Island’s swing bridge set for centennial celebrations

LITTLE CURRENT—This year marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic Manitoulin swing bridge, gateway to the largest freshwater island in the world, and in celebration of this momentous occasion, Little Current will be hosting Bridgefest this weekend featuring a variety of family events centered around this engineering marvel.

The weekend will kick off with opening ceremonies at the east end town docks (east of the OPP boathouse) at 6:30 pm on Friday, July 12.

Following the opening ceremonies there will be a Classic Cruiser parade throughout Little Current, ending with a cruise-in at 7:30 pm from Water Street to Sims Street.

At 7:30 pm Bridgefesters can enjoy historical story stops and vignettes performed by the Ticklebone Theatre along the waterfront. Here you can learn about Little Current’s rich history.

Events will get underway again Saturday morning with a 5 km fun run through Little Current at 8 am. For more information, or to register, contact Heather Thijsmeijer at manitoulinstargazer@gmail.com or call 705-282-8467.

From 9 am until noon there will be a special Northeast Town Farmers’ Market downtown by the Little Current Bank of Montreal.

Throughout the weekend there will be a Celebrate Summer art show at the Little Current Public Library including bridge pictures from years gone by. The library will be open Friday from 12 noon to 5 pm and Saturday from noon until 4 pm.

There will also be a tugboat rendezvous throughout the weekend at the downtown docks, so stroll the waterfront and check out these vessels.

Also starting at 9 am on Saturday morning will be the 25th anniversary celebration of the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport, with a chance for youth to try flying with the Young Eagles program as well as a chance to see Canadian Harvard aircrafts.

The Young Eagles program is available to children ages 8 to 17 and is free of charge. Registration forms are available at the Northeast Town office or at the airport.

At 10 am there will be a homemade pie sale at the Little Current United Church on Robinson Street, with lots of great pies to choose from.

From 10 am to 5 pm, Water Street will be closed to traffic and there will be a main street festival with vendors, ‘chalk’n the channel’ sidewalk art, a dunk tank and a Manitoulin Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Services youth event.

The official christening of the OPP vessel Gwen M. Boniface will take place at 11 am at the east end docks with OPP dignitaries present. All are welcome to attend

Are you a geocacher or want to learn more about the popular activity? There will be a geocache event at Low Island Park on Saturday starting at noon. To participate, or for more details, call Karen Doughty at 705-368-2423 or email lillygirl1977@gmail.com.

At noon there will also be a flotilla through the North Channel. Those wishing to enter their boat and to participate should call Roy Eaton at 705-368-2148.

A family scavenger hunt throughout Little Current with great prizes to be won will start at 2 pm. Clue sheets will be available at the scavenger hunt booth located beside the post office and participants will have until 4 pm to complete the hunt.

At 3 pm there will be a flyover of downtown/the North Channel by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association.

Concluding Saturday’s events will be an old fashioned tent meeting and free barbecue at the Gateway to Life Church at 22 Vankoughnet Street East.

On Sunday, July 14 the day will start with a community picnic at Low Island Park from 11 am to 3 pm, including food, entertainment and games.

Other events at Low Island will be kayak and heritage canoe demonstration from noon until 3 pm, musical entertainment by Doug Hore and friends from 11 am to 12:30 pm, a performance from the Hawberry Hoedowners Square Dancers from 12:30 to 1 pm and old fashioned picnic games starting at 1 pm.

Concluding the picnic and weekend festivities will be the postcard draw for the Manitoulin Island prize package. Bridgefest postcards have been available at the Little Current town office and at businesses throughout the Island, and individuals were encouraged to send the postcard to friends and family inviting them to the weekend. The postcards were then submitted during the weekend festivities to be entered into the draw to win a Manitoulin prize package.

For more information on Bridgefest visit townofnemi.on.ca or call the town office at 705-368-3500.

Robin Burridge