St. Joseph Island (Ontario)
|Native name: Anipich or Payentanassin (Ojibwe)|
|Location||Lake Huron, east of the mouth of the St. Marys River.|
|Area||365 km2 (140.9 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||335 m (1,099 ft)|
|Largest city||Richards Landing|
|Population||1,844 (as of 2011)|
|Density||5.05 /km2 (13.08 /sq mi)|
St. Joseph Island is located in northern Ontario, Canada in northwestern Lake Huron. At 365 km2, it is the second largest Canadian island on the Great Lakes, the second largest island on Lake Huron, following Manitoulin Island, and the third largest of all the islands on the Great Lakes, trailing Manitoulin and Lake Superior's Isle Royale.
The island played an important role for First Nations and Europeans in the early fur trade and in the eventual defence of British North America in the War of 1812. Today it is a destination for tourists and cottagers in northeastern Ontario.
Indigenous people 
Unlike neighbouring islands, little evidence has been found of early human activity on St. Joseph Island. Archeologists have found very little to confirm settlement, farming or hunting on the island before the 17th century.
It is speculated that the first humans to see and step foot on the island would have been the hunter-gatherers of the Plano cultures who traveled north from the Great Plains of the continent between 9000 BCE and 6000 BCE. These peoples followed the bison and other animals into the areas revealed by retreating glaciers. Evidence of Plano migrations – particularly projectile point tools - has been found in the Great Lakes basin from Lake Superior through the St. Marys River to the north channel of Lake Huron.
By about 5000 BCE, St. Joseph Island would have formed part of the boundary between the Laurentian Archaic and the Shield Archaic peoples. The Laurentian people, hunters and fishers who came from the southeast settled in the lower St. Lawrence and eastern Great Lakes region. The Shield people, likely descendants of the Plano came south from the Tyrrell Sea (a much larger Hudson Bay) and travelled along the northern shores of lakes that are today Superior and Huron.
European exploration 
By the time the first Europeans arrived in the 1630s, the north channel of Lake Huron was shared by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi whose Algonkian ancestors had come from the east around 1200. St. Joseph Island became a strategic mid-way point for French explorers, missionaries and fur traders on the long voyage between Quebec and Lake Superior. In addition to its geographic convenience, the island would have offered opportunities for fishing, hunting and gathering seasonal native berries.
The island first appeared on European maps in the 1670s. A map by René de Bréhant de Galinée labels it “Anipich”, after a Ojibwe word meaning "place of the hardwood trees". But by the 1740s the island came to be called "St Joseph", presumably so-named by Jesuit missionaries in honour of the church they were building on the island.
British North America and Fort St. Joseph 
Any claim that France may have had to all or any portion of the island ended with the conclusion of the Seven Years War in 1763. Under the terms of treaty, France relinquished virtually all of its interests in North America to the British. For the first time, the British and their First Nations allies were unchallenged on the Great Lakes. Included in the French assets was the strategically important fort at the Strait of Mackinac between lakes Huron and Michigan 50 km (31 mi) west of St. Joseph Island. From here, the British were able to control the flow of trade in and out of Lake Michigan.
However, British superiority on the lakes did not last long. By 1783 the Treaty of Paris effectively ended the American Revolution. The border it created between the United States and British North America ran “through the middle of said Lake [Huron] to the water communication between that Lake and Lake Superior”, placing Fort Mackinac on the American side.
In spite of this, the exact location of the boundary remained under dispute, and the British garrison remained at Mackinac. Concerned that the Americans were planning to claim additional territory including St. Joseph Island, a team of British Royal Engineers was sent by Lord Dorchester to survey the area from the Strait of Mackinaw to Lake Superior to establish a natural boundary and suitable site for a new fort.
In his report, the chief surveyor wrote “St. Joseph’s [sic] Island is a very fine island about 27 miles long, one of a numerous group that lies in the straits separating Lake Huron from Lake Superior. It is naturally fertile and well suited to cultivation but not so well fitted for military purposes. However, I have claimed it for the British crown and built a stockade.”
