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HISTORY, LEGENDS & MYTHS CHANNELS
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This is intended as a growing, living archive, therefore if you have any corrections or articles that you would liike to contribute please feel free to email us

 

The Legend of Ouimet Canyon

Omett was a good giant and helped Nanabijou when he wished to raise a mountain or make a new lake. Omett fell in love with Naiomi, Nanabijou's daughter. Naiomi liked Omett and encouraged him to display his strength.


One day Omett was moving a mountain when a peak broke off, struck Naiomi and killed her. Greatly frightened of the wrath of Nanabijou, Omett hid Naiomi's body in a shallow lake and covered it with a rock shield.


Searching for Naiomi, Nanabijou was striding over the great shield when he felt vibrations from under the rocks. Reaching into the sky, he grasped a thunderbolt and drove it into the rocks, splitting them open. In the wide canyon he discovered his daughter's body. Nanabijou buried Naiomi in the bottom of the canyon.


From her grave grew the rare and beautiful flowers found only there. To punish Omett, Nanabijou turned him to stone and placed him on the canyon wall to watch over the grave for all eternity. 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 whatever to see that this form resembles the sleeping body of a giant, arms folded across his massive chest as in the majesty of death.


Mystery and legend surround the origin of this strange phenomenon of nature and down through the ages the following story seems to have survived.


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 warned him that if he told the secret to the white man, that he, Nanabijou would be turned to stone and the Ojibway tribe perish. The Chief gave his promise, and Nanabijou told him of the rich silver mine, now known as "Silver Islet".
The Great Spirit told him to go to the highest point on Thunder Cape, and here he would find the entrance to a tunnel that would lead him to the centre of the mine.


Apparently the Chief and his people found the mine, for the Ojibway became famous for their beautiful silver ornaments.
So beautiful indeed were they, that the Sioux warriors on seeing them upon their wounded enemies, strove to wrest their secret from them. However, torture and even death failed to make the gallant Ojibway divulge their secret and the Sioux chieftains had to devise another scheme to find the source of the Ojibway silver. One day they summoned their most cunning scout to a pow-wow and a plan was formed.


The scout was to enter the Ojibway camp disguised as one of them. This he did and in a few days succeeded in learning the secret of the island of silver. Going to the mine at night he took several large pieces of the precious metal in order to prove to his chieftain that he had fulfilled his mission. The scout however never returned to his camp, for on his way back he stopped at a white traders post to purchase some food. Having no furs or money with which to pay for the goods, he used a piece of the silver. Seeing such a large piece of the gleaming metal, two white men sought to obtain the whereabouts of its source, in order to make themselves fabulously rich. After filling the Sioux scout with alcohol they persuaded him to show them the to the mine.


When almost in sight of "Silver Islet" a terrific storm broke over the Cape. The white men were drowned and the Native was found in a crazed condition floating aimlessly in his canoe, but the most extraordinary thing that had happened during the storm, was that where once was a wide opening to the bay, now lay what appeared to be a great sleeping figure of a man.


The Great Spirit'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.