Welcome. This page connects you to the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper/ Wolfe Island Wildlife Association wetland corridor proposal. Over the past two years, our groups have consulted with numerous residents, scientists and engineers. The final proposal is the result of this work.
Click here to read the proposal.
Introduction and Background
The Wolfe Island Canal was constructed in the 1850s to provide a shipping route from Barrett Bay on the north side of Wolfe Island to Bayfield Bay on the south side.
It was built to facilitate trade and travel between Kingston, Ont. and Cape Vincent, New York. Originally the Canal was approximately 27m (90 ft) wide and 1.2m (4 ft) deep. In the late 1860s it was deepened to 2.1m (7 ft). The length of the dredged portion of the Canal was approx. 2 km.
Barge and passenger steamer traffic used the Canal until the late 1800s and pleasure craft used it until 1932. Originally a swing bridge crossed the Canal at Twp Rd 96. In 1932, a causeway incorporating small culverts was installed to replace the wooden bridge that was then in place and all through boating ceased.
With the cessation of boating, the need to keep the canal open no longer existed and natural succession has resulted in a significant section of the canal becoming clogged with dense beds of cattails. Since the early 1980s, there have been a number of initiatives to develop and implement plans to re-open the Canal but to date, none have been successful.
During the period the Canal was open, it reportedly functioned as excellent fish habitat as well as facilitating shipping. Commercial and sport fishermen attributed much of the productivity of Barrett and Bayfield Bays to the fact that fish could move freely through the Canal and use it as both a reproductive and a rearing area. It is also reported that water quality in the two bays was much better when the canal allowed free movement of water through it.
The most recent effort to restore the Canal began in earnest in 2001 when the Wolfe Island Development Review Committee made it one of its top 4 projects. In 2002, the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOK) presented a preliminary report to the Township of Frontenac Islands Council recommending that achieving significant improvements in the quality and extent of fish habitat be the focus of canal restoration efforts. Four phases were proposed: 1) replace the existing causeway and blocked culverts with a permanent bridge, 2) dredge a new channel through the cattail blockage and stabilize the bank, 3) undertake specific fish habitat improvement activities such as restoring native plant communities and 4) monitor the results.
The Twp Council supported that proposal and implemented a number of steps to move the proposal forward. It established the Wolfe Island Canal Committee in Jan. 2003. Engineering and biological field work was undertaken, stakeholders were consulted, responsible government agencies were contacted, and the advice of construction and materials experts was sought. The focus of this effort was to gain more detail as to what options were available for removal and replacement of the causeway. A report containing the options was tabled with the council on June 7, 2004. It includes only a very brief section dealing with fish habitat improvement.
In July, 2004, the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper arranged for further works to be undertaken to provide additional definition of what could be done to restore much of the function of the canal as fish and wildlife habitat. It was intended that the results of that work would build on and compliment the work being undertaken by the Council.
The goal for this project is to restore and enhance the fish and wildlife values of the Wolfe Island Canal that existed in the 1950s, consistent with landowner interests.
Click here to read the proposal.