In June 1789, the Ojibwe agreed to sell the island to the British for 1,200 pounds of trade goods, an annual gift exchange and the right to continue to harvest the island and bury their dead there. In 1796, the British soldiers and settlers abandoned Mackinac to establish a new fort on the southeastern corner of St. Joseph Island. In time, Fort St. Joseph became an important point for trade and commerce in the region. Settlers, many of whom had lived near the fort at Mackinac as well as merchants of the Northwest Company established the first permanent European settlement on the island around Fort St. Joseph.
At the start of the War of 1812, Fort St. Joseph was the most westerly British outpost in Upper Canada. Within weeks of the commencement of hostilities, the British moved a force from Fort St. Joseph to reclaim their old fort at Mackinac. Abandoned, Fort St. Joseph was burned by a U.S. force in July 1814. As a result of shifting strategic considerations and the decline of the fur trade, the British did not rebuild the fort following the war. In 1974, the ruins became a National Historic Site administered by Parks Canada.
The border on the Great Lakes 
Following the conclusion of the war, two treaties were signed to clarify boundaries on the Great Lakes left uncertain by the Treaty of Paris. The effect of both of these treaties was to place the islands immediately to the west and southeast of St. Joseph in the United States. The 1814 Treaty of Ghent established a process whereby commissioners would survey the boundary laid out in the original treaty. Based on that work, in 1822 commissioners agreed to assign Drummond Island between St. Joseph and Cockburn islands to the United States. The 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty further established the boundary between the United States and the British Province of Canada that placed the border “along the ship channel between Saint Joseph and St. Tammany (today Neebish) islands”.
Settlement of the island 
By the mid-1820s, the fur trade had largely ended on the Great Lakes as had the need for defence on waterways. Increasingly the island and its environs began to be seen for their abundant resources and potential for settlement.
Among the first to see this potential was Major William Rains. A veteran of British wars in Europe, Rains resigned the military in 1830 to start a new life in British North America. In 1834, Lieutenant Governor John Colborne allowed Rains to purchase over 2,200 hectares to start a colony on St. Joseph Island. Rains, his family and a company of investors established Milford Haven, complete with a store and saw mill in the southeast of the island. However, few settlers came to the island and by 1839 the community consisted of only eight houses. Rains became estranged from his fellow investors and relocated to a point of land not far from the site of Fort St. Joseph. Rains’ wife Frances and his sister Eliza bore nineteen of Rains’ children, many of whom remained in the area. His son Tudor Rains would go on to establish a successful store at Sailors Encampment on the northwest of the island.
The population of the island began to shift from the south and west to better agricultural land in the north. Government policies including the Free Grants and Homestead Act of 1868, encouraged would-be farmers in the south of Ontario to relocate to tracts of land in Algoma by providing up to two hundred acres of land per head of household. The greatest influx of settlers came between 1874 and 1882.
John Richards moved to the island from Sault Ste. Marie in 1876 and founded Richards Landing. Two years later, businessman John Marks moved from Bruce Mines and founded Marksville, which was incorporated as the Village of Hilton Beach in 1923.
Two lumber mills began operating on the island in the early 1880s. Shortly after 1910, the Stone Lumber Company at Marksville had added 13 km of railroad with a locomotive to reach dense woodlots up the mountain and deliver timber to the mill. For a time both the train and mill were operated around the clock. By the end of the decade, the mill had produced and shipped two and a half million board feet of lumber around the world.
The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway spur from Sudbury across the north channel to Sault Ste. Marie in 1887 opened up the region to migration by farmers and settlers. A rough roadway followed so that by 1923, the communities along the channel were connected to Sault Ste. Marie by road.
Electrical power came to the island in the 1930s, with a few commercial and residential customers connected in Richards Landing and Hilton Beach in the summer of 1933. The town of Kentvale was included later in the decade. Street lights were installed in the villages in 1947.
Beginning in 1953, a government-run diesel ferry, the “St. Joseph Islander," operated from Humbug Point providing free, 24-hour access to the island for residents, cottagers and tourists. Before this, islanders had relied upon two cable ferries. The first began operating in 1919 and ran on a 610 metre cable between Campement D’Ours Island and the mainland. The second ferry, the “Magic Carpet” operated from Pine Island to the mainland. In 1934, both ferries were sold to the provincial government which began providing a free service.
