you enquire in advance you can likely catch a lift on one. There is an Air Transport Service which can drive you from Toronto airport to Elliot Lake and back.

What the city does need is more tourism and it's likely going to have to spend some marketing money to tell people about the place. Certainly I'd never heard of Elliot Lake and some attention should be paid to getting the word out about the area.

I was provided access to the Internet through Economic Development for which many thanks and they did provide some information which I included here.  I would observe however that they really didn't take the opportunity to present a case to me for why businesses should locate here. This is a general fault of Economic Development departments all over the world however.  Generally speaking I would say there is a general lack of web marketing for the area in common with all other areas I have visited. So no change there.

You can certainly not fault the welcome you receive from all the organisations in the city and certainly through them I got to see lots I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Local people are very friendly and helpful and you'll know I got to do a canoe trip and take an ATV ride. There are plenty of people around that will help learners like myself through these activities.

Through Lakeshore Properties I got a boat ride around Dunlop Lake where they showed upcoming developments that will be available for sale. They likely need to do more to assist people to see the potential of these and give an insight into how to build a home on one. As these developments come into being you will of course get a better idea of what is possible.

I got to meet all the local councillors in the city as was able to attend a council meeting. I'd also note that if you have cable TV their meetings can be viewed on the TV every two weeks. That is a very open system and they are to be commended for making this available to the residents.

They have an excellent hospital with very good facilities so health care is well taken care off. They have an excellent museum which I'd highly recommend you visit although there is not much evidence of this history around the city. I can't help feeling that one of the mines should have been left open for the public here to enjoy. I was told of miles of roadways inside them which could possibly have been used for winter activities or for that matter all year round activities but of course I don't know the cost of that but just seems an opportunity missed somehow.

There is a local newspaper and radio station to keep you in touch with what is happening in the area.

There is decent hotel accommodation in the area and four lodges not far outside where you can rent a cabin at very reasonable rates. Cost of living here is very reasonable and if you come from the UK I'd say it is very inexpensive. You can hire a car while up here to get you around.

Talking to the local residents they all seem to be very happy here in Elliot Lake. The usual wee moans you get in all communities but nothing significant.

Having done a canoe trip and an ATV trip I can see the attractions of both. Problem is I wouldn't even have considered them as they weren't something I saw much of in Scotland. Even if I had seen them I don't think I would have felt I was fit enough for either. The fact that there are people here that will take out learners must be a big opportunity but you need to tell people that they can do this. I feel that tourism needs to be addressed in a different way here to really capture the potential of the area.

I also feel that responsible tourism is needed in the area especially for novice adventure folk. For example I was kindly offered a walking trip in the area but on advice of locals I declined as it was likely too energetic for my fitness level. I later learned that one on the trip had a wee accident and another felt it was really too far even though he was an experienced hiker. Given that, I can see I could have been in real problems as I didn't even have hiking boots. So from a health and safety point of view these things should be considered on the marketing front.

Like other remote areas young people are leaving for the larger city's to get jobs so Economic Development needs to look at what is possible. The fact more retired people are coming here does mean that jobs are available in health care and tourism but industry is needed and I didn't see a case for that while I was here.  Mind you there is only so much I can see when I come to a place so without knowing more I can't really comment on any activities that are available to attract new business.

Certainly Elliot Lake is a great place to come for a visit and it's truly one place where I felt like I was on holiday. The weather was excellent although to my Scottish blood quite warm and on occasion a touch humid. You do however get a nice breeze from the Lakes which do cool you down and I did get a real good tan while I was here :-)

So overall I would say do come to Elliot Lake. It is a great experience for the tourist. The outdoor types will have a fantastic time and to the high percentage of tourists that wouldn't normally consider an active holiday this is really a place where you can dip your toe in the water under expert guidance. It's also a great place for water activities or even just soaking up the sun and scenery in a remote part of the country.

Thanks Elliot Lake... I had a great time while I was here and you sure did Canada proud with your welcome.

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