By Norman MacIsaac *
I visited the Auberge Inn with my wife and friends in July, and it was unforgettable, fun, relaxing … and therapeutic! In the tradition of Letterman’s Top Ten, here are some of the reasons why I recommend this vacation spot.
1,2,3 Location, location, location
Auberge Inn is just down the road from Manitoulin Island’s best beach, and best food. Visiting around the island? Nothing’s very far from your home away from home on this island in the middle of the world’s largest freshwater lake. Whether you want a private room or just a bed for a solitary explorer, the Auberge Inn is a great choice!
4 The Beach
I’ll take the eco-friendly serenity of the beach at Providence Bay over the busy commercialized overcrowded beaches any day. This is the beach cradled in peaceful Providence Bay, where you can feel all alone, gazing at the pristine waters of Lake Huron, surrounded by natural dunes and forest. You’ll see why this island’s first inhabitants called it Bebekodawangog, meaning “where the beach curves around the water.”**
Enjoy the beach regardless of the weather. Even if you’re encumbered by a stroller or mobility challenged, the beach beckons you to stroll or roll down the boardwalk. Breathe the fresh air, and enjoy nature, as Monarch flutter past, and ducks and geese share this habitat. There are no cars on the beach, and you won’t struggle to find your own piece of paradise to enjoy that one special sun-soaked day. Months after your visit, likely on some dreary sun-starved day in February, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about the warm equanimity of Providence Bay.
Take the time to visit the Harbour Centre to learn more about the history and natural environment of the island. If you’re so inclined, grab a delicious ice cream or the healthy yet tasty kale smoothie. I actually enjoyed the smoothie, but feel free to opt for the cone instead. There’s also a stroller/wheelchair accessible playground on the beach, so kids can stay active all day burning off all that ice cream!
To top off your perfect day, enjoy the sunset on Providence, strolling along my favourite boardwalk. Promise yourself to come back again next year.
- The Food
Just two doors down from the Auberge Inn, Lake Huron Fish ‘n Chips has the best fish ‘n chips I’ve ever had. Okay, maybe there’s one place on Vancouver Island that comes close. Savour lightly battered fish made from the whitefish catch of the day straight out of the bay, accompanied by fresh cut fries and delicious coleslaw. Enjoy your perfect platter with tartar sauce and malt vinegar. It’s been a week since I sunk my chops into Lake Huron’s finest battered filet, but I swear I can still taste it. Maybe order a Jones Soda to wash it down. And if you’re lucky, you can enjoy it on their patio under blue skies.
But don’t stop there! Explore more. Check out TripAdvisor’s gastronomic recommendations for more! For instance, I also enjoyed the succulent home-style burgers at Maggie’s Café, just around the corner from the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation.
- First Nations
The first inhabitants of this island have a rich cultural heritage and they take pride in sharing it with visitors. If you’re like me, you learned nothing about First Nations culture at school. But fear not. This is nothing like school. Visit the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation for a brief introduction to the language, culture, arts, spirituality and traditions of the Anishinaabe people of the place they call ‘Spirit Island’, Mnidoo Mnising (Website: www.ojibweculture.ca). Make a point of scheduling your visit to coincide with a powwow, and give yourself plenty of time to tour the art galleries
- Treks and natural beauty galore!
As soon as you arrive on the island, observe the stark changes in geography. A visit to Bridal Veil Falls is a must. View these charming falls from above, then get down there and get your feet wet… or more! More adventurous souls will go under the falls and feel the water wash the stress right off you! There are two falls. Find out which one is warmer than the other. Want more? The major limitation is your time. The more time you have, the more you’ll trek!
Manitoulin Island is quaint enough to leave behind the hustle and bustle of your hectic life. The people are friendly island folk, so don’t be shy! If you see a shop or a sign, check it out! You’ll discover a wealth of cottage industries that produce everything from hot sauces to candles. You can even shop for vinyl just down the road from the Auberge Inn. You’ll find vintage records, t-shirts and arts and crafts all in one place!
9 & 10. Heidi and Serge
The owners of the Auberge Inn will make you feel right at home. Hang around and read a book, or crack open a puzzle or a board game on a rainy day. You’ll feel like you’re at the cottage, and you might just end the day roasting marshmallows over an open fire, exchanging with guests from all around the world. Heidi is committed to making you feel like this is your home, and Serge speaks five languages, so there ought not be any communication barriers at the hostel with the bilingual name.
The Auberge is the Inn place on Manitoutlin Island. Bon voyage!
* Published by the Auberge Inn with permission from the author
** Source: Municipality of Central Manitoulin (http://www.centralmanitoulin.ca/tourism-manitoulin/providence-bay