The ferry was retired in 1972 when a bridge was constructed. In December 1994, the bridge was named the Bernt Gilbertson St. Joseph Island Bridge in honour of Bernt Gilbertson, an island resident and member of provincial parliament who had long petitioned for the bridge.
Geography and geology 
The island was formed by debris and erosion at the end of the last glacial period. As the Laurentide ice sheet, a huge glacier extending into the present-northern United States, melted about 11,000 years ago, it carved deep gouges into the earth, scraped off top soil and deposited rock and sand. It also allowed land compacted by the weight of the ice to rise. The Great Lakes were created when their north shore rebounded from the retreating ice, capturing glacial run off. The land mass that is St. Joseph Island today emerged 5,000 years ago, its shorelines carved out by glacial water which formed what is today the St. Mary’s River and Lake Huron that surround the island.
On its longest - northwest-southwest - axis the island is about 30 km (19 mi) and about 20 km (12 mi) at its widest point. Its highest point is in the centre of the island near Carterton with an elevation of 345.6 m, which is about 169 m above Lake Huron. This peak, known colloquially and by surveyors as “the Mountain”, is a glacial moraine of rock debris pushed by a glacial lobe before it receded. The Mountain is of particular interest to geologists as it would have been an island itself during the glacial Lake Algonquin period about 10,000 years ago.
An artifact of much earlier glacial and volcanic activity, Ontario "puddingstone" or jasper conglomerate, distinctive for its bright red and brown jasper pebbles suspended in white quartzite is found on the island.
Federally, the island is represented in the House of Commons by the Member of Parliament for the electoral district of Sault Ste. Marie. However, in the redistribution of federal electoral districts that followed the 2011 census, the commission recommended removing St. Joseph Island from the riding that includes the City of Sault Ste. Marie and returning it to the more rural Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing riding because the island has “some community of interest with other similar-sized communities along Highway 17” in that electoral district.
St. Joseph Island had a year-round population of 1,844 in 2011. While the population of the island decreased in the decade between 1996 and 2006, from just under 2,000 residents to 1,821 it has increased slightly since then.
|Township of St. Joseph||1,201||1,129||1,201||1,235|
|Township of Jocelyn||237||277||298||294|
|Township of Hilton||261||243||258||255|
|Village of Hilton Beach||145||172||174||213|
Nearly two-thirds of the population (63%) is between the ages of 15 to 64, over a quarter (27%) is 65 or older, and ten per cent are children under the age of 15.
During the summer months, the influx of seasonal cottagers can boost the island’s population to between 4,000 and 10,000.
The island’s appeal as a tourist destination has contributed to a culture that mixes its rural charm with a lively arts scene.
Among the regular arts events are Arts on the Dock held in Hilton Beach and the Canadian Arts Festival in Richards Landing in July, and Arts and Artifacts at the St. Joseph Island Museum in August. Two events organized in the spring and fall by the local arts community invite people to visit the home studios and shops of artists around the island.
The island is also home to Canadian landscape artist Doug Hook, whose water colour paintings, often of island scenes, are found in the collections of prominent individuals including His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
Particularly in the summer months the island draws live musical acts from across Canada and the United States.
The population is served by three libraries. The St. Joseph Township Public Library and the Children’s Library are located in Richards Landing and the Hilton Union Public Library is located in Hilton Beach.
There are a number of service clubs and volunteer associations that organize popular events and meetings, including the Lions Club, Matthews Memorial Hospital Association, St. Joseph Island Arts Association, St. Joseph Island Historical Association and the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 374.
A weekly newspaper, the Island Clippings, has published since 1995 and is distributed through retailers on the island.
Maple Syrup 
An abundance of maple trees contribute to a large maple syrup industry. There are over a dozen maple syrup producers operating from the island, including Gilbertson’s Maple Products and Thompson’s Maple Products.
