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Howe Island Ferries


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There have been ferries at 3 different areas on Howe Island;
west to east- Pickett’s, the Narrows and to the Gananoque side(township ferry).

Pickett's Ferry

aka O'Briens Landing/ O'Briens Ferry Wharf

Location: NR Lot 5 or 6
Began Operation: built in 1949
Ended Operation: Still in operation

See Pickets Ferry articles:
Howe Articles and More Howe Ferry Articles

Submitted by Dick Bolt

"October 26 1898 The new post off ice is now located about one half mile from O'Brien's ferry wharf." Canadian Freeman

“Two cable ferries connect the Howe Island community to the mainland. One ferry crosses the Bateaux (or Pittsburgh) Channel where it begins to narrow, past Cassidy’s Point.The other ferry joins Bishop's Point, on the mainland, with Gillespie Point at the eastern end of Howe Island.” From:

"Jan 21, 1954 Howe Island District News Page 10 Col 6 Pickett’s Ferry is laid up for the season, and walking on the ice is the means of crossing. The ferry at the foot of the Island is operating every day." From Gananoque Reporter

The Howe Island Ferry is a 25 year-old cable-driven ferry owned by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, but operated by the FMB. The ferry provides service to the 600 full time residents of Howe Island, however 600 seasonal residents also use the service, primarily throughout the summer months. The ferry runs on demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

"O'Brien's had the ferry at the head of the Island then Foley's then Pickett's." From Eileen Truesdell

"Pickett's Ferry was built in 1949 and Johnny Pickett retired in 1969." From Eileen Truesdell

Click on photos for larger versions
From Wilf Garrah Nov 2004:
"Photo of the Howe Island ferry docked in Kingston as this will probably be the last one we'll be able to get. It's being decommissioned and headed for the junk pile as the costs to bring up to standards to be seaworthy I understand is very high.
This boat arrived on Howe Island 1976 to replace the 3 car cable boat that was operated by the County of Frontenac."

ARTICLE with Photo
Submitted by Wilf Garrah, transcribed by Jerry Vaugn
Picture Caption – Watched by interested spectators in power boats, the new Howe Island ferry – named the Frontenac/Howe Islander – makes its maiden voyage from the island to the mainland yesterday morning.

Frontenac/Howe Islander makes maiden voyage
By Tanisin McMahon
Whig-Standard Staff Writer

Howe Island unveiled its new $1.5 million ferry yesterday, but the area’s deputy mayor said the boat hasn’t sunk plans to build a bridge to the mainland.
The Frontenac/Howe Islander made its four-minute maiden voyage yesterday afternoon as officials from the Coast Guard and the Ministry of Transportation, which owns the vessel, sent it on a test run.
Officials had hoped to have the ferry up and running in time for school busses yesterday, but the boat was still being tested for most of the day.
MTO spokesman Bob Nichol said there was no date set for the ferry to begin service.
Traffic to the island was being shuffled to a smaller, three-car township ferry to the east.
The red and green ferry holds 15 cars, six more than the old ferry, which has been operating since 1975.
The vessel runs on cables and a hydraulic system with two smaller, quieter engines, an upgraded safety system and a small service board, said MTO’s head of marine services in Kingston, Roger Harrison.
It should take about a week to have the boat’s crew fully trained on the new ferry, he said.
The old ferry boat is to be auctioned off in Toronto.
With about 400 residents, the island was badly in need of a bigger ferry to reduce wait times and to carry heavier vehicles, such as large trucks, said Frontenac Islands Township deputy mayor Pat Norris.
Cars were often lined up along the road, waiting as much as an hour and a half to board the old nine-car ferry, he said.
The new vessel can carry a 45-ton truck plus about 10 to 12 cars, Norris said.
The previous ferry could carry 32 tons total – as little as 24 tons when the water level was low.
That meant some large commercial trucks couldn’t travel on the ferry and for those that could, one truck often took up the ferry’s entire weight allowance.
Yesterday, MTO and Transport Canada officials tested the ferry with a 40-ton gravel truck.
The aging ferry also had its share of mechanical problems.
In January, a fire in the control room sparked by a malfunctioning electrical heater put the ferry out of action for hours, backing up traffic to the island.
Norris said it would have cost the province about $250,000 to upgrade the boat in order to pass its mandatory five-year inspection this year.
A proposal to expand the old ferry would have cost about $800,000, he said.
The cost of the ferry was split between the Ministry of Transportation, Frontenac County, which contributed about $233,000, and the township, which chipped in about $350,000 from its ferry reserve funds.
The township has been working on getting a new ferry since 1998, he said, as a short-term solution while it fights for a $10-million bridge across the Bateau Channel to Kingston.
In July 2003, Kingston city council voted to “bump up” a request for a detailed environmental assessment of the island’s controversial plan to build a single-lane bridge across the water.
The request delayed the bridge, but it hasn’t derailed the island’s plan, Norris said. The new ferry was needed now, he said, and isn’t meant to be a permanent alternative to a bridge.
“A bridge is still definitely out there in the future,” he said. “We were told it was 10 years away and we couldn’t wait 10 years.”
The new ferry was built in seven months and was the first vessel built by Hamilton-based Heddle Marine Service, said company president Rick Heddle.
It left Hamilton around 10 a.m. Monday, towed by two tug boats, arriving at the Howe Island ferry dock abound 7 a.m. yesterday.

