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Grenadier Island

Written by on October 19, 2015 in Island Life Magazine


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.

gren-tilife-antiqueboatMembers 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 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. They 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 centre of the 1000 Islands, a tradition that continues to this day.

gren-tilife-giccThe club holds Saturday dinners and has expanded over the years with tennis courts, 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. Grenadier Island is steeped in history. 1818, the Royal Navy commissioned Capt. William Fitzwilliam Owen to conduct the first formal study of the 1000 Islands. He named many of the island’s after British officers and Grenadier was no exception. Even though there is evidence on early maps it 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.gren-tilfie-golfer

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 a 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.gren-tilife-stella

The now-defunct Heffernan’s restaurant was a popular landmark here for years specializing in homecooked 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 parks property and of course the GICC, where island time meets tee time every summer.