Largest freshwater island in the world – Manitoulin Island

MANITOULIN ISLAND – means Spirit Island in the Ojibwe language and is the World’s largest freshwater island!  It is 2766km² (1068sq miles) and the island itself has 108 freshwater lakes, some of which have their own islands in them and they in turn also have their own ponds!  So lots of interesting things before we even get started.

We have wanted to visit for years and here we were.  We had traveled in rain for most of the way to this location and then we had to cross the swing bridge into Little Current, and from there we had to drive about 30km to get to our destination which was Mindemoya (meaning the old woman) which is right on Mindemoya Lake.

We arrived at 1.30pm at our campground and what a lovely location they have. It is mainly cottages they rent out and the actual campground is very tiny.  Greg was here to meet us and had told us that he would help us get into our site as it was not easy to get into.

Well he was not kidding, Dave had to go back and forward a good many times and Greg had to remove things so that he could get us into the site.  All this time it is raining!

We eventually got into it and he left us to sort ourselves out and that just seemed to take forever.

The site we had was really nice and large and the way at was laid out had us facing the forest so we did not see neighbours from our  living and work area but beautiful trees.

Lots of birds in this area and sounds we have never heard before.  Once we got sorted and had lunch we took a walk around.  What a great place they even have an area to swim, dive and take boats out for a spin.  Greg is into computers and was so helpful in trying to help Dave have a good WiFi signal for work.

We then had lunch and went out for a drive to the town of Mindemoya to see what they have. On our way out Greg had told us about a fox that is living on his property and she has just had some pups, and as we were driving out we saw her sunning herself on the lawn.  Too lovely for words, but she did not like us being in our monster truck and when we drove past she moved back into the woods.

We also had her mate come into our site.  He came a few times but moved so fast that we could not get a photo.

But this was truly an island in so many ways.  It is small and does not have the big stores here, most are small privately owned businesses by people who live on the island.  The only large stores are for food and they do seem to have a few Home Hardware and Rona stores which supply timber and hardware items which is essential to anyone living here.  Otherwise, only the basics are available, so if you need a big store for anything then the nearest biggish town is Espanola or then it is Sudbury which would take over an hour to get to!  We love this type of place so are happy with this.

We have lots of little Least Chipmunks here at the campground and we can hear them all over the place.  Had a few very small ones come into our site and then run off when they see us coming out.  Also the bird noises here are like nothing we have heard in other provinces.  Also seen lots of Mergansers and our very first Loon in Lake Mindemoya. Watch our short video.

We broke up our travels here so that we could see the whole island.  So our first opportunity we drove from Mindemoya past the lake – stopped in M’Chigeeng to take some photos of the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, then past Honora, Sucker Creek, McLeans Mt. and took in the wonderful scenery, plus got to see Sandpiper Cranes – took some photos but they were quite far away. Then we were in Little Current – this is situated in the Northeastern part of the island.

Went straight to the Tourism Centre and got some more info from them and then they have a trail system right at that location so we went for our first walk, which took us to views of Lake Huron and of course the Swing Bridge, really lovely location.  This bridge connects the island to the mainland and every hour on the hour it swings open, stopping highway traffic to let boats sail through.  We were late for this so we would come back to see this happen later.  However, it was a really nice walk with lots of bird life.  On our way back we got to see Goat Island from a very nice high up location and of course the North Channel in front of it. Then it was back to the truck and into the town centre.

Had a look at the Farmers Market they have here every Saturday and then walked along to view the sweet little town and then down onto the boardwalk, which seems to be new and very nice to just walk along and look at the water and many boats.

We then just drove around looking at the many old homes and all the fascinating architecture.  Took a drive along the waterfront area and got to see the Port of Little Current and Spider Bay Marina – lots of lovely boats of all shapes and sizes

We saw Sisson Park and then ended up at Low Island  which had a beach, swim docks, picnic shelter, playground, skateboard ramps, volleyball courts and a waterfront trail – this trail can be walked right back to the Information Centre.

We had our picnic lunch here and then went for a walk around this park.

Went to Farquhar’s which is a diner and ice cream spot. Had to try their ice cream as they were a local milk company here on the island. We each got a cone and just sat outside eating it, when I noticed it was time to see the bridge swinging open, but it is right near this location, and we got in time to see it swinging closed.  So fascinating to watch as most bridges pull up on both sides and this one swings on a post in the centre.

But it was time to move on and see the rest of the places along this part of the island.

We did a lot of stopping but eventually arrived in Shequiandah – what a beautiful place this was.  This refers to both the village and Sheguiandah First Nation.

Took a drive to the water front area and then back to view the Batman Historic Sawmill, which was in such a lovely location and then across from that we got to see the Bass Lake Creek Fish Ladder – so well looked after and a wonderful little flower garden greets you when you arrive.

The homes in this area had the most well cared for lawns and full of flowers.  Just loved this area to bits!

We then drove on to see the Ten Mile Lookout and what a great lookout it was.  Did not disappoint except that it had clouded over and so the views were not as wonderful but still breathtaking.  Clouds moved away again and it was sunny on the rest of our journey!

We could see the LaCloche Mountains in the distance and this area overlooks part of Manitowaning Bay.  We spent quite a bit of time here and then went to look at the gift store – lots of interesting art work and they had the most amazing collection of porcupine quill boxes that we have ever seen.  Very expensive to purchase but this is a dying art form – not many people do it anymore. They get the quills from the surrounding areas and also from road kill!!  Back on the road, we again saw some more Sandpiper Cranes took more photos!

During this drive the landscape seemed to change as we got further along.  We eventually arrived in Manitowaning.

Again took a drive around and came to the waterfront where they have the S.S Norisle Park – the Ship is docked here and it looked in a very sad way. This ship is the last passenger steamship to be built in Canada after WWII. They also have 19th century grist mill and the Burns Wharf Theatre.  Park had lots of docks and a great sand beach.

Our next stop was to be South Baymouth where the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry takes people to and from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula.  We so wanted to do this but the ferry is not running much until July when most Canadian folk take summer holidays.

This place was like nothing we expected.  What a great location.  This area was called Sagradawawong – the outlet – by early inhabitants.

We took a walk around the Ferry Dock and then found a boardwalk to walk on the many interesting rocks in the area and to view the wonderful lighthouse.  Stopped to look at the Little School House Museum – again closed but we got to see this wonderful building that dates back to the 1800s.

Drove past but did not stop in Tehkummah.  But did stop in Sandfield. Right on the road  we came to the dam and the area that they have started raising fish.

We so wanted to see Lake Manitou (104km² – 40.5sq. miles) as it is the largest lake in a freshwater island in the world.  Such a peaceful place and this lake was just so still, not a ripple in sight.

This lake feeds the Manitou river which used to power a grist mill in the 1800s!  This was a really wonderful location and it was a good note to end the day on.

On our way home we got to see more Sandpiper Cranes and on closer inspection we could see one all on its own and took a few photos which were the best we have got so far – they are very camera shy!  But still not the best and we hoped to get another chance to photograph them.

It was fun doing this part of the island and we planned to break up the next few bits of exploring as well.

 

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