Six Nations of the Grand River

Photo courtesy of Six Nations Tourism

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Six Nations of the Grand River

Located south of Brantford and running alongside the Grand River, this southwestern territory in Ontario is brimming with history that spans thousands of years. The Six Nations of the Grand River is the only reserve in the continent where all Haudenosaunee nations live together. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (which translates to “they build houses”) is made up of the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora nations. Together they contribute to the reserve’s rich arts, natural elements, history, and ongoing legacy.

November 15, 2022



Day One

HER MAJESTY’S ROYAL CHAPEL OF THE MOHAWKS  – 10:00 AM

BEYOND THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS

When you first arrive at Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, you’ll see a quaint building with eight beautiful stained-glass windows. But beyond the infrastructure and picturesque nature surrounding the area lies a history that spans 300 years. Built in 1785, it’s the oldest surviving church in Ontario. The Chapel offers workshops and guided walking tours for visitors to learn more about the history of the Six Nations and its relationship with settler Canada. You can learn more through talks led by community members on this complex history as well as perspectives on reconciliation from Six Nations community members.

Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks. Photo credit: Mark Burnham / Six Nations Tourism

MOHAWK INSTITUTE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL AND THE WOODLAND CULTURAL CENTRE – 12:00 PM

LEARNING ABOUT RECONCILIATION

Delve deeper into important history through the Mohawk Institute Residential School and the Woodland Cultural Centre. The Centre was established in 1972 after the closure of the residential school. It is now one of the most extensive facilities in Canada managed by First Nations, with over 50,000 artifacts in its collection and a library of Indigenous-only books, research, and more. Want to learn more? Book a Truth and Reconciliation presentation to further understand the latest progress report and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 10 Principles and 94 Calls to Action. The Centre also offers virtual tours of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, which was in session for 140 years.

Next, visit the locally-owned Burger Barn for lunch. The restaurant is known for having the ultimate comfort food with huge portions. The restaurant – which looks like a barn from the outside —boasts fresh 8oz ground patties and a variety of styled burgers that have toppings like macaroni and cheese and pulled pork.

Woodland Cultural Centre. Photo credit: Woodland Cultural Centre

KAYANASE GREENHOUSE - 4:00 PM

A HORTICULTURAL TOUR

Now 15 years old, Kayanase Greenhouse is dedicated to restoring the remaining nature after the construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway. It’s the perfect spot to learn more about ecological restoration and traditional harvesting and planting methods. The greenhouse offers native plants and seeds to purchase, such as wild bergamots and tree saplings. This area is open seasonally, so be mindful of this when you visit.

Kayanase Greenhouse. Photo credit:The Heart of Ontario

CHIEFSWOOD PARK – 5:00 PM

A DAY OF PLAY

Right next door to Kayanase is Chiefswood Park, known for its forest trails, historical exhibits and outdoor activities. Secure a full- or half-day experience to learn about Haudenosaunee culture and art. Enjoy sports? Pick up the history of the iconic sport lacrosse, and play it too. Want to grasp how food is harvested traditionally? AR/VR experiences are available to learn about the Three Sisters. In the evening, end the day paddling or lounging at the Grand River. Did you know you can also spend the night at Chiefswood Park? Their accommodations range from different-sized cabins to tent camping or glamping in a Riverside Hut.

Chiefswood Park. Photo credit: Mark Burnham/ Six Nations Tourism

Day Two

SIX NATIONS TRAIL – 10:00 AM

TAKING IN NATURE ON THE TRAIL

Explore the largest Carolinian forest in Southern Ontario while walking the Six Nations Trail. The trail is suitable for almost everyone and takes about 15 minutes to complete. A guided tour will help you learn more about the Indigenous plants in the area.

Six Nations Trail. Photo credit: Mark Burnham / Six Nations Tourism

CHIEFSWOOD NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE; YAWÉKON – 11:00 AM

AN ARTIST’S PARADISE AND TOP CHEF DISHES

Tour Chiefswood National Historic site, built in the mid-1800s for Chief George Johnson. The site is the birthplace of Indigenous poet, performer, and author E. Pauline Johnson, also known as Tekahionwake. Her poetry is recognized for its strong portrayal of Indigenous women and children. Some of her most notable poems include “A Cry from an Indian Wife,” about the Riel Rebellion, and “Ojitsoh,” about a Mohawk wife who is kidnapped by a Huron captor.

For lunch, try some Haudenosaunee cuisine at Yawékon by Tawnya Brant. Brant is a local chef and former competitor of Top Chef Canada. Yawékon means “it tastes good” in Mohawk, which is quite fitting for this special food spot. Brant likes to use ingredients she grew at home to make dishes like Three Sister soup, and blueberry and pan-seared Bay of Quinte Mohawk trout cakes.

