St. Lawrence Islands
Consisting of more than 20 islands and about 90 islets scattered between Main Duck Island and Brockville, Ontario, and mainland propreties at Mallorytown Landing, Landon Bay, Jones Creek, and Larue Mills Creek, St. Lawrence Islands National Park was the first Canadian national park established east of the Rockies. With an area of only 3.5 sq miles (9.0 km²), this is the smallest national park in Canada.
The park, established in 1904, is a key regional partner in protecting the ecosystems of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, which was officially designated by the United Nations in 2002.
It began with a small piece of waterfront property granted to the federal government by the Mallory family with the stipulation that it be used for “park purposes.” Later, nine federally owned islands in the St. Lawrence River were added. Over the years, islands and land parcels were annexed.
The park is located within the Thousand Islands area, an 80-km wide extension of granite hilltops joining the Canadian Shield of Northern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State.
When the glaciers retreated, they scraped sediments and exposed the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain chain. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its path to the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 hilltops became the 1,000 Islands. Soil was slow to form over the acidic granite.
Seasonal migrations have been going on in the islands since the end of the last Ice Age when Aboriginal Peoples came to set up tents and to fish the rich waters of the river.
In the 17th century, French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries began to follow the St. Lawrence River into the interior of the continent. Their early accounts record stops at such places as Toniata (believed to be Grenadier Island) and nearby Jones Creek.
Eventually, the traditional fishing camps were abandoned after European settlers started moving in around 1784, following the end of the American Revolution, many of whom were United Empire Loyalists.
The Indigenous People continued to visit the area to fish; but, by the 1860s, fish stocks were becoming depleted.
See also: National Parks of Canada.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)