Niagara Falls Canada Island
In 1763, the British established a naval shipyard on a small 316 acre island above the Falls. This was created in response to an Native American uprising led by Ottawa Native American Chief, Pontiac. Thus the island became known as Navy Island.
The boats built at this shipyard included the sloops, the Huron, and the Charlotte. Schooners built here included the “Boston”, “Gladwin” and “Victory”. They became the first British ships to ply the Upper Great Lakes.
On December 13th 1837, a rebel William Lyon MacKenzie and his group of 300 – 400 rebel supporters had taken refuge on Navy Island. Most rebels were unemployed Americans. Mackenzie proclaimed himself Chief of State of the New Republic of Canada. He also began to organize his new provision government, and declared Navy Island to be the new home of his government. Bonds were sold to finance the new government. Weapons and money were obtained from sympathizers and other supporters.
The British bombarded Navy Island however it had little effect. On January 14th 1838, MacKenzie and his supporters moved to Grand Island.
During the mid 1850’s, 100 acres of land was cleared for farming. By 1865, four families occupied the island.
In 1876, a portion of the island was leased and a two storey summer hotel known as the Queens Hotel was built along the eastern side near the American shore. With docking facilities, the hotel attracted many tourists. The hotel’s operation ended during the early 1900’s. In 1910, the Queens Hotel burnt to the ground and was not rebuilt.
In 1938, in order to preserve the island and prevent privatization, the Niagara Parks Commission was granted a long term lease of Navy Island from the Canadian Government. In 1949, Navy Island was declared a Wildlife and Game Preserve; a status which today remains.