What to do on Manitoulin Island this Winter

Don’t fret! The season may be treating us to a frosty blanket of snow and a brisk wind that whips at any skin left exposed, but there are many things to take advantage of this winter.

Don’t let the frozen lake stop you - go fishing!

This year, the Wikwemikong Ice Fishing Derby and the Manitoulin Expositor are partnering for the first ever Manitoulin Ice Showdown. This event will take place on both Manitowaning Bay and Lake Manitou on February 9th and 10th. The classic tagged fish contest will be held on Manitowaning Bay, where fishing participants race to catch one of the pre-tagged fish swimming around the bay. Over at Lake Manitou, a target fish weight will be announced and whoever catches the fish closest to the designated number will win a fantastic cash prize. There are many great prizes available to win this year.

Wikwemikong Ice Fishing Derby (Photo:  Wiikwemikoong.ca )

Wikwemikong Ice Fishing Derby (Photo: Wiikwemikoong.ca)


Wikwemikong Tourism boasts that every year, about 500 people show up to the Derby - and about half that number comes from out-of-towners. It’s emphasized that this is a great event for people of all ages, and that the winner can be anyone from a veteran fisher to the underdog first-timer. You can buy tickets at the Expositor office or the Wikwemikong Tourism office.

Snowmobile through the Island’s many trails

The entirety of Manitoulin Island has many snowmobile trails that wind through the snowy bush, providing gorgeous lakeside views and luscious powdery snow. The trails usually open in January, when there’s a good amount of snow on the ground and it’s cold enough to sustain it. If there’s not enough snow, it can be damaging to the machines. Many local landowners generously allow snowmobilers to utilize their property to connect to trails; it’s become a community effort, unifying residents and sledders with the promise of fresh powder and a clear path.

Snowmobilers on Manitoulin (Photo:  Expositor )

Snowmobilers on Manitoulin (Photo: Expositor)


It’s not easy to keep the trails drivable and safe. There are dedicated groomers that maintain the trails, keeping the ground level and fresh. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, a non-for-profit organization that maintains the over 30,000km of snowmobile trails, often has volunteers that help groom the trails. Manitoulin has its own club called the Manitoulin Snowdusters. Don’t forget to get your permit for the 2019 season!

Trail groomers at work (Photo:  Northern Ontario Travel )

Trail groomers at work (Photo: Northern Ontario Travel)


Get outside and try some cross-country skiing!

The Manitoulin Nordic Ski Club’s home-base is just 14km west of Little Current, and is situated in a beautiful snowy off road area, connecting to some great trails. The club looks after over 10km of well-maintained trails, letting skiers explore the wondrous paths easily and safely.

Western Manitoulin trail (Photo:  Northern Ontario Travel )

Western Manitoulin trail (Photo: Northern Ontario Travel)


Maple Ridge Trails Club is also a good option for keen cross-country skiers, as well as snowshoers. The trailhead is located in Mindemoya, at the Community Living Manitoulin office. You can sign in and purchase trail passes here. The trails offer beautiful views of Mindemoya, active wildlife, and differing elevations throughout the journey.

In 2016, Community Living Manitoulin and Manitoulin Special Olympics came together to improve the trail system and make it accessible for everyone. The community truly came together to work on these trails so that winters can be further enjoyed outdoors. They made sure the trails were clearly marked and differed in length, giving various options.

Snowshoer enjoying the trails (Photo:  Expositor )

Snowshoer enjoying the trails (Photo: Expositor)

Settle down with a hot chocolate or specialty drink

All winter long, you can visit 3 Cows and a Cone to get a delicious hot drink. For the month of December, our Drink of the Month is a Gingerbread Hot Chocolate. Delicious, creamy, and dusted with cinnamon. It’s the perfect drink to cozy up with on a cold, snowy day. Want to relax in the comfort of your own home? Take it to go!

gingerbread hot choc.jpg

What’s your favourite way to spend the winter season? Comment down below!

Allison SmithComment