Howe Island resident, Norm Vincent re-introduced the possible preservation of the island’s abandoned North Shore 1892 school house at the well attended June meeting of Frontenac Islands council on Howe Island.
“Looking around this room there are descendants from 1840, 1850 and 1860, all interested in Howe Island and we have the opportunity to purchase the old school at a very reasonable price with the land,” Vincent said at the same time acknowledging the presence of Wilf Garrah from the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board who had in hand a copy of the school’s deed. The board is the present owner of the former SS #1 St. Mary’s School/ Howe Island Fire Hall.
“The preservation of this building is absolutely paramount for this community in its present location as a museum, meeting place for a historical society, recreational committee and all others interested in meeting there. While funds are always a factor,” Vincent continued, “there are funds available both provincially and federally once we have a designation of this building. We already have talented people willing to help restore it.”
The preservation of the old school for its historical and heritage value came up originally around the time of building the new Fire Hall and was debated at a number of council meetings with what appeared to be little interest from the public according to Mayor Vanden Hoek . “This has been debated at the council table at a number of meetings. We indicated if there was interest (by May 31st ), we were prepared to listen but we did not get an overwhelming response.
Vincent who has taken on the development of a HI Historical Society has received positive information and guidance from the Ontario Historical Society as well as the Ontario government. “Howe Island is one of the very few communities in Ontario that does not have a Heritage or Historical Society. This is a win win opportunity for Howe Island and Frontenac Islands as a whole,” he said noting that the building is in very good shape, (new roof, septic system, leeching bed). Vincent referred to a Frontenac Islands purchase of a building on Wolfe Island now designated as ‘The Old House Museum’. “Hopefully this assistance is available to Howe Island at a much lower cost.” (It should be noted that following the purchase of the land and building on Wolfe, the building was given over to the island’s Historical Society and the township separated itself from the development and operation of the Old House Museum.)
In the discussion that followed, Councillor Mat Fiene noted a resurgence of interest in the school house, “after a couple of runs at this”, while Councillor Norris dispelled any comparison between Howe Island’s request and the WI purchase.”The WI building was worth nothing but the waterfront property it is on, right in the village is very valuable ,”Norris said. “We gave you 6 or 7 months to come up with a proposal and costs and to show us where money could come from and no one ever came back to us,” he added.
Speaking in support the Howe Island project were Geoff Hobbs, Shelagh MacDonald and Terry Botten who read from a Howe Island Ratepayers Association (HIRA, Oct. 2009) report citing delays in moving ahead at that time, as there was no one group tasked to do it, while now a Historical Society is under developing along with community support. “This island issue requires an official committee,” Botten added.
Frontenac Islands staff will request a further 6 month extension from the school board to discuss their offer and to organize a sub-committee under the Howe Island Culture and Recreation Committee to investigate all aspects of the proposal to retain the old school as part of Howe Island’s heritage.
In other Business: Howe Island resident Louise Watson was not happy with the lack of information islanders had regarding a recent military exercise held on private island property. “We fully support the military exercise but we are not happy with council’s lack consultation with residents and no information other than a small sign on the ferry… Someone told us it was on private property and it had nothing to do us, but I think it did. “ (The exercise included early morning gun fire and a road blockade.) “The small sign was not enough, perhaps notification through the mail next time.”
Military exercises on Wolfe and Howe have been fully supported by council. “We have taken a supportive role regarding the military and will continue to do so,” Mayor Vanden Hoek commented “But if it is a matter of communication then indeed we will attempt to do a better job in the future.”
2. Overnight camping, approved one night only August 7th to Aug. 8th at the Wolfe Island Community Centre Grounds during Music Fest. As well, a Vendors Village is permitted on the Grounds on August 7th.
3. Councillor Doyle brought forward: a) WIBTA’s proposal for a (year round) road closure at the end of Victoria St. (the area has 2 public washrooms including a public dock), m and a possible mini park. This item was deferred to the July meeting. Neighbours on either side to be consulted. b) He noted a need for a multi approach to prevent further vandalism at Big Sandy Bay. Doyle will seek further advice from the OPP. c) Unfinished road work is creating hazards for cyclists. Doyle suggested road conditions should be posted on the web site since no dates are yet available for road work completion.
4. Councillor Norris is opposed to any more payments for Howe Island road work until road WORK IS DONE. “There are problems that must be resolved,” he said.
