Black Bear Island (1)

A few days ago I went with a friend to an uninhabited island on Lake Winnipeg. Not just to visit and have a good time, but also to evaluate what the possibilities are for photo-oriented trips to this place. As it turned out, the sky was hazy with smoke from forest fires in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The temperature was soaring into the lower +30s.

Cliffs need signals for boat owners

That is +32C or a sweltering 89F. Not the best moment to go and walk on a shoreline filled with rocks. Rocks that happily store the heat and send it back to you even in the shadow.

There is only one way to get to this island, and that is by boat. No float planes or airstrip on this tiny rock. The boat we took belonged to a fisherman on the nearby island of Matheson. He was kind enough to also give us a tour around the island.

Black Bear island on the horizon, far away from everything elseBlack Bear island on the horizon, far away from everything else

The views from the water are simply breathtaking as the sheer cliffs plunge into the waters of Lake Winnipeg.

No shortage of beauty hereNo shortage of beauty here

The island is inhabited by wildlife and one fisherman who leases some space and has a small cabin on the only part of the island that has its grass mowed.

Fisherman’s dwelling for the summerFisherman’s dwelling for the summer

For the rest, the island houses numerous birds that we didn’t even had the time to chase with our cameras. Our first goal was to find subjects that were landscape related, as birds and flora can move away in the blink of an eye (or at the change of a season).

Bald Eagle, shot from the boatBald Eagle, shot from the boat

Yes, the bird you see in that picture is a Bald Eagle. On this island, however, if you find one eagle, you will find more. Lots more. When the time comes we will organise Bald Eagle specific trips to this place as they will flock together by the hundreds.

Neatly stacked pebblesNeatly stacked pebbles

Once we got dropped off on the island we were on our own. Apart from the lone fisherman doing his job. We crossed the island on its shortest point to reach the north side. The beach turned out to be a pebble beach, hot and dry.

This place rocks!This place rocks!

We were prepared with water and food, as well as sun screen and the inevitable bug spray. The day before the trip I got caught in a heavy downpour and my only jacket was soaked. Useless for this trip so I simply went in a shirt with long sleeves. Usually I am the buffet for whatever animal flies and has some kind of means to get to human blood, but I did not get stung even once.

Preparing for the trekPreparing for the trek

We prepared on the beach for what turned out to become one of the hottest places I have had the pleasure of visiting in a very long time (save some months in the Caribbean, long ago). Hats are an absolute must here, even if the weather is a little cooler than this.

Out of place? No, just mossOut of place? No, just moss

The shoreline turned out to be amazing and absolutely beautiful. Since this is an uninhabited island, the only debris you can find on the beach are the debris washed up from ships and driftwood. It is a real pleasure to walk in a place where there are no soda cans, plastic bottles and whatnot designed to gall our pleasure of enjoying nature.

Undisturbed shorelineUndisturbed shoreline

From a photographer’s point of view, this is a place to spend hours if not days without getting bored. The limestone layers here are millions of years old (more on that later).

The fact that the cool waters of the lake will provide a sometimes needed rielef for your feet, the sun-warmed rocks will dry all your clothes in a few minutes. The place can even be used for swimming, with or without swimwear. My friend and I didn’t go that far, though. We did leave our gear on the beach, unattended for nearly two hours. Guess what? When we came back it was still there, only a few degrees warmer.

Did I make you wish you could have come with us? Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will be able to accommodate you without a problem. Weekend trips come with the boat ride, sleepover on the island, food and drink, individual or twin space tents, portable electricity to use your own laptop (laptop not provided…), instructions on different photography related programs so you’ll get the most out of your weekend (programs provided). Night shooting, sunset/sunrise shooting and much more.

More on this beautiful destination in a few days…