The township comprises the communities of Ahmic Harbour, Ahmic Lake, Cecebe, Cedar Croft, Chikopi, Dufferin Bridge, Magnetawan, North Seguin, Oranmore, Pearceley, Port Anson and Port Carmen, as well as the ghost town of Spence.
The first people to inhabit the region were the Hurons, Ojibway and Algonquins, who would visit the area in the summer for hunting and fishing but sheltered on Georgian Bay in the winter. While some Europeans explored the region in the early 19th century, settlement and colonization by Europeans was hardly taking place, so much so that the government considered turning the entire region into an Indian reserve.
But when pine stands in southern Ontario became depleted, the area attracted loggers and the government changed its mind and encouraged settlement through free land grants, first offered in 1853. Settlement happened slowly but accelerated when the colonization road from Rosseau to Nipissing began being built in 1866. In 1868, the government passed the Free Grand Land and Homestead Act and began advertising this extensively in European countries to attract new immigrants. Croft Township was surveyed in 1869, Chapman Township in 1870, and the village of Magnetawan was mapped out in 1873.
Magnetawan in the Algonquin language means "swiftly flowing river".
Magnetawan is about 25 miles (40 km) west of Burk's Falls, which sits right on Highway 11 on your way to North Bay. From Toronto, take Highway 400 north to 11N to Burk's Falls, and follow the signs to Magnetawan.
- Birds and other wildlife can be observed year-round. If you are a birder, keep the bird book and binoculars handy. Great Blue Herons, Loons, Ravens, and cacaphonies of little finches, warblers and chikadees abound. Chipmunks are everywhere. In the winter, you can watch the deer cross the ice. It is well known of course, to everyone, that the call of the loon tugs at your soul. Sit alone on Ahmic lake one night in June, close your eyes and listen, and you will be transported.
- During autumn the area becomes a blaze of colour as the leaves fall.
- The scenic drive in has abandoned homesteads, cemeteries that are a century old and ghost towns you can explore.
- 1 Screaming Heads, 925-1201 Midlothian Rd, Burk's Falls. A sculpture garden composed of almost 100 large concrete sculptures of screaming heads, and hands, and animals, scattered over hectares of rolling hills. The sculptures have been created by Canadian artist Peter Camani. An annual Harvest Festival takes place on the property the 3rd weekend in September, with life performances, laser light shows, and bonfires. Festival passes cost $245 + service fee + 13% tax. Free, donations welcome.
- Boating and swimming are possible in the numerous lakes and rivers in the area. The primary lakes are Cecebe - up river from Magnetawan (you'll have to go through the locks), and Ahmic, Nehick and Otter lakes, a series of connected lakes downstream, all of which are accessible by boat.
- Fish for bass, pickerel, pike and trout. "Pickerel" is just the local name for the Walleyed Pike. The pickerel fishing is not the same as it was in the 1960s, but you can still catch a large one if you troll deep. The smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. On Ahmic Lake, which is situated just downstream of Magnetawan, you will find hundreds of coves, islands, rocky shoals, all of which great bass fishing areas. If you come across a fisherman and ask, he might tell you where 'the rock pile' is and 'the sunken dock' and the 'little island' and 'forest nook'... then again, he may not.
- In the late spring and early summer, use light lures like Rapalas. Jitterbugs after dark on a calm night. Later in the summer, fish deeper with worms and crayfish. Ahmic is one of the most beautiful lakes in the area. It's 12 miles long with 43 miles of shoreline, much of which is pristine and not developed. There are places on the lake where you cannot see a cottage, a road or another boat. Of course, there will be days when the fish do not feed or bite or rise. Some speculate in their frustration, that Ahmic is an old Indian name for "Lake with No Damn Fish".
- Driving, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking are all possible on the quiet country roads in the area.
- 1 Port Carmen Marina, 3077 Hwy. 520 (4 km east of Magnetawan), fax: . Full-service marina, open 7 days a week.
- Magnetawan Bait & Tackle, ☏ . Hwy 124 & 520.
- 1 Tanner's Dining, 5017 124 Hwy, ☏ . Tu-Su 4:30PM-9PM. British pub food, curries, pastas, steaks. Mains $16-44.
- 2 Quiet Bay Cafe, Chikopi Road and 5333 124 Hwy, ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-2PM, Su 9AM-3PM. Burgers, sandwiches, soup, breakfasts.
- 3 The Swiss Country House, 50 Robinson Drive, Ahmic Harbour, ☏ , toll-free: . Winter Hours: mid-Oct to late May: Tu-F 4PM-8PM, Sa 11:30AM-8PM, Su 9AM-8PM; late May to mid-Oct: M-F 4PM-9PM, Sa 11:30AM-9PM, Su 9AM-9PM. Swiss and Canadian food. Schnitzels, steaks, pickerel. Mains $18-32.
- 4 Magnetawan Grill, 4244 Hwy 520, ☏ . Daily 8AM-8PM. Diner and grocery store.
There's a liquor store on Highway 520 in the village close to the waterfront. For its size it's well stocked. If you are travelling from the U.S., but you can buy your liquor and beer when you cross the border at a duty-free shop. There are restrictions on the amount of beer and liquor you can import. Check before you buy!
- 1 Ahmic Lake Resort, Ahmic Lake Resort Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . Lakefront 1- to 5-bedroom houskeeping cottages, campground, beach and swimming area and boat rentals. Wheelchair accessible cottages available. Camping $40-45, cottages $140-450/night.
- 2 Echo Beach Cottage Resort, 3 Woodland Lane, ☏ , toll-free: . For GPS, locate 187 Victoria Street, and go 300 m further. July & Aug: weekly rentals only, Sep-Jun: 2-night minimum. This is a small resort on 20 acres of meadows, forests, gardens, and lake front. There are 10 waterfront cottages, some with hot tubs or Jacuzzis. There is an extensive array of things to do on site from a sand beach to walking trails, mini golf, basketball volleyball. Echo Beach... far away in time. $325-895/night.
- 3 The Caretaker's Guest House (Carol Pease), 123 Albert St (Hwys 520 or 124 into Magnetawan. Continue on Sparks St (Old Nippising Rd to stop sign at Albert St. Right onto Albert 123 down on the right), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: after 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Open all year round, pet & kid friendly, large fully renovated cozy, farm style home, locations very private but can stroll into the village & locks, beach, etc. 4 bedrooms & guests have complete use of home, laundry, lots of parking, Rental of complete home available, Peeks out at the water & trails outside the door. Can be seen on www.bbcanada.com search #12991. From $75.
- If you have a place to stay the best thing to do is to mess around in a boat. It's been said: "`Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing... `messing--about--in--boats... (Kenneth Graham - The Wind in the Willows)