5. The next Frontenac Islands Amenities agreement public consultation facilitated by Robert Wood, Sacred Heart school, Thursday July 8th, 6:30 pm. Council meets next on Wolfe Island, Mon, July 12th, 6:30 pm
Around Town:* Congratulations to Don Roblin recipient of the J.C. McLeod Excellence in Teaching Award presented at the Marysville Public School Grade 8 graduation. Congratulations to Everett & Denise. *The Stone Heron Gallery is now open for another season. Euchre continues Thursday’s 7pm WI.United Church Hall. *Saturday Evening Mass 5pm through July & Aug. Sacred Heart Church. *Ferry Traffic heavy all the time these days.
Coming Events:* WI Classic Road Race (5k-10k) Sunday, July 4th at 9:30 a.m. *FOBSB Book sales July weekends. *Taste of WI Market Friday’s 12:30 pm.
Any book of history about Wolfe Island always includes some reference to the spiritual life of its early inhabitants, where they held services and the incredible efforts made by so few to build churches. Another part of the story that makes it somewhat different from many others is the reference to the ferry and the fact that clergy came from Kingston to minister to the people, or, islanders attempted to attend services in Kingston. One has to assume that because of the limited ferry service of the day, it might have been many months between clergy visits for any denomination, whether Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic or United Church. That come spring when the ice went out and the ferry came in there were marriages and baptisms and cemetery services as well as the First Eucharist and Confirmation.
Thinking about what Church Services must have been like in the early 1800’s, brought me down to the ferry, to welcome two bishops from Kingston hopefully walking off the ferry together, and to take their picture. Indeed it was wishful thinking on my part, as both bishop’s travelled in their own vehicles, one to Christ Church Anglican ( built at the foot in 1862) and the other to Sacred Heart of Mary, Roman Catholic( 1st church 1852, present building 1917)
The Anglican Bishop of Ontario, Rt. Rev. George Bruce came to Christ Church where he was welcomed by Rev. Canon Chris Carr and Deacon Rev. Gerry Moore and the local parish community. Services at Christ Church happen only during the summer months) Bishop Bruce administered Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion, presented the homily and later attended a reception held at St. Margaret’s Hall.
At the same time RC Archbishop of Kingston Most Rev. Brendan M. O'Brien came for Confirmation and First Communion Mass at Sacred Heart of Mary Church where he was welcomed by Pastor Fr. Raymond de Souza. A reception followed at Sacred Heart School.
In the tradition of the past, two bishops acknowledged the spiritual needs of the people, who rejoiced in their coming to the isolated community of Wolfe Island.
Anyone who travels to Wolfe Island knows Laurie Minton. In spite of her diminutive size or perhaps because of it, Laurie, a Ministry of Transportation employee, keeps traffic honest at the Wolfe Island ferry dock in Kingston as well as on the island where she lives with her husband Scott Minton.
Recently a devastating fire destroyed the island home they own on Road #95 and lived in with their daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Ian O'Coin and grandchildren Mackynzie, 8, and Madyson, 10. They lost everything in the fire.
Anyone who knows Laurie knows how proud she is of her grandchildren and the particular concern she has for he grandson Mackynzie who at 4 was diagnosed with leukemia. Now 8, he recently completed cancer treatment and it is her hope that he is cancer free forever. (Islanders will remember the fundraiser he (Mackynzie) and his sister undertook for cancer research.) Tough years for the closely knit family. And now a fire….
A Fund Raiser is being organized by islanders Sherry Orr, Sharon Kane, and Angie Vaughan to help the Minton and O’Coin families. Volunteers will be knocking on doors in a call for donations during the week beginning June 13th to June 19th. Donations can also be left at Fargo’s Store, Vaughan”s Building Supples, or Megaly’s Market. Door to door fund raisers are a long standing Wolfe Island tradition.
For more info, call Sherry Orr at 613- 385-2486.
An Invasive Species ‘road rally’ took place on Wolfe Island when a Peterborough team from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and Ministry of Natural Resources, led by Francine MacDonald, joined a group of 20 island volunteers for a day of hunting invasive island species, an Ontario first. The Invading Species Awareness Program, is a partnership of OFAH and MNR.
“You can help eradicate invasive species but first find, identify and catalogue them,” said MacDonald, an invading species/Aquatics biologist, who with Friends of Big Sandy Bay’s (FOBSB) Linda Van Hal, organized the event. (On a previous occasion Francine brought information to FOBSB about invasive species affecting waterways.)
