Spend a Long Weekend Immersing Yourself in Indigenous Culture in Sault Ste. Marie

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By Tourism Sault Ste. Marie

here are three suggestions for your long weekend vacation in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

The Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes traditionally called this area ‘Bawating’, meaning ‘place of the rapids’. Surrounded by an abundance of natural resources, Indigenous communities have gathered here since time immemorial. Sault Ste. Marie has since grown into a city rich in historical significance. Exciting Indigenous Tourism options in Sault Ste. Marie provide many ways to experience and learn about Anishinaabe culture. 

No.1 Whitefish Island: The Original Meeting Place

The first stop on a cultural learning experience must be Whitefish Island, located on the shores of the historic St. Marys Rapids. 

A leisurely stroll on the well-marked trails will take you past various places of interest with information about the land. Be respectful and visit with reverence: This remains the traditional territory and meeting grounds of the Anishinaabe, including local Batchewana First Nation. 

Meet up with a local fishing guide and experience fly fishing in the legendary St. Marys River Rapids to experience the ancient fishery. A list of local guides can be found here.

The View Restaurant provides Sault Ste. Marie waterfront dining with views of the rapids and great whitefish entrées.

No.2 Downtown Sault Ste. Marie Indigenous Experiences

Paddle back in time in a big canoe with Canoes for Conservation on the St. Marys River. Drift along the ancient Anishinaabe community and learn of their deep-rooted connection with the river. 

The canoe ride ends near the Shingwauk Residential School Centre, an integral part of the Algoma University campus. Learn firsthand the important impacts of human perseverance and resilience from expert interpretive historians. 

A walking tour of Sault Ste. Marie’s downtown core reveals various Indigenous artist murals located on city buildings. 

A tasty dinner can be had at Chummy’s Grill; this family owned and operated Indigenous restaurant offers traditional meals. 

No.3 Lake Superior Coast, Indigenous Roots

Pack for the day and travel north on the Trans Canada Highway along the beautiful Lake Superior coastline to Lake Superior Provincial Park. 

Just north of Agawa Bay, park your car and hike a rocky trail to the Agawa Rock Pictographs—a collection of ancient paintings that remain important to the Anishinaabe. A sacred ceremonial site at Agawa Rock is still used by Batchewana First Nation today. 

Explore the Agawa Bay Visitor Centre and take a walk along the picturesque beach. 

On your return trip, stop in at Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver, a unique roadside attraction featuring handmade Indigenous crafts. The carvings, moccasins, art and pottery will inspire and are unique keepsakes.

Finally, enjoy authentic Métis cuisine like tourtiere or bannock at the Voyageurs Lodge and Cookhouse. This roadhouse style cookhouse offers hearty portions, friendly service, old log decor and a jovial atmosphere, with indoor and outdoor dining options and access to the amazing beaches of Batchewana Bay.