Timmins, a city built on the gold mining industry, is a great stop on a northern Ontario road trip. Enjoy the small-city vibe, its continuing mining heritage and the stunning nature of the Boreal forest. A wide range of outdoor activities are available making Timmins a great base for outdoor adventure.
Timmins One-Day Itinerary
- Learn about Gold mining at the Timmins Museum.
- Visit the Hollinger Open-Pit Lookout.
- Enjoy a picnic at nearby Hollinger Park.
- Visit Gillies Lake Conservation Area for wakeboarding or a relaxing walk around the lake.
- Take the Wildlife Tour at Cedar Meadows Resort.
- Visit the Porcupine Memorial and McIntyre Mine Headframe in Schumacher.
With a second day in the area, spread out the first day activities, add some hiking or biking and visit Dream Acres Alpacas.
Timmins Attractions Map
10 Best Things To Do in Timmins
- Hollinger Open-Pit Lookout
- Timmins Museum
- Hollinger Park
- Wakepark at Gillies Lake Conservation Area
- Wildlife Tour at Cedar Meadows
- Schumacher Lions Club Park
- McIntyre Mine Headframe
- Timmins Hiking
- Kettle Lakes Provincial Park
- Dream Acres Alpacas
History of Gold in Timmins
The 1909 discovery at Porcupine Lake launched the Porcupine Gold Rush. Prospectors flooded to the area discovering the Hollinger and McIntyre gold deposits.
The villages of South Porcupine, Timmins and Schumacher grew around these mines. Over the years they grew larger and, in 1973, they amalgamated with a number of the local townships becoming the city of Timmins. The name Timmins is in honour of Noah Timmins, one of the area’s first mine developers.
This is one of the richest gold-producing areas in the world and has produced more gold than any other Canadian mining camp. Gold mining remains an important part of the Timmins economy. The area is home to many closed mines which have been rehabilitated into parks and recreational lands, including both Hollinger Park and Gillies Lake Conservation Area.
The huge, open-pit Hollinger Mine, on the southeast corner of the city, is one of a number of operating gold mines in the area.
Mining blasts: One of the unique things about Timmins is that twice-a-day (at 11:30 and 3:30) there are nearby mining blasts that all residents can feel.
Discover more about some of the biggest Timmins gold mines – Hollinger, Dome and McIntyre – and city parks built on rehabilitated mine sites on a driving tour of the area. Visit the Northern Ontario Geotours webpage and download the Timmins geotour file for full details.
Hollinger Open-Pit Lookout
Drive up the hill to the viewing area and look over the edge into the operating, open-pit gold mine.
Mining began at the Hollinger Mine in 1910 and continued until 1969, producing gold ore worth over $556 million, Canada’s largest all-time gold producer. When the mine closed, there were close to 1000 kilometres of underground tunnels.
Recently, the mine reopened, operating solely as an open-pit mine. Mining will continue until 2024 when the mine will close and, after rehabilitation, become a beautiful, city green space with biking and hiking trails, an observation platform, and a man-made lake.
From 1919 to 1969, Hollinger provided houses to its employees. One of them is on display at the Timmins Museum.
Timmins Museum – The National Exhibition Centre
At the museum, learn how Timmins became a major gold mining centre. Exhibits include the Porcupine Camp, a model prospector’s cabin and other mining artifacts. Wear a virtual reality headset and feel what it was like to be an underground miner in the early days.
The adjoining Exhibition Centre hosts travelling art exhibitions from other parts of Canada, such as the Royal Ontario Museum.
Outside on the museum grounds, Hollinger House shows how miners lived in the 1930s. There were over 350 of the functional two-bedroom homes for mine workers and their families. Hollinger provided housing until the mine closed in 1969.
Statues of Jack Wilson, Sandy McIntyre and Benny Hollinger stand outside the museum. Their gold discoveries launched the largest, though maybe not the most famous, gold rush in Canadian history.
This free museum is open year-round. Check the Timmins Museum website for hours and current exhibits.
Have a picnic at Hollinger Park. Enjoy the children’s playground, splash pad, mini-putt and batting cages. Check out the mining equipment on display.
