Points of Interest
Constructed in 1913 for rail traffic only, the bridge rested in the open position to allow for the frequent passage of coal freighters through the North Channel. Today the railway is gone, and the 980 tonne bridge provides a link for automobile traffic between Manitoulin and the mainland, excepting 15 minutes on the hour, when it now swings for the Channel’s plentiful cruise boat traffic. The unique swing bridge has been designated an Ontario
The first building on your right after crossing the bridge onto Manitoulin, this aptly-situated building is home to the Island’s best selection of information on what to see and where to stay during your visit.
Find the market downtown on Water St. first thing Saturday morning.
Located just outside Little Current, the lookout on McLean’s Mountain provides one of the most spectacular views of the North and Wabuno Channels with the LaCloche Mountains on the horizon. The lookout includes picnic tables, barbecues and washrooms.
Unless you come to Manitoulin and go back home exclusively via the Chi-Cheemaun ferry service (and the ferry operates each year from the first Friday in May through to the Sunday following Thanksgiving Weekend) then you have to visit Little Current.
The town’s origins stem from a community growing up around the North Channel’s most narrow spot and that spot is precisely where the landmark one-lane swing bridge is located.
The swing bridge is a shared Manitoulin Island, not just a Little Current icon, but it certainly defines this community.
That original traffic to the town, via water, is honoured by the fact that the bridge was built on an enormous central pivot sunk deep into the bedrock of the North Channel on which the giant superstructure swings to allow marine traffic to pass through. Nowadays, this is primarily pleasure cruising, motor yachts and sailboats (for which the bridge opens on the hour, dawn to dusk, during the summer months) although the Port of Little Current is also the port of call to around 25 large Great Lakes passenger cruise ship stops from the late spring through to Thanksgiving.
The history of the town’s waterfront is well documented in a series of large and informative plaques located along an easy-to-walk “linear trail” that begins (or ends) at the town’s large community park at the west end of the waterfront, Low Island Park; it’s an excellent introduction to the town.
Downtown Little Current is Manitoulin Island’s “Fashion Centre” with four shops featuring unique sports apparel. The downtown also features three banks, a pharmacy, barbershop, the landmark Anchor Inn Hotel and Restaurant, the offices of Northern Ontario’s oldest newspaper (The Manitoulin Expositor) the local radio station, gift shops, chip stand, ice cream shop, lawyers’ offices, chiropractor, dental services, laundromat and an art gallery and local museum.
In the Little Current area:
Little Current harbour is also home to the North Channel Cruise Line whose asset is a large, stable cruise boat that, during July and August makes scheduled trips each week to the historic village of Killarney, scenic Baie Fine (a fjord-like bay in Georgian Bay’s northern reaches) and the renowned Benjamin Island, westward along the North Channel. The boat, LeGrand Heron, is tied up (when she’s not cruising) behind the Cenotaph Park.
The rest of the town’s amenities are located along Highway 6 and Highway 540 and include another pharmacy, a hospital with 24-hour emergency service and a medivac helipad on its roof, two grocery stores, more unique restaurants, the town’s craft brewery (Manitoulin Brewing Company) gas stations, churches, the Royal Canadian Legion, a large new hardware and building centre and a large new auto parts centre.
On the festival front, Little Current boasts Haweater Weekend, three days of fun courtesy of Little Current Lions Club. This fun weekend happens on Civic Holiday Weekend each year. (That’s the weekend that contains the first Monday in August. Come on down. It’s a family affair.)
The following weekend, on its own grounds just south of Little Current, country music comes alive with the four days of live country music at Manitoulin Country Fest and, we’re not done yet, the very next weekend is a two-day extravaganza of live “bands from your youth.” That’s the Rockin’ the Rock event, also held at the Manitoulin Country Fest site.