Kakabeka Falls is on the Kaministiquia River, located beside the village of Kakabeka Falls, 30 km (19 mi) west of the city of Thunder Bay.
The falls have a drop of 40 m (131 ft), cascading into a gorge carved out of the Precambrian Shield by meltwater following the last glacial maximum. It is the second highest waterfall in Ontario after Niagara Falls, and has been consequently nicknamed "the Niagara of the North".
The rock face of the falls and the escarpments along the gorge are composed primarily of unstable shale, and are eroding. These rocks host sensitive flora, and contain some of the oldest fossils in existence, some 1.6 billion years of age. Due to the fragile rock, going into the gorge below the falls is prohibited.
The name "Kakabeka" comes from the Ojibwe word gakaabikaa "waterfall over a cliff". For viewing the falls there are boardwalks and viewing pods that offer safe views of the falls and gorge.
The Legend of Green Mantle is about an Ojibwe chief who upon hearing news of an imminent attack from the Sioux tribe instructs his daughter, Princess Green Mantle, to devise a plan to protect her people. She entered the Sioux camp along the Kaministiquia River and, pretending to be lost, she bargained with them to spare her life if she would bring them to her father's camp. Placed at the head of the canoe, she instead led herself and the Sioux warriors over the falls to their deaths, sparing her tribe from the attack. The legend claims that one can see Green Mantle when looking into the mist of Kakabeka Falls, a monument to the princess that gave her life to save her people. Other versions of the legend say she came across the Sioux herself, and later jumped out of the canoe ahead of the falls and swam to shore, leaving the Sioux to go over the falls, then ran back to the camp to warn her people.
For fishing enthusiasts there are pike and walleye.
For wildlife viewing there are moose, deer and bear, smaller animals such as fox, squirrels and chipmunks, and feathered friends -- grouse and song birds - at this park. In the fall watch for bald eagles over the gorge.
A trail suitable for cycling is the Poplar Point Trail.
[1-The Red River Expedition below Kakabeka Falls by Frances Anne Hopkins circa 1877]
Frances Anne Hopkins, (2 February 1838 – 5 March 1919), daughter of Frederick William Beechey was born in England and had a talent for painting. In 1858 she married a Hudson's Bay Company official Edward Hopkins whose work took him to North America. She accompanied him and travelled extensively by canoe along some of the most important fur trading routes. While travelling, she sketched extensively and thereby recorded an interesting aspect of Canadian history.
Her best-known works are several large paintings made from her sketches. They show voyageurs and their canoes with her husband and herself in with the paddlers.
Hopkins returned to England in 1870 where she lived until her death. Many of her paintings are part of the collection of the National Library and Archives of Canada. In 1988 a stamp was issued featuring one of her paintings and an inset sepia photograph of the artist.
Research: OntarioParks, wikipedia
Photo Credits: wikipedia