Turners of Little Current

Turners of Little Current

About 
Turners of Little Current

Turners Store, in the heart of Little Current’s unique waterfront downtown area, has been filling the needs of local people and visitors for 140 years. Its upstairs art gallery is a relatively new addition to this historic family business but the many pieces, mostly paintings, on display and for sale are well chosen and representative of the talented artists who derive their inspiration from Manitoulin Island and the North Channel. Adjacent to the museum is a private museum, open to the public, where the Turner family artifacts, documents and photos demonstrate the history and early days of the Port of Little Current. Open daily in July and August (Sunday hours are 11 am to 3 pm.) Closed Sundays the rest of the year. 

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Whitefish River First Nation Traditional Powwow

Whitefish River First Nation Traditional Powwow

August 17th & 18th

This annual event at Whitefish River First Nation (Birch Island) is held in a place special not only to its home community but special to the entire region. The powwow grounds are located at the foot of Dreamer’s Rock, a high point in the community that young men would climb as part of their vision quest and, after days of fasting, would sleep in the natural indentation at the height of Dreamer’s Rock and dream of what their future would be. The Whitefish River (Birch Island) Powwow is held the third weekend of August each year. Whitefish River First Nation is located on Highway 6 about 14 kilometres north of Little Current. The powwow grounds are accessed off Sunshine Alley (which intersects with Highway 6).

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Sheguiandah First Nation Powwow

Sheguiandah First Nation

July 6th & 7th

Sheguiandah First Nation’s annual traditional powwow is held each year the first weekend in July at the community’s waterfront powwow grounds. The beautifully treed setting ensures that there’s shade enough for all and this event is one of the most popular of Manitoulin Island’s Powwow season. The food and crafts vendors are also nestled among the trees and the ambience of this event is one of calm tranquility. Sheguiandah First Nation is located on Highway 6, 10 km south of Little Current.

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Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation Powwow

Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation Traditional Powwow

June 1st & 2nd

The Aundek Omni Kaning traditional Powwow festival is the first Manitoulin Island powwow event of the season each year, taking place the first weekend of June. The community’s park also doubles as the powwow grounds with the North Channel as the backdrop. AOK’s powwow grounds are quite close to the community’s housekeeping cottage tourism rentals called Endaa-Aang (our place). Aundek Omni Kaning First Nation is located on Highway 540, six kilometres west of Little Current.

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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.

North Channel Cruise Lines

North Channel Cruise Lines

• Discover the magnificent
North Channel •

We offer a variety of maritime services on the waters around Manitoulin. From the Killarney region to the western reaches of the North Channel – our events program is comprised of Regularly Scheduled Adventures offered to the public. Our public events calendar is then carefully woven in with a busy private charter and motor coach agenda. 

Our signature tour offerings are comprised of main feature tours operated weekly in the summer and each one is quite diverse from the others. The main tours are known as “Sunset Dinner Cruise” – all with quality live entertainment aboard, “The Benjamin Islands“, “Baie Fine Fjord” and “Voyage to Killarney” adventures. In addition to these events, we are often create unique theme and seasonal offerings such as our Country Fest Songwriter Showcase and numerous dates with top notch live entertainment. From pirate parties to fall colours, we regularly add new events to keep our product range dynamic.

Contact Information:

1 Water St West, Box 596 Little Current, On, P0P 1K0

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Centennial Museum

Centennial Museum

Sheguiandah

Two museums within easy access to each other, in Little Current and Sheguiandah, each distinctive, tell of prehistoric peoples, of the settlers of large homesteads, the builders of towns and villages, the entrepreneurs and their struggles to establish a foothold on largely forested Manitoulin Island beginning in the 1860s when the land was first opened to settlement.

Up the wide, old staircase to the second floor in Turners store on Water Street in Little Current, tucked into a far corner, is the tiny one-room museum dedicated to the Turner family and mercantile history of the last 140 years. A bit like stumbling upon a cache of treasures in great- (or great- great-) grandfather’s attic, the museum’s collection is stacked here and there throughout the little space in and on old glass store cases and counters; an ancient typewriter collects dust beneath the stern gaze of Turner ancestors whose framed photos cover the walls; yellowed newspapers proclaim achievements, wins in boat races and milestones in the business and political life of the town. 

When Isaac and Elizabeth Turner arrived in Little Current in 1877, they had only stopped to rest for a few days before continuing on their journey west in pursuit of advantageous land prices, but the aspect of the flourishing Manitoulin town pleased Elizabeth and she refused to move on. Two years later, Turners was established as a dry goods store, selling everything from flour to rubber boots, pots and pans and cloth by the yard.

Little Current was booming in 1879, having been surveyed in 1864-65, after the Treaty of 1862 removed the Indigenous residents, who had been living on their lands and operating businesses there since the 1850s, to the small nearby reserve of Sucker Creek (now Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation).

On the steamer route, Little Current became a market town, boosted by the huge trade in lumber. In about 1874, the first small sawmill was built, then the larger Red Mill in 1886 and two other large mills shortly after, hiring hundreds of men and sheltering them in boarding houses along the waterfront.

