Gargantua Islands Preserve
Gargantua Islands Preserve

©GaryMcGuffin

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Gargantua Islands Preserve
Gargantua Islands Preserve

©GaryMcGuffin

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Gargantua Islands Preserve

History

Est. 2011

Size

Season

20 Islands

Open May to October

About the Preserve

Cape Gargantua with its imposing cliffs, ancient cedars, and screen of volcanic rock islands, is one of the most special and significant places on the entire Lake Superior coast.  In 2011, Lake Superior Provincial Park approached LSWC about an opportunity to acquire the islands from the current American owners, three brothers of the Gilpin family.  American Friends of Canadian Conservation became involved to facilitate this wonderful conservation opportunity with Kenneth Gilpin for both environmental and cultural preservation.  

Along the island shores, small but hardy arctic alpine plants, otherwise known as arctic disjuncts, still flourish.  These relics from the Ice Age are sustained because of the cold microclimate created by Lake Superior.  The archipelago extending from Gargantua Harbour north around Cape Gargantua consists of islands ranging in size from small half acre rocky shoals to 54 acre sized ones with sheer cliffs. This area includes numerous raised beaches, pock-marked basaltic rock, colourful pebble beaches, red rhyolite and the sculpted island silhouettes.  It is an iconic geological wonder that tells part of mid-continent rift story that nearly split North America (Turtle Island) in two more than a billion years ago.

The Lake Superior Water Trail runs right through the middle of the islands. This water highway in use for thousands of years by travellers, traders and fishers, is today a place of wonder for all who visit the archipelago.

 

For Batchewana First Nation, this region of their unceded traditional territory is Nanabozhung, birthplace of Nanabijou. Since time immemorial, the island archipelago has held, and still holds, very special spiritual significance to the Anishinaabe. There is Nanabijou's frying pan where the shallow waters sparkle and dance over the reefs at Nanabijou's Chair. There is Nanabijou's Warehouse where the peregrine falcons nest. The bald eagle is ever present in both spirit and in its physical form soaring over the hills and waters. Gargantua Harbour has a very long history of occupation by Anishinaabe people. In the process of developing Lake Superior Provincial Park, Batchewana First Nation community members were evicted from their ancestral fishing village, an all too common practice of the colonial era that has been imposed on their lives for generations. Reconciling the wrongs of the past require much truth-telling of the real histories. Today Batchewana First Nation is reclaiming their spiritual and physical presence here to bring traditional knowledge, healing and ceremony back to Nanabozhung.

 

Amenities
  • Washrooms at Warp Bay and Gargantua Harbour Access

  • Bear-proof storage boxes at Gargantua Harbour and Warp Bay

  • Marked Lake Superior Coastal Trail

  • Lake Superior Water Trail coastal campsites 

Trail Highlights
  • The Islands

  • Baldhead River waterfall

  • Gargantua Cliff scenic viewpoiint

  • Warp Bay beach

  • Nanabijou's Chair

  • Geology 

  • The underwater wreck of the Columbus in Gargantua Harbour

Habitat
  • Lake Superior East Coast

  • Boreal Forest

Species in the Area
  • Veery Thrushes

  • Bald Eagles

  • Peregrine Falcons

  • Golden Crowned Kinglets

Activities
  • ​​Birdwatching

  • Canoeing​

  • Camping

  • Kayaking

  • Hiking on the Lake Superior Park Coastal Hiking Trail

  • Paddling along the Lake Superior Water Trail

Other Information

Gargantua Road opens early to mid-May depending on road conditions and is closed and gated at the end of October.

 

Please be advised that weather conditions can change fast along the coast of Lake Superior. If you are travelling on the water, please review the Safety Precautions here.

 

Access and camping are made available through Lake Superior Provincial Park. Please see the Park's website for information and fees.

LSWC exploring Nanabijou's Island ©GaryMcGuffin

LSWC exploring Nanabijou's Island

Nanabijou's Chair ©GaryMcGuffin

Nanabijou's Chair 

Warp Bay ©GaryMcGuffin

Warp Bay