Go West, Day 29 – Bruce Peninsula National Park, ON

Author: Larry St Aubin

Today we have a set timeline. We are taking the MS Chi-Cheemaun Ferry from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory. We are camping tonight at Bruce Peninsula National Park. In 2019 I planned to camp there. However before crossing the ferry we stopped in Little Current. It was Canada Day so the town centre roads were blocked to cars. We had to walk from the visitor centre and back. Raisin got overheated. I could not turn on the air conditioning while parked in the ferry. Instead of camping I booked a room at a cottage. Raisin cooled down that night and was much better in the morning.

Central Ontario, Bruce community is located on/in the territory of the Anishinabek Nation: the People of the Three Fires known as Ojibway, Odawa, and Pottawatomie Nations. We’d also like to recognize the Chippewas of Saugeen, and the Chippewas of Nawash, known collectively as the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, as the traditional keepers of this land on Saugeen Treaty 45 1/2, 1836.

There were two ferry departure times from Manitoulin Island – 11 and 3:30. It’s a 5 hour drive from Pancake Bay. I decided to play it safe and take the later departure. It means arriving at 6 pm but that is better than trying to speed to get the 11. Decide to stop for lunch in Espanola.

Lois Maxwell. The 1969 CBC Television series Adventures in Rainbow Country was filmed near Espanola, near the small First Nations community of Birch Island and at Whitefish Falls. The series starred Lois Maxwell, the actress who played “Miss Moneypenny” in the first 14 Bond films. Canadian-born, she lived in Espanola for 18 years.

In 1973, Maxwell’s husband died, having never fully recovered from his heart attack in the 1960s. Maxwell subsequently returned to Canada, settling in Fort Erie, Ontario, where she lived on Oakes Drive. She spent her summers at a cottage outside of Espanola, Ontario, where she wrote a column for the Toronto Sun under the pseudonym “Miss Moneypenny”.

Spanish River Dam. As I was coming into town, going over a bridge I could see this quite powerful dam. In town I parked and looked it up. Google Maps said there was a road to it – but you know Google Maps. Off I went but it was a half dirt/half grass road. I utility truck turned down it but I wasn’t going to get stuck.

I parked the car near the road leading to the bridge. There wasn’t a sidewalk but there was an area to walk and “pedestrian walking” signs posted. With Greta in the stroller and Eve on the inside we made our trek to the bridge.

We had parked by the Heritage Park – a rather unique presentation of Espanola’s past.

Designed and manufactured by Image Impressions, it is a series of engravings mounted on walls. The sections feature sports, families, industries, culture taken from the archives.

The Groundwood Stone. I thought this was quirky enough to be included in the blog. The stone was used in the manufacture of paper. There was a sign to explain this.

Split Rail Brewing, Gore Bay. We had lots of time before we needed to be at the ferry. I drove west to Gore Bay because there was a craft brewery there (and a harbour). Established in 2015, I was speaking with the waiter who has been with them since 2016. He said there are people who come to Manitoulin just for the brewery.

Such a selection but I choose a pint of Amber Ale.

There is an art gallery and studio across the street. I would have stayed longer but the drive back to the ferry is an hour and half. You can see there is still a haze on the harbour

The ferry company want you to be there an hour before departure – otherwise you could lose your reservation. I was one of the first to arrive but wanted to have lunch on the pet patio.

She brought out the water bowls first as per protocol on pet patios. There was no one around so Greta wandered all over the deck. It was good to see her moving. Had a pickerel fish in a tortilla wrap and a bottle of water.

It was a clear, blue sky – no haze as we wandered over the the grass and watched the water. Greta was in a particular happy mood. Eve was getting tired. She would soon have a good sleep on the ferry. Two women came over and wanted to pat the dogs. She said she had taken in a Ukrainian family who fled the war. I asked the other woman where in the Ukraine and told her my grandfather had emigrated from Ukraine to Canada. They were going to see Niagara Falls. Eve trusted the woman, went up and lay on her back for a belly rub.

I went up to the outside deck to catch the lighthouse on Cove Island. It is the last leg of the journey. However, on the deck were several dogs. In 2019 I was told dogs had to stay in the car. I spoke to a guy who had a frisky Husky and he said they had run a pilot program that allowed dogs on this mid-deck. If only I had known. But they had slept through the crossing and were ready for adventure.

Bruce Peninsula National Park. This is a very popular park for camping. Parks Canada has a new reservation system where specific campgrounds are opened on specific days. For Bruce Peninsula I logged on at 7:30 am, March 21st and waited in the queue. I had picked out 3 spots in Tamarack campground, all near Cypress Lake. I got the one I wanted.

As I explain in the video, I bought a Discovery Pass that allows me entry into Canada’s National Parks. As I pulled up to the entry gate there was a long line of people waiting to get their entry permit. I drove up to the pass lane where there were only 2 cars. One guy came up to me and asked if my lane was for permits. I showed him my Discovery pass and told him it was for people who already had a pass to the park.

Because of our late arrival, tonight I’m setting up the tent then just relaxing. There is a bear warning so decided not to try one of the trails. The night is warm so no need to cover the girls in the sleeping bag. Eve wants to go under it anyway. She will come out when she gets too hot.