In the early years of settlement maple sugar was exported in large quantities. Over 2,041 kgs were sent to Amherstburg in 1798 and 454,000 metric tons to Detroit in 1839.
Tourism is the primary source of income on St. Joseph Island. The island is a popular tourist destination, especially for cottagers from nearby Sault Ste. Marie, and visitors from the United States. Most of the island is privately owned, with many seasonal cottages situated near Richards Landing and Hilton Beach.
Festivals and events geared towards the tourist economy are held throughout the year, including the annual Maple Syrup Festival in Richards Landing, Arts at the Dock in Hilton Beach, the St. Joseph Island Triathlon, and the annual community nights in Richards Landing and Hilton Beach.
Attractions include Fort St. Joseph national historical site, maintained by Parks Canada, and the St. Joseph Island Museum.
Many small family farms or hobby farms operate on the island producing corn and other vegetables, beef, lamb, poultry and eggs.
Elementary students on the island attend St. Joseph Island Central School in Richards Landing. Originally constructed in 1965, with additions built in 1973 and 1984, this school holds classes for children from junior kindergarten to grade eight.
The Township of St. Joseph operated a high school on the island for a short time in the 1960s. Following years of community organizing and fundraising, the St. Joseph Island District High School opened in Richards Landing in 1960. It closed in 1972 when the remaining students were absorbed into the newly constructed Central Algoma Secondary School in nearby Desbarats on the mainland.
School buses operate all over the island to take children to classes. Both St. Joseph Island Central School and Central Algoma Secondary School are administered by the Algoma District School Board.
Until the construction of the bridge in 1972, residents and tourists relied on watercraft to reach the island. Many waterfront cottages and homes have docks to service small motor boats and pleasure craft.
Tourists can dock at the marinas that operate at Hilton Beach and Richards Landing. The Hilton Beach Marina consists of over 160 slips, with approximately 30 available to visiting boats. The Richards Landing Municipal Marina has 70 slips and is a Canada Border Services Agency check-in point.
The island is located along the northwest shipping channel of the St. Marys River. Large freighters heading towards Sault Ste. Marie and on to Lake Superior pass between the west side of St. Joseph Island with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Neebish Island on the other. Ships on the channel eventually make a wide westerly turn at Stribling Point at St. Joseph’s northern-most point.
The St. Joseph Island Airport is a private airstrip near Hilton Beach consisting of a 732 m (2,402 ft) turf runway.
The primary road system to and on the island is Highway 548, a 75 km (47 mi) secondary highway consisting of two separate segments: the north-south segment, that includes the St. Joseph Island Bernt Gilbertson Bridge, and a continuous loop route that circles the island.
The north-south segment connects with Highway 17/Trans Canada Highway in the north and terminates at a T-intersection with the loop segment at Kent’s Corners, 5.4 kilometres (3.4 mi) south of Highway 17.
The much longer 68 km (42 mi) continuous loop segment circles the island. To assist in navigation and street addressing, segments of the loop have been given suffix letters which generally correspond to the local road name. For example, the portion of Highway 548 which is signed along D Line is named 548D, along Huron Line it is named 548H, etc.
The much smaller Campement d'Ours Island, located at the north side of the island is connected to St. Joseph Island by a small causeway.
See also 
- "St. Joseph Island". "The Canadian Encyclopedia". Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- "The Atlas of Canada". Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Statistics Canada. "2011 Census: Population and Dwelling Counts". Retrieved 5 November 2012.
- John Roblin Abbott, Graeme Stewart Mount, Michael J. Mulloy (2000). The History of Fort St. Joseph. Dundurn. p. 17. ISBN 1550023373.
- John Roblin Abbott, Graeme Stewart Mount, Michael J. Mulloy (2000). The History of Fort St. Joseph. Dundurn. p. 19. ISBN 1550023373.
- John Roblin Abbott, Graeme Stewart Mount, Michael J. Mulloy (2000). The History of Fort St. Joseph. Dundurn. p. 28. ISBN 1550023373.
- "Algoma Towns and Cities". Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "St. Joseph Island". "The Canadian Encyclopedia". Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Wooley, H.J.L. (19??). The Sword of Old St. Joe: Historical Sketches. Ontario: Unknown. p. 1.
