Day 48 – Magic island

My favourite road in Ontario is the ride down highway 6 from Whitefish Falls to Little Current at 5pm on a sunny summer day. To use a phrase I learned in British Columbia (and which really should not be used east of the Georgia Strait), it makes my heart sing.

The landscape changes here, from the towering pink granite and quartzite rock cuts of the La Cloche Mountain passes to scrubby cedar brush, low dolomite and limestone miniature mesas peeking out from underneath summer scorched pale grasses, and grey and white lichen-covered shale slivers scattered with weathered branches throughout the clearings. The sun glints on the North Channel and the long flat rock steps that gently lead down into the water. Causeways carry the road through the bays of Great La Cloche Island, across the tiny Goat Island and down to the 100-year old swing bridge over the channel to the biggest island of them all, Manitoulin.

The largest freshwater island in the world, Manitoulin — translated from Anishinaabemowin as ‘Land of the Great Spirit’ — is an extension of the Niagara Escarpment that stretches north from New York State through the Bruce Peninsula. Surrounded by water, and dividing Lake Huron from Georgian Bay, it is filled with water too — 108 inland lakes give the island its distinctive scent (I think — but that’s also partly due to the sweetgrass on the wind) and cool breezes, and offer myriad secret fishing spots and swimming holes.

It’s a place of winding country roads, lined with hay fields and dilapidated barns; corn fields golden in the afternoon sun; unique white sand dunes and beaches stretching the shore of Lake Huron as far as the eye can see. The sunsets on Manitoulin are legendary purple, gold and orange affairs, and chances are you’ll be watching the sun fall over a lake. Locally made Farquhar’s Ice Cream has shops in almost every town, and with farmer’s markets almost every day of the week all over the Island and local sweets shops such as the Chocolate Factory in Kagawong, it’s a treat-hunter’s paradise. From fine dining at the Schoolhouse Restaurant in Providence Bay and the Garden’s Gate near Tekhummah to the relatively recent addition of the delicious Lake Huron Fish & Chips in Prov (so good!), you won’t go hungry. There’s even a sweet little espresso bar in Mindemoya.

The island has a long pioneer history and a longer First Nations history, and there’s even evidence of a Paleo-Indian settlement in Sheguiandah. There are several pioneer museums, and the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng First Nation and Great Spirit Circle Trail of Wikwemikong — Canada’s only officially recognized unceded Native land — offer glimpses into the Island’s rich cultural heritage through experiential tours, curated exhibits, and art galleries.

We arrived in Mindemoya at that magic just-before-dinnertime again, and I left the others to set up the trailer at Mindemoya Court Cottages & Campground on the shores of Lake Mindemoya while I ran into town for groceries before the stores closed. The spacious, leafy campground has 18 sites with RV hook-ups, as well as camping cabins, rental RVs, and motel-style accommodation. It’s a great place for families with a huge grassy field and baseball diamond, an idyllic dock (with a diving board that’s been there for at least 29 years and still bounces!) and fishing boats to rent, and suberb fishing and swimming. There are nine cozy two-bedroom housekeeping cottages rented weekly; nightly as available. The owner/manager, Greg Adams, is a rider, and is a great resource for good routes and local rides. Surrounded by trees and accessed by a private gravel driveway off the quiet Ketchankookem Trail, the Court hosts nightly family actitivies: Monday, a potluck BBQ cookout; Tuesday, an all-ages softball game pitting the Chipmunks against the Beavers; and Thursday, a family bonfire complete with songbooks and marshmallows.

After dinner we headed down to the dock for a magic swim in the clear blue-green waters of the lake.

Tomorrow — Alexe’s birthday! We’re going adventuring around the Island.

Photo by Alexandra Sawicki



  1. Great article, Jessie! You do Highway 6 justice.

  2. Well, that certainly made MY heart sing! Wonderful post!

  3. Well said!!!!

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