White River, population 607, was established as a railway village on the Canadian Pacific mainline in 1885. Its primary industry is forestry; the township’s population has been in steep decline since Domtar closed its mill in 2007. While the village is a good jumping-off point for fishing and canoeing on the White River, and its location on the main east-west route cross country makes it difficult to miss, it’s tiny enough that it might not even be on the map were it not for the notability of its most famous resident: an orphan black bear cub who left with a group of soldiers in 1914.
The soldiers? Fort Garry Horse regiment from Winnipeg, Manitoba – a cavalry unit and their horses off to fight the Great War in Europe. Their unofficial mascot? Winnie the bear, who literary travellers will immediately recognise as a character in a few A. A. Milne books.
“Oh, bother!” said Pooh, and the rest is history.
While the village has an anglophone majority, one in six speak French as a first language.
White River is northern by Ontario standards and temperatures as cold as -40° are not unheard of in winter.
- Ontario Northland. Daily bus service along the Trans-Canada Highway from Sault Ste. Marie, 4hr 10min, $67. (updated Dec 2018)
- Kasper Bus. Daily bus service from Thunder Bay, $110. (updated Dec 2018)