Francine explained to the volunteers, ready to examine the island’s roadways, how the day would proceed, its purpose to establish what is out there, and to determine the spread of certain species adding that some invasive species are brought into the province and others are sold in garden shops. She and her team provided maps, safety jackets, GPS trackers, tags for samples, invasive species record sheets and pictures of invasive species they might find. There was also a safety light for the top of each of the 5 cars going out.
The pictures identified dog strangling vine; common reed; Japanese knot weed; Purple loose strife, giant hogweed, buckthorn, purple bell flower among others and the pervasive arlic mustard which can wipe out trillium, according to MacDonald.
The day began at the General Wolfe Hotel and ended at the Island Grill where volunteers handed in the results of their searches, some 69 reports locating invasive species and their spread on the island. They expressed satisfaction with what they had learned and the familiarity they had gained in identifying the different species, and complete surprise at the numbers identified.
When OFAH complete their report and develop a locator map based on the day’s findings, it will be submitted to the township as information. “ But much is up to the community and their volunteer efforts in preventing the spread and eradication of the unwanted plants, (track, monitor, control)” according to MacDonald. For information: www.invadingspecies.com
2. Trespassing at Big Sandy Bay leads to charges
The Big Sandy Bay Stewardship Committee took immediate action and called the OPP following a recent incident. It began on Friday evening May 19th and ended late that Saturday when a young man was charged with mischief and trespassing at the Big Sandy Bay conservation area on Wolfe Island.
The Kingston man, in a pick-up truck, presumably cut the lock found under the BSB entrance way gate leading to Big Sandy Bay(a hacksaw was found in the truck) and entered illegally, driving his way into the site along the well maintained 1.3 km walking trail through wetlands and woodlands over the very sensitive dunes and grasses and onto the beach area. Half way down the beach, he eventually got stuck in deep sand. Damage along the trail, at the dunes and on the beach suggested that he was accompanied by at least two ATV’s driven in by island friends and that they had had quite a party as evidenced by the number of beer cans and bottles, numerous 12 gauge shotgun shells in the truck and the damage at the site.
The incident came to light on the Saturday morning as the BSB Dune Supervisors came to work, found the entry gate open and proceeded to the beach area where they saw the empty truck stuck in deep sand, the damage done attempting to get it out, etc. They called Councilor Denis Doyle, chairman of the Township of Frontenac Islands BSB Stewardship Committee. (The township operates the BSB Conservation area in partnership with MNR.) Doyle after seeing the damage called the OPP.
Interesting to note that while the OPP had coffee in Marysville the young man identified himself to them as the person they were looking for. After returning with him to Big Sandy Bay to see the damage etc. the OPP laid charges. According to Doyle, the person did not identify his friends, the township will seek damages, and the truck was released and removed Sunday by Dick Posthumus. Doyle added that a township by law states, among other things:. ‘ no vehicles in the Management area, no entry without a permit, no entry into posted areas, no defacement of property or unruly behaviour.’
“We have updated pricing signs and large no trespassing signs for the beach and at the gatehouse. Doyle said. “We are getting serious about cracking down on trespassing, including illegal entry from the water, and plan to call the OPP or By Law Enforcement Officer each time the rules are broken.”
3. Travelling Down Memory Lane !
Wolfe Island’s Ken and Arthur Keyes and a host of island residents were on hand at the town hall when brother Lorne visited the island with a “Gray Dort”, the car their father John W. Keyes purchased in 1919 and drove until 1934. John Keyes was a former reeve of Wolfe Island and a Frontenac County Warden.
Britt Smith, a WW11, lawyer, historian, author and builder of apartment buildings was a guest speaker in the WI Historical Society’s 2010 speaker’s series.“ I have never had a crowd such as this come out to hear me but then Wolfe Island is a special place,” Smith said following his introduction by the society’s past president Captain Brian Johnson. Smith regaled the crowd with stories of visiting the island for the first time as a 10 year old, (and many times thereafter), mentioning island names and places with fondness before moving on to the subject that brought him, The ‘Legend of the Lake Ontario 1780.’
Mr. Smith came with many copies of his book, Legend of the Lake Ontario, to sign and give away, much to the surprise and delight of the audience. The book authored in 1997 was later revised with a new chapter when the Lake Ontario, a 22-gun brig-sloop was located by Don Scoville and Jim Kennard, engineers and shipwreck specialists from Rochester, NY.
