I recently took a trip with my family to Manitoulin Island. In the Ojibwe language, Manitoulin means Spirit Island. The Native Anishinaabe people consider Manitoulin Island sacred. After visiting I can see why it is called Spirit Island. It is very beautiful and peaceful.
To get to Manitoulin Island you need to catch a ferry. It is called the Chi-Cheemaun. The ferry is very impressive. It can hold 638 passengers. More impressive than that, it can hold 240 autos. This ranges from small cars to minivans all the way to holding tractor-trailers. The way they load the vehicles is impressive. They have car decks on multiple levels. If you have accessibility needs, they put you as close as possible to the elevator. The ferry ride is 1 hour 45 minutes.
Once you get off the ferry, there are many things to see. The only thing is you need quite a bit of time because the island is quite large. It is 2,766 square kilometres. We had limited time there, so we went to Providence Bay Beach. They have a wheelchair accessible boardwalk. You can go all along the shoreline of Lake Huron and enjoy the beautiful scenery. On Providence Bay Beach, there are other amenities besides the boardwalk. They have:
- Harbour Centre (seasonal)
- Annie McNichol Playground
- Adult exercise equipment
- Public washrooms (seasonal)
- Picnic area
For me, the one thing that stood out was the beach. For those of us who use a wheelchair, we know that rolling on sand is impossible. On Providence Bay Beach they have a solution. It is called the ‘Mobi Mat’. It is a corrugated non-slip portable roll-out beach access pathway. It isn’t just beneficial to wheelchair users. Pedestrians, strollers, bicycles and ATV’s find it helpful as well. For more information, please visit http://www.mobi-mat.com/.
There are shops close to the ferry, however, the main entrances are not wheelchair accessible. There are alternate entrances, however, it is difficult to get there yourself. You will need help.
Anyone looking for a nice getaway, I highly recommend visiting Manitoulin Island!