VIa Toronto (for I-75 and points west)

  • Follow ON-400 from Toronto north to Barrie, then ON-11 to North Bay
  • Take ON-63 to the Quebec border and R-101, OR stay on ON-11 until New Liskeard and take ON-65 to cross the border and reach R-101.
  • R-101 north to R-117.
  • R-117 east to R-109
  • R-109 north to Matagami via Amos. 

Via Montreal (for points east of I-87)

  • I-87 turns into A-15 at the NY/QC border
  • Follow A-15 through Montreal
  • A-15 uses a difficult exit to cross the St. Lawrence River over the Champlain Bridge with A-20/A-10, and later jogs eastward on A-40, including a left-exit.
  • An hour north of Montreal, A-15 becomes R-117
  • Follow R-117 to Val d'Or, turning north on R-111.
  • Travel north on R-111 to Amos, turn north on R-109, which heads to Matagami


Click to EnlargePossible route for points between I-75 and I-87 (or points between Toronto and Montreal):

  • In the US, get to I-81 via the Quickway or the NYS Thruway
  • Follow I-81 north to the border at the Thousand Islands Bridge (toll)
  • Then, ON-401 east to ON-416
  • ON-416 to its terminus at ON-417
  • Take ON-417 east, exit at Nicholas St. and follow the signage to A-5 (Quebec) through downtown Ottawa
  • Follow A-5 until it ends and becomes R-105.
  • R-105 to R-117, then follow the Montreal directions (117, 111, 109).

This map shows the approximate routes of the rally participants, in black. The red line represents the James Bay Road, while green dots represent where particpants met up or were picked up.

Most participants were from the NY, MA or NH, but there were exceptions. NinerCat flew from CA (not shown) into Burlington, VT to be picked up by NHRef. A duo from MO (including Squid) started their odyssey on Wednesday so they could rendezvous on time with others. Blake drove the furthest, starting from Columbus GA on the AL border, with a route through Ottawa rather than Montreal, picking up MinorRoadsKill, the most 'local' participant.

Besides several passenger pickups in the NYC area, a Friday-morning rendezvous was scheduled for 10am at Rouses Point (near Champlain), NY, just south of the NY-QC border. Except for the MINI from GA passing through Ottawa, everyone else headed north via Montreal and passed through Rouses Point, although this did not lead to the formation of a single caravan. Vastly different start times and a few mixups resulted in two independent caravans and several stragglers. Many would have dinner at Val d'Or, the northern-most city of the trip and and where the route leaves the Trans-Canada Highway. From about 10pm until 5am, the MINIs gradually filed into Matagami, some 250km north of Val d'Or, and the start of the James Bay Road. Only at breakfast Saturday morning breakfast would the entire group of 24 finally be assembled.

The return trip was a simple matter of backtracking for most, but again there were a few exceptions. The MO MINI turned east at Val d'Or, returning to the USA via Toronto and Niagara Falls. Gruswitz of Rochester returned via Ottawa as did Ducttape, making use I-87 and the Quickway.

The James Bay Road has several claims to fame. With a terminus just short of 54 degrees latitude, it is not only the one of the remotest roads in eastern North America, but also its most northlerly continously paved route. The James Bay Road is owned and maintained by Hydro Quebec, which requires drivers to register at the south checkpoint just past Matagami. The 2 lane road has a freeway-like cross-section and generally high geometric quality, allowing the utility to post the road at 100km/h (60mph), normally reserved for controlled-access freeways in Quebec.

Built in the 1970s, the central purpose of the highway has always been to service the enormous dams of the James Bay Hyrdro Project. Several Cree villages many tens of kms away on the coast have been gradually connected by sideroads. The service centre at km 381, featuring gas pumps and a cafeteria, are just about the only buildings located along the entire 617km route. Fortunately, emergency microwave telephones are placed along the route approximately every 100km or so, but overall the route is among the most spartan on the continent when it comes to human presence.

The James Bay Road starts at Matagami, a village of about 1000, established in the 1960s as a copper mining centre. Matagami lies at the end of R-109, itself one of Quebec's more remote routes, and it is the last place to get gas and other supplies before heading out on the road. Not long after the checkpoint at km 6, the route will leave the Canadian Shield and enter the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Compared to the Shield, the Lowlands are fairly flat with fewer outcrops, but still characterized by numerous lakes and large rivers such as the Rupert and Eastmain. Along the way to the northern terminus of Radisson, the road passes through hour after hour of taiga, or spruce forest with occasional larch, and later, jack pine.