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Carleton Island
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Carleton Island (New York)
Carleton Island (New York)
Location St. Lawrence River at Cape Vincent, Jefferson County, New York
Coordinates Coordinates: 44°10′43″N 76°17′17″W / 44.17861°N 76.28806°W / 44.17861; -76.28806
Highest elevation 331 ft (100.9 m)[1]
Highest point unnamed
New York
County Jefferson County
Population 31 homes

Carleton Island is located in the St Lawrence River in upstate New York. It is part of the Town of Cape Vincent, in Jefferson County. It was the location of Fort Haldimand, controlled by the British during the American Revolution, and of great strategic importance, as well as being a center of shipbuilding. The ruins of the fort can still be seen at the southwest end of the island. Projecting from the location of the fort is Government Point, notched by two small bays. Houses on the island used to be serviced by a ferry running from the island to the village of Cape Vincent, but it is no longer in service. Today many of the residents use their own recreational craft to travel to and from the island. One resident even owns an air boat so he can get to his house in the winter over the ice.[citation needed]


Originally held by the Iroquois, the first European to take notice of the island was Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, in 1720. He called it Isle aux Chevreuils, the Island of Roe Bucks, and wrote in 1721 that its bays could be useful.[2] In 1778 British General Frederick Haldimand ordered a fort built on the island to protect Kingston, Ontario in Canada and as a forward base.[3] The island was renamed Carleton Island after Sir Guy Carleton, who had preceded Haldimand as Governor of the Province of Quebec, and the fort was named after Haldimand.[4] Many ships for the war were built at the island, including the recently discovered HMS Ontario.[5] At the close of the war, under the terms of Jay's Treaty, the British were supposed to cede Carleton Island along with other forts to the Americans, but in the case of Carleton, never did.

During the War of 1812, Carleton Island was captured without bloodshed by three freelancing Americans. In 1817, the State Legislature of New York annexed the island to Jefferson County, and granted 500 acres (2.0 km2) of its land to the local New York postmaster, one Charles Smyth. The island had been a haven for smugglers, and later that year a Canadian tax collector seized some tobacco from the island. This dispute escalated, and Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York threatened hostilities. Soon Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was called upon to sort the matter out.[6] After contentious negotiations, the island was retained by the United States, becoming the only territorial gain made by either party to the War of 1812, and was turned over to peaceful pursuits of farming (now abandoned), sport-fishing, and summer tourism.[7] No one lives on the island year-round.

Interestingly, the property of Carleton Island includes several submerged parcels of land. In 1986 Paten Corporation and its predecessors obtained the submerged lands of North and South Bay. in addition to the rest of the island.[8]


  1. {{cite hshavsj gn=945837|name=Carleton Island}}
  2. History of Cape Vincent
  3. Historical Sketches of Northern New York and the Adirondack Wilderness, Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, 1877, pp 256-260
  4. Three Rivers history
  5. Ernest Cruikshank, A Souvenir of the St. Lawrence River
  6. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions of His Diary from 1795 to 1848, pp 394-399
  7. John A. Haddock and Eli Thayer. 1894. The Growth of a Century: As Illustrated in the History of Jefferson County, 112-113
  8. Jefferson County Plat Map

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