A couple of weeks ago we had lunch at Naniboujou Lodge. The lodge is located just south of Hovland and is a good place to eat when we go hiking at Judge Magney State Park. It is a unique place, both for its name and for its decor.
Naniboujou is the Ojibwe word for trickster: a man-spirit that could change its form and played tricks on animals and humans. When you lose something, it might be Naniboujou playing a trick on you. You might hear someone locally tell you that they lost their car keys – it must be Naniboujou. But some other natives believe that speaking the name is asking for trouble, so they will not say the name.
Naniboujou Lodge was built in 1929 as an exclusive private hunting club and lodge. Some of the charter members included Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey. In 1939 the lodge was bought by a Minneapolis hotel chain and turned into a resort. Since 1953, when the owner of the hotel chain died, the lodge has been owned by a series of private families who operate it as a summer resort. Tim and Nancy Ramey have owned and operated the lodge since 1985.
Naniboujou Lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although the Rameys have renovated the lodge, it is still
decorated in the original style. The centerpiece of this style is the brightly decorated dining room, said to be painted in traditional Cree designs and colors. The dining room is 30 by 80 feet with a domed ceiling and “the largest stone fireplace in Minnesota” dominating one end.
The Lodge continues its rustic heritage today. There are no televisions, telephones, or wifi in any of the 24 guest rooms. There is no cell phone service. But the lodge is fully booked months ahead, often with extended families who are focusing on each other instead of their technology. Its location on the shore of Lake Superior offers fantastic views and cool air all summer long. The lodge is open from May through October and weekends from Christmas through March.
The dining room is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day with a Sunday brunch that people rave about. The food is local and homemade, with excellent fish, soups, bread, and desserts.
If you visit the North Shore of Minnesota, Naniboujou Lodge is one of those places you don’t want to miss.