Wass Tours

Wass Tours

Fishing Charters & tours

Wass Tours specializing in spring rainbow trout and summer salmon offering half and full day charters on Georgian Bay.   

Captain Wassegijig operates a transport compliant vessel certified in SVOP and MED A3 and is knowledgeable of the waters surrounding Manitoulin Island. 

Wass Tours also offers Scenic/Historic Cruises throughout the North Channel, Killarney and Collins Inlet.

 

Captain Luke Wassegijig

Book your charter today!

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Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory Cultural Festival

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory Cultural Festival

August 3rd, 4th & 5th

This event, begun in 1961, is the forerunner of all modern powwow festivals in central Canada and thus it has special status. Colonization had ended the tradition in the 1800s but the idea of traditional gatherings with dancing, drumming and singing never went away. Determining it was time to bring back the tradition to her community and make it public, Rosemary Fisher-Odjig made it part of her life’s work to rekindle the powwow spirit in her community and brought dancers and drummers from Saskatchewan the first year to help her cause. The rest is history and this important festival, held the Civic Holiday Weekend each August is part of a North American powwow circuit that brings competitive dancers from all parts of Canada and the United States where they compete, within their chosen categories, for prizes and cash. It is a very large cultural spectacle with crafts vendors from all over North America on hand.

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Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory Traditional Powwow

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory Traditional Powwow

June 15th & 16th

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory is Manitoulin’s and Northern Ontario’s largest First Nation community so it’s not surprising that it hosts two powwow events each year.

Each is different, though. The traditional powwow is held each year the third weekend in June at Thunderbird Park in the heart of the village of Wiikwemkoong. What makes this event unique is that, each year, it is planned and hosted by one of Wiikwemkoong’s satellite communities and each of these (Buzwah, Kaboni, Rabbit Island, South Bay, Murray Hill) will put their own mark on the powwow when it is their turn to host.

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Theatre

Live Theatre on Manitoulin

Manitoulin Island is able to boast three theatre groups, each of them unique

Burns Wharf Players

Named after the Manitowaning waterfront warehouse (Burns Wharf) where this talented group treated patrons to 15 years of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, the Burns Wharf Players are now bringing musical theatre to the revamped Knox United Church (in Manitowaning, at 25 Napier Street) while their beloved playhouse is being restored. The congregation at Knox United invited the players in and, during the spring rehearsal and late spring performances, have literally transformed the church’s sanctuary into a theatre setting. For details on Burns Wharf Players’ offerings, contact the box office at 1-866-967-8167 or book online at www.burnswharf.net

 

Gore Bay Summer Theatre

Gore Bay Summer Theatre presents two offerings through the month of July each year. This talented and well-directed group of volunteer actors, set designers and carpenters, lighting and sound technicians are also busy in the winter months when they pick a challenging dramatic work, polish it and go on to compete in the Northern Ontario regional drama festival, Quonta. Since they often win this event, they are also often off to Theatre Ontario’s showcase to compete against Ontario’s other regional winners in amateur theatre. The Gore Bay troupe is often successful at the provincial level too.

When you take in a summer production at the Gore Bay Summer Theatre, you’re being entertained by local thespians who hone their craft year-round. To see what’s on, call the box office at 705-2420 extension 3 or visit the town’s website www.gorebay.ca.

When you attend a production at Gore Bay Summer Theatre, you’ll find yourself in the town’s classic community hall at 25 Meredith Street in the downtown core.

De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Storytellers

Debajehmujig Storytellers is one of only a handful of professional Indigenous theatre groups in Canada.

Debajehmujig is headquartered in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory but has its offices, rehersal space and theatre space in the village of Manitowaning at the Debajehmujig Creation Centre at 43 Queen Street.

The troupe has been presenting original work for over 35 years and has toured all across Canada and the United States, Europe and Great Britain.

The players present their own work at the Creation Centre theatre space which also often hosts touring performances.

Having their own theatre space gives Debajehmujig Storytellers flexibility and the versatile year-round theatre space is a real asset to Manitoulin Island’s cultural community.

The Creation Centre is also home to an art gallery with continually changing exhibits and installations.

