Friday, July 27, 2012

Manitoulin Island - Kagawang

One of the main tourist attractions on Manitoulin Island are the Bridal Veil Falls and hiking trails leading down to the village of Kagawang.  The falls can be viewed from above and then stairs lead you down to its base where there is a small pond for swimming.  You can even climb onto some rocks and edge in behind the falls for a unqiue experience.  We were not dressed to do any of this, but envied the people who were, since it was a hot day.  On the trail towards Kagawang, we saw much wildlife including beautiful butterflies, scampering chipmunks, and large frog sitting right in the middle of the path that was so camouflaged I almost stepped on it.  We also saw smaller waterfalls including one that provided a marble bench for you to sit and admire it, as well as many colourful wild flowers.

Kagawang has a pretty harbour with a lighthouse so small that Rich would have to stoop to enter through the door.   Not sure how useful this would be since boats would need to be quite close in order to see the light.  Near by, a paved area called the "game board" has a variety of games drawn on it, including a chess board with giant chess pieces, Tic Tac Toe, a maze, and Twister.

There were some interesting stores in Kagawang.  A candy store called Boo-Bah-Loo sold "candy cigarettes" in retro-packaging including "Madison Avenue" featuring a character that could be right out of Mad Men, and "Just Like Dad" with a picture of a Father Knows Best type character.  Even though these are just candies, somehow this marketing seems to romanticize cigarettes for children.  The store also sold fizzy fruit pop drinks with interesting names and flavours including Kitty Piddle (Pineapple /Orange), Bug Barf (Kiwi/Pineapple), Dog Drool (Orange/Lemon) and Monster Mucas (Strawberry/ Blue Raspberry).  With names like that, we had to get some and tried the latter two flavours.

Chocolate Works had a good selection of chocolate varieties.  Rich bought a bag of "Dirty Mints" which were spearmint candy coated chocolate balls, while I got some hazelnut crunch truffles that were amazing, as well as some iced chocolate drink mix.

We found an interesting church called St John Evangilist Church which clearly had a nautical theme, highlighted by the pulpit which was built from the bow of a boat which had previously sunk.  There were also an anchor, several steering wheels, a life preserver and ship's bell on the walls and ship bumpers hanging from each pew as decorations.  Even the stain glass window had more to do with ships and lighthouses than religious imagery.

 The Old Mill Heritage Centre was filled with artifacts and stories relating to local history.  On display were the wedding dresses of women from the area, ranging from 1930s-1950s.  Some were accompanied by photos of the brides in tbeir dresses while others show the women in current times. 

An entire room was dedicated to photos and videos of the North Wind, which sunk in the 1920s off the northern coast of Manitoulin Island.  A poster labelled "Lake Huron, Graveyard of the Great Lakes" highlighted the numerous wrecks that occurred in this body of water.

A display containing a pair of soldiers' uniforms told a touching tale of two war heroes from WWII and Iraq/Afghanistan, who unbeknownst to each other turned out to be father and son.  The elder man from Manitoulin Island was unaware that he had fathered a child until his son tracked him down years later.  Reunited, they learned that they were both decorated soliders.  When the son died, he asked that his uniform be sent to the Kagawang Heritage Centre to be shown next to his father's. 

The highlight of this museum dealt with the sensational story of Daniel Dodge, the 23 year old hier to the Dodge automobile empire.  He fell in love with a local Manitoulin Island girl named Laurine and married her in 1938 against his family's wishes.  In midst of their honeymoon, Dodge accidentally ignited some dynamite and seriously injured himself, his wife and several other bystanders.  His wife tried to drive a speed boat to the mainland to get them medical attention but was having difficulty operating the boat since she was also hurt in the explosion.  Danny tried to help her but instead fell overboard and drowned.  Dodge's family accused Laurine of murdering their son and fought against her inheriting his fortune.  This tragic tale was well documented by many newspaper clippings and photos.  The museum curator took great glee in telling his visitors the details of this story and informed us that a movie was being planned to document it.

For such a small area, Kagawang was an extremely interesting village to visit.

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