Historical Plaques of
Manitoulin District

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Location: At Swift Current Channel, H-Way 6, about 15 kms
northeast of Little Current

Through this channel at Swift Current passed the canoes of the explorers, missionaries and fur traders who opened up the interior of this continent. Their route followed the Ottawa River to its junction with the Mattawa and thence via Lake Nipissing, the French River, Georgian Bay and the North Channel to Lakes Michigan or Superior. This waterway was traversed by Jean Nicolet, 1634, Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médart Chouart des Groseilliers, 1659, Father Claude Allouez, 1665, Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Dulhut, 1678, Pierre de la Vérendrye, 1727, Alexander Henry, 1761, Simon McTavish and William McGillivray, 1784, David Thompson, 1812, and Sir George Simpson, 1841.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation


Location: Manitowaning Rd. & Water St., Little Current

In 1856 the Hudson's Bay Company, faced with decline in trade at La Cloche on the mainland, obtained permission to establish a post at Little Current. A substantial log building, this community's first European structure, was built near here in 1856-57 by George McTavish, the clerk in charge of La Cloche. However, opposition from some Indians and resident missionaries to what they considered encroachment on the Reserve caused the government to rescind the Company's license in 1859 before trade began. In 1868 the building was purchased by G. B. Abrey for use as a residence. Twice remodelled, it was destroyed by fire in 1942.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board


Location: At 10 Mile Point, H-Way 6, 16 kms south of Little Current


1648 - 50

In 1648 Father Joseph Poncet, then serving at St. Marie in Huronia, was placed in charge of the Jesuit mission of St. Pierre by his superior Father Paul Ragueneau. This newly created mission was formed to serve the Algonkian-speaking Indians of Manitoulin Island and the north shore of Lake Huron. Poncet, the first known European resident of Manitoulin (called Ile de Ste. Marie by the missionaries and Ekaentoton by the Hurons), served on this island from October, 1648, to May, 1649. He returned to Manitoulin before the end of the latter year, but was compelled to abandon the mission in 1650, following the defeat and dispersal of the Hurons by the Iroquois.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board


Location: St. Paul's Anglican Church, Spragge St., Manitowaning


1838 1864
In the 1830s officials urged native peoples in Upper Canada to abandon seasonal fishing and hunting migrations and settle permanently in agricultural communities. To this end the government established a mission at Manitowaning under the auspices of the Anglican Church in 1838. A school, houses, and workshops for teaching trades were constructed. The mission encouraged farming but crops were meagre. Few aboriginal people chose to settle permanently at Manitowaning, and in 1864 the mission was moved to the Sheguiandah Reserve. This mission church, erected by native parishioners by 1849, is the oldest church in Manitoulin-Algoma.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
an agency of the Government of Ontario


Location: Assiginach Museum, Arthur & Nelson Sts., Manitowaning


1836 and 1862

In 1836 the Ojibwa and Odawa inhabiting Manitoulin signed an agreement with the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada which made the Island a refuge for all First Nations. Authorities hoped that native peoples on the mainland would abandon their hunting grounds and take up farming here. Several hundred did come, but resisted the government's efforts to change their way of life. As white settlement moved north, farmers and commercial fishermen demanded access to the Manitoulin area. In 1862, amid much discord, resident chiefs relinquished most of the Island to the Crown. The people at Wikwemikong chose not to sign the treaty, and to this day the eastern peninsula of the Island remains unceded aboriginal land.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
an agency of the Government of Ontario


Location: In Kagawong, at the restored mill, on the waterfront at the foot of Old Mill Road

This building is a monument to two major Ontario resource industries. Built to process local spruce into pulp, it diverted water-power from the Kagawong River to drive its heavy machinery. Wet pulp was baled and shipped to Michigan to make Sears-Roebuck catalogues. The pulp mill closed with the onset of the Depression, but re-opened in 1932 as a hydro-electric plant. Until 1949 it was the sole source of electric power for Manitoulin Island. Ontario Hydro operated the plant from 1946 until an increasing supply of electricity from the mainland led to its closing in 1961. Thirty years later, local volunteers restored the building for community use.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
an agency of the Government of Ontario