The Debajehmujig Storytellers pride themselves on also being a land-based operation so crew and cast members get, literally, grounded in the growing season by spending some of their time helping to grow food and, each winter, hosting Manitoulin Island’s first ‘seed swap’ of the season. At Thanksgiving, the storytellers host a ‘Six Foot Festival’ of installations that fit in that space and there is an annual Christmas Cabaret show.

In the summer Debajehmujig Storytellers also often produce plays at Wiikwemikoong within the scenic stone ruins of a two-storey dormitory that once housed the community’s parish priests.

It is located on Wikwemikong Way, on top of one of the village’s highest point beside historic Holy Cross Catholic Church.

To find out what is going on at Debajehmujig Storytellers, visit www.storytellers@debaj.ca or call the theatre office at 705-859-1820.

When you take in a summer production at the Gore Bay Summer Theatre, you’re being entertained by local thespians who hone their craft year-round. To see what’s on, call the box office at 705-2420 extension 3 or visit the town’s website www.gorebay.ca.

When you attend a production at Gore Bay Summer Theatre, you’ll find yourself in the town’s classic community hall at 25 Meredith Street in the downtown core.

Golf

Manitoulin Golfing

If you’re a golfer, by all means pack your clubs and come to Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin is a large island (the biggest one in fresh water in the world) with a relatively small population (13,000-plus) but there are three golf courses here and each one of them is distinct in its features.

“Manitoulin’s Old Course” is the nine-hole Brookwood Brae Golf Course located not only within 2 km of the busy village of Mindemoya but also on the shoreline of Mindemoya Lake, one of Manitoulin’s larger inland lakes.

The nine hole course comes with its own array of bungalow cottages and is neighbour to three more housekeeping cottage businesses and a motel, all within walking distance of the course.

The course has challenging features and is also a fine course for golfers of every skill, especially those who, following their swing, can look forward to a glimpse of the beautiful lake, the large island called Treasure Island whose profile (an old woman on her hands and knees, according to local Ojibwe legend) will come in and out of your view as you play through, giving you the time to make up your own mind about the legend.

Just outside of the North Channel port town of Gore Bay, Manitoulin Golf offers golfers nine holes of bucolic beauty. The course, set in the fertile farmland that marks the Gore Bay area, is both gentle and subtly challenging. Manitoulin Golf is located in the rural township of Gordon/Barrie Island, although primarily agricultural, besides the golf course, is also the proud host of the Gore Bay-Western Manitoulin Airport and, along its share of the North Channel shoreline, one of Manitoulin’s distinctive and historic lighthouses: Janet Head Light.

We’ve covered the golf courses in Manitoulin’s central region and in its West End.

On Manitoulin’s eastern side, and just outside the historic village of Manitowaning, the Rainbow Ridge Golf Course is Manitoulin Island’s championship 18-hole golf course. It is also unique as it is owned and operated by the neighbouring Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. This challenging course has numerous water features and a clubhouse that enables golfers to play their favourite game year-round, in any weather, at the state-of-the-art virtual golf course that has been installed there. Players can choose to play this way at most of the world’s most famous and challenging courses: suddenly, you’re there, at, for example, St. Andrew’s, and you have to match your play to the giant computer-generated vista before you and you must accommodate its perks and foibles as you play through as the virtual program gives you an extremely realistic experience, course by course.

Golf carts and clubs are available to rent at the pro shops at each course. Each club has dining facilities at its clubhouse and you’ll meet Manitoulin Island golfers as you play through or relax in the clubhouses.

Brookwood Brae
Golf Course

Ketchankooken Trail, Mindemoya

manitoulin-island.com/brookwoodbrae/

705-377-4979

Rainbow Ridge
Golf Course

Clover Valley Rd, Manitowaning

rainbowridgegolfcourse.com

705-859-2990

Manitoulin 
Golf

25 Golf Course Rd, Gore Bay

manitoulingolf.com

705-282-2282

Assiginack Museum

Assiginack Museum

Manitowaning

A plaque at the entrance of the Assiginack Museum recounts the years of the ‘Manitowaning Experiment.’ After the Manitowaning Treaty of 1836 formally acknowledged Manitoulin Island as belonging exclusively to the Odawa, Ojibwe and Pottawatomi in perpetuity, the village of Manitowaning–Ojibwe for ‘den of the Great Spirit’–became the centre of the Canadian government’s Indian Department to ‘Europeanize’ the Native inhabitants, with an Anglican clergyman, a doctor and a teacher in residence.

