Do you have a place that you want to go to, just because of its name? I’ve always liked the idea of visiting Moose Factory. It just sent my mind wandering. There’s some obvious questions. Do moose live there? Are there any factories? Do moose work in the factories, or are moose the number one delicacy served in local restaurants?
The answer to these questions is no, no, no, and no. Yet still I’m not disappointed with our visit to Moose Factory.
If you were to look at Trip Advisor for ideas on things to do in Moose Factory, there’s not much. St. Thomas’ Anglican Church is listed, it has no rating, and it has no reviews. I don’t recall seeing it (unless it was the boarded up church). So here our top things to do in Moose Factory:
1. Getting to Moose Factory
The number one attraction of Moose Factory is actually getting there. Assuming you are somewhere in Canada, there’s still a highly likelihood that you’re nowhere near this place. So the first thing is “road trip!” You could fly, but it would probably cost you less to fly to Australia. Instead, pack some snacks and drive a crazy number of hours to the little town of Cochrane, Ontario. Rooms at The Station Inn are cozy and do the trick, as you will likely stay overnight before boarding the Polar Bear Express at around 9am the following morning.
At the station, there is 7 day parking for RV’s, or you can park for free (with power) for up to 48 hours, which we used before and after our train trip. The station is surprisingly busy as it has a number of buses arriving and departing, and the train engines/carriages often get moved around. The evening we were there, two engines moved back and forth for hours.
Once on the train, it’s a good 5 hours to Moosonee. It could be one hour if the train moved quicker than walking pace, so there’s no need to panic if you miss the train. A leisurely jog will have you caught up in no time.
Otherwise, the leg room is good, and depending on your carriage, you will have a power supply for your electronic addictions. There’s no internet however, and no phone service. You will be able to control your itch to be connected by loading yourself up with a good movie or opt instead for a book, and settle in for the very pleasant and scenic ride.
Welcome to Moosonee!
At Moonsonee, you will unload from the train and then wait for the next available taxi.
It’s an efficient service because it seems that anyone in town can be a taxi driver should they choose to be so. If you need $30 for a case a beer, it only takes a cardboard sign in the front windscreen/windshield reading Taxi, and you are a few short trips away from a two four (case of beer).
Since an aqua duck taxi is not available in Moosonee, you’ll need to catch a water taxi to the island of Moose Factory. The boats are old but sturdy, and with our suitcases and backpacks loaded in the front, Moose Factory was a short 5 to 10 minutes away. In the case of rain, you will be undercover, however your suitcases will not share the same luxury!
2. Leave Moose Factory
The second attraction is leaving. Nothing against Moose Factory, but if the ride to Moose Factory is a great experience, then the journey home should be too, since its basically completing ‘Getting to Moose Factory” in reverse.
You will be forgiven if you miss this place. Because literally, if you don’t know exactly where it is, you will definitely miss it. The outside of the store looks like a factory, there is a GG sign on the building – but no description of what the store is, and no ‘open’ sign on the solid closed door. But, inside you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s a very mini Walmart, with a little bit of everything. There’s no prices on most things, so you take a gamble with anything you pick up. Chance are, all goods are imported via the ‘Getting to Moose Factory’ route, so don’t expect to pick up any food bargins. For example, a bag of red apples was $12. Our highlight of this store was the winter jackets. Most were 50% of good winter brands like Columbia and North Face, so we all purchased a new winter jacket. It was probably the biggest splurge of our trip, but based on last winter it will be money well spent!
I will say two things about this place. Dinner. Ribs. That is all.
I’ve had a few opportunities to see bears in the wild, and there’s something exhilarating about it. In Moose Factory, there’s a few local bears that hang out at the local dump. It’s obviously not as much fun seeing bears truly in the wild, but as a friend of mine commented on Facebook ‘I’m guilty of getting takeout sometimes too’. Nonetheless, it’s a sight that I’ve never seen before, and even the locals seem to take an evening drive to the dump to see if their friends are out to play.
The bears generally seemed to be disinterested in their audience, but did occasionally stop to sniff the air. I felt like we locked eyes a couple of time, but funnily enough I was the only one backing away. Never take for granted that these are still wild animals.
6. Take a walk, a boat ride, or a paddle.
I never expected to find 6 things to do in Moose Factory, but here we are. We took a paddle on the lake in a canoe, but if you don’t know someone with a canoe you may opt for a walk or a boat ride.
Walking around parts of Moose Factory is fascinating. Some of the town operates on steam heat, and there are tons of old buildings and factories that have loads of character. And of course, Moose Factory is on the water, so play on the sanding shores or walk along side the water and enjoy the scenery.
You can also organise a boat ride to James Bay. If you are really adventurous you could make your way all the way up to Hudson Bay!
During your stay, it’s likely that you will see the emergency helicopter flying locals from the mainland to Moose Factory, since this is the home of the local hospital.
Overall, Moose Factory is an experience. And now I need to find a new place with a cool name, so I can visit there too 🙂 Maybe Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan? Maybe Intercourse, in Pennsylvania? Or a town that we recently passed in Quebec, Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! I know I don’t understand much French, but I think they’re taking the piss? Ha Ha!