Manitou Islands Heritage Site Plaque
Five islands located roughly 10km offshore from North Bay on Lake Nipissing make up the Manitous. These five islands are Newman, Rankin, Little Manitou (also known as McDonald), Great Manitou (also Devil or Ghost Island) and Calder. From the air today the islands appear as a broken ring; the outline of an ancient rock structure.
The Manitou Islands have been used for seasonal human habitation for at least two thousand years. They were once hunting grounds for the Nipissings (a branch of the Ojibway Tribe). The Nipissing People had once flourished on the islands due to an abundance of available natural resources, including a healthy and varied fish and game population.
A small limestone kiln on Little Manitou Island was used during the construction of the North Bay portion of the CPR. In addition, a short-lived mineral exploration of the islands began in the mid-twentieth century. Certain mineral deposits were explored on Newman Island, but the deposits were never brought into production. The mine consisted of a large head frame and a 135m deep vertical shaft. The mine head frame collapsed in the winter of 2005 as it had weakened over time and due to heavy snow loads.
The islands became a Provincial Nature Reserve in 1989. Today they are a popular tourist destination known for their lush vegetation and sandy beaches.