The History of Honey Bee Island

Historical dock
Gentlemen disembark for ‘refreshments’ while the ladies wait on board

Island 101 G was first officially surveyed by Walter Beatty in 1894 and valued at $75. It was owned by the Crown (Canadian Government) until May 3, 1909 when it was sold for $100. A log fishing and hunting cabin was built upon it and in 1975 it was estimated to be approximately 100 years old. The cabin had been previously built in Rockport and brought over to be re-assembled on the island. Visible at the end of each log, are Roman numerals carved into the wood to show their proper reassembly order.

Historical boat

While not conclusively proven, a local historian believes that the logs might have been reclaimed from one of the decomissioned British fortifications that dotted the river’s edge. This deduction was arrived at by observing that the hand adzed logs are oversized for the structure and could have been part of a defensive outer wall.

The Island has had its share of notoriety as when, during prohibition, it became a stop off point for tour boats from Alexandria Bay who would tie off at its 20 meter dock to let the gentlemen disembark for ‘refreshments’ while the ladies waited on board. The huge tin lined hardwood ice chest that held the liquor remained in the cabin until 2002 when it was gutted and remodeled. The fireplace was built in 1927 from the pink granite rocks found on the island's shores. In the 1940’s the cabin was enlarged with a kitchen and bathroom addition, a screened in porch and two bedrooms on the 2nd floor.

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Fiberboard walls, gloss yellow floors and kitchen pots with 20 year old "food"

The island had been essentially vacant for the previous 20 years and lay in virtual ruins with "food" still in pots and pans in the kitchen. There was no electricity or water and a bucket served for a toilet.

At one point the island was the seasonal home of the director of the Thousand Island Bridge authority who could be contacted by a submersed line which rang a bell in the bathroom. Some of the line still lies on the riverbed. Following WWII, it became a party island where previous owners report that drunken debauchery became the norm. The name ‘Honey Bee’ originated in the 60’s when it faced an infestation of them and the unofficial name stuck with all who followed.

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Kitchen renovation underway. Bugs, mice and squirel infested bedroom.

Over the years, the Island has changed hands a total of 10 times. The cabin was purchased by the current owners in 2000. Hailing from the sunny California coast where they maintain their primary residence, they set out to bring their summer home to its full potential. Electrical power and telephone service was introduced by submarine cable in 2002 and over the next several summers a full-blown renovation followed. While it remains a seasonal residence, the 'Bee' has fufilled its hidden potential to become a quaint Adirondak cabin with all modern amenities, a true jewel in the 1,000 Islands.

After a 2-year effort by the Island’s current stewards, on May 18th, 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources granted the owner’s petition to officially rename the property “Honey Bee Island” and so it is now on all current navigational charts.

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