Chiefswood National Historic Site. Photo credit: The Heart of Ontario

SIX NATIONS ARTISANS – 2:00 PM

HANDMADE JEWELRY, CRAFTS & MORE

Support Six Nations artisans by shopping locally. Sapling and Flint is named after the twin boys born to Skywoman’s daughter, according to the Ohswekén:’a Creation Story – a fitting name for a shop run by twin sisters! Their handmade jewelry is made of gold, wampum, and sterling silver. Proceeds contribute to cultural projects in Six Nations. Ribbon skirts, pants and plush reversible blankets can be found at GOTribalwear. Or visit I&S Crafts and Supplies for hand-made jewelry and Delica beading supplies.

Iroqrafts is the oldest and largest arts and crafts store in Six Nations, with plenty of goodies to choose from. You’ll find local creations including beadwork, soapstone sculptures, moccasins, and turtle shells. Authentic furs, fur hats, boots, hide, and leather goods are available to purchase as well.

Iroqrafts. Photo credit: The Heart of Ontario

WINGS & BINGO – 5:00 PM

DINNER AND A GAME

End the day with a hearty dinner at Village Pizza and Wings. The restaurant is known for its — you guessed it — stone oven pizza and jumbo wings. The generous portions will not leave you hungry.

Next, test your luck and contribute to the community with Six Nations Bingo. Join matinee and evening sessions where you can win jackpot prizes in the thousands. Six Nations Bingo donates 40 per cent of its annual profits to educational community programs across the region.


YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE


NEED A MAP?

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

Ontario Culture Days thanks its tourism partners Six Nations Tourism and The Heart of Ontario for their support and assistance with this article. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Ramona Leitao.


We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


Manitoulin Island

© Photographer: Peter Baumgarten

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Manitoulin Island

Welcome to the largest freshwater lake island on the planet. Odawa Mnis (a.k.a. Manitoulin Island) is known for the natural beauty found in its winding trails, views of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay and over one hundred inland lakes. As home to six First Nation communities, including the famously unceded Wiikwemkoong, as well as nearby Whitefish River and Sagamok First Nations, the Island is imbued with Indigenous history and culture.

July 15, 2022



Day One

WIIKWEMKOONG — 10:00 AM

A PROUD HERITAGE

Wiky, as it’s known locally, is unique in being unceded Indigenous territory, meaning the rights to the land were never signed away to any nation. Guided tours are one way of learning about this proud heritage, with a range of tour possibilities depending on the day. Paddle through fishing islands along Lake Huron and gaze upon the La Chloche Mountain range on the “Bay of the Beaver Canoe” tour. “The Unceded Journey” tour takes you to historic sites to gain an understanding of the seminal 1836 and 1862 treaties, and to learn local lore and legend. Wikwemikong Tourism is your port of call to find out more and to book tours. Speaking of booking tours, you may also want to look into the possibility of a viewing at the Mishibinijima Private Art Gallery where you’ll see the stunning work of artist James Mishibinijima.

Bay of the Beaver Canoe Tour. Photo courtesy of Wiikwemkoong Tourism.

BEBAMIKAWE MEMORIAL TRAIL - 1:00 PM

EXPLORING THE TRAIL

As a visitor to Wiky you’re invited to learn more about traditions of the Anishinaabek people of the Three Fires Confederacy: Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi. One way to do this is through events (notably the Annual Cultural Festival, one of the largest Pow Wows in north-eastern North America). You can also take time to walk some of the professionally built 12 kilometres of trails collectively known as the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail. Scenic lookout points provide information about Anishinaabek history and beautiful views of the North Channel and Georgian Bay. Fitness fans can lace up for the one-and-a-half kilometre (bicycle-friendly) training trail, and birders should definitely bring the binos.

Speaking of varied passions, en route to Little Current you’ll find the Rainbow Ridge Golf Course, one of many primarily Indigenous-owned businesses on the Island, located outside of the village of Manitowaning. Manitowaning is also home to critically acclaimed Debajehmujig Theatre Group, part of Debajehmujig Storytellers, a multi-disciplinary arts organization dedicated to the revitalization of the Anishnaabek culture, language and heritage. The site is open all day, and offers a gallery in addition to their theatre shows. Among their ground breaking work is 2022’s conclusion of an international trilogy that began in Mexico and Ireland — make sure to check the Debajehmujig website for any upcoming performances.

Wood Sculptures on the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail. Photo credit Peter Baumgarten, Creative Island Photography.

