Written by Kim Lunman
posted on October 13, 2015 12:40
Tee Time on Grenadier Island The most popular mode of transportation on this island is golf cart. Residents use them to get around its rugged trails while others choose to use golf carts for their literal purpose.
Grenadier Island, located in the middle of the St. Lawrence River near Rockport, is home to the Grenadier Island Country Club (GICC) and its nine-hole golf course. Members of the private club who don't reside on this island have to rely on boats to make it for tee times.
GICC was formed in 1927 and is one of the oldest island golf clubs in Canada. It was established nearly nine decades ago after some of Grenadier's summer residents and neighbouring islanders, from both sides of the border, grew interested in forming a country club. The so-called 'summer people' held meetings at area cottages to come up with a plan to purchase 80 acres of farm property at the western tip of the isle. They built a golf course and clubhouse and it quickly became a social center of the 1000 Islands, a tradition that continues to this day.
The Club holds Saturday dinners and has expanded over the years with tennis courts, croquet and bocce ball. GICC has attracted members from all over North America, as well as people who live in the region all along the River. A nautical chart of the 1000 Islands hangs in the Club highlighting the members summer homes next to a piano which is painted with Canadian and American flags.
Grenadier Island is steeped in history; in 1818, the Royal Navy commissioned Capt. William Fitzwilliam Owen to conduct the first formal study of the 1000 Islands. He named many of the islands after British officers and Grenadier was no exception. Even though there is evidence on early maps, the island was named Grenadier Island in the late 1700s, Owen chose to name it Bathurst Island, after British Secretary of War, the 3rd Earl of Bathurst. The survey's names still apply to a number of islands in the 1000 Islands named after the British officers and ship names. The origin of Grenadier is not known though some say it stems back to aboriginal tribes in the region. The Geographic Board of Canada cleared-up the confusion when it formalized the name Grenadier Island, in 1909.
The earliest islanders here were farmers and fisherman. Some of its residents today have deep roots, dating back generations and over two centuries. Joseph and Catherine Senecal came to Grenadier Island, in 1863, and purchased over 200 acres of farmland. They constructed a hotel, in 1878, called the Senecal Hotel, later called the Angler's Inn. The inn became a major vacation destination, in the late 1880s, during the area's Gilded Age, as a growing cottage colony. Their ancestors are buried in the island's cemetery. The early residents lived here year-round. Not surprisingly, it gained popularity during the prohibition years, in the 1920s, with its close proximity to the U.S. boundary.
A lighthouse was built at the head of the island in 1856. A lighthouse keeper was stationed here between the 1870s and 1940s. The island was once a farming community known for its Grenadier corn, sold at market in Brockville and Rockport. The island's schoolhouse, closed in 1962, still stands on the island among other historical structures and old farm machinery. The long narrow island had 14 farms, in 1818. Its current township road runs east to west, with a hiking trail along the 7-kilometre-long island. The now-defunct Heffernan's restaurant was a popular landmark here for years, specializing in home cooked meals, featuring the island's famous fresh corn.
The Thousand Islands National Park owns property on Grenadier, including the historic lighthouse, a sandy beach, picnic tables, campsites and access to docking for boaters. Today this historic Canadian island is best known for its cottages, National Park’s property and of course, the GICC, where island time meets tee time every summer.
By Kim Lunman, Island Life Magazine - www.islandlifemag.ca
Kim Lunman is the owner/publisher of Island Life Magazine (www.islandlifemag.ca.) Her company, Thousand Islands Ink, is based in Brockville, ON. Lunman is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in the Boat U.S. Magazine, Lakeland Boating, Reader's Digest, Canada’s Globe and Mail and The National Post.
This is the first of those articles that Kim first published in the 2015 “ Island Life” print magazine. We are grateful to her for sharing these this very special 1000 Islands stories. To see all of Kim Lunman’s TI Life articles, click here, and to read a more complete biography, see our About Page.