Friday, May 30, 2008

Highway 61 ~ Grand Portage

Highway 61 is the road out of Thunder Bay that takes you to the States. Last week my son and I drove down to the US. These skinny poplars line the Canadian side of the border. The poplars have replaced the massive forests of pine that used to fill this area in the past. The pines were all clear cut and logged. The odd old pine waves from atop a cliff; its inaccessibility having saved it from the saw of 'development'.

After crossing the border into Minnesota, we stopped at this outstanding lookout over Lake Superior.

After driving a bit more we then stopped at Grand Portage, Kitchi Onigaming in Ojibwe. We did not go into the casino but rather walked along the beach towards the reconstructed fort of the North West Company.

We saw this skeleton-like driftwood that had floated onto the shore.

We also walked through the reconstructed Chippewa [Ojibwe] camp. Grand Portage is Ojibwe land. The per capita income on the reserve is $10,808. Grand Portage was once the means of bypassing the formidable high falls on Pigeon River for those traveling westward by canoe. Pigeon River became the border that divides the US and Canada. Pigeon River is named after Omimizibi, an Algonquin term that refers to large numbers of passenger pigeons. Prior to the mid 1700s massive clouds of pigeons darkened the sky, traveling up the river from the shore of Lake Superior. In those days a flock of passenger pigeons could number 2 billion birds. James Audubon once watched one flock pass overhead for 3 days. Passenger pigeons, of course, are long gone; in the 1800s hunters killed 50,000 birds a day, preparing their extinction.

After leaving Grand Portage, the next place we stopped was this beach of red stones and clear water that was right off the highway.

The stones became larger as the bay curved

This is the point of land that closes in the bay

with this lichen-capped rock sitting at the end.

Up close the rock is an imposing hard diabase shelf

yet permeable, for despite its fortitude it has been hollowed out by the water.

Walking back to the car, we noticed that the red stones were actually many colours.

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