Manitoulin Eco Park

Manitoulin Eco Park


2 rustic family campgrounds plus, on Highway 6 less than 10 minutes north of the ferry.  1) climax-forested and close to showers, playground, mini-putt, store, and a small WiFi access area,  2) open-field in Canada’s first RASC-designated commercial Dark Sky Preserve for astronomy enthusiasts,  plus 3) a scatter of hike-in tent sites for serious birders and trackers.  Established in 1990, this 260+ acre site hosts miles of hiking trails through 4 distinct ecozones, several rental Teepees and Bunkies for the tent-averse, 3 forest sites with 20 amp service (no water or sewage hookups) plus a plethora of trailer or RV sites for the self-sufficient, and an increasing roster of family-friendly and accessible stellar and nature events.

Ph. 705-859-2470

Also in the area

Screaminreels Sportfishing Charters

Screamin' Reels

Sportfishing Charter

Captain Moe Gauthier is a full time Fishing Guide on Manitoulin Island.

He is the Owner/Operator of Screamin’ Reels Fishing Charters based out of South Baymouth,
Manitoulin Island.

With over 20 years fishing the waters of Lake Huron. Captain Moe grew up fishing and hunting Manitoulin Island. He is extremely knowledgable of the island and the water’s surrounding it.

Capt. Moe operates a 30ft Sea Sport Fishing boat and has the latest technology onboard.
This aides him in giving his clients “a trip to remember for a lifetime”. His passion for fishing is evident the moment you step on the Screamin’ Reels.

Captain Moe won 1st place and has multiple top 10 finishes in the Manitoulin Salmon Classic Fishing Derby.

Captain Moe Gauthier


Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory Cultural Festival

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory
Cultural Festival

August 5th, 6th & 7th

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.

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.

Little Schoolhouse Museum

Little Schoolhouse Museum

South Baymouth

It’s a little harder to imagine now, looking around the busy ferry transportation hub that is South Baymouth in the summer, the two-family fishing base of 1878 that became the foundation of a booming fishing industry, when the village became known as ‘The Mouth.’

The original fishing families, the Ritchies and the Wilmans, joined by other pioneers, also built the first school in 1891. Heading south to the ferry, that school is the last building before the terminal–a bright red wood structure, trimmed in white, with belfry and bell, it is now part of the complex known as the Little Schoolhouse and Museum, just the place to explore the humble but ambitious beginnings of the port village.

The Little Schoolhouse was in use until the 1960s and is fully furnished with all the accoutrements conducive to learning–small wooden desks, blackboards behind the teacher’s desk and cards along the top with the perfect cursive writing all pupils had to master, a globe, a wall map of the world, a woodstove, all authentic to Manitoulin schools in the 1940s.

The separate Museum building a few feet away, opened in 2001, is a large, bright space holding captivating displays on all sides and curio cases in the centre that feature this community’s important role in the development of the Island economy. Highlighted are the early activities of catching, salting and shipping fish, the subsequent commerce in fresh fish, the families, Green, Chisholm, Sim, Owen, who joined the original two in building South Baymouth’s thriving fishing industry, the beginnings of regular ferry service to and from Tobermory with the 14-car ‘Normac’ in 1932.

Among the mounted photos of early settlers, mills and scenes of home and farm life are a hundred-year-old ‘Log Cabin’ quilt, an alcove honouring spinning and weaving arts, the community’s first telephone switchboard, and photos and artifacts of WWI and WWII donated by local veterans’ families.

The Museum devotes a section of the exhibition area to the enduring story of the ‘ghost town’ of Michael’s Bay; the site of the old mill town lies 15 kilometres west of South Baymouth. Here, in the place of a former Odawa settlement that dates to the 1600s, as soon as Tehkummah was surveyed in 1866, a mill was built on the rushing Manitou River that before long cut and shipped millions of feet of pine, squared timbers and lath; in 1879, a town plot was laid out. Called ‘Stumptown’ for its only major commercial activity, timbering (which some say account for the rapid rise and fall of Michael’s Bay), it saw the building of boarding houses, stores, a hotel, taverns, a bakery, a school and soon spawned such occupations as millwright, cooper, carpenter, lighthouse keeper, fisherman. By the mid 1880s, the population of Michael’s Bay had grown to 400 souls.

