It’s a misty morning, and your paddle dips into the water as you retrace an old-time canoe route. Later that day, you make a traditional First Nations rattle while listening to ancient legends and stories about what it’s like to grow up on Manitoulin Island. Or, you go on a medicine walk to learn about local plants and their uses.
You’re experiencing just some of the authentic Aboriginal experiences offered by The Great Spirit Circle Trail, a tour operator located on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, about a 165-kilometre drive from Sudbury, Ontario. “The Great Spirit Circle Trail was established in the late 1990s as a way to share stories of the Anishinaabe with visitors to the area, so they get a true reflection of the history, culture and traditions of the region,” says CEO Kevin Eshkawkogan.
Part of the First Nations community of M’Chigeeng, The Great Spirit Circle Trail acts as a one-stop shop for visitors of all abilities, offering guided workshops, educational tours and wilderness eco-adventures. Guides are all certified, and groups are kept small to allow for intimacy and maximum enjoyment. “We treat each day like a series of building blocks. You need something to eat, transportation, somewhere to stay and something to do,” Eshkawkogan says. “People can just pick and choose what they want to do.”