The Islands

Ever wonder how some of our islands got their names? Here’s some history on island names from Frank R. Grover’s “A Brief History of Les Cheneaux Islands,” first published in 1911. Copies of this book are available from the Les Cheneaux Historical Association.

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Origin of Les Cheneaux Island Names

Alligator Island

From its shape, also known as Echo Island.

Bear Island

Origin of name unknown — probably on account of some early adventure of a hunter with a bear.

Birch Island

From a former dense growth of birch trees on this island.

Boot Island

From its shape.

Coryell Island

From W. H. Coryell, owner, an early pioneer and homesteader.

Dollar Island

From the fact that it was first bought at government sale at that price.

Dot Island

From its small size and circular shape, ad-joins St. Ledger’s Island.

East Entrance

One of the three channels navigable for large boats, east of Boot Island. The other two are Middle Entrance and West Entrance.

Echo Island

Opposite Club Point, so named by early Les Cheneaux club members by reason of the echo heard from the club house grounds before a fire destroyed part of the timber, known also as Alligator Island on account of its shape.

Goose Island

So called as early as 1784, — probably from the abundance there at one time of wild geese. Formerly known as “Isle aux Outardes” — an early French name for Goose Island that likely references the former “Point Aux Outardes,” near Hessel, mentioned by Henry R. Schoolcraft, in an account of his September 1825 voyage from Mackinac Island to Sault Ste. Marie in “Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes.” Schoolcraft was stormbound in the Les Cheneaux Islands, on a point he called “Outard” (possibly Point Brulee or Fuyards), and he wrote a poem about the experience entitled “Outard Point.”

Fenlon’s Island

Opposite Hessel – from Mr. Edward P. Fenlon, present owner, son of the pioneer of the same name. Known also as Haven Island.

Grover’s Island

From Frank R. Grovcr, who obtained the patent from the government, — same as Grover and Wheeler’s Island, and so appearing on the government map.

Government Island

Same as “Island No. 6.” Owned and used by the United States in the construction of Spectacle Reef and Martin Reef lighthouses, as well as the quarrying of rock for lighthouse purposes. Name of “Government Dock” (a former dock) on the east side of this island same origin. Here the rock for Spectacle Reef lighthouse was quarried and shipped, while parts of the lighthouses were constructed on the island. On the government map of the land surveys of 1840-46 appears the notation “Island No. 6 permanently reserved for lighthouse purposes.” Government Island is now part of the Hiawatha National Forest, and is used for recreation and is completely open to the public.

Haven Island

Opposite Hessel, formerly known as Fenlon’s Island.

Hill’s Island

From Mason Hill. (also Hill Island)

Islands Number

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 — so named upon maps of government surveys (of 1840 and 1845), as one informant says, “when the surveyors ran out of names.”

“Kee-way-din” Island

(The Home of the’ North West Wind) — from Hiawatha, same as Rogers Island:

Lake Huron

From the Huron Indian nation: called also by Champlain “Mer Douce” (freshwater sea): Shown on Hennepin’s map as “Lake Huron or Karegnondi,” the latter designation the Indian name in 1679 according to Hennepin; known also by very early writers as “Lake Orleans.”

Little Island

Near St. Ledger Island, former property of Mrs. Nathalie Buchanan, of Louisville, Kentucky.

La Salle and Little La Salle Islands

From the explorer, date first so called unknown, probably from very early
times. Outline (but not name) shown on Jesuit maps of 1 6707 1. The larger one of the two islands designated upon the maps of government survey of 1840 and 1845 as ‘”La Salle Island.”

Lone Susan Island

From Susan Gesish, an Indian woman who camped there. Name first given by Capt. C. K.
Brandon of Detroit, former Vice-President of Les Cheneaux Club, one of its most respected members, now deceased, who built the first cottage at Club Point, and was a charter member of Les Cheneaux Club.

Long Island

From its shape, known