Green Mantle and Nanabijou's Wife

Part 2 of 3 - Legends and Lore in Thunder Bay

Natural wonders abound in the Thunder Bay area. With evidence of a history of human habitation dating back over 9,000 years, many of the natural wonders Northwest Ontario is famous for are accompanied by some very interesting legends.

The adventures to be had at these locations are many, but paired with the knowledge of the traditional legends your journey will become even more exciting.

This installment of Legends and Lore will feature the legends of Kakabeka Falls and Pie Island.

Kakabeka Falls - Green Mantle

Known as the “Niagara of the North,” the massive falls at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is a must-stop for any cross-Canada traveller. Located right on the Trans-Canada Highway, the mighty Kaministiquia River plunges down creating the massive Kakabeka Falls and the famous mist that arises from the pounding water.

During your visit, if you stand on the viewing pod and look into the mist you just might see the face of the enchanting native princess, Green Mantle. Just who was this maiden? The legend goes as follows…

Chieftain White Bear, the peace-loving grand old leader of the Ojibway tribe was interested only in the welfare of his people. One day Chief White Bear was greatly vexed to learn that large numbers of the fierce warlike Sioux were approaching his tribe's encampment at the mouth of the Kaministiquia River, bent upon the destruction of his tribe.
Being too old to go to battle himself and not knowing how to ward off the enemy, the old Chief was greatly distressed. Seeing her father's dilemma, Princess Green Mantle devised a plan.
Bidding her father farewell she hurriedly left the camp and paddled swiftly up the Kaministiquia River. Many times before she had gone for long canoe rides with her brother and she well knew of the Great White Falls. Leaving her canoe at the foot of the falls, she ran swiftly along the bank until she reached a point well above the waterfall.
She soon came within sight of the Sioux Camp. Boldly the young maiden walked into the camp of her bitterest enemies. At once they pounced upon her and captured her. Pretending to have lost her way, she led them to believe she was very frightened. Green Mantle was taken before the Sioux Chieftains and they decided to put her to death. Bargaining with them she followed through with her plan and told them that if they would spare her life she would lead them to her father's camp. The Sioux Chiefs were elated, thinking that they had indeed been blessed by the Gods.
The following morning the young Princess was placed in the lead canoe and the great band, in their war canoes followed, tied as Green Mantle suggested, one behind the other so that they would not get lost. However, she did not tell them about the falls and as they swiftly turned the bend of the river, they plunged headlong into the great gorge, killing all.
Princess Green Mantle of course lost her life also but all of her tribe were saved from the torturous hands of the most dreaded of all Native tribesmen.
The Great Manitou looked kindly upon the brave little Native maiden, and if one takes the trouble to walk down the viewing pods, the figure of Green Mantle can be observed in the mist, standing as a monument to the memory of the Princess who gave her life for her people.

Pie Island - NanaBIJOU'S WIFE

For those who are able to travel the waters of Lake Superior by boat, there is a unique phenomenon at Pie Island, just off the shores of the city of Thunder Bay.

As the boat passes Pie Island, heading towards the Sleeping Giant a glance to the west will offer a brief glimpse of Nanabijou’s wife. Her face only appears for a moment, so don’t blink or you will miss her before she vanishes and goes back into hiding.

The legend of Nanabijou's Wife goes like this…

Greatly resenting the influx of the white man upon the territories of his people, Nanabijou, the Native Spirit of the Deep Sea Water, sought to frighten them away. Taking his giant Thunder Bird with him, he swept up and down the shores of the Great Lake causing havoc with his terrible thunderstorms wherever the white man's camps appeared.
As the number of these camps grew, Nanabijou spent more and more time away from his temple on the mountain, and soon his good wife became tired of not having her husband with her. To pass the many long days away, she would take her bow and arrows and hunt, for she was known to be a great huntress.
While his wife was away on one of these hunting trips, Nanabijou returned, tired and hungry. He found his home cold and his table empty.
Already filled with anger at the white man, the Great Spirit flew into a terrible fit of temper and went in search of his wife. Finding her at last, he raged at her for her neglect of him. When his wife angrily upbraided him for leaving her, he raised his great hands and struck her down.
When his anger had subsided, he was filled with grief and went out to try and find his wife, but Manitou, the greatest of all Native Gods had turned her to stone and placed her upon Pie Island so that Nanabijou would not harm her again.
There she can be seen peeping out at everyone that approaches hoping it is her beloved husband.
Some day if Nanabijou should come again and the Manitou forgives him, legend say she will disappear and if she does, she will never leave his side again.

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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