History: A large, natural harbour, Gargantua became a fishing and logging centre before the turn of the century. The first lighthouse was established around 1899. The port saw its busiest era during the 1930's and 1940's. The only access was by boat which came with supplies twice a year. The town featured several buildings and an ice house for packing the fish before sailing for Sault Ste. Marie. The introduction of the sea lamprey all but destroyed the commercial fishery and the harbour eventually fell into disuse by the 1960's.
Shipwrecks: Found in the Harbour are the remains of the fishing boat “The Columbus”. This was a 130 foot long vessel that caught fire one night early in the 1900's. In order to save the docks and the buildings of the town, it was cut free to burn and sink. Best observed by canoe, you can paddle directly over the wreck, the crystal clear waters allowing and incredible view. The boiler still sticks out of the water, making the wreck easily found.
Rumour has it that two other smaller vessels also rest on the bottom of Gargantua Bay.
Today: Currently the area is seeing a boom time again in the form of adventure tourism. Hikers can walk in on the Coastal Hiking Trail and use the campsites found along the shore. Also a large business is being generated by sea-kayakers, who travel all along the Lake Superior coast. We had the pleasure of hiking and canoeing in this area in the early eighties. At that time there where few visitors and the entire area seemed extremely remote and ghostly. We spent a week in the vicinity of Gargantua Harbour and never saw another soul, save for the occasional fishing boat. Nowadays, it is difficult to find an empty parking spot. Not so serene anymore.
As for the village. You can still find several foundations, and at the time of this writing, there was one building still standing, said to be a ranger cabin. Also the remains of the wharfs are still there, albeit some are submerged.
Access: Located in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Access from Highway 17 via Gargantua Road. This is a rough, winding 15 kilometre stretch of dirt road that is most definitely a summer road only. At the terminus of the road you will find a large parking area with access to Gargantua Bay and to the Coastal Hiking Trail. From here you can choose to paddle to the former town or hike about three kilometers north on the trail. Please use caution when paddling along Lake Superior, it can be very dangerous, depending on weather, for experienced canoeists only.