Points of Interest
Like Little Current, Gore Bay, Spring Bay, Providence Bay and Meldrum Bay, Silver Water is a town of two words: Silver Water (not Silverwater!).
That alone makes it special but so is the town’s community spirit and other interesting features in the small Township of Robinson which surrounds it.
Silver Water was named after, or at the same time, as nearby Silver Lake. This is a small but pristine spring-fed lake with not too many homes and cottages.
The pretty lake features a boat launch at its southern end.
The town itself is a collection of small homes that front Highway 540 and a restaurant, Stop 540. The village’s community spirit has been made evident over the past several years when virtually everyone in town has decorated in early October in the harvest/ Thanksgiving theme and the community has been the back to back to back to back winner in the smaller town category of the local newspaper’s (The Manitoulin Expositor’s) Harvest Glory Days fall/harvest theme decorating contest.
There is a big sign (that’s the prize) at the east entrance to the town along Highway 540 that declares that Silver Water exhibits sustained community spirit.
Highway 540 takes a sharp, right angle turn as it heads west, right in the centre of the hamlet.
But to avoid the turn and to proceed straight ahead takes visitors to Silver Lake.
Before that, however, is the Burnt Island Road, to the left, that leads to an island (Burnt Island) not connected to Manitoulin via short causeway, that is the fishing station of one of Manitoulin’s oldest businesses, Purvis Fisheries, which established itself at Burnt Island in 1882.
In the Silver Water area:
The Purvis fishing family continues to operate the business which is one of the largest commercial fishing operations in Lake Huron.
If you visit Burnt Island during the day, you’ll be able to purchase freshly filleted fish at the dock. Purvis Fisheries has its own processing plant there and also sells fresh fish (and smoked fish too) under its own brand.
In fact, Purvis Fisheries fish from Lake Huron are primarily shipped to Southern Ontario and to markets in the United States.
At one time in the company’s long history, when travel was more difficult, the Purvis family established a company town on Burnt Island, complete with company store, to give their employees places to stay and to shop. Most of these small homes are still there, no longer in use.
For many years, there were also mink and fox farms at Burnt Island when there was a large market for quality fur. What did the animals eat? Fish, naturally.
In Gore Bay, the upper storey of the Harbour Centre on the waterfront is the William Purvis Marine Museum. This Purvis and his wife, both Scots, came to Manitoulin as the lighthouse keeper in the Great Duck Island light, out in Lake Huron about 25 km from anywhere on Manitoulin.
Commercial fishing made sense, Burnt Island was a snug harbour nearby and a change of career led to the creation of an important family business.
The Marine Museum has a great deal of history on the evolution of this industry on Western Manitoulin.
Silver Water has spirit. That’s on the sign.