Omett, Naiomi and the Three Sisters

Part 1 of 3 - Legends and Lore in Thunder Bay

The area surrounding Thunder Bay is known for its incredible, natural wonders. With a rich history of human habitation dating back over 9,000 years in the area, many of the natural wonders the region is famous for are accompanied by interesting legends.

Visiting these areas today is exciting and adventure-filled, but exploring can be even more rewarding armed with the traditional knowledge and legends surrounding them.

This installment of Legends and Lore will feature the legends of Ouimet Canyon and the Welcome Islands.

These "legends" were all originally printed in the book Tales from the Tom Tom.

OUimet Canyon - Omett & Naiomi

Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park is located just east of Thunder Bay, near Dorion, ON.

Featuring unique vegetation and a handicapped accessible hiking trail, Ouimet is a must see when in the area. But how did this massive gorge originate? Well, according to the legend…

A long time ago there were giants. One called 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.

Welcome Islands - The Three Sisters

The Welcome Islands have long provided refuge for mariners trying to withstand the incredible force of the waves on Lake Superior.

Located just off the shores of Thunder Bay, this trio of islands have their own indigenous legend…

Many years ago there lived a great Ojibway Chieftain, loved and respected by his people for his kindness and love of children. Besides two fine sons, the Chief had four daughters.
The three older girls were cruel and haughty, but the fourth and youngest was tender and of a dreaming nature. She loved to roam the forest and talk to the birds and little animals and would sometimes tell her family of strange conversations she had with the spirits of the forest. Her sisters would deride her but her father, understanding her better, loved her all the more for her kind simplicity.
One day, when the young maiden was out for a walk in the woods, she heard a great and kindly voice call her name. Not seeing any person she realized that it must be a spirit. Sitting down upon a fallen tree, she listened intently to the voice. It was the great Nanabijou!
He told her how much he loved her gentleness and that he had chosen her to be the bride of his son, North Star. Instructing her to come to this place in the forest on a certain day, Nanabijou departed, leaving the young girl very happy.
That evening when all of her family were sitting around the campfire, the young daughter told them of her meeting with Nanabijou. The three elder sisters laughed mockingly at her and told her to drink herb medicine because she might be sick in the head. At this, the chief grew very angry and taking a long strip of deerhide, gave them a sound thrashing.
The older girls, now full of hate for the sister that had been the cause of their punishment, planned to kill her. Remembering the day and place Nanabijou told their sister to meet him again in the woods, they followed her and hid in the low bushes, each armed with a bow and arrow.
Soon North Star came to the spot and the young girl gently embraced him for she had fallen in love with him at first sight.
North Star however, was a spirit and the elder sisters could not see him. Thinking their sister alone they drew their bow strings and shot their arrows right through the young maiden's heart. The arrows had pierced both North Star and the young girl, but instead of falling to the earth, she was borne gently upwards by her lover, to the sky.

The three sisters became very frightened and ran swiftly towards their camp.
Nanabijou, furious at what had happened to the young girl came down in the midst of a terrible storm, and catching them up as they ran, turned them into stone and cast them into the water of Thunder Bay.

Now that you know the legends surrounding these incredible natural wonders, visit Thunder Bay to discover them for yourself.

About Stephanie Reid

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Stephanie is a content creator and media specialist and has a true appreciation for Northern Ontario and all of its many offerings and attractions.

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