Cape Croker Park was a dream come true when it opened in 1967. Now as then, the Park provides seasonal employment for community members and students.
Another dream came true in 2018 – Ziibaakdakaan Maple revived the tradition of making ziiwaagmide, maple syrup in our centuries-old ziibaakdakaan, maple sugar bush. The following year, a new state-of-the-art processing facility was up and running. At sunrise in the early morning of March 9, 2020, a "First Tap Ceremony" was held at the start of the maple sap run. Guests from far and near attended and enjoyed a feast of pancake and maple syrup. This ceremony was held to pay respect to the ancient maple forest who provides so much – sap for medicine and maple syrup, fire wood for heating and cooking, shade on hot summer days, and beauty all year round. The plan is to have an annual First Tap Ceremony on the full moon closest to the first sap run.
We have a traditional story about a great turtle rising up out of the water to become land. Indeed, when you are on top of Jones Bluff or Sydney Bay Bluff, you are standing and walking on land that was once under water. We also have stories about catastrophic floods and how the islands in Georgian Bay came into being after the ice age. These stories of the land are traditional stories; some people call them geo-myths. They are based on empirical observation and experience.
Some 430 million years ago the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula was part of a great barrier reef living in a warm tropical sea. The sea was part of the supercontinent, Pangea. And this whole area was located about 10 degrees south of the equator. Between the first two dinosaur periods (Triassic and Jurassic), Pangea broke apart. North American slowly drifted to where we are now, which is almost halfway between the equator and the north pole. The 45th parallel is just a couple of degrees north of Rabbit Island (Barrier Island). You can see the island from the Park’s boat launch.
If you were around 10,000 years ago, after the ice-age, looking out from the on top the escarpment would be as if looking out over the Grand Canyon. Hard to imagine, but it’s true. A giant beaver (castoroides ohioensis) figures prominently in a story that tell of this time and the flood waters that fill up that great expanse.
We are part of the Anishinaabek Nation or Three Fires Confederacy, a confederacy in existence longer than the Dominion of Canada. Our people are the Ojibway also known as Chippewa, Odawa and Pottawatomi. Our language is Anishinaabemowin. We call ourselves Anishinaabek.
Our history tells us that we have inhabited the Peninsula and traditional territory since time immemorial. During the mid-1600s and early 1700s, as part of the Three Fires Confederacy, our ancestors fought and died reclaiming these territories from the Iroquois. We have been at peace with our southern neighbours since that time.
A large beautiful sign greets you at the Boundary Road – You are now entering Neyaashiinigmiing, Home of the Chippewas of Nawash. To help orientate you, there is a map of our community with key locations. The rocky edge of the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail are indicated. A yellow ball with the number 12 shows you where Cape Croker Park is located.
In the upper right hand corner of the sign, you will see our nation’s emblem. There is a Red Thunderbird, trees, animals, fish, pipe, drum, feathers and strawberries. Every image on that emblem represents an aspect of our nationhood.
There is a scrolling banner at the bottom of the emblem. This banner is surrounded by the dates of three major Treaties: 1836, 1854 and 1857.
The banner also includes the word UNCEDED. This word applies to 1854 – Treaty No. 72 – the Saugeen Peninsula.
The first treaty, Treaty 45½, promised to protect “for ever” our lands from “the encroachment of the whites.” Eighteen (18) years later, that promise was broken with Treaty No. 72. We were then told that if we surrendered the Saugeen Peninsula that we would be able to “ride in carriages and roll in wealth.”
During the negotiations, our people reserved "to ourselves" various areas of land, including "all that tract of land called Cape Croker... all which reserves we hereby retain to ourselves and our children in perpetuity."
Neyaashiinigmiing (our name for Cape Croker), Saugeen Reserve and Chief’s Point are all that remain with us. Between 1857 and 1899, Owen Sound, 6000 acres in the Colpoy’s area and all the islands around the Peninsula, we lost to treaties.
Unceded means that the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation never ceded or legally signed away Neyaashiinigmiing to the British Crown or Canada. The lands that were “ceded” became part of Canada.
When you visit Cape Croker Park, you are technically stepping outside of Canada.
Check our new Cultural Programming to learn more about our natural and cultural history.
Stories tell us that along time ago, Mkwa took care of the first Anishinaabe children, fed them and kept them warm. Another story tells us that each year during Mkwa Giizis or Bear Moon also known as February, bear cubs venture outside their cozy dens to play. If their play is brief, then winter will be long. If they stay out, then spring is fast approaching.
The bear is known as a healer and peacekeeper who taught our people about the medicines. Some of our people have bear names like Mkoons (Little Bear) or Mko-kwe (Bear Woman). Some of our people belong to the Mkwa Dodem (Bear Clan). Some people have bears as "spirit helpers."
Seeing a bears in a natural setting like out in a field or crossing the road somewhere is an exciting and memorable experience. However, this is not necessarily so in a campground or on someone’s deck. This is why we built garbage depots, purchased recycling bins and closed our dump. In doing so, we have given responsibility to our campers and visitors to help us keep bears safe. Bear is called The Rememberer because Bear always remembers where to find food.
Help us protect our bears and all other critters who share their world with us.
Our Park attendants will be around to encourage your continued assistance in keeping bears safe.
Our campground was developed as a family campground. We want to keep it that way. You can help to maintain the ambience and atmosphere of this place. Our rules are guides to ensure you and other Park visitors have an enjoyable, safe and memorable camping experience.
Common complaints over the years:
Please take a few minutes to review these rules.