Kakabeka Falls is a waterfall on the Kaministiquia River, located beside the village of Kakabeka Falls in the municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, Ontario, 30 km (19 mi) west of the city of Thunder Bay.
The falls have a drop of 40 m (130 ft), cascading into a gorge carved out of the Precambrian Shield by meltwater following the last glacial maximum. Because of its size and ease of access, it has been consequently nicknamed "the Niagara of the North".
The rock face of the falls and the escarpments along the gorge are composed primarily of unstable shale, and are eroding. These rocks host sensitive flora, and contain some of the oldest fossils in existence, some 1.6 billion years of age. Due to the fragile rock, going into the gorge below the falls is prohibited.
The name "Kakabeka" comes from the Ojibwe word gakaabikaa "waterfall over a cliff". There is an interesting Ojibwe folk tale associated with Kakabeka Falls..."The Legend of Green Mantle", a story about an Ojibwe chief who upon hearing news of an imminent attack from the Sioux tribe instructs his daughter, Princess Green Mantle, to devise a plan to protect her people. She enters the Sioux camp along the Kaministiquia River and, pretending to be lost, she bargains with them to spare her life if she will bring them to her father's camp. Placed at the head of the canoe, she instead leads herself and the Sioux warriors over the falls to their deaths, sparing her tribe from the attack. The legend claims that one can see Green Mantle when looking into the mist of Kakabeka Falls, a monument to the princess that gave her life to save her people. Other versions of the legend say she came across the Sioux herself, and later jumped out of the canoe ahead of the falls and swam to shore, leaving the Sioux to go over the falls, then ran back to the camp to warn her people.
The Kaministiquia River flows on and empties into western Lake Superior at the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Kaministiquia (Gaa-ministigweyaa) is an Ojibwe word meaning "(river) with islands" due to two large islands (McKellar and Mission) at the mouth of the river.
Among the falls many striking features, one is the dark reddish-brown color of the water, the result of minerals leaching from the soil and rocks into the Kaministiquia River.