East of North Bay, Trans-Canada Hwy-17 runs through its wildest and least populated stretch: scenic country largely empty of human habitation. The road hugs the riverside while rolling over steeper hills, past birch and pine forests and many lakes and ponds. In the midst of all this wilderness, the attractive and relatively large town of Mattawa (pop. 1,993; “There Is a Story Here Where Rivers Meet”) lies at the confluence of the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers. Surrounded by dense green forest, the riverfront is lined by a pleasant park (with free hot showers), and the town center is quaint and quiet, with two blocks of brick-fronted buildings along the river just north and west of the main highway.
The Mattawa River is the focus of the expansive Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park (705/744-2276), which offers campgrounds, canoeing, and hiking trails.
The Ottawa River marks the border between Ontario and Quebec, the bluffs of which may be seen across the water.