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Wiky chef moves into popular Sudbury-area marina

Hiawatha Osawamick blending Indigenous with Canadian cuisine at Rocky’s Marina on Lake Wanapitei

The signage is about to change at Rocky’s Marina and Restaurant on the northern shores of Lake Wanapitei.

Hiawatha Osawamick has taken over the marina, gas bar, restaurant and cabins along the waterfront on the Wahnapitae First Nation.

It’s now known as Hiawatha’s Restaurant and Marina.

Osawamick is no stranger to the food industry in Sudbury and Manitoulin, having run a seasonal food truck on the Wiikwemkoong First Nation for the last three years.

The food truck on the island is coupled with a year-round gift shop.

Hiawatha also ran a catering business dating back to 2008 in the Sudbury area and has worked in many different locales, from Toronto to Traverse City, Michigan, Montreal and Vancouver for a 500-person gala event.

The gas bar at the restaurant and marina on Wahnapitae First Nation is now open for business and the restaurant is set to take customers at the end of the month.

The menu will feature two sides with a blend of Canadian and Indigenous cuisine.

“There will be maple-glazed elk meatballs, pickerel, wild rice casseroles, duck breast, buffalo and salmon. But there will also be classic poutine and fish and chips,” she said.

Osawamick said each month there will be food specials such as fry-bread tacos, berry dishes and three sister salads offered.

It’s important for her to ensure Indigenous recipes are featured to celebrate her heritage for her children and for future generations.

“I want to preserve the language and culture of my people and pass my traditions on and love of the land,” she says emphatically.

At this time of year, the restaurant is a destination for snowmobilers with the trails running in close proximity.

Come the summer months, it's a full-fledged marina for boaters travelling on the big, deep water of Wanapitei.

While Osawamick is in the very preliminary stages of restaurant ownership on the Wahnapitae First Nation with cabin and dining room renovations, she has big and busy plans for the future.

In February, renovations will be underway for a sports bar area in the downstairs portion of the restaurant, the existing patios will be revisioned, and she hopes to purchase five new cabins for the property.

But the planning goes deeper than that.

“Indigenous tourism has become very popular. I would like to turn this place into a culture hub with a tipi (or teepee) gathering space, teachings and a gift and souvenir shop,” she said.

Starting a new restaurant in the food business is scary with escalating food prices and many restaurants failing.

But she wants to take a chance and build on the Rocky’s tradition with her own personal spin.

Hiawatha’s Restaurant and Marina is located at 35 Loonway Road in Capreol.

It can be found on Facebook at Hiawatha’s Restaurant and Marina on Facebook.