The whole settlement burned in 1914, razing the mill and the homes and businesses to the ground; the booming town that had appeared overnight similarly vanished in smoke. All that is left today is a large expanse of flat field next to the falls where the mill stood, now almost totally hidden by large trees.

The mandate of the Michael’s Bay Historical Society (MBHS) is “dedicated to preserving the history and restoring the Michael’s Bay Townsite …. with the goal of purchasing the land.” The MBHS seeks to protect the five found cemeteries from development; one of these, a Methodist burial ground where 43 graves were found, is roughly signed on Michael’s Bay Road and may be visited by taking a short path leading into an overgrown, leafy glade where underfoot, little white crosses now bloom in the dense ground cover.

For now, the Michael’s Bay town site is under the auspices of the Federal Government due to an ongoing series of complicated previous land dealings; the old ghost town is closed to public access. Outstanding issues, including the Indigenous burial grounds and Anishinaabe land claims, must be resolved. 

The Little Schoolhouse Museum is the repository of the old survey maps of the town plot of Michael’s Bay and of records, photos and artifacts of the time of the lumber boom, the bust years that followed and of the ultimate tragic fire. There’s not much left now but the poignant memories and artifacts of Manitoulin’s first lumbering town and of the dreams and aspirations, not only of the early builders of South Baymouth and Tehkummah Township, but of those of seek to preserve them.

The Little Schoolhouse and Museum, South Baymouth. Tel: 705-859-3663. Open daily (May to October) 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Admission by donation.

The Michael’s Bay Historical Society welcomes inquiries and new memberships ($10 annually) by mail at P.O. Box 7, South Baymouth ON P0P 1Z0

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.

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.

Manitoulin Eco Park

Manitoulin Eco Park

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

Manitoulin Eco 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. Star-gazing night hikes, Perseid events and much more.

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.

Bowerman Trails in South Baymouth

Bowerman Trails in South Baymouth

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

About the 
Bowerman Trails in South Baymouth

While you’re waiting for the Chi-Cheemaun ferry, or after you disembark, this trail is a great diversion. Access points are off the small boat harbour parking lot and across from the boat launch (south of the ferry terminal building) and also off Green Street in the same area. The trails take you up limestone steps, through the bush and offer Lake Huron views. Allow 1 hour.

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.

Garden’s Gate Restaurant

Garden's Gate Restaurant

Fine Dining • Takeaway

Garden's Gate Restaurant

‘Vibrant Gardens and Fine Dining’ is the way the owners-operators-chef advertise this unique dining spot that operates spring, summer and early fall (until Thanksgiving.) The restaurant in Tehkummah beside Highway 542 and on the banks of the Blue Jay Creek is situated in a beautiful ever-changing garden and features unique specials using Manitoulin sourced ingredients. “A gift for the senses.”

Contact Information:

316 Hwy 542, Tehkummah

Windfall Lake

Windfall Lake

Keen fishermen may find:

Windfall Lake

Its name presumably derives from an area of blown down trees that once distinguished its shore (or maybe it was just one fallen tree that tripped up a surveyor?), but the other meaning of the word seems suitable too. You can readily imagine someone stumbling upon this pretty, spring-fed lake and thinking of it as an unexpected stroke of good fortune.

Even long-time visitors of this smallish lake in the Sandfield part of Central Manitoulin find themselves delighted anew. “Every time I go there, I fall in love with the lake all over again,” a veteran fishing guide told me..

This guide began frequenting the lake in the 1960s, taking guests from Lake Manitou’s Timberlane Lodge out on Windfall for a day of bass (and later, pickerel) fishing. Although a resort named Windfall Cottages for a while sprouted on the north shore of the lake, at that time there was very little here.

“Venus Middaugh, who’s gone now, had a boat up there where the cabins are, an old wooden boat that he’d pulled on shore because there was no dock, and he’d rent it out for the day,” recalled the guide. “Of course, when you keep a wooden boat that out of the water, the seams dry up, you could see daylight between the planks. We’d have to soak it in the water, and even then it leaked the whole time we were out fishing.”

These days most people access the lake from the public launch in the south end of the lake. It’s located amid the 20-lot Dial Subdivision and can be reached by following Trail’s End Road from Highway 542, then turning onto the Dial Road.

