Ontario The Legends of a Giant and a Princess

The Ojibway Indians of northwestern Ontario have many legends. These are two of the best still told to this day.Known as the Niagara of the North, Kakabeka Falls is one of the gems of natural scenery in Northwestern Ontario. The falls, whose name is an Ojibway Indian word meaning "thundering water" is on the Kaministiquia River and are a result of massive waterflow from retreating glaciers over 8,000 years ago.

The water plunges 128 feet over sheer cliffs and some of the oldest fossils in the world. You can get a bird's-eye view from jutting platforms and trails along the gorge and trace voyageurs' steps around the falls in this history-rich park.The falls are at the center of one of the most enchanting of Indian legends. It is the story of the Indian princess "Greenmantle".

The old, peace-loving chieftain, White Bear of the Objibway encampment, learned the Sioux were about to attack his tribe. His daughter, Princess Greenmantle devised a plan to protect her aging father and her tribe.She paddled her canoe up the Kaministiquia River to a point well above the waterfall and walked boldly into the camp of her enemies. They captured her at once and intended to put her to death.

Pretending to be lost and frightened, she bargained with them to spare her life in return for leading them to her father's camp. The Sioux agreed.The following morning the young Princess was placed in the lead canoe and the great band of Sioux, with their canoes tied together, set out for the Ojibway camp. Greenmantle did not tell them of the falls and as they swiftly turned the river bend, they plunged into the great gorge.Along with the Sioux warriors, the Princess lost her life.

Her life was not lost in vain because her tribe was spared the torture of the most feared of tribes. The Great Manitou looked kindly upon the brave deed of the Princess. Today, the figure of Greenmantle can be seen, in the mist of the falls, standing as a monument to the memory of the courageous Princess who gave her life for her people.Standing on the shores of Thunder Bay at the head of the great Lake Superior, one can perceive, on looking out across the waters of Thunder Bay, a great land formation situated directly in the mouth of the Bay.

It requires no imagination at all to see that this form resembles the sleeping body of a giant, arms folded across his massive chest as in the majesty of death.On an island just outside Thunder Bay, now known as "Isle Royale", once lived a great tribe of Ojibway natives. Because of their loyalty to their gods and their peaceful and industrious mode of living, Nanabijou, the spirit of the Deep Sea Water, decided to reward them. One day he called their chief to his great Thunder Temple on the mountain and told the Chief that if he told anyone outside the Ojibway tribe the secret he was going to share with him, that he, Nanabijou, would be turned to stone and the Ojibway tribe would perish.The chief gave his promise and Nanabijou told him of the rich silver mine, now known as "Silver Islet". He told the chief to go to the highest point on Thunder Cape and there he would find an entrance to a cave that would lead him to the center of the mother lode of silver.

Apparently the chief and his people found the mine, for the Ojibway soon became famous for their beautiful silver ornaments. So beautiful were they, that the Sioux warriors, on seeing them on their wounded enemies, tried to get the secret from them. However torture and even death failed to make the Ojibway divulge the secret of the source of their silver, so the Sioux had to come up with another plan.One day their most cunning scout devised a plan and volunteered to carry it out.

The scout was to enter the Ojibway camp disguised as one of them. This he did and in a few days he succeeded in learning the secret of the island of silver. Going to the mine at night he took as many large pieces of the precious metal he could carry in order to prove to his chief that he had fulfilled his mission.However, as he paddled his canoe across the water to the Sioux encampment, a terrific storm broke over the Cape.

Because of the extra weight of all the silver he had stolen, the scout's canoe was swamped in the storm and broke up, with the scout drowning.Next day after the storm had cleared; the most extraordinary sight appeared. Where once was a wide opening to the bay, now lay what appeared to be a great sleeping figure of a man.

Nanabijou's warning had been fulfilled and he had been turned to stone.On a little island at the foot of the Sleeping Giant, can still be seen the partly submerged shafts of what was once the richest silver mine in the northwest. White men have tried again and again to pump out the water that keeps flooding in from Lake Superior but without success. Is it still under the curse of Nanabijou, Spirit of the Deep Sea Water? Perhaps, who can tell, but the Ojibways will tell you it is indeed the revenge of Nanabijou.

.Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.

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By: Michael Russell

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