For more than forty years the Ostroms made a summer pilgrimage from Bloomington to their cabin on Manitoulin Island. These trips were documented in the small notebook they kept in their vehicle. It has allowed us to reconstruct some of their trips.

On a typical journey, the Ostroms left their Bloomington home for “the Workshop,” and after a short stay, they would begin the drive northward.


Ostrom Travel Journal

Ostrom Travel Log, L2014-02.01, Elinor Ostrom Collection, The Lilly Library. The Ostroms kept a travel journal in their car during their summer trips to Manitoulin Island.

They often spent the first night in central lower Michigan. They reported stays in Clare and St. Johns. Sometimes they would visit farm markets to purchase fresh produce. They crossed the Mackinac Bridge into Michigan’s upper peninsula. After crossing the International Bridge and Canadian border at Sault Ste. Marie they would continue to Thessalon, Ontario on the northern shore of Lake Huron. There, they frequently enjoyed dinner and stayed the night at the Carolyn Beach Motel and Restaurant. On July 8, 2000, Elinor wrote, “Left Carolyn Beach after a very nice evening, had #47 at the back. Lovely, peaceful.” 

From Thessalon the Ostroms often traveled to Espanola where they bought groceries and other supplies for the cabin. Thirty miles south they crossed the Little Current Bridge onto Manitoulin Island

Carolyn Beach Motel and Restaurant

Carolyn Beach Motel & Restaurant, Postcard, c. 1970