Friday, August 30, 2013

Grenadier Island

Grenadier Island is one of the components of St Lawrence Islands National Park.  This National Park was the first east of the Rocky Mountains, founded in the early 1900’s.  It is made up of 19 islands (or portions of Islands) in the Thousand Island group, stretching from outside of Kingston almost up to Brockville.

There is a fee to use the Islands, which is collected through self-payment kiosks at the docks on each Island.  Although we haven’t visited many of the Islands, we often anchor off their shores.  Yesterday, we cruised up to Grenadier Island, which is the farthest east we have been since we arrived in Kingston, about 15 nautical miles east of Gananoque.

Grenadier is a fairly large Island, and is a mixture of private land and National Park.  There are four distinct areas of National Park on the Island.  We anchored off the central park, and dingied up to the dock.  After paying our admission fee (a whole $3.20 for day use for an 8 foot boat), we wandered up the trail to the other side of the Island. There are quite a few campsites on this Island, but they were all empty.  After grabbing a geocache, we strolled along the Old Township Road.

The old schoolhouse on Grenadier Island
Until the 1960’s, Grenadier was a farming community.  A number of farming families maintained fairly substantial farms, despite the difficulties in getting produce and goods on and off the Island, particularly in winter.  Today, the private area of the Island is mainly made up of summer cottages.  Even today, getting supplies to the Islands, particularly construction supplies, can be challenging since there are no bridges or roads.  Boats are the principal means of transportation, and barges are hired to bring more substantial items to the Islands.  

The Old Township Road - or what is left of it today
The remnants of the old township road still exist on the Island, running from one end to the other.  However, today this is little more than a maintained cart track, which the residents seem to use for off-road vehicles.  Just outside of the park boundary and along the Old Township Road, the Island schoolhouse is still standing.  This school was abandoned in 1963, when the population had withered down to three students.

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