Many colorful stories, some legend, some historical fact, are told about St. Joseph island. It is the westernmost of the Manitoulin chain of islands situated in the channel between Lakes Huron and Superior. It’s km (28 mi) long and 24 km (15 mi) wide and covers 365 sq km (141 sq mi). Originally named Anipich, the Ojibway word for ‘place of the hardwood trees,’ the island was given its present name by Jesuit missionaries to honor the patron saint of a new Indian church they erected. It is linked to the mainland by a toll-free bridge, opened in 1972.
Today St. Joseph Island is noted for its peaceful beauty, its friendly residents and its recreational activities. It is a place of undisturbed bays, rocky inlets and the undulating hills, mixed forests, marshes and meadows that land themselves to scenic drives, bike tours or leisurely walks. Most of the population live in the pretty villages of Richards Landing and Hilton Beach. The main industries are tourism, logging and agriculture.
Water sports are very popular here in summer and good fishing is to be found. In winter you can cross-country ski on 160km (100 mi) of prepared trails. This is an island of festivals, from the winter Flurryfest and the Maple Syrup Festival in the spring, to Community Nights in the summer through to the Jocelyn Harvest Festival in the autumn.
Population: 1,960 (2005)
How to get there: By road bridge via Highway 17 or by snowmobile when the river freezes in winter.
When to go: There is something for everyone all year round although many attractions are open only from May to October.
Highlights: St. Joseph Island Museum – a four building complex housing local artefacts. Fort St. Joseph – for an insight into early island life.
The view of the busy channel from Sailors Encampment the Artisans Gallery, Richards Landing-famous for its native craftwork.
You should know: The Island’s population swells to over 10,000 in summer so booking accommodation in advance is strongly recommended.