Wolfe Island, Ontario
Twenty miles long and as much as seven miles wide, Wolfe Island's 30,000 acres--about fifty-four square miles--support many farms and a year-round community, connected to Kingston by a free government ferry. A seasonal toll ferry also connects the island to Cape Vincent.
Like most rural areas, Wolfe Island's population peaked in the mid-nineteenth century, and has declined subsequently, although Kinsgston commuters and season residents have increased it in recent years. The winter population of about 1200 more than doubles in the summer. Marysville, the island's village on the north shore, is the point of embarkation for the Kingston ferry.
Horse-drawn carriages enhance the insular character.
Fine dining has drawn visitors to the island for many years. The General Wolfe Hotel continues to earn awards for its cuisine. Fine lodging is being developed in restored houses:
Wolfe Manor Dreamcatcher's Inn
as well providing lodging in new facilities: Van Hal House
Some resorts have been popular for many years: Browns Bay Inn
A treasure of the region, as a nature preserve but moreover as a unique scenic destination is Big Sandy Bay. Its long beach on the open expanse of Lake Ontario is unlike anything else in the Thousand Islands region.
A small ferry operates seasonally, connecting Wolfe to smaller Simcoe Island, said to be "the stormiest island in the St. Lawrence," due to its lake exposure. One of the earliest beacons on the Great Lakes still stands there. Nine Mile Lighthouse, its stone tower built in 1833 and now operated by the Canadian Coast Guard, continues to guide ships.
Another area lighthouse, seen by few but sailors four miles farther out on the lake, is Pigeon Island.
The modern automated lighthouse replaced an older one, erected because "every year a vessel or two is lost" at Charity Shoals. One such was Royal Mail Line steamer Spartan, en route from Oswego to Kingston in 1871, as described in a contemporary account.
The Canadian icebreaker Simcoe keeps the ship channel open until the Seaway closes. Airboats provide transport over the ice in all conditions.