ARTICLE Nov 12 2004-Whig Standard
All Aboard the Frontenac Howe Islander

(Photo also given)
Submitted by Wilf Garrah

The Narrows Ferry

aka Davis Landing

Location: NR lot 13
Began Operation: On or Before 1864
Ended Operation: After 1954- Is no longer in operation. Sank.

Narrows Ferry to Howe Island
"Betty Stevens (nee Marshall) personally knows that
the man operating the ferry boat was Les Bishop.
Les owned all of the point on the mainland
( across from the east end of Howe Island)
and owned the boat privately."
Info submitted by Wilf Garrah

"Doris Cadue Peterson (my 2nd cousin on my Father's side) says the Ferry that John Damer Cadue was instrumental in achieving, came across at the Narrows and the road came up to Highway 2 through McFadden's farm. I was by there today and took note of the road still in existence by McFaddens.... Also went up the highway 2 and found two roads going back to the Narrows. I believe the township road is Sandy Beach Lane, the other is Bateau Lane and it is fairly new as there are cottages down there. There is an old house and another building on the Sandy Beach Lane besides cabins. " From Eileen Truesdell 2002

Click on Photo for larger Version
James Cadieu, Ferry Operator

Photo and info from Doris Garrah via Eileen Truesdell:
Jim Cadue s/o Joseph & Ann Hunt. His full name was James Edward Vincent Cadue born Nov 13, 1881. Died April 11, 1971.
From Wilf Garrah:" The man on the front of the boat (identity unknown) is dipping a brush into an oil can to lubricate the cable going over a roller. Joseph on the back of the boat is turning a handle on a winch to draw the boat from shore to shore. This photo is a the Howe Island narrows. Ferry stopped operating as know one would foot the bill of operating it. This photo would have been about the year 1931."
From Wilf Garrah:" The man on the front of the boat (identity unknown) is dipping a brush into an oil can to lubricate the cable going over a roller. Jim on the back of the boat is turning a handle on a winch to draw the boat from shore to shore. This photo is a the Howe Island narrows not from from Nakomis lodge. Ferry stopped operating as know one would foot the bill of operating it. This photo would have been about the year 1931."

"January 9th 1864
Pettition of William Davis & others of Howe Island, praying that sum assessed might be given to William Davis in connection with the Ferry. $10.00 was granted for his releif." From Pittsburg Miniciple records

“Davis Landing: Apparently the ships used to pick up passengers there. There was a large dock and when the water is low some of the logs can still be seen! That is where the Kiln is also. The ferry was located up by Nakomis Lodge.
"The Narrow's Ferry went across at Patty Welch's and it was called Welsh's Lane now it is called Robinson Lane." From Eileen Truesdell

