Kim, Mike and the girls were spending a last holiday before school at a place near Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. They decided to take the ferry MS Chi-Cheemaun
across the mouth of Georgian Bay to Manitoulin Island
for a day. Mike and the granddaughters had never set foot on the largest freshwater island in the world.
They were just going to walk onto the ferry and arrive in South Baymouth at 1:05 PM. The return trip would depart at 5:50. South Baymouth is only about a two hour drive from Sudbury, so we agreed to go down and meet them. Because we needed to be back on Manitoulin the next morning for an Ontario Provincial Police Veterans Association cruise out of Little Current, Sandy suggested we spend the night on the island. I made a reservation at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre
in Little Current.
On the way out of town about 9:00 AM, I stopped and put what would probably be the last tank of gas into this Equinox. That would carry us to South Baymouth and back and I was not going to fill it up again before turning the car in on Thursday.
Highway 17 from Sudbury to Espanola was a study in road construction. The four lane was only two lane with no passing allowed. Then a lot of the two lane after that had been scraped and was being repaved. One of these days, it will be a really nice road. Maybe.
After a bathroom and coffee break at Tim's in Espanola, we headed south on Highway 6 towards Manitoulin Island. This thirty mile stretch included some of the best motorcycle riding in the area. The highway went back and forth and up and down through the quartz mountains to Whitefish Falls and beyond. Then it straightened out and finally became flat across Great La Cloche and some smaller islands as the road approached the famous swing bridge
to Manitoulin Island.
Quartz rock cuts
Motion activated deer warnings
The quartz gives way to sedimentary layers
Great LaCloche Island
The swing bridge comes into view
The traffic light was still green as we reached the one lane swing bridge. We had some time to kill, so we stopped in Little Current. This gateway to The Island had a quaint one block main street with mooring facilities for many small craft and a few large ones. The landmark Anchor Inn still serves the public every day. It was from here that we of Inco Metals Accounting used to drink beer and observe those of Inco General Engineering while they surveyed piles of iron ore on the Turner Coal Docks across the water. This was part of our annual metals inventory process. It was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.
Little Current - Manitoulin Island - Ontario
Downtown Little Cuurent
The famous Anchor Inn
Memorial to those who served in The Great War
Strolling the waterfront, we checked out the watercraft. There was a large cruise ship, the Victory 1
, docked for the day. It was on a ten day Great Lakes Grand Discovery cruise
. Then there was the Grand Heron
, which would be taking us to the Benjamin Islands tomorrow.
The Grand Heron
Many smaller yachts and boats were docked here including a Beneteau 423
out of Michigan named Triumph. I noticed that the name was styled after the old Triumph motorcycle logo, while the man on board noticed that I was wearing a tee shirt that said "Never underestimate an old man on a motorcycle". He was on vacation and they had been visiting ports along Lake Huron since August 2nd. He still owned a 1973 Triumph Daytona that he bought new plus a Ducati Multistrada as a daily driver. He was familiar with riding both the Smoky Mountains out of Waynesville, NC and northern Arkansas. We compared some notes and then wished him safe travels as we continued on our way south.
I wouldn't mind a week or ten on this
We encountered two construction zones on the way to South Baymouth. Both involved flagmen and single lane traffic. The second, on the outskirts of South Baymouth, also involved a pilot vehicle.
BMW outfit in South Baymouth
Luckily, we arrived at the ferry dock before the ferry. There was no problem parking on the street while many cars were waiting in the boarding area on the other side of the curb. We spoke to a gentleman from Niagara Falls who has been taking the Chi-Cheemaun regularly since it was commissioned in 1974. Every tenth sailing is free.
The ferry dock
This house looks out at the ferry dock
Tobermory bound waiting to board
The brightly painted ferry arrived right on time. It pulled past our position and then backed up to the ramp. When the rear door opened, the vehicles debarked like animals leaving Noah's ark. First came the motorcycles, followed by a tour bus and several semis. The empty cattle hauler had a distinct aroma as it went by. Next came the cars from both levels. There was a nice ramp at the side for the pedestrians to debark but it was jammed and could not be extended to the ship, so the foot traffic walked out the vehicle ramp last.
Backing into the ramp
Tie it up well
Motorcycles followed by a bus
Next came the semi's
The pedestrian gangway was out of service
So the family walked off the vehicle ramp
The many cars are now free to board
Because the Equinox only seated five and it was a long way to anywhere else on The Island through the long construction zone, the visit was confined to South Baymouth. The first order of business was lunch. The preferred establishment would have been Carol and Earl's on the outskirts of town but they were closed on Tuesdays. Sadly, I also learned that Carol passed away in the spring and Earl had stopped the great breakfast service. We settled for the Pierside Restaurant where the service was slow and the prices were high. I stayed low carb with a Caesar salad and grilled chicken.
Eye catching advertising
But we did not eat here
We ate here instead
After lunch, we walked around the corner to the free museum. Actually, there were three museums operating on a donation basis. The main building had many items from the history of The Island, while another showed things related to commercial fishing and the last was a one room schoolhouse. It is really nice when communities honour their past, but I really don't think than many people take the time to appreciate it.
The main museum in South Baymouth
Women and children first...
Buoy and girl
Little Red Schoolhouse museum
From the museums, we moved on to the South Baymouth Marina. They spent some time making this a pleasant place with rest rooms, walkways, a playground and a lighthouse.
A nice place to park your boat
Shirley U Jest has seen better days
We saw the honour system several places around South Baymouth
View from the marina walkway
The big water is out there
Benches for the older folks
The Koolen girls
The girls liked the playground equipment
Sandy and Kim started back frst
I like people who think of our canine friends
Busy Highway 6
From the marina, we walked up to see the Gallery. It is actually the Southbay Gallery and Guesthouse, including a highly regarded bed and breakfast. We looked at the wares and I talked to an older lady working there about some striking acrylic paintings
. She had them on consignment from a prolific First Nations artist named Duncan Pheasant
. He worked for the town of Little Current and was a member of the Redrum Motorcycle Club
A little encouragement never hurts
Here we are
And quilts as well
The foot traffic was supposed to be ready to board a half hour before departure. That would be 5:20 PM so we headed back to the waterfront where the girls had some Farquhars Ice Cream
. Then we waited for the Big Canoe. Robyn and I went down to keep an eye out and soon it appeared coming around the point.
Nose plugs, anyone?
We always honour our American neighbors
One tall tree stands out
Robyn and I at the waterfront
Right on time
Boarding via the vehicle ramp
With the family safely aboard, we returned the forty miles to Little Current where we checked in to the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre. I was pleased to see the lobby and restaurant walls festooned with Duncan Pheasant originals. We took our minimal luggage up to the room and then came down to the in-house restaurant, North46
, where we each had the special of roasted chicken with a white wine mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. I traded my potatoes for more vegetables and found the whole meal quite tasty.
After we ate, we returned to the room. Again, I skipped the photos and notes faze and went straight to bed with my Kindle. I do believe I might have finished two pages before falling asleep.
Today's Route (165 Equinox miles):