Manitoulin Island

From Academic Kids

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Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island is the world's largest freshwater lake island, with an area of 2,766 square kilometres (1068 square miles). Part of Ontario, Canada, the island separates the larger part of Lake Huron to its south and west from Georgian Bay to its east. Manitoulin Island itself has 108 freshwater lakes, some of which have their own islands. Lake Manitou is the largest lake in a freshwater island in the world. The island has three rivers, the Kagawong, Manitou, and Mindemoya Rivers, which provide spawning grounds for Atlantic Salmon and trout.

There are 18 towns on Manitoulin, which include six Ojibwa reserves. During the summer months the population on the island grows by more than a quarter of its usual size due to the popularity of boating and other activities offered to tourists. The island constitutes the Manitoulin District census division of Ontario.

The island is physiographically part of Southern Ontario, an "eastward extension of the Interior Plains, a region characterized by low relief and sedimentary underpinnings". It consists mainly of dolomite. It is a continuation of the Bruce Peninsula and Niagara Escarpment, a geological structure running south into Niagara Falls and continuing into New York. The Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail, which climbs the escarpment, provides a spectacular lookout over the island.

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Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail.

Year-round motor vehicle access to the island is via a one lane swing bridge that crosses the North Channel at Little Current. From late spring to early October, a daily passenger-vehicle ferry, the Chi-Cheemaun, travels between Tobermory on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island's soil is relatively alkaline, which precludes the growth of common Northern Ontario flora like blueberries, and allows for the island's trademark hawberries. These berries are so distinctive that those born on the island are referred to as Haweaters. Each year on the August long weekend, the island hosts the Haweater Festival. The festival is a large tourist draw and includes parades, firework shows, craft shows, and rural competitions such as horse pulls.

The island is also home to the Mounted Animal Nature Trail, made famous by Canadian humor band Arrogant Worms.


Manitoulin means spirit island in the Ojibwe language. The island was a sacred place for the native Anishinaabe people who were Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi.

The North Channel was part of the route used by the voyageurs to reach Lake Superior. The first known European to settle on the island was Father Joseph Poncet, a French Jesuit, who set up a mission near Wikwemikong in 1648. The Jesuits called the island "Isle de Ste. Marie". Diseases introduced by the visitors had a devastating effect on the island's population. Raids from the south by the Five Nations Iroquois drove the remaining people from the island by 1650. According to oral tradition, the island was burned to purify it as they left and it remained largely unsettled for the next 150 years.

Native people (Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi) began to return to the island following the War of 1812. The island was ceded to the Crown in 1836 and set aside as a refuge for natives. Jean-Baptiste Proulx re-established a Roman Catholic mission in 1838 which the Jesuits took over in 1845. In 1862, the Manitoulin Island treaty opened up the island for settlement by non-native people. The Wikwemikong chief did not accept this treaty and that reserve remains unceded.

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