Mindemoya is often referred to as the “hub” of Manitoulin and, indeed, the Mindemoya-based Central Manitoulin Lions Club has club pins that show a hub (the centre of a spoked wheel) located on a stylized Island map about where Mindemoya and its namesake lake are located.
The axis of the hub, the intersection of Highway 542 and 551, is the centre of a thriving business district that includes Manitoulin’s largest supermarket, her largest sporting goods stores (the Up-Top Sports Shop) which is located on the second storey of one of the Island’s largest hardware store (DA Williamson and Sons—more than 90 years in the same family.)
Mindemoya is home to the Island’s Chrysler dealership (Manitoulin Chrysler), two veterinary practices, three restaurants, two banks, a Home Hardware building supply, auto repair shops, legal services, a pharmacy, ladies fashion shop, the Manitoulin Inn (a large motel), Manitoulin’s only furniture and appliance store (Jake’s, at that downtown intersection) and, nearby, on Highway 542, a shop that sells cottage décor, souvenirs and also rents kayaks and paddle boats. On Highway 551, a modern bed and breakfast facility located in a beautiful large house built recently was designed successfully to emulate a classic Victorian home (The Gables B & B).
There are four churches in town (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Missionary and United) and in early December each year, these churches cooperate for an Advent spectacle, the Journey to Bethlehem, in which a large number of area people, primarily members of the town’s churches, recreate a colourful, noisy and very moving representation of what it might have been like for Mary and Joseph coming into a busy Judean market town where there was “no room at the inn.”
So that’s the town. Now for the lake… Lake Mindemoya is the smallest of the Island’s three large lakes but it has a unique feature: a large island looms out of it, not quite in the lake’s centre but not close to any shoreline.
In the Mindemoya area:
It’s called Treasure Island. It is owned by U.S. interests now, but for nearly half of the twentieth century, it was a large tourist resort owned and operated by a local couple, Joe and Jean Hodgson. It was full of music and lots of fresh-caught fish and its memory is a very present one in the area.
Mindemoya is the Ojibwe word for ‘Old Woman’ and legend has it that Nanabush, The Trickster in Anishnabek culture and tradition, “accidentally” tossed his grandmother into Lake Mindemoya. The island in the lake, looked at long and hard (and with some imagination) can be seen as the shape of an old woman on her hands and knees where she landed (or is she eternally striving to stand back up?) and so the lake was named.
The aforementioned Joe Hodgson whimsically named the roadway that follows the south end of the lake “Ketchankookem Trail” and so it remains. Brookwood Brae Golf Course, (nine picturesque holes and a fine clubhouse club and cart rentals) is the Islands’s original course. There are housekeeping cottage businesses clustered along the lake (along this roadway are Island Springs, Pirate’s Cove, Cedar Grove, Mindemoya Court and the Idyll Glen Campground.)
There is a public beach and boat launch just past the golf course on Ketchankookem Trail.
Mindemoya is also an important medical centre and the Mindemoya Site of the Manitoulin Health Centre is located on Highway 551 at the northern approach to the community.
Courtesy of the Central Manitoulin Lions Club Mindemoya’s ‘Big Day’ is the weekend closest to Canada Day each year when people come far and wide to celebrate Homecoming Weekend with great food, a terrific parade, a great triathlon event (canoeing, running and biking), ball games, of course, fireworks.
The Welcome Centre, along Highway 551 close to its Highway 542 intersection, also showcases the work of Central Manitoulin Historical Society. Behind the centre, there is a replica covered bridge across a small (often dry) stream that leads to a small but interesting collection of pioneer building and agricultural equipment that have been moved to this site.