Points of Interest
There are a couple of features, three actually, that make these communities unique. First of all, it’s actually a side-by-side twin community comprised of Sheguiandah village, part of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands. Cheek-by-jowl, the neighbouring community is Sheguiandah First Nation: two communities, similar names.
One of the other unique features of these places is highlighted by a highway sign, prominently visible from Highway 6 as visitors approach “the Sheguiandahs” from the north, coming from Little Current. The sign heralds the community as 9,500 years old.
That’s right: there has been continuous human activity here for close to 10,000 years.
We know this because in the mid 1950s, and then again in the early 1990s, exhaustive archeological research in the area has demonstrated that the high outcrop of high-quality quartz rock was accessed over millennia by people seeking precisely the right kind of rock they could shape into spear and arrow tips as well as other useful tools.
The Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, on the east side of Highway 6 just south of the Townline Road intersection, has a brand-new and interactive display that lets visitors explore the unique origins of this community. The museum is open daily from the Victoria Day long weekend in May until the end of October.
One of the museum’s features is a pioneer village of log buildings moved to the site, each of which has its own history, usually related to a local pioneer family.
The salvaged wreckage of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosvelt’s mail plane scuttled at its dock near Birch Island in 1943 when the wartime president was enjoying a week long (and top secret) fishing trip in the area. The salvaged wreckage is on display in one of the outbuildings.
The community’s restaurant, Green Acres, is a neighbour (it’s right on Highway 6 too) and right across the road from Green Acres is the Manitoulin Soap Factory where useful souvenir creations are created daily.
Another feature of the community, sitting alongside Bass Lake Creek, is the reproduction of the 1880s Batman’s Mill, complete with water wheel. This is a much-photographed spot and there are benches in a small park across from the mill that encourage visitors to sit and listen.
A short walk (30-seconds) down the creek’s side brings visitors to the Little Current Fish and Game Club’s and the Manitoulin Streams organization’s “Fish Ladder Viewing Platform.”
As you drive (or walk) through the village (especially the older part on the east side of Highway 6) you will see informative plaques placed on posts at a readable height throughout the community. These describe the original use of these historic properties and, taken all together, they describe a busy, vibrant late nineteenth and early twentieth century hub of rural activities.
Take the road through the old village, follow the shoreline, and you’ll find the municipal dock and boat launch together with a massive blue Muskoka chair overlooking Sheguiandah Bay. Sit there for a souvenir photo.
In the Sheguiandah area:
Now go on back to Highway 6 and, if you still have energy, the Lewis Twin Peaks Hiking Trail has its trailhead just across from the Centennial Museums main Highway 6 entrance.
If you want to stay, Sheguiandah boasts a motel, Paradise Motel, White Haven housekeeping cottages in the older part of the village and two excellent campgrounds (Batman’s Cottages and Campground and Green Acres Campground, www.greenacrespark.ca.).
The other half of the Sheguiandah pairing is Sheguiandah First Nation.
On the west side of Highway 6, you will find the Manitoulin Trading Post that boasts the longest hours of any gasoline sellers on Manitoulin and open 365 days per year service. There is a large convenience/ camping store there too.
Just across the highway from the store, a street leads to the First Nation communitys cultural, health and administration hubs.
The street leads past, on the left, an historic Anglican church and cemetery (now no longer is use) and then the communitys powwow grounds and park on Sheguiandah Bay. The powwow is held the first weekend in July each year and for many veteran powwow goers, this one is their favourite event of the cultural season.
To the rear of the powwow grounds stands a large roundhouse, used for indoor cultural events and unique on Manitoulin Island.
Following the road, you will pass the communitys wellness centre and then the band office and community hall with Sheguiandah Bay as its backdrop and, across the bay, a glint of white quartz in the sunlight is a reminder of the long-ago origins of these twin communities.