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The Three Sisters (Welcome Islands)

When storms lash the waves in fury, mariners on Lake Superior look forward to the three islands near the harbour of Thunder Bay, for here at last is shelter.

Adequately named the "Welcome Islands" these havens of refuge had a strange origin, according to legend.

Many years ago there lived a great Ojibway Chieftain, loved and respected by his people for his kindness and love of children. Besides two fine sons, the Chief had four daughters.

The three older girls were cruel and haughty, but the fourth and youngest was tender and of a dreaming nature. She loved to roam the forest and talk to the birds and little animals and would sometimes tell her family of strange conversations she had with the spirits of the forest. Her sisters would deride her but her father, understanding her better, loved her all the more for her kind simplicity.

One day, when the young maiden was out for a walk in the woods, she heard a great and kindly voice call her name. Not seeing any person she realized that it must be a spirit. Sitting down upon a fallen tree, she listened intently to the voice. It was the great Nanabijou!

He told her how much he loved her gentleness and that he had chosen her to be the bride of his son, North Star. Instructing her to come to this place in the forest on a certain day, Nanabijou departed, leaving the young girl very happy.

That evening when all of her family were sitting around the campfire, the young daughter told them of her meeting with Nanabijou. The three elder sisters laughed mockingly at her and told her to drink herb medicine because she might be sick in the head. At this, the chief grew very angry and taking a long strip of deerhide, gave them a sound thrashing.

The older girls, now full of hate for the sister that had been the cause of their punishment, planned to kill her. Remembering the day and place Nanabijou told their sister to meet him again in the woods, they followed her and hid in the low bushes, each armed with a bow and arrow.

Soon North Star came to the spot and the young girl gently embraced him for she had fallen in love with him at first sight.

North Star however, was a spirit and the elder sisters could not see him. Thinking their sister alone they drew their bow strings and shot their arrows right through the young maiden's heart. The arrows had pierced both North Star and the young girl, but instead of falling to the earth, she was borne gently upwards by her lover, to the sky.

The three sisters became very frightened and ran swiftly towards their camp. Nanabijou, furious at what had happened to the young girl came down in the midst of a terrible storm, and catching them up as they ran, turned them into stone and cast them into the water of Thunder Bay.

Time has no doubt changed some of the actual details but there lay the three islands, and who can tell, "truth is often stranger than fiction".