Frontenac Islands was formed in 1998 by the amalgamation of two of Ontario's oldest rural municipalities: Howe Island and Wolfe Island. Both islands can trace their European roots back to New France, but it was only in the years after the War of 1812 that settlement took place in any numbers.
The islands are named after two of Britain's generals from the time period of the Seven Year's War: James Wolfe (d. Sept 13, 1759) and William Howe (d. 1814), a subordinate of Wolfe's at the Plains Of Abraham and later Commander-in-Chief of British troops in North America during the American Revolution. The islands' current names first appeared on a map in 1818 when Captain William Fitzwilliam Owen of the Royal Navy conducted a naval survey of the 1,000 Islands.
Today, the islands have a mixture of agricultural and rural lifestyles with a growing proportion of residents working off the islands in Kingston or elsewhere in Frontenac County.
The islands, situated as they are at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River, provide a unique location to live and work. Access to the mainland is by boat: both islands are serviced by ferries year-round with the addition of a seasonal ferry to the USA from Wolfe Island from May to November.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 representatives from the County of Frontenac, Township of Frontenac Islands and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) met to discuss the status of the Frontenac Howe Islander Ferry, the recent service delivery challenges and the Bubbler System that is maintained by MTO.
MTO has assured the County and the Township that an annual inspection and load testing of the compressors is completed each year. MTO further explained that the bubbler system coped well with the first 8 weeks of this tumultuous winter, after it was turned on December 18, 2013 but after that point was unable to manage with the excessive cold and westerly winds. The MTO has recognized the challenge of the current system and will closely monitor the bubbler system’s performance for the remainder of this winter. They have confirmed that repairs to the Howe Island bubbler system will be before next winter.
Residents should be aware the Spring break up of heavier than usual ice may present challenges at the Ferry Crossing, at this time, there is no contingency plan for dealing with the increased ice, but the safety of passengers and ferry operators will be as always, paramount.
MTO had also deployed an excavator at the Foot Ferry to assist with clearing its channel and dockage and to ensure that residents have more than one option to get on and off the Island. There has been some community discussion regarding adding an additional drive to the Frontenac Howe Islander vessel to decrease the effect of the wind but due to dockage constraints limiting the width of the vessel this option is not available at this time.
Also discussed was the ferry service to Wolfe Island; MTO feels that with the higher powered engines on the Wolfe Islander III that the bubbler system across the channel is no longer required, but that the system around the docks continue to be maintained and that pipes at the Dawson Point were replaced a few years ago and the system is working well. While there have been delays in the Wolfe Island crossing during the cold and windy stormy days, it is anticipated that from this point forward it will be easier going and the schedule will be maintained, even though the ferry is going to the Marysville dock. Further, MTO have agreed to have available excavator equipment to remove ice buildup at the Marysville and Kingston docks as needed.
County, Township and MTO officials commend ferry operators and all involved, for their extraordinary effort in coping with extreme conditions.
Thank you as well to residents and ferry users for your patience
The Rink will be closing for the season on Sunday March 30, 2014