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5 Reasons To Cycle North Of Superior
Want to explore the geographic heart of Canada? Then ride the ‘North of Superior‘ section of the 2021 Canada Coast to Coast Cycling Adventure.
Here are 5 great reasons to ride from Winnipeg to Sault Ste Marie:
1 – Lake Superior
Lake Superior, known to the local Ojibwe peoples as ‘gitchi gami’ (meaning ‘great sea’), is the largest of North America’s Great Lakes and is the largest lake in the world measured by surface area. It is known for its great beauty – clear waters and rugged tree-lined shoreline – but even more so for its capricious nature. The waters are icy cold, even in the height of the summer, and its storms are legendary, none more so than the one that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. Immortalized by Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot in his song ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald‘, the ship, caught in a sudden November gale, was split in half and all 29 crew members died. As Lightfoot eerily sings, “The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead.”
2 – Nanabijou, the Sleeping Giant
Directly across from the city of Thunder Bay sits the Sibley Peninsula, the remnants of an ancient volcano. Today it is a popular provincial park offering great hiking, camping and swimming. However, if you look closely at it from the city it appears to be a a giant sleeping on his back. This gave rise to the legend of the great spirit, Nanabijou. Essentially, this spirit offered to tell the local Ojibwe tribe the location of a secret silver mine at the end of the peninsula but he warned them that if the white man should find out he, Nanbijou, would be turned to stone. The tribe found the mine and soon became famous for its incredible silver jewelry but, alas, soon the white man found out, the Nanbijou was turned to stone as the Sleeping Giant and the silver mine was flooded by a huge storm, never again to yield an ounce of the precious metal.
3 – Canadian Shield
The bleak majesty of the Canadian Shield can be simply overwhelming. It covers a large part of the country but is especially prevalent in Northern Ontario where its windswept bedrock and craggily trees create an iconic Canadian scene. The rock itself is some of the oldest on the planet, dating back as far as 4 billion years. There is very little soil but endless bogs and swamps. Despite this, many creatures call this area their home – black bears (the blueberries here are legendary), beavers, otters, wolves, moose and many others. And bugs, lots of bugs! It is also the source of much of Canada’s mineral wealth, the land containing vast amounts of diamonds, uranium, nickel, iron ore, diamonds and copper.
4 – Boreal Forest
Much like the Canadian Shield, Canada’s vast boreal forest stretches across large parts of the country, in fact, over 50% of the land area. It constitutes about one third of the world’s boreal forest and, most importantly, unlike in other countries, large parts of it are essentially untouched. It is a vital breeding ground for many bird species and plays an important spiritual and economic role for the various indigenous communities that call it home, especially with regards to the woodland caribou. Similarly, it exists in the modern Canadian imagination courtesy of the Group of Seven’s paintings and the Canadian one dollar coin, the ‘Loonie’, named after the loon, an important boreal species.
5 – The Canoe
Famous Canadian historian Pierre Berton once quipped that the definition of a Canadian was “someone who could make love in a canoe“, not an easy task as you can imagine! The image of a canoe on a lake or river is an iconic Canadian scene. And, of course, there is a Canadian Canoe Museum with over 100 canoes on display. The water craft itself was invented by the Aboriginal peoples, long before the Europeans arrived but the colonists soon discovered the usefulness of the canoe for following wild rivers and shallow lakes along the emerging fur trade routes. Pierre Trudeau, perhaps Canada’s most famous Prime Minister, once wrote, “Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute, pedal five hundred and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.”
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