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Visiting Chippewa Falls, Ontario: an Explosion of Waters, Granite and Basalt

Updated on May 18, 2018
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls | Source

Linked to the far past and prehistory

The Chippewa Falls (1) are located some 40 kilometres north of Sault-Ste-Marie, Ontario, close to Lake Superior.

Referring to commonly as Falls, they approximate more closely the geographical definition of rapids. Geologically they are very interesting in that the rocks over which their waters gush at various strengths during different times of the year are in a combination of basalt and granite.

At times when the waters of the Falls expose the underlying rocks, one can see distinct shades of black (basalt) and pink (granite), the latter at least obliquely resembling the rocks at Red Rock Canyon, Alberta (see Link, below).

Interestingly, both Apollo and Soyuz missions to Earth's moon collected — whether manually or robotically — samples of rock which turned out to be basalt: of the same chemical composition as some of the rock exposed at Chippewa Falls (2).

Close to the Falls is a commemorative sign which marks the mid-point of Highway 17, on the Trans-Canada Highway.

The Falls are fed by the waters of the Chippewa River, which shortly afterwards flow into Lake Superior at Batchawana Bay. (Historically, Batchawana Bay was the dividing line between the Ojibwa — or Chippewa — peoples and the Crown, under the 1850 Robinson Treaty.

Thus in many ways the vicinity of the Chippewa Falls is linked poignantly to the past; indeed, to the far past and prehistory.

May 18, 2018


(1) See also:

(2) Other well-known basalt formations include: the Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim, N. Ireland; another interesting basalt formation of particular interest to me is the Rio Grande Rise, a Southern Atlantic seamount off southern Brazil, relatively close to the territorial waters of Uruguay, where I grew up.

Some additional sourcing: Wikipedia

Chippewa River and falls near Highway 17, Ontario, Canada
Chippewa River and falls near Highway 17, Ontario, Canada | Source

Also worth seeing

In Sault-Ste-Marie, Ontario (distance: approx. 40 kilometres), sights include the the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, Sault-Ste-Marie National Historic Site, and many others; in the wider area are various Provincial Parks with spectacular scenery.

In Sault-Ste-Marie, Michigan, the River of History Museum is at 531 Ashmun Street; there is a number of notable examples of church architecture; the Chippewa County Courthouse is a striking, domed building; the Soo Locks, which enable shipping to pass between Lakes Superior and Huron, are a US National Historic Landmark.


How to get there: Air Canada and Porter Airlines fly from Toronto, with wide North American connections, to Sault Ste. Marie Airport, where car rental is available. SkyWest/ Delta Connection flies from Chippewa County International Airport, near Sault-Ste-Marie, Michigan, to Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport, with wide North American connections; car rental is available from Chippewa County International Airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Given the proximity of the US-Canada border, international travellers should refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Algoma District, Ontario
Algoma District, Ontario | Source


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