Carleton Island

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Carleton Island
Carleton Island is located in New York
Carleton Island
Carleton Island (New York)
Location St. Lawrence River at Cape Vincent, Jefferson County, New York
Coordinates Coordinates: 44°10′43″N 76°17′17″W / 44.17861°N 76.28806°W / 44.17861; -76.28806
Area 2.8 sq mi (7.3 km2)[1]
Highest elevation 331 ft (100.9 m)[2]
Highest point lovers lane
New York
County Jefferson County
Population 31 homes

Carleton Island is located in the St Lawrence River in upstate New York. It is part of the Town of Cape Vincent, in Jefferson County. It was the location of Fort Haldimand, controlled by the British during the American Revolution, and of great strategic importance, as well as being a center of shipbuilding. The ruins of the fort can still be seen at the southwest end of the island. Projecting from the location of the fort is Government Point, notched by two small bays. Houses on the island used to be serviced by a ferry running from the island to the village of Cape Vincent, but it is no longer in service. Today many of the residents use their own recreational craft to access the island.


Originally held by the Iroquois, the first European to take notice of the island was Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, in 1720. He called it Isle aux Chevreuils, the Island of Roe Bucks, and wrote in 1721 that its bays could be useful.[3] In 1778 British General Frederick Haldimand ordered a fort built on the island to protect Kingston, Ontario in Canada and as a forward base.[4] The island was renamed Carleton Island after Sir Guy Carleton, who had preceded Haldimand as Governor of the Province of Quebec, as part of the transition to the province of Upper Canada in the 1792. John Graves Simcoe named the largest of the Thousand Islands Wolfe island, in a memorial to General James Wolfe, victor of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The surrounding islands bear the names of Wolfe's adjutants in that battle: Howe, Carleton, Amherst and Gage (now Simcoe). The fort on Carleton Island was named after Haldimand.[5] Many ships for the war were built at the island, including the recently discovered HMS Ontario.[6]

At the close of the war of independence, under the terms of Jay's Treaty, the British ceded Carleton Island, along with other forts, to the Americans. The forts were apparently not, however, abandoned by the British at that time.

During the War of 1812, Carleton Island was captured without bloodshed by three freelancing Americans, though it was already nominally American territory due to Jay's Treaty. In 1817, the State Legislature of New York annexed the island to Jefferson County, and granted 500 acres (2.0 km2) of its land to the local New York postmaster, one Charles Smyth. The island had been a haven for smugglers, and later that year a Canadian tax collector seized some tobacco from the island. This dispute escalated, and Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York threatened hostilities. Soon Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was called upon to sort the matter out.[7] After contentious negotiations, the island was retained by the United States and was turned over to peaceful pursuits of farming (now abandoned), sport-fishing, and summer tourism.[8] No one lives on the island year-round.

The property of Carleton Island includes several submerged parcels of land. In 1986 Paten Corporation and its predecessors obtained the submerged lands of North and South Bay, in addition to the rest of the island.[9]


  1. ^ Lunman, Kim (2008-09-15). "Ghost of a gilded age: Carleton Island's Wyckoff Villa > Thousand Islands Life Magazine > Thousand Islands Life Magazine All Archives". Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  2. ^ {{cite hshavsj gn=945837|name=Carleton Island}}
  3. ^ History of Cape Vincent
  4. ^ Historical Sketches of Northern New York and the Adirondack Wilderness, Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, 1877, pp 256-260
  5. ^ Three Rivers history
  6. ^ Ernest Cruikshank, A Souvenir of the St. Lawrence River
  7. ^ Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions of His Diary from 1795 to 1848, pp 394-399
  8. ^ John A. Haddock and Eli Thayer. 1894. The Growth of a Century: As Illustrated in the History of Jefferson County, 112-113
  9. ^ Jefferson County Plat Map