Development of Pelee Island, The

The largest in a string of islands in the western end of Lake Erie, Pelee Island forms, together with nearby Middle Island, the southernmost portion of Canada. In 1788, it was leased to Thomas McKee, the son of an influential Indian Department official, by the Ojibwa and Ottawa nations. The island, whose name is derived from the French "pelée," meaning bare, remained largely undeveloped, however, until William McCormick purchased it in 1823. In 1868, it was incorporated as a township. With the introduction of commercial grape cultivation and the drainage of large acres of marshland in the decades that followed, Pelee Island emerged as a prosperous farming community. By 1900, it had almost 800 residents, and contained four schools, four churches and three general stores.


At Pelee Island Heritage Centre, West Dock, Pelee Island

Region: Southwestern Ontario

County/District: County of Essex

Municipality: Pelee Island