Main Duck Island

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Main Duck Island
Main Duck Island.JPG
Location Lake Ontario
Coordinates 43°55′34″N 76°37′10″W / 43.92611°N 76.61944°W / 43.92611; -76.61944Coordinates: 43°55′34″N 76°37′10″W / 43.92611°N 76.61944°W / 43.92611; -76.61944
Total islands 2
Major islands Main Duck Island
Province Ontario
Population 0 (1978)

Main Duck Island is a Canadian island in the eastern part of Lake Ontario situated next to the smaller Yorkshire Island. It was purchased by Parks Canada in 1977 and has been administered as part of the Thousand Islands National Park since 1998, even though it is not part of the Thousand Islands region.[1][2]

The island is 20 kilometers from the closest mainland.[3] Its area is 230 hectares (570 acres).[1]


Early history[edit]

Archaeological evidence suggests the island was first used by nomadic Point Peninsula Peoples between 450 BC and 450 AD. The island then appears to have been used by the Owasco culture from 850 to 1050 AD. There is evidence that Iroquoian Peoples used the island from 1250 to 1450 AD.[2]

European settlement[edit]

European settlers from Prince Edward County began to settle Main Duck Island in the early 19th century, establishing a fishing station.[2]

Captain John Walters built a schooner there in 1865 called the Harriet Anne.[2]

20th century[edit]

In 1904 the Government of Canada sold the island to Claude W. Cole from Cape Vincent, New York.[4] Cole was, originally, an impresario in the fishing industry. When the prohibition of alcoholic beverages came into effect, in 1917, Cole became a notorious smuggler, with commercial fishermen who rented huts` on the island, during fishing season, smuggling booze with their catches.

A seasonal fishing village of 60 residents existed in the early part of the century.[4] In 1941, John Foster Dulles, the future secretary of state for Dwight D. Eisenhower, bought much of the island as a summer place. After his death in 1959, a colleague inherited his land on the island. The Nature Conservancy of Canada purchased this land circa 1976 and then resold it to the Canadian Federal Government. In 1998 it was included in the Thousand Islands National Park of Canada.[2]

Many vessels were wrecked on shoals near the island.[5]


Besides the lighthouse (c. 1914),[6] a few buildings exists on the island:[7]

  • lighthouse keeper home
  • assistant lightkeeper home c. 1970s
  • schoolhouse
  • ruins of the Foster estate (chimney remains)

In the middle of the larger island is a dock servicing small vessels. There are no roads on the island and just foot trails.

Lighthouse keepers[edit]

  • James Clark (1914 – 1915)
  • Fred Bongard (1915 – 1921)
  • Wesley Earl Thomas (1921 – 1953)
  • Harold Dunn (1954 – 1958)
  • Coleman Main (1959 – 1976)
  • Kenneth McConnell (1976 – 1978)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Thousand Islands National Park: New land acquisitions". Parks Canada. 2013-04-03. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2017-06-21. Main Duck and Yorkshire Islands were acquired by Parks Canada in 1977 as nature preserves. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Thousand Islands National Park of Canada. Parks Canada (2013-04-03). Retrieved on 2013-10-07.
  3. ^ Antonia Zerbisias (2011-07-08). "Lake Ontario's cleanest spot: An island nature preserve sheltered by rocky channels". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2017-06-22. Retrieved 2017-06-21. About 20 kilometres from the nearest mainland, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, is Main Duck Island. 
  4. ^ a b Susanna McLeod (2016-06-21). "Island has unique heritage". Kingston Whig-Standard. Archived from the original on 2017-06-21. From about 1848 to 1892, the island was rented to Capt. John Walters. 
  5. ^ "Duck Islands Claim Three More Lives". Syracuse Herald. Kingston, Ontario. 1931-01-18. Retrieved 2017-06-21. Mariners of past years now living in the cities and towns of both the United States and Canada are always ready to tell of incidents which took place in the neighborhood, and each new disaster recalls memories of the past. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ to main duck island.htm&2