The treaty of 1862, still controversial today, revoked the previous treaty, removed the Native population to assigned reserves–except for Wiikwemkoong that was, and remains, Unceded Territory–and opened the Island to settlement by Scots and Irish immigrants from southern Ontario. The ‘Experiment’ failed, and by 1867, the Indigenous residents had moved out and non-Native entrepreneurs moved in, building mills, homes, general stores, churches, hotels and setting up shop as blacksmith, cabinetmaker, tailor, bootmaker, doctor. By 1879, when The Manitoulin Expositor newspaper was founded and published there, Manitowaning was a most prosperous town.

The Assiginack Museum and Heritage Complex, opened as Manitoulin Island’s first museum in 1955, commemorates the origins of the town of Manitowaning and the Township of Assiginack on its grounds, in its limestone lockup and home for the jailer built on Arthur Street in 1878, and in the adjacent temperature-controlled exhibition and research facilities built in 2000 as a millennium project. This newer space is where curator Kelsey Maguire, who has a degree in English from the University of Guelph, a certificate in Museum Studies from the Ontario Museum Association and a special interest in genealogy, directs visitors who are looking for genealogical information on the area’s early families and their descendants, or for records of old properties.

The archives in the air-conditioned and heated facility are open to researchers by appointment year-round; catalogued are census print-outs, obituaries, family trees, files on existing headstones in cemeteries, records of family farms and properties. “The first Manitoulin Expositor is here,” says the curator, “and most all the hard copies of the paper. Although some are missing, the archive is mostly complete.”

In the exhibition hall below, a large collection of early iridescent lime green ‘vaseline glass’ glows in a glass case and rare china pieces that once graced the grand dining rooms of Manitowaning tastefully attest to the wealth of the townspeople in those days. Most of the museum’s extensive collection has been donated by local families whose ancestors settled here in the 1860s and later. “The biggest part of our collection is the china and glassware,” says Mr. Maguire, and there are enough display cases throughout the museum of the most fanciful blown glass and now-vanished porcelain patterns to amaze today’s visitors with perhaps more ‘minimalist’ domestic tendencies.

The spacious reception room features the affectingly executed scale model boats of Jacob C. Shigwadja; the late model-builder handcrafted large replicas of Manitoulin’s first ferries, including the Normac of the 1930s, the Norgoma and Norisle of the 60s (the latter ferry is berthed just down the street in Manitowaning Bay), and a five foot long cedar model of today’s Chi-Cheemaun, launched in 1974.

The original rooms house tools, taxidermy–no home of distinction was without at least a stuffed loon or fox somewhere–and early domestic implements, all witness to a long-gone way of life. A WWI and WWII military display shows rare vintage photographs of Manitoulin’s uniformed contributors to the war efforts; another room houses the last telephone switchboard in Manitowaning, in use until 1973 when dial phones took over, operated for a time by the Assiginack Museum’s former curator, Jeanette Allen.

We pause before a display of early children’s toys, including a gangly, crudely carved wood doll with hand-painted eyes and mouth: “This one,” says Kelsey Maguire, “was made by my great-grandfather, Jim Leeson, for my grandmother Amy Maguire, nee Leeson, circa the 1920s. It was loaned to the ROM’s Ethnology Gallery ‘Dolls’ Exhibit in 1979. It’s a ‘dancing’ doll. If you sit down and hold a wood shingle off your knee and bounce the doll up and down on it, the hinged legs make it look like it’s dancing.”

Among the picnic tables around the grounds are a restored one room log schoolhouse (1878), moved from Ten Mile Point, a driving shed and a blacksmith shop with authentic period settings in which to imagine life back then. One tiny log cabin, belonging to Philomene Lewis, was moved here from Wiikwemkoong. A photographic history of the area’s first schools is a paean to settler industry in establishing education early on. Here are Budge’s Settlement School (1874), Manitowaning’s Continuation School (1880), the Union School in the Slash (1883) and many more.

The curator, born a Haweater, has always lived in Manitowaning, and he is in his element here, amidst the local mementoes handed down through the generations: “This is my family,” he says, taking in the whole museum complex, from hardscrabble beginnings to later grandeur.

On Friday mornings in summer, a lively market and performance by Debajehmujjig theatre group fills the historic setting with local food, crafts and frolic.