The lane to the boat ramp is well marked but steep, making launching tricky. Township CAO Ruth Frawley, whose parents built a cottage on the lake over 50 years ago, says she’s seen “cars actually floating there.” The township has improved the launch, but four-wheel-drive Is still advisable, particularly if you have a hefty boat.

My canoe weighs 50 pounds soaking wet, so I slid it off the roof of my rig and plopped it in the water. Ahead of me spread Windfall Lake, lightly combed by wind, not a single other boat in sight.

You can see pretty much the whole lake, shaped like a cordate leaf, from any point on its circumference, but it’s not a tiny pond. It’s nearly two miles long, and over a mile wide.

The depth varies. According to my guide buddy, even in the middle of the lake you might have just 10 feet of water. Yet just north and east of the public launch, there’s a 50-foot-deep channel, a half mile long by a quarter mile wide, that people call the “Blue Hole,” He says that “the pickerel go down in there when the weather’s hot.”

Windfall Lake was once prized for its pickerel, which were introduced in the 1940s. “We had wonderful walleye fishing there for 30 years, but the word got out, and in 10 years they cleaned her right down, taking the great big spawners,” my friend says ruefully.

There are still some pickerel in the lake, however, “they’re there if you know how to fish for them,” says the guide. “The sad part is that 70 per cent of the ones you get now are the two or three pounders that you have to put back, because they’re in the slot size of 16 to 22 inches.”

For many years pickerel were netted in Windfall Lake by the MNRF and fish hatcheries, and “milked” for their roe and milt. Some of the fry reared from those eggs would be returned to the lake, while others would be planted elsewhere.

Pike were large and plentiful at one time, too. Mr. Hayes recalls hooking a 16-pound pike that “looked like it had quills sticking out of its mouth.” As voracious as pike famously are, it wasn’t the case, however, that this one had attempted to ingest a small porcupine. “They were hooks,” explains my friend. “Nine or 10 nickel-plated and gold-plated hooks, which last, so they’d stayed in its mouth. Every time someone had caught this fish, probably with a light line for perch or bass, it had snapped the line.”

He says that more than 30 years ago, “I could go in there and catch my limit of pike. We’ve got them in there up to 18 pounds, nearly as long as a canoe paddle, over 40 inches.”

While you’re unlikely to find such behemoths now, the fishing guide maintains that “for a small lake, it’s still pretty good; if you want to work for it, you can catch a pike or two.”

I didn’t bring a fishing rod when I visited Windfall, just my paddle. As I paddled, I tried to imagine a pike the length of my paddle. Then I thought about pike poles, those long shafts with spearheads on the end. For the first time ever, it dawned on me that pike were likely named for their resemblance to these medieval weapons, not only because of the pointy snouts, but because of their length.

The lake remained perfectly quiet and utterly barren of boats. I didn’t see a single human being. At one point I caught the whiff of a barbecue, emanating from somewhere deep in the Dial Subdivision, but that was the only indication of sentient life. Unless you count the blue heron that flapped lazily along the tops of the trees, looking for a place to land.

The eastern shore I was following had a rocky limestone shore, densely clad in cedars, juniper bushes, maples, oaks and a few wind-toppled poplars. Windfalls!

There were wildflowers too: bright orange wood lilies, daisies, a profusion of small yellow flowers that I didn’t recognize (they weren’t snap dragons or butter cups, I know that).

There were still no other boats on the lake. I took my time heading back, pausing here and there to rest and gaze down into the remarkably limpid water.

Nearby places to stay, eat and play

Apart from being an exceptionally clear lake, Windfall is also one of the Island’s highest lakes, and unique in having neither an inlet nor an outlet. “It appears to be all spring fed,” says my guide buddy. He’s has seen some of these springs. “while canoeing you can look down and see them, a circular area about the size of bathtub, with water bubbling out,” he told me.

I tried in vain to see a spring from my canoe. I believe that they exist, but I didn’t see one. I got tired of leaning over my canoe and looking, plus it started to seem like a good way to dump.

The question I had, while paddling back down serene, silent, seemingly abandoned Windfall Lake, was: who’s going to rescue me if I suddenly get hit by a rogue wave or freak bolt of lightning? That guy whose barbecue I smelled an hour ago?

But I wasn’t worried. Indeed, I felt lucky to be paddling on such a peaceful, unpopulated lake. It seemed like a, well, unexpected stroke of good fortune.