At 40m high Kakabeka Falls ranks the second largest waterfall in Ontario. A historic route of The Voyageurs, the Kaministiquia River has been carving a path through the Canadian Shield for centuries, creating this beautiful waterfall and revealing million-year-old fossils. And as much as the river may have grown, meandered and shared, it is the Ojibwa First Nation legend regarding this waterfall that has tourists remembering this location long after they’ve moved on.
It was during an invasion by the neighbouring Sioux that Greenmantle, the 17-year-old daughter of Chief Ogama Eagle of the Ojibwa, was kidnapped and held captive for months at Dog mountain. Using Greenmantle’s knowledge of the river the Sioux devised a surprise attack on the unsuspecting Ojibwa. Forced by her captors, Greenmantle led the Sioux towards the Ojibwa camp and subsequent waterfall. And as complicit as she may have appeared to the Sioux, Greenmantle had a plan of her own.
As the waters turned violent the girl skillfully took the lead causing her enemy to give chase to keep up with her. At the last possible second, Greenmantle guided her canoe towards the west bank of the whirlpool at the precipice of the falls. Startled by her unexpected action, the Sioux were caught off guard and as such were drawn into the swirling rapids and swept over the waterfall.
A triumphant result for a girl protecting her people, there is a division of how this legend ends. The “Hollywood” version would have you believe Greenmantle expertly maneuvered her canoe to the bank of the river. Having narrowly escaped the same fate as the Sioux, she fled to alert the Ojibwa of the imminent threat. Being forewarned her people were able to fend off the remaining Sioux forces who had managed to avoid the falls.
The other ending claims that Greenmantle freely gave of her own life when she purposely leads the Sioux to their deaths in an attempt to save the Ojibwa.
Regardless of which ending you prefer, it is said her spirit can be seen as a rainbow hovering in the mist of the waterfall. And if you listen intently to the roaring waters below, you can hear the cries of the Sioux that perished.
The Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is located at the north end of the town of the same name. For a small fee, you can walk the boardwalk that meanders along both sides of the river, falls and canyon below. Enjoy the park year round whether it be walking the nature trails, camping, swimming, cycling or cross-country skiing.
~True North Nomad
What is your favourite waterfall? Does it have any spooky, courageous or incredible legend associated with it? Tell us in the comments below.
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