- Wooley, H.J.L. (19??). The Sword of Old St. Joe: Historical Sketches. Ontario: Unknown. p. 2.
- John Roblin Abbott, Graeme Stewart Mount, Michael J. Mulloy (2000). The History of Fort St. Joseph. Dundurn. p. 31. ISBN 1550023373.
- Dale, Ronald J. "Fort St Joseph National Historic Site of Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Reports of International Arbitral Awards: Declaration and decision of the Commissioners of Great Britain and the United States, under Article VI of the Treaty of Ghent of 1814, respecting Boundaries, relating to lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron and River St. Lawrence. 18 June 1822". VOLUME XXVIII pp.11-16. United Nations. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "British-American Diplomacy: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty". Yale Law School: Avalon Project. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "He Had an Eye for the Fairer Sex". Town of Georgina. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- "SJHS # 600048 - RAINS FAMILY". Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Andrea Gutsche, Barbara Chisholm and Russell Floren (1997). The North Channel and St. Marys River: a guide to the history. Lynx Images Inc. pp. 162–163. ISBN 1-894073-00-2.
- Andrea Gutsche, Barbara Chisholm and Russell Floren (1997). The North Channel and St. Marys River: a guide to the history. Lynx Images Inc. p. 185. ISBN 1-894073-00-2.
- P.F. Karrow (1991). Quaternary Geology, St. Joseph Island, Ontario Geological Survey. Government of Ontario. pp. –1–3.
- Matt Bray and Ernie Epp (1984). A Vast and Magnificent Land: An Illustrated History of Nothern Ontario. Lakehead University and Laurentian University. p. 114. ISBN 0-88663-001-0.
- "Welcome". St. Joseph Island Museum. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Andrea Gutsche, Barbara Chisholm and Russell Floren (1997). The North Channel and St. Marys River: a guide to the history. Lynx Images Inc. p. 186. ISBN 1-894073-00-2.
- "Historical Society". Island Clippings. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Ribbon cutting ceremony to mark ferry operation". The Sault Star. 30 May 1953.
- Andrea Gutsche, Barbara Chisholm and Russell Floren (1997). The North Channel and St. Marys River: a guide to the history. Lynx Images Inc. pp. 194–196. ISBN 1-894073-00-2.
- Members' Statements. Hansard, October 5, 1995.
- John Roblin Abbott, Graeme Stewart Mount, Michael J. Mulloy (2000). The History of Fort St. Joseph. Dundurn. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1550023373.
- P.F. Karrow (1991). Quaternary Geology, St. Joseph Island, Ontario Geological Survey. Government of Ontario. pp. 5–6.
- P.F. Karrow (1991). Quaternary Geology, St. Joseph Island, Ontario Geological Survey. Government of Ontario. p. 6.
- Stasie, Antoni (Toni) (March 24, 2011). "Three interesting geological aspects of St. Joseph Island". Island Clippings.
- Stasie, Antoni (Toni) (March 17, 2011). "Three interesting geological aspects of St. Joseph Island". Island Clippings.
- Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario. "Commission’s Report–Ontario". Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- Population and Dwellings Counts, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions (Municipalities). Ottawa, Ontario: Statistics Canada. 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011.
- Dieter K. Buse and Graeme S. Mount (2011). Come on Over! Northeastern Ontario A to Z. Sudbury, Ontario: Scrivener Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-896350-44-8.
- "Doug Hook - out of the corner studios". Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- St. Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada. "Maple Syrup Producers". Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- P.F. Karrow (1991). Quaternary Geology, St. Joseph Island, Ontario Geological Survey. Government of Ontario. p. 3.
- St. Joseph Island Info. "Farms". Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- Hilton Beech, St. Joseph Island. "Schools serving Hilton Beach". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- "The Little School That Could!". Island Clippings. July 12, 2012.
- Hilton Beach, St. Joseph Island. "Boating". Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- The North Channel Marine Tourism Council. "St. Joseph Island: Richards Landing Municipal Marina". Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- St. Joseph Island map