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We visited my childhood stomping ground of Thunder Bay, located in Northwestern Ontario, about 40 miles north of the US/Canada border. Scenic-ly speaking, it's one of the most gorgeous places on earth - rugged landscapes and craggy granite shores, a thousand shades of green in the endless miles of boreal forest - spruce, poplar, birch and maple as far as the eye can see - sitting on the western edge of Lake Superior.
I made a point of learning a few facts about this Great Lake so I had something useful to share with my kids as they waded up to their knees in the frigid waters:
- It's the largest of the Great Lakes in both area and volume. (Okay - that one I knew)
- It has more water than the other four combined - Huron, Erie, Ontario & Michigan.
- At it's deepest point it's 1332 feet!! Average depth is 480 feet.
- Thousands of streams and about 200 rivers feed into it.
- It's approximately 350 miles long and 160 miles wide -- about the size of South Carolina (or is it North Carolina... I can't remember!! Help?)
- The water surface area covers 31,700 square miles and there are over 2700 miles of shore.
On an island just outside Thunder Bay, now known as "Isle Royale", there lived a great tribe of Ojibwe Natives. Because of their loyalty to the Great Spirit, and their peaceful and industrious mode of living, Nanabijou, the Spirit of the Deep Sea Water, decided to reward them. One day he called their Chief to his great Thunder Temple on the mountain and warned him that if he told the secret to the white man, that he, Nanabijou would be turned to stone. The Chief gave his promise, and Nanabijou told him of the rich silver mine, now known as "Silver Islet". The Great Spirit told him to go to the highest point on Thunder Cape, and here he would find the entrance to a tunnel that would lead him to the centre of the mine.
Apparently the Chief and his people found the mine, for the Ojibwe became famous for their beautiful silver ornaments. So beautiful indeed were they, that the Sioux warriors on seeing them upon their wounded enemies, strove to wrest their secret from them. However, torture and even death failed to make the gallant Ojibwe divulge their secret and the Sioux chieftains had to devise another scheme to find the source of the Ojibwe silver. One day they summoned their most cunning scout to a pow-wow and a plan was formed.
The scout was to enter the Ojibwe camp disguised as one of them. This he did and in a few days succeeded in learning the secret of the island of silver. Going to the mine at night he took several large pieces of the precious metal in order to prove to his chieftain that he had fulfilled his mission. The scout however never returned to his camp, for on his way back he stopped at a white traders post to purchase some food. Having no furs or money with which to pay for the goods, he used a piece of the silver. Seeing such a large piece of the gleaming metal, two white men sought to obtain the whereabouts of its source, in order to make themselves fabulously rich. After filling the Sioux scout with alcohol they persuaded him to show them the to the mine.
When almost in sight of "Silver Islet" a terrific storm broke over the Cape. The white men were drowned and the Sioux man was found in a crazed condition floating aimlessly in his canoe, but the most extraordinary thing that had happened during the storm, was that where once was a wide opening to the bay, now lay what appeared to be a great sleeping figure of a man.
The Great Spirit's warning had been fulfilled and he had been turned to stone. On a little island at the foot of the Sleeping Giant, can still be seen the partly submerged shafts of what was once the richest silver mine in the northwest.
Did I mention that I'm part Sioux? That explains a lot... I'm probably a direct descendant of the crazed one in the canoe!
Now I'm going to spend the next few days catching up on my blog reading, my book reading (Seniorella, here I come!) and writing - none of which I did while on holiday!