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Destination: Misery Bay Provincial Park, Manitoulin Island

The name Misery Bay certainly conjures up all that could be negative about a place. But don’t let the name put you off.

According to local lore the name came about because of a conversation in the 1880’s between a farmer cutting marsh grass at the water’s edge and a couple of men in a small boat. They asked the farmer the name of the place – and after swatting black flies for probably hours he yelled back “Misery”. It turns out the men in the boat were government surveyors mapping the island. The name stuck despite the fact the place is indeed beautiful – and with wildflowers blooming in the summer I can only imagine how much nicer it would be than the day we visited in November.

Where is Misery Bay?

Misery Bay is located on the south shore of Manitoulin Island – on the waters of Lake Huron. It’s now an 1100 hectare natural reserve  (the MBNR) put in place to protect fragile ecosystems including the rare Lakeside Daisy, Pitcher Thistle and Blandings Turtle. Even more interesting to most visitors will be the rock you walk on. The park sits on an ancient flat rock sea bottom called an alvar. It is this feature that throws it into the ring of world class parks. The only alvars in North America are found in the Great Lakes Basin and the collection around Manitoulin Island are the most noteworthy alvars found anywhere in the world.

We saw none of the rare plants are animals and nor did we expect to in November. In fact a thin layer of snow could be found in the woods and skies were in line with what’d you’d expect in November – gloomy with the sun trying hard to come through. Yet the area still had it’s charm. We walked along the shore and through the woods for roughly eight kilometres. I can only imagine how magical the place would be on a hot summer day.

Here’s a look at what we saw on our walk around Misery Bay. No other humans were sighted.

"The start of the walk to Misery Bay"

Flat limestone at the start of the walk to Misery Bay

"First look out across Misery Bay"

First look out across Misery Bay

"Interesting boulder"

"Looking out at Lake Huron"

Looking out at Lake Huron

"Eroded rocks filled with pebbles"

Eroded rocks filled with pebbles

"Great texture in these rocks"

Great texture in these rocks

"Lone boulder by the water under November skies"

Boulder under November skies

"Rocks that look like a jigsaw puzzle"

More great texture in the rocks

"Interesting jigsaw like rocks to walk on"

Eroded rock – easy to walk on

"My friend decked out in a fluorescent vest"

My friend Jo – taking no chances in hunting season with a fluorescent vest

"Rocks that look like waves"

Rocks that look like waves

"Looking out the Big Water"

Looking out to the Big Water – Lake Huron

"Brightly coloured cedar twig"

A bit of colour on an otherwise gloomy November day

"Looking in the window of an old cabin to a table laid out"

Looking in the window of an old cabin

"Snowy paths through the woods'

Snowy paths through the woods

"Map of the trails"

We did the red loop

Have you ever been to Manitoulin Island?

Leigh McAdam


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