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The Manitoulin Island Destination—named after "the largest lake island in the world" that is found within its borders—is home to various outdoor features and a number of small townships. Manitoulin Island itself only has just over 13,000 year-round residents, though tourism in the summer increases the island's population by more than a quarter. Much of the culture pertaining to the island can be traced to the prehistoric peoples that first inhabited the region. Known as the Odawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe peoples, the group was sometimes referred to as "The Three Fires Confederacy." These same inhabitants are responsible for the naming of the island, with one interpretation being Mnidoo Mnis, meaning "Island of the Great Spirit." Transportation to and from the island takes place in one of two ways: a series of bridges that connect to Little Current, a city on the north end of the island; or alternatively, visitors can use a ferry that connects the township of South Baymouth to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula to the south. This ferry is only open between May and October of any given year. Temperatures on and around Manitoulin Island are heavily dependent on the season in question. Summers (June through August) have a range of temperatures anywhere from 9 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius, whereas the months of December to February have exclusively sub-freezing temperatures.
Named after Manitoulin Island, the Manitoulin Island Destination is located in southern Ontario in Canada. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the island is that it is classified as "the largest lake island in the world." Sitting in Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island itself is home to over 100 smaller inland lakes. A number of towns, townships, and reserves are located on the island, such as Gore Bay, M'Chigeeng, Mindemoya, Sheguuiandah, and Little Current.
To the south, the Bruce Peninsula can be found, which stretches out into Lake Huron. Home to the Bruce Peninsula National Park, the region offers a wide range of outdoor attractions for visiting tourists. Hiking, camping, and bird-watching are some of the most frequent activities that take place in the national park; however, people are also able to participate in bouldering, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, depending on the time of year. Though the park is open year-round, it should be noted that the summers have an average temperature of 16.8 degrees Celsius, and winters often have an average of -6.7 degrees Celsius. A visitors' centre was constructed in 2006 with a 20-metre viewing tower that enables tourists to view the surrounding park and Georgian Bay.
Manitoulin Island has been described by some tourists as "quiet, peaceful, and beautiful" and contains a diverse range of activities. Visitors should be aware of the transportation required to access the island. Approaching from the north, a series of bridges along Highway 6 pass through Little Current on the island's north end. For those coming from the south—from Toronto, for example—would first need to drive to the small town of Tobermory on the northern point of Bruce Peninsula. Following this, visitors can take the two-hour ride on the Chi Cheemaun Ferry to arrive at the southernmost point of Manitoulin Island. Because of this process, it is not recommended that people visit Manitoulin Island as "a day trip." Additionally, the ferry only operates between May and October each year. Once on the island, tourists can experience attractions such as the Cup and Saucer Trail, North Channel Cruises, the Cove Island Lighthouse, the Kagawong Lighthouse, the Misery Bay Nature Preserve, and Gordon's Eco Park, to name a few.
The Manitoulin Island Destination is home to a variety of unique geographic features and landscapes. Boundaries of the destination include the entirety of its namesake—Manitoulin Island—as well as the Bruce Peninsula to the south. Additionally, portions of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay fall within the region's borders. Most of the cities in the territory are relatively small in both size and population. South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula are home to the Chi Cheemaun Ferry, which helps to transport visitors approaching the island from the south.
One of the unique aspects of Manitoulin Island is the fact that it holds the record for "the largest island in a lake" in the world, with a total size of 2,766 square kilometers. Beyond this, the island is home to over 100 inland lakes of its own, with Lake Manitou serving as "the largest lake on an island in a lake" in the world. Many of the attractions in the Manitoulin Island Destination are focused on natural features in the area, the largest of which is the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Spanning approximately 154 square kilometers, the park offers views of the sunrise and sunset, the rocks of the Niagara Escarpment, and a variety of wildlife species. Examples of local fauna include black bears, various species of birds, the massasauga rattlesnake, and others.
Manitoulin Island and the numerous other islands that comprise the destination experience relatively moderate temperatures during the summer, with sub-freezing temperatures in the winter. On average, the highest temperature experienced in the area in a given year is approximately 25.1 degrees Celsius. Often, this peak occurs in July, though June and August are comparable in their average temperatures. December through February often experiences exclusively freezing temperatures, with the lowest point frequently occurring in January at -16.7 degrees Celsius.
Most of the land that currently makes up the Manitoulin Island Destination was once covered in glaciers, with the last ones retreating some 15,000 years ago. Some lingering effects of these glaciers are still noticeable today, such as "large areas of smoothed, bare, exposed bedrock with a lot of lichen and moss growing in the barrens." Following the melting of the glaciers, prehistoric peoples migrated to the area and began to settle it. Known groups to inhabit the Manitoulin Island region include three nations of the Anishnawbek people: Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi. Collectively, these people were referred to as "the People of the Three Fires." They are responsible for the naming of the island as well, giving it the title Manidoowaaling. A more Anglicized form of the word is Manitoulin, which means "Cave of the Spirit." The "spirit" in question comes from prehistoric legends of something powerful living in an underwater cave near the island.
In modern times, Manitoulin Island is home to numerous reserves that maintain the cultures of the ancient Anishnawbek people. M'Chigeeng, Sheshegwaning, and Sheguiandah are a few examples of these reserves. Populations of such settlements are relatively small, and during the summer, the population count of the island increases by approximately one-quarter. Another feature of the summers on Manitoulin Island is the Haweater Festival, which takes place each August. The festival is a draw for tourists, given that it includes fireworks shows, craft shows, parades, and rural competitions.