Smith gave a brief history of the Ontario, built at the Carleton Island Shipyard in 1779 – 80, to defend British North America against the American revolutionary forces. “What you may not realize is that during the American Revolution Carleton Island had about 4500 people living on it including three different British regiments, and was a major point between upland posts and Montreal,” he said. “The American army was giving the Brits a hard time so the British regiment would go down burn crops and stop supplies. A bigger boat was required and the Lake Ontario with its 22 guns staffed with sailors mostly Canadian and soldiers to man the guns, built in 1779 and launched in May, 1780 was at that time, the largest vessel on the Great Lakes at 226 tons and 80 feet long. I don’t think they ever fired a shot but it kept the Americans away.” Six months later the ship disappeared, wrecked, hit by a storm, by a hurricane? Ice? “In the early evening hours of October 31, 1780, the British sloop of war HMS Ontario sank with over 120 men, women, children and prisoners on board during a sudden and violent gale.”
The next part of the evening was devoted to the search for the ‘Ontario’ and Britt Smith’s research over 20 years with the assistance of archivists, letters, drawings, maps and writings. (His book provides insight into life at the time, historical events and people, the ship, the importance of wives and families to the settlement and to the military.)
Smith said the Ontario was discovered in May 2008 between Niagara and Rochester (but its location has not been released) and even with the best of research available it took some 3 years to find her in very deep water and confirm the find using very sophisticated underwater, equipment. “We think she is in good shape with lots of artefacts and I think she could be raised,” Smith said adding that “she is a war grave site and I think she belongs to Canada. I hope she is not raised too quickly. What would I do with the rest of my life.” A very informative question and answer period followed.
2. Development Charges By Law finally passed for Frontenac Islands
At a recent special meeting, Frontenac Islands Council passed a bylaw establishing Development Charges, but not without some discussion. Councillors were somewhat disconcerted that it had taken so long to receive the report required to develop the bylaw from Tunnock Consulting. ”This is costing us money,” Councillor Doyle said. “We have lost two years in Development charges.” (While certain exceptions exist, development charges are normally due the date a building permit is issued..) With the passage of the by law, development charges can be charged right away, although there is an appeal period. Doyle also expressed frustration concerning the Official Plan Review which is not yet available.
In other business: 1. Doyle brought forward Wolfe Island Business & Tourism Association concerns regarding vehicular parking on the north end of Victoria Street at WI’s public dock, blocking the Summer Boutique, Public toilet facilities and a residential property. He suggested closing that end of the road (a chain across and signage) May to October. Mayor Vanden Hoek suggested leaving things the way they are (now that the bus is gone) until the June meeting when a bylaw might be passed.
2. The road work on Wolfe Island has been causing residents much grief and council members are hearing about it. “Residents need some answers,” Councillor Doyle said. Councillors questions to the mayor and staff ranged from “when is the Tembine coming? What about the dust? Why is the work not progressing? What do we do in the meantime? To… ”what can we tell residents if we don’t have all the answers?”
The township will distribute a flyer to residents asking for patience and explaining the extent and the timing of the ongoing road construction. Council has approved some work on a portion of 4th Line Road which will proceed in conjunction with the island’s existing surface treatment contract.
3. As a result of information received in a letter about (transient) young people trespassing on private property and threatening residents when advised to leave, Council is advising residents to call the OPP “ It is true, we need to know about these situations but it is even more important that the police are called,” Mayor Vanden Hoek said. “And In the two most recent incidents the OPP was not called.” The flyer going out to residents will advise, that in the event of problems of trespass (or other serious concerns) they should immediately contact the Ontario Provincial Police. The direct number will be included.
Around Town * Due to fine weather Big Sandy Bay is now open daily. * Congratulations to Dr. George Merry for whom Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) recently dedicated their Collins Creek wetland project. * “The Cat in the Hat” in the person of Mayor Jim Vandenhoek, sporting a tall hat, red tie, gloves, cat whiskers and carrying an umbrella, recently visited WI’s Early years Centre where he read to the children and parents gathered round.
Coming Events:1.Taste of Wolfe Island, Market every Friday 2-5:30 pm 2. BSB Dune Restoration Work Days June 9th & 19th Contact Linda 613-385-1521