LITTLE CURRENT - 5:00 PM

BOATS, BBQ AND BREWS
A twenty-five minute drive brings you from Manitowaning to Little Current, the island’s four-season access point via the famous swing bridge. It’s also the Island’s largest town, so yes, an excellent spot for dinner. Popular spots include Manitoulin Brewing Company and Brewgers food truck, Elliott’s (classic Canadian cuisine) and The Anchor Inn Hotel (known for its whitefish). Three Cows and A Cone is fun option for pizza and (no surprise) ice cream. An after-dinner boardwalk stroll lets you peek at boats from all over the Great Lakes, as well as some from farther afield — makes sense, given that Georgian Bay’s north channel is considered some of the best freshwater boating anywhere. For live music visit Little Current in August to hit up the annual rock and country music festivals.

Manitoulin Brewing Company. Photo credit Peter Baumgarten, Creative Island Photography.

Day Two

CUP AND SAUCER TRAIL — 9:00 AM

CUP, SAUCER AND A HIKE – MICHIGIWADINONG

One of the Island’s best known attractions is The Cup and Saucer/Michigiwadinong trail, about a twenty minute drive west of Little Current on the Manitoulin extension of the Niagara Escarpment. Michigiwadinong means “bluff in the shape of a spearhead,” a reference to it being the place where famous trickster Nanabush lay down his spearpoints while fleeing Iroquois warriors (warriors he’d tormented for generations). The legend and the surrounding area’s history makes it an iconic spot. It’s also a hiker’s delight, with twelve kilometres of trails creating multiple options from fifteen minutes to four hours. There are good reasons it’s one of Ontario’s most popular hikes — magnificent 70 meter cliffs, wonderful views of the Island’s lakes and fields, and closeups of escarpment rock.

The Cup and Saucer/Michigiwadinong Trail. Photo credit Peter Baumgarten, Creative Island Photography.

M’CHIGEENG — 11:30 AM

HISTORY AND HERITAGE CRAFTS

You’ll find the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng, with its museum, art gallery, gift shop and amphitheatre. Learn about Anishinaabe spiritual knowledge, history and cultural practices at the museum, and enjoy beautiful heritage crafts including porcupine quill boxes, ash and sweetgrass baskets, and antler carvings. Crafters and artists may also enjoy this area as it is home to Lillian’s Crafts (offering items made from local materials and artwork by Indigenous artists), as well as the original source for the much lauded Beam Paints (pigments harvested from the LaCloche mountain range).

Next, lunch. Maggie’s Café offers home cooking (literally — Maggie’s recipes are passed down from “Great Grandma Agnes Roy, Maggie Roy and Betsy Debassige”). Another option, Maja’s Garden Bistro, is a short jog south of town and is known for local food and organic baking. Film buff alert: the Weengushk Film Institute (an artist-focused film and TV training centre) is based in M’Chigeeng, and collaborates with the Weengushk International Film Festival to showcase work by Indigenous and diverse filmmakers.

Ojibwe Cultural Foundation. Photo credit Peter Baumgarten, Creative Island Photography.

KAGAWONG — 1:30 PM

“ONTARIO’S PRETTIEST VILLAGE”

Kagawong, located midway between between M’Chigeeng and Gore Bay, has been called Ontario’s prettiest village and no question it’s a picturesque waterfront town. That handsome limestone building you’ll spot is the Old Mill Heritage Centre, a former pulp mill turned art gallery and museum. Learn about the Island’s agricultural, military and shipping/fishing history, as well the tragic tale of Daniel Dodge, a scion of the automotive family of the same name. Kagawong is also home to Odemin Gallery, specializing in carving using wood, stone and bone found on the Island. Odemin is also a source for tours of the Cup and Saucer trail and the area’s most famous attraction, Bridal Veil Falls, a hidden gem of a waterfall. Swimmers come prepared. On a warm day you may want to traipse down the staircase and enjoy a dip below the falls.

Old Mill Heritage Centre. Photo credit Peter Baumgarten

PROVIDENCE BAY — 5:00 PM

SPECTACULAR SAND AND SUNSETS

Providence Bay is known for its spectacular sand beach — and equally spectacular sunsets. Originally called Bebekodawangog, meaning “where the beach curves around the water,” the story goes that it was settler survivors of a shipwreck who first referred to it as Providence. Shallow water makes it a family swimming destination, and it’s a draw for lake trout and salmon fishing. Gaze at Lake Huron from what’s arguably the best beach in Northern Ontario, or stroll the boardwalk, possibly with a cone in hand from Huron Island Time. For something more substantial there’s Lake Huron Fish and Chips — whitefish as always an Island delicacy. And the Mutchmor and Providence Peace Café is where you’ll find local artwork and fresh baked goods. If you’d like to get your bearings on the history and ecology of the bay, take time to visit the Discovery Centre. After all, visiting the Island is nothing if not about discovering what makes it such an intriguing destination.

Providence Bay. Photo credit Peter Baumgarten, Creative Island Photography.

Ontario Culture Days thanks Indigenous Tourism Ontario for their support and contributions to developing this itinerary


YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE


NEED A MAP?

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.


We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.