Big, beautiful Lake Superior is the backdrop for many residents and businesses of Algoma. So many have grown up around it, played in and on it for generations. Two of those people are Frank and Gail O’Connor. Frank grew up in the hamlet of Gros Cap, just west of Sault Ste. Marie on the shores of Superior. Gail grew up on Batchawana Bay, just north of Sault Ste. Marie, also on the shores of Superior.
Together, in 2003, they opened The Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse. Located on Highway 17 north and across from the beach at Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior. I had the opportunity to sit down with Gail who gave me a short history of how they came to own the business, have expanded it, along with their future plans.
“My family moved to the Batchawana Bay area when I was eight years old. When I was thirteen, I started working at Bluewater Motel and Restaurant, now known as The Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse.” said Gail. When Gail and Frank moved to the Batchawana area together and later took over the Bluewater Motel and Restaurant, Frank started reading books by Peter C. Newman, that chronicled the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Northwest Company. Batchawana Bay was a frequent rest stop for the voyageurs who paddled along the mighty Lake Superior. Frank commends the author for “inspiring their business theme, décor and has allowed him to tell stories about Canada while looking after the needs of travellers.”
The O’Connor’s have been successfully meeting those needs for over 16 years now. The Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse comprises of a General Store & LCBO agency, gas pumps, housekeeping suites/motel and a cookhouse. They host concerts and events, as well as rendezvous paddles with their big voyageur sized canoe. There is always something happening at the Voyageur!
The menu is themed around a voyageurs’ fare of bannock, pancakes, poutine, beans and chili and the “three sisters’ soup” and even burgers named after a position in the canoe. It also has modern tweaks and keeps up to date with food trends. Their signature items are fresh fish (trout, pickerel, whitefish) dinners with baked beans. The Sunday evening special includes beer battered pickerel, served with bannock biscuits, choice of potatoes and a delicious coleslaw from a recipe used by the Bluewater Restaurant.