Later, Turners became widely known for its fine British china and wool; it was the place to shop for mohair sweaters, coats of camelhair, cashmere shawls, linens for table and bed and clothing for the whole family, all imported from England. “Canada’s oldest nautical chart dealer” still sells charts, reflecting the family’s passion for boating of Grant Turner who founded the Great Lakes Cruising Club, and of Jib Turner, a sailor of some repute. The iconic Turners map of Manitoulin was developed by Barney Turner in 1949 after he took a course in cartography; that map, with some improvements in the 1960s and in 2006, has been a big seller for seventy years, its vintage look a favorite of souvenir hunters.

Debby and Jib Turner are the owners of Turners today, in the same building the store has occupied since 1913 when it was built by George Strain, after Turners had occupied two other town locations. “We’re the fifth generation of Turners to carry on the family business,” says Debby Turner, “and we’re waiting on the 6th and 7th generations of customers who have shopped here since the doors opened in 1879.”

“Since the high import tariffs of British Trade Act were imposed in the 1970s, Turners has moved toward becoming wholly Canadian, specializing in more Canadiana and local art in the upstairs gallery,” adds Ms Turner. “Turners of Little Current is still in small part a department store but is mostly focused on quality Canadian products while our new store in Elliott Lake is truly a department store. In a way, Turners has come back to its roots.”

Turners of Little Current, 17 Water St, Little Current. Tel: 705-368-2150 Open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 5:30 pm; Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. www.turners.ca

Just 10 kilometres south of Little Current on Hwy 6, the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah offers a sweeping survey of this area’s origins, beginning with the earliest human activity. Artifacts on display, excavated from a quartzite outcrop nearby known as Sheguiandah Hill and carbon-dated by archeologists to 10,000 years ago, are evidence of quarrying by the first humans on Manitoulin Island after the last Ice Age. In 1954, the Sheguiandah archeological site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada, along with the habitation area that encompasses today’s village of Sheguiandah.

Large descriptive panels outline the anthropological periods here and the two excavations of the 1950s and the 1990s that definitively confirmed the age of the findings; glass cases hold the ancient spear points, hide scrapers and other prehistoric tools that define this museum as unique on the Island.

Like its neighbour Little Current, Sheguiandah was a lumber boomtown at the turn of the twentieth century, with three water-powered mills in operation by 1902: a grist mill (for grinding grains into flour), a sawmill and a woolen mill. A map available free at the museum takes visitors on a historical walking tour through the village of Sheguiandah, highlighting the mills, cheese factory, milliner’s shop, blacksmith, school, post office and hotel of olden days.

The luxuriant grounds of the Centennial Museum are filled with several log cabins furnished in period detail and turn of the century farm machinery; picnic tables and lawn chairs invite visitors to relax and soak up the history of this ancient place.

The modern building housing the Museum itself opens onto a hallway lined with photographs of the area’s first settlers, introducing visitors to the Heis, Nicholson, Skippen, Batman and Lewis families that arrived here over 150 years ago. A family feeling pervades the museum, with an authentic recreation of a cozy bedroom with beautifully hung starched cotton nightdress; other vintage clothing in rich-coloured, well-preserved fabrics dot the room among a selection of antique musical instruments: an elaborately-carved Newcombe piano, a violin and a concertina that enlivened homesteaders’ long winter evenings.

The Museum hosts a wide range of events each year: the annual Heritage Alive Art Exhibition runs from July 18 until August 15, and the Manitoulin Fine Arts Association Members’ Art Show from August 20 until September 8. The full line-up of summer and fall events is listed on the website.

Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, 10862 Highway 6, Sheguiandah. Tel: 705-368-2367. Open 9 am to 4:30 pm every day from May to October. www.townofnemi.on.ca/places/museum

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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Little Current Recreational Walking Trail

The Little Current Recreational Walking Trail

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

About the 
Little Current Recreational Walking Trail

A 12km path that includes minimal elevation changes, a compact surface, trail lighting, benches and directional signage. This beautiful trail loops around the entire town of Little Current and includes a picturesque stretch of roughly 5 kilometers following the shoreline of the North Channel. Along this stretch, you will find a series of historic plaques depicting our rich marine heritage. Visit Low Island as the trail circles the perimeter of our waterfront park (1km) where you can enjoy exercise and playground equipment, a beautiful sand beach, soccer and baseball fields, shaded pavilions and washroom facilities.

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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North 46 Restaurant

North 46 Restaurant

Fine Dining • Traditional Food • Events

About North 46 Restaurant

In Little Current, overlooking the North Channel, this fully licenced restaurant is part of the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre and is located just past the swing bridge entry point. There are usually Indigenous-themed offerings on the menu and the restaurant’s kitchen also supports a large ballroom suitable for receptions and parties.

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Contact Information:

66 Meredith St. E., Little Current

The Anchor Grill

The Anchor Grill

Bar/Restaurant • Takeaway

About the Anchor Grill

The Anchor Inn Hotel literally anchors the west end of Little Current’s front street. The large restaurant, The Anchor Grill, and accompanying and equally large barroom have held pride of place for well over century on the sidewalk level of this grand old late nineteenth century brick building. The Anchor Grill also features a front-street summer patio overlooking the busy waterfront.

Daily specials at lunch and dinner. Fully licenced.

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Contact Information:

1 Water Street, Little Current