This is an early example of mine reclamation in northern Ontario. The park was created in the 1940s by reclaiming a former Hollinger Mines tailings pile.
Wakepark at Gillies Lake Conservation Area
Yes, we meant wake boarding! This is the first wake park in northern Ontario. An electric cable system pulls wake riders across the lake. There is no need for a motorized boat. Certified instructors are on hand to get everyone safely riding on a wakeboard in no time at all. Rental equipment is available for all ages. The park is open June through September. Check Timmins Wakepark’s website for hours and fees.
At night, enjoy the well lit, 2.5-kilometre walking trail around the lake. There are benches and interpretive signs.
Gillies Lake is another example of successful mine reclamation. The project began in the early 1990s with a lake 3 times its current size. It was filled in with tailings from the Hollinger Mine. The slopes were planted with grasses, trees and shrubs which have grown beautifully into the lovely, green park.
Wildlife Tour at Cedar Meadows
Cedar Meadows Resort & Spa welcomes everyone to buy a ticket for their daily Wildlife Tour (not just spa patrons). Enjoy a tractor-drawn wagon ride to see Fallow deer, elk and bison, on the 100-acre property, along the Mattagami River, just 10 minutes from downtown. The tour is daily at 3 pm.
Schumacher Lions Club Park
This lovely waterfront park, also known as McIntyre Park, was created on land reclaimed from the tailings of the former McIntyre Mine. McIntyre Trail is along the north shore of Little Pearl Lake to the west of the park. There are lots of park benches, a display of mining equipment and a Miner’s Memorial.
The Porcupine Miner’s Memorial includes the names of miners killed in mining accidents. The monument was erected in tribute to miners killed at the Porcupine Camp and their families.
McIntyre Mine Headframe
This mining headframe is visible from the park and much of the east side of Timmins. The McIntyre Mine opened in 1912 producing both gold and copper. A 2.5-kilometre-long mine shaft is below the headframe and leads to many kilometres of mine tunnels.
Although currently not open, a public-private partnership is in the process of restoring the headframe. Hopefully, it will be welcoming visitors in the near-future.
These are just two of the many great trails in the Timmins area.
The Porcupine Lake Trail is an easy, 8.5-kilometre loop around the lake. It is part of the Bart Thompson Trail system. The first gold found in the area was on the shores of Porcupine Lake in 1896. The prospectors arrived by the Porcupine Trail, a series of portages connecting rivers and lakes to the railway in the east.
Most of the trail is along the shore although some roads are part of the trail at the north end. For parking ease, start in White Waterfront Park, at the east end of Bloor Avenue (10 kilometres east of Hollinger Park). Walk north to a lakeside bluff where there are interpretive signs about the area and a shelter. Walk south and east from the park to Whitney Cemetery. The remains of forty people who died in a tragic fire in 1911 are buried in the cemetery. The fire wiped out the community at the lake.
On Archie’s Rock trail, see glacial erratics. These are large boulders that were deposited by the last ice age. The trail is located down Little Star Lake Road, off Highway 101, about 45 kilometres west of Timmins.
A list of trails can be found at the Timmins Hiking Trails webpage.
Kettle Lakes Provincial Park
Enjoy camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking at this provincial park, 42 kilometres east of Timmins, off Highway 101. The park is open from Victoria Day weekend to Thanksgiving Monday. A Daily Vehicle Permit can be purchased, up to 5 days in advance, on the Ontario Parks Reservations webpage to guarantee access for day use at this busy park.
There are 22 deep, spring-fed kettle lakes, left behind after the last glaciers retreated 11,000 years ago. Many of the lakes are stocked with trout for great fishing. There are hiking trails through the jack pine forest around the lakes.
Dream Acres Alpacas
For more wildlife photo opportunities, visit this family run Alpaca farm. Tour the farm, learn about these wonderful animals and the quality of the fibre and yarn.
The farm sells alpaca-related products, such as socks, hats and accessories, some created at the farm but all made in Canada.
Dream Acres is located 45 kilometres east of Timmins on Highway 101.
Timmins is just one great stop on a northern Ontario Road Trip. For more destinations, check out our article, Places to Visit on a Road Trip from North Bay to Thunder Bay.
Interested in more Itineraries? Sign up here.