Navy Island is located in the upper Niagara River, about 7 kilometers south of Niagara Falls. The island is located opposite Ussher’s Creek in Chippawa, at the northern tip of Grand Island, New York, closest to the Canadian shore. The island is accessible only by boat and there are no facilities on the island. The island itself is 128.2 hectares large and is rich in prehistoric archaeological material. Navy Island was also used by the British military, where vessels were built to sail the upper Great lakes and maintain supply lines. Before the British, native people used the island for fishing and building canoes as far back as 10,000 years ago. In the 1700’s the French too used the island for shipbuilding and as a naval base. They referred to the island as “Ile la Marine” or Navy Island, a name which it retains to this very day! It was briefly occupied by William Lyon Mackenzie and a group of Canadian reformers, who established the Provincial Government of Upper Canada here in 1837, but the site was abandoned in 1838. The island’s ownership was awarded to Canada by an International Boundaries Commission in 1822.
In the mid 1800’s several families settled on the island and farmed. Around 1880 a two storey hotel – “The Queen’s Hotel” was located on the island but stayed in business for only a few short years before it was destroyed by fire.
Navy Island is a popular spot for fishermen and bird watchers. The Bald Eagle, not seen in the region since the 1950s, has been spotted recently on the island. The island is also home to a large herd of deer, and is lush with different varieties of flora, including wild grapes and raspberries.
Today Navy Island is leased from Parks Canada by the Niagara Parks Commission and allows overnight camping with a permit. Permits for overnight camping are available at the Niagara Parks Police office, 6075 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (directly across from the American Falls). Campers must fill out a registration form and pay the fee(s) for the required permit(s) to be issued. Boat registration information may also be required.