The Tale of Flowerpot Island: A Native Legend

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The tale of Flowerpot Island evokes thoughts of mystery and intrigue on an island that possesses rich natural and human history.

The tale of Flowerpot Island is one of the many colorful tales that dots the historic landscape of the Bruce Peninsula region of the Province of Ontario.

Flowerpot Island is located in Georgian Bay a few miles east of the village of Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Flowerpot Island features not only unique landforms and vegetation, but also a mysterious tale of romance.

Arriving at the island, one is overcome by the beauty of the scenery. Perhaps the most unique of all the plants are the gnarled tiny trees that dot the landscape, especially along the shoreline. At first glance one thinks that these are young plants waiting to grow to full maturity. But, most are many centuries old. The growth has been limited by the lack of soil between the cracks and crevices of the rocky outcrops along the shoreline.

The island’s eastern shore possesses an even more astounding sight. There standing on the shoreline, like two majestic sentinels warning passersby of the presence of the island, stand two stone structures, carved over time by the wind, rain, and the waves to look like large flower pots.

Although early sailors likened the structures to ancient Roman wine jars, there is another story behind the flowerpots that probably predates the earliest visitations by Europeans to the region. It is a native legend that is not dissimilar to Shakespeare’s tale of Romeo and Juliet.

Many years ago, there were two native tribes who lived on the Bruce Peninsula. Unfortunately, these two communities spent more time fighting each other than they did working as allies. At one point in history, a young man from one of the tribes fell in love with the daughter of the chief of the rival clan.

After many clandestine meetings the young couple decided to get married. Knowing that neither of their families would favor such a union, the two decided to elope. Late one night the two lovers met near the princess’ encampment. It was not long before the chief’s daughter’s absence was discovered. Realizing that an elopement had probably occurred, the men of the tribe took off after the couple.

The lovers made their way to the shoreline, where they boarded a canoe. With the young woman’s tribe in hot pursuit they paddled frantically towards the island on the horizon. When their pursuers arrived at Flowerpot Island, an extensive search failed to produce the couple. It was if they had been swallowed up in the night.

Native legend suggested that the island was the realm of evil spirits and consequently, it had never been inhabited. It was believed that the evil forces had engulfed the couple and they were never seen again.

What became of the young lovers will never be known. But, if you look carefully at the top of the largest flowerpot, you will see what appears to be the profile of a native warrior carved in the stone.