The ‘Historic Walking Tour of Manitowaning’ map, available free at the front desk, lists over forty places of interest in the town.

Assiginack Museum and Heritage Complex: 125 Arthur Street, Manitowaning. Tel: 705-859-3905. Hours in July and August: Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. www.assiginack.ca/assiginack-museum-heritage-complex

Article by

Isobel Harry

Isobel Harry

Isobel Harry is a photographer and writer who has also worked extensively in the field of human rights advocacy. Her photos have been widely exhibited and she has published articles in many magazines; as programmes director and executive director for PEN Canada for twenty years, she worked on behalf of the right to freedom of expression internationally. Now living on Manitoulin Island, Isobel works as a freelance writer and photographer and is a frequent contributor to the weekly Manitoulin Expositor newspaper and the annual This is Manitoulin magazine. Her interests lie at the intersection of arts, culture and human rights.

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Point Grondine Park

Point Grondine Park

Difficulty ★★★★    •    Approx. 2 – 4 Hours

About the 
Point Grondine Park

A First Nation owned and operated recreational park, Point Grondine has over 7,000 hectares of scenic natural wilderness landscape, old growth pine forest, stunning river vistas and eight interior lakes to explore. The trailhead is ideally situated off Killarney Highway 637 nestled between the Killarney and French River Provincial Parks; it is in the northern terminus of the Georgian Bay Coast Trail, a sustainable world-class hiking trail in the spectacular landscape of the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. The park is accessible through mandatory park permits that can be purchased online at www.grondinepark.com or by calling 1-705-859-3477.

You may wish to bring:

Tips from a Local

The trails on Manitoulin Island have some of the best views around. Bring along a camera to capture your trip and leave the trails exactly as you found them so others can enjoy the hikes. Remember: take only pictures, leave only footprints.

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McLean’s Park

McLean's Park

Difficulty ★★★★    •    Approx. 2 – 4 Hours

About the 
McLean's Park

This verdant 100-acre park is located on New England Road, a sideroad off Hwy 6 mid-way between Manitowaning and South Baymouth. The park, about 3km along the New England Rd. features hiking trails based on ancient logging paths. Hardwood bush with some huge trees. The walk takes about 1.5 hours.

You may wish to bring:

Tips from a Local

The trails on Manitoulin Island have some of the best views around. Bring along a camera to capture your trip and leave the trails exactly as you found them so others can enjoy the hikes. Remember: take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Latest on Instagram from

#mcleanspark

Gordon’s Park

Gordon's Park

Difficulty ★★★★    •    Approx. 2 – 4 Hours

About 
Gordon's Park

On Hwy 6, just north of Hwy 542, this private park offers a nature interpretive centre with three complimentary hiking trails through five different eco systems (wetland, forest, meadow, pond, escarpment). The Interpretive Centre features mounted animal displays of bears, wolves, hawks and owls plus interpretive information on mushrooms, fossils, edible wilds, astronomy, birds, trees, wildflowers and animals. Picnic area, pool, mini putt, camping, tipi tenting, B&B and store. Observation Deck, Bird Blind, Dark Sky Sanctuary & Astronomy Observatory.

Visit Gordon’s Park Website

You may wish to bring:

Tips from a Local

Manitoulin hikes can to have a lot of elevation changes over rough terrain. Be sure to pack plenty of water for each person and carry it in a backpack or other hands-free carrier. That way, you’ll have your hands ready to help navigate the trails.

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Bebamikawe Memorial Trail

Bebamikawe Memorial Trail

Difficulty ★★    •    Approx. 2 – 4 Hours

About the 
Bebamikawe Memorial Trail

Located at the end of Beach Road in Wikwemikong, this trail is 14 km of easy to intermediate trails, spectacular lookouts and educational signage. The Outdoor Fitness Park section of the trail is a double track, granular surfaced trail with five fitness stations equipped with outdoor fitness equipment so that trail users can take advantage of resistance training in a scenic natural environment.

Call (705)859-3477 for more information.

You may wish to bring:

Tips from a Local

Manitoulin hikes can to have a lot of elevation changes over rough terrain. Be sure to pack plenty of water for each person and carry it in a backpack or other hands-free carrier. That way, you’ll have your hands ready to help navigate the trails.

Latest on Instagram from

#bebamikawememorialtrail