Wednesday, 17 July 2013


A Summer Vacation on the North Shore of Lake Superior
Written, Illustrated and Published by
W. S. Piper, Fort William, Ontario, 1918

Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

We are now entering Kitchegamee (Lake Superior), the great fresh water reservoir of North America, which has an area of 31,800 square miles, its greatest length being 420 miles and its greatest width 167 miles.  Its maximum depth is 1000 feet, and its surface is 600 feet above the level of the sea. Its lowest floor is about 400 feet below the sea level. The temperature of the lake in summer is about 39 degrees Fahr., and falls from 4 to 5 degrees in winter

Looking from the southwest we get a good view of the Lion of Thunder Cape, the highest elevation forming the head and breast.

As we sail down the southeast shore we pass Moos-oos (Moose Calf) of Thunder Cape.

The Lion of Thunder Cape

Moose -oos of Thunder Cape

We are now in sight of Silver Islet, one of Nanna-Bijou's treasure houses. From it has been taken over four millions of dollars. The old Silver Islet village is now a popular summer resort. We did not call at the Islet, as our destination was Porphyry, but, slowing down, I took several pictures while passing.

Another hour saw us anchored in Porphyry Harbor where the most ancient cemetery on Lake Superior is situated and which is known as the Indian's Happy Hunting-ground. At the entrance to the harbor stands the sacred rock "Shaminitou" (Child Saviour), sacred to the Manitou, and from time immemorial the recipient of special offerings by its devotees. Pictures of this peculiar rock may be seen on the Pacific coast and in Alaska, carved on wood and on totem poles.

The Sacred Rock "Shaminitou"

We spent the evening exploring the island and visited the cemetery. The last burial on Porphyry was in the year 1884.  Luke explained to me the reason this most beautiful place is no longer used.  The Indian belief is that when he dies he goes to the happy hunting-ground, where all kinds of game abounds, but the Christian religion appeals more to the younger generation, many of them claiming to belong to same, while others, although not strictly adhering to ancient customs, are decidedly free thinkers. In many cases their greatest need is food and clothing.

As it was a quiet, peaceful night we sat up late, and nature and God seemed very good. We were loath to go to bed, but, after adjusting our riding light, we turned in. We had not been long asleep when we were suddenly awakened by a loud hoarse noise which seemed to almost lift us out of bed and rip to shreds the silence of the wilderness.  It was the Porphyry fog-horn.  This started the night birds to quaver out all sorts of petulant lost-soul cries; blaming someone or something for disturbing their slumbers and shriekingly resenting the intrusion.  This Gabriel continued to trumpet most of the night and seemed to put a crowning touch on this weird place.

Porphyry Cemetery

Porphyry Light and Number 10 Light

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