Welcome to Manitoulin Island
Hello, Aanii, Bonjour! Welcome to beautiful Manitoulin Island – Mnidoo Mnising in the Anishnaabeg language – the Heart and Spirit of the Great Lakes of Canada!
Manitoulin Island is unique in many ways – it is the world’s largest sweet water or freshwater Island. It has more than a hundred inland lakes between its shores, and many of those lakes have Islands on them! There are more than two dozen small settlements, first nations and towns spread out across more than 160 kilometers of boreal forest, lakes, rivers, shorelines, escarpments, meadows and alvars.
The people and the communities have emerged through a history as colourful and complex as any in Canada – from the fur trade to free trade, from the ice age to the new age. Our histories show through at every turn, from fossils to lighthouses, under these same stars, with native and non-native communities across the Island co-existing like no-where else on the continent. As a result, it is a place of stories.
The Manitoulin Island lifestyle continues as it has for generations – in close mutual relationship with the environment and resources of the land. It is a peaceful and spiritual place. It is a place of important community knowledge and traditional skills, and a place where this knowledge and these skills are shared openly and generously. From organic farming to hunting and trapping, from permaculture to aquaculture – the diversity of practice is a diverse as the 24 communities.
Like all Northern Ontarians, the people of Manitoulin Island are active in the outdoors all year round, and find many occasions to share in healthy celebrations of local foods with neighbours and visitors. A wide range of cultural arts and entertainment activities are found across the Island, as well as sporting and recreational activities in all seasons.
For many visitors, Manitoulin Island is like going back to the good old days – small town friendly, ice cream on the boardwalk, fishing from the dock in pajamas, a canoe ride at sunset, and a story around the campfire about the guy down the road who can fix anything.
For other visitors, it is an explosion of the cultural expression of rural Canada – a rich and fertile mix influenced by the Indigenous culture of the Anishnaabeg – people of the Woodlands – and the generations of industrious settler culture from which emerged our towns, our farms, our communities emerged.
And for some, it is like an awakening to what being Canadian is all about. People are drawn to Manitoulin Island from all over the world, and the Island is by no means homogenous in thought or actions. The first settlers on Manitoulin Island arrived one cold November day in the early 1800’s to conduct an experiment – the Manitowaning Experiment. It was based on the concept of a skills share. The experiment continues to today, and we are all still learning from one another.
Manitoulin Island offers many activities, programs for travellers and special events to take part in. But it also offers the opposite – a place to escape to, a place where you can intentionally set out to get lost, have your own unique experience with the beauty and nature the Island offers, and eventually, you will find your way home. It’s an Island after all. The Heart and Spirit of the Great Lakes of Canada, it is a place of convergence – the mountains with the lakes, the Indigenous culture with the settler culture, the northern eco-zone with the southern eco-zone, and quartzite energy veins with human destiny.
Getting To The Island
T here are three ways to get on the Island; the conventional driving route along highway 6 that leads to the world famous swing bridge, the MS Chi-Cheemaun (Ojibwe for “big Canoe”) which makes many daily trips between Tobermory and South Baymouth from May to October, and by one of the two airports (located in Gore Bay, and between Little Current and Manitowaning). In the summer and fall months Manitoulin’s population of 12000 grows exponentially because of the excellent fishing spots, hiking trails, and bar-none some of the world’s greatest hunting. For those who love adventure, communities also host many different festivals during the summer and offer fantastic cultural experiences such as Native Powwows.
Tobermory is approximately 300 km from Toronto and South Baymouth to Little Current is 68 km.
Ferry schedules are available at most Tourist Information booths and area businesses. The ferry also has volunteers from the Manitoulin Tourism Association to assist travelers and guide them to various locations on Manitoulin Island. We recommend that reservations are made in advance if traveling during July and August or on a holiday weekend!
Reservations can be made at our Welcome Center or by calling 1-800-265-3163
or visit ontarioferries.com
During the summer the bridge swings on the hour every hour from dusk to dawn for approximately 15 minutes to allow boat traffic. There are no weight restriction on the bridge and it’s dimensions are 14′ wide and 14′ high.
There is not public transportation on the Island. However, there are privately run businesses that provide forms of transportation. They are listed below.
A.J. Bus Lines (charters)
Box 578,2 Charles Walk, Elliot Lake, ON P5A 2J9
Toll Free 1-800-461-4622
Your Single Source Transportation Provider
Manitoulin Transport is an industry leading provider of expedited North American transportation and logistics solutions. We offer customers one of the widest distribution reaches encompassing a network of more than 60 Canadian terminals and 250+ U.S. Service Centres. Through our extensive network comes one of the company’s key strengths – providing reliable on-time delivery to any destination in North America.
Gore Bay (705)282-2640
Little Current (705)368-2512
Gore Bay – Manitoulin Airport
c/o Robbie Collwell, P.O. Box 236, Gore Bay, Ontario P0P 1H0
Located west of Gore Bay. It provides custom clearance from May to November. Also has aviation fuels and tie downs for sale. For more information please call the above number. In the winter months please phone ahead for runway conditions.
Manitoulin East Airport
c/o George Dobbs, Postal Bag 2000, Little Current, Ontario P0P 1K0
Located midway between Little Current and Manitowaning. It provides a a terminal building, flight-planning room and a paved runway.