From Gananoque Reporter:
--"Date: Sept 25 1925 Through the energetic efforts of Mr. John D. Cadue, sufficient funds have been subscribed to provide a new ferry between Howe Island and the mainland (Pittsburg). Tenders are being invited in this issue. "
--"Date:Nov 28 1925 Given gifts and Address. Several residents of the lower end of Howe Island held a surprise party at the home of Mr. J. D. Cadue last week-end and presented him with an address and some presents in recognition of his valuable work in getting money for the new ferry to the mainland."
--"October 21, 1926
The Howe Island Ferry. Mr. John D. Cadue, who for many years collected money to build a ferry between Howe Island and the Main land, has written to Reeve Joseph Garragh, stating that the scow is now being built by Mr. John Marks of Portsmouth, at a cost of $450.00. He has been paid on account $250.00 and enclosed in a letter a cheque for $90.00, which leaves a balance of $110.00 on the purchase price, which can be easily collected from patrons using the scow. He writes it can be seen at the office of his solicitors. The matter will be discussed at the sixth meeting of council."
--"Thursday October 28, 1926 Yesterday was the realization of the dreams of Howe Island residents when the new scow, for use as a ferry between Howe Island and the Main land was launched from Mark's plant at Portsmouth."
--"March 29, 1928, Mr. Damer Cadue is going to operate the ferry scow at the Narrows."
--"April 12, 1928 The islanders are glad the ferry is operating once again. "

"The Narrows ferry sank as Jim Burns remembers swimming off it when he was a young lad." From Eileen Truesdell.

Howe Island Township Ferry

aka Gillespies Ferry/ Gillespies Wharf

Location: Foot of the island, Sr lot 27
Began Operation: Before 1936
Ended Operation: Still in operation

February 8 1899 Canadian Freeman
Mr. Angus Macdonald lost a valuable team of horses at Gillespie’s wharf Howe Island on Saturday.

“Two cable ferries connect the Howe Island community to the mainland. One ferry crosses the Bateaux (or Pittsburgh) Channel where it begins to narrow, past Cassidy’s Point.The other ferry joins Bishop's Point, on the mainland, with Gillespie Point at the eastern end of Howe Island.” From:

Easterly is ferry owned by twp of Howe Island- capacity 3 cars.

Howe Island Ferry in the winter (recent)
Thanks to Gerry Ross for this photo!

Howe Island Ferry (recent)
Thanks to Gerry Ross for this photo!

"John Quinn from Howe Island told me the hand cranked foot ferry was started by Art Gillespie and his sister Bina, from Gillespie's point. It was started before 1936.....Found out the Gillespie Ferry ( Foot of the Island) was started by Robert Gillespie not his sons. Looked up his obit in the paper in 1915, but no mention of the Ferry. But have found something that states he was the ferry operator. After Gillespie, Les Bishop operated the ferry. Jim Byrnes, Howe Island, remembers that as a young man he operated the ferry, when Les Bishop had work to do on the Islands. " From Eileen Truesdell

"The old Pickett's ferry was brought down to the foot of the Island. Gillespie used to live on the large farm on the left of the ferry dock, house was tore down and a new one built owned by Shawn Murray now. Don Foley, Bryant Robinson and Pat Quinn are the present operators at the foot ferry. Some of present day workers at the head of the ferry are Joe Rathwell, John Beaubiah, Ronnie Burns and Paul Norris. More but names unknown at present. (information from Don Foley) Before Ferrys operated the steamer ships used to pick up passengers at different location on the Island. One point being on the river across from the old Cadue farm and where my cousin David Abeles now has a home. There is an old road going down to the River. In this same spot on the side of the large hill is an old lime kiln. Parts of it were uncovered when the waterfront was enlarged. " From Eileen Truesdell


October 27 1897 Can Freeman
Howe Island Bridge- The Ontario Government Engineer, Mr. Aylesworth, is in this district at present, looking after the colonization roads. He was down to Howe Island last Wednesday looking after the work done on a road there by Government grant and found everything satisfactory. The engineer still contends that a good bridge could be built from Howe Island to the main land for $30,000.00. The Dominion Government Engineer estimated the work of $70,000.00 and consequently a damper was cast on the scheme, as the water was controlled by the Lower House. The people of that district still have hopes of getting thus much needed convenience.

Other Ferry info..

"Wednesday Feb. 12, 1851 Item 32 - From road between Lots 10 & 11 to Callagher’s Ferry - Lot 18 Rob. Simpson RM" From Pittsburg Miniciple records

The Islands: Island Photos: Howe Island Ferries

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