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North America > Canada > Ontario > Northern Ontario > Manitoulin Island
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Manitoulin Island is large island in northern Lake Huron in the province of Ontario, Canada. It is the largest fresh water island in the world.



Manitoulin means "spirit island" in the Ojibwe language. The island remains a sacred place for the natives although they have had their share of troubles. The first to settle on the island was a French Jesuit priest named Joseph Poncet who set up a mission in the mid 17th century. His stay did not last long since the Iroquois drove him and other visitors away. The island was burned by the Natives in order to purify the land once again.

Native people returned to the land once it was set aside as a refuge for them. A Roman Catholic mission was set up in 1838 and less than a decade later it was taken over by the Jesuits. In 1845 the treaty opened up the island for settlement by non-natives. The Wikwemikong chief refused the treaty and the reserve is to this day unceded. An Ontario Historical Plaque is now on the grounds of the Assiginack Museum to honour Manitoulin Island’s place in Ontario’s heritage. The Aboriginal culture on Manitoulin Island is still strong.

Get in

There are two ways to get to Manitoulin Island: by car, or by boat. The swing bridge at Little Current, at the northeastern tip of the island, connects Manitoulin to Ontario's highway network. From there, it is a little less than 2 hours by car to Sudbury and almost six hours by car to Toronto.

From mid-May to mid-October, a ferry called the MS Chi-Cheemaun [1] travels from Tobermory to the village of South Baymouth, at the southeastern tip of the island.

Get around

There are lots of cyclists on the Island but there are no trail systems (Trans Canada Trail). Please ensure that safety procedures are taken as you will have to share the road with cars. There are extensive back roads that are quieter and less traveled than the main highway roads.


Numerous festivals, museums, special events and Pow Wows take place each year such as the Haweater Weekend in Little Current and the Wikwemikong Cultural Festival & Pow Wow, which features international Native Dance competitions, as well as local arts and crafts. The Great Spirit Circle Trail hosts walks where you can discover local plant species and their uses. Join the Join the story telling at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation. * The second-largest freshwater beach in Ontario at Providence Bay.


There is some great hiking on Manitoulin Island the most famous of which is the Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail. Don’t miss out on the spectacular views of Just outside McLean’s Mountain Lookout and the Mississagi Lighthouse trail. Bridal Veil Falls and Trail has a picnic area that features huge millstones once used in the Kagawong gristmill. Misery Bay Nature Reserve is a park managed for the protection of its natural heritage and located on an ancient flat rock sea bottom.

  • 1 Misery Bay Nature Reserve Park, P.O. Box 114, Gore Bay, ON P0P 1H0 (35 km west of Gore Bay, ON, 2 km south of Hwy 540, on Misery Bay Park Road). On an ancient flat rock sea bottom. This unique feature, known as an alvar, presents unusual geological viewing opportunities. The Great Lakes Basin has the only alvars found in North America, and most of the alvars found in the world. Manitoulin Island is on the northern rim of this large land feature. The Manitoulin cluster of alvars are the most significant alvars found anywhere in the world. Of special interest to some will be the relict remains of inland beaches left on the rocks at Misery Bay Park by the retreat of three different great prehistoric lakes. The park Centre building is constructed on the most ancient of these relict shorelines. Free.



  • Carol & Earl's Restaurant, 21306 Hwy 6 South Baymouth, +1 705 859-3000.
  • Royal Michael's Bay Restaurant, 8 Michael's Bay Rd, Tehkummah, Ontario, +1 705 859-1111.
  • Tehkummah Take Out, Hwy 542A, Tehkummah, Ontario, +1 705 859-2621.
  • Meldrum Bay Inn, 25959 Hwy 540 Meldrum Bay, toll-free: +1-877-557-1645.


  • 1 Manitoulin Chocolate Works, 160 Main Street (Kagawong), +1 705 282-0961. 10-5. The business was born from the inspiration of two sisters with the creative entrepreneurial spirit. It is the only one of its kind and the chocolates created there are naturally just as special.


Go next

Routes through Manitoulin Island
Ends at Ontario 17.svgTCH-blank.svgEspanola  N Ontario 6.svg S  → ferry Template:Rtarrow TobermoryOwen Sound

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