Rock Island Lodge
A world class paddling centre.
People have gathered here at the mouth of the Michipicoten River for thousands of years. Ojibwa people descended the Michipicoten River by birchbark canoe in the springtime en route to their summer rendezvous at the rapids of Sault Ste. Marie. With great shelter and abundant wild foods, there’s no doubt Canada’s First People would have camped at the present-day site of Rock Island Lodge. It’s thought that the name “Michipicoten” is an Ojibwa word describing the steep cliffs along the south side of Michipicoten Bay.
The first explorers and fur traders also found Michipicoten to be a strategic place for settlement. It is still possible to paddle upstream, across the height of land, and down the Missinaibi and Moose rivers to James Bay—an ancient, 550-kilometre canoe route connecting the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean. In the late 1700s, the competing Northwest Company and Hudson Bay Company built trading posts just up river from Rock Island. For 50 years, Michipicoten was an important resting spot for voyageurs as they paddled 36-foot canoes from Montreal to Thunder Bay.
The Hudson Bay Company maintained Michipicoten Post until the early 1900s. In 1882, the “Company of Adventurers” added the 400 acres of land at the mouth of the Michipicoten River, including Rock Island, to its holdings. It was purchased from Queen Victoria for $176. In 1923, the HBC sold the land to John William Kennedy, a gold promoter who built the original buildings and named the site Canfield’s Island. Since then, it’s gone through several hands, including Algoma Steel Ore Division and Great Lakes Power Company, which used the site as a corporate retreat.
David Wells purchased the 12 acres at the mouth of the Michipicoten River in 1994 with the dream of creating an environmentally responsible lodge and a world-class paddling centre. We’ve come a long way. Each one of our four guest rooms overlooks the largest freshwater lake in the world, and we’ve attracted paddlers from across Canada and the world. We are proud that travelers are once again gathering here to celebrate Lake Superior.
There’s plenty to do at Rock Island and in the surrounding area—paddle, hike, swim or just relax in the sun.
We hope to see you on Superior!