Points of Interest
Kagawong, a North Channel village located on Highway 540 mid-point between M’Chigeeng and Gore Bay, has it all: history, one of Manitoulin’s landmark natural tourist attractions, a heritage village (complete with lighthouse), a historic pulp mill that now serves as the waterfront municipal office of the Township of Billings, a bubbling brook, hiking trails, art galleries and even a chocolate factory.
That was a very long sentence but Kagawong (which one of the village’s official signs aptly designates it as ‘Ontario’s prettiest village’) just merits a lot of descriptors.
The original, and historic, community grew up around a port on Mudge Bay, the village’s North Channel water feature.
The town was established nearly 150 years ago by two enterprising brothers, the Henrys, from southern Ontario who saw the advantage to them of harvesting the thousands of acres of spruce and white pine that was, at that time, right for the cutting.
Lake Kagwang, above the village, empties into a river, over a very scenic, accessible and photogenic falls and then follows a downhill path to empty into Mudge Bay
The energy from this fall by a canal cut deeply into the limestone, powered Manitoulin’s very first electricity operating station which was built, of course, to provide power to the pulp mill (now the municipal office, Old Mill and, upstairs, home to the Edwards Studio and Gallery).
Cutting timber, and processing it too, were the pioneer village’s charter industries in the late nineteenth century, the time when the collection of buildings in the original village were all built.
In the Kagawong area:
The community has been fortunate in that the original architecture of this collection of heritage buildings has remained largely untouched, so it can be appreciated by both visitors and Manitoulin folks alike.
Along Highway 540, above this vintage village that is oriented to the North Channel, is a whole other collection of newer, but nonetheless interesting buildings and shops.
In the original and historic part of town, hand-made chocolate is available at The Chocolate Works while in the “newer” part of town, at an important intersection visitor can shop for vintage candy and treats at Boo-Bah-Loo Candy Shop.
There is handmade cedar furniture available at the aptly names “Dig and Doug” place (their actual names) which is located right across from the Bridal Veil Esso, a very convenient convenience store that also houses an LCBO agency store.
The outlet from Lake Kagawong flows under Highway 540 (there is a bridge) and on the east side of the road the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has developed a delightful car park and flush toilet privies.
These are there for the benefit of the thousands of people who each year carefully take the steel staircase down to the pool below the aforementioned Bridal Veil Falls and there are landings on the stairway to allow the delightful falls to be viewed and photographed as it splashes into its pool 40 feet below.
This is Kagawong’s important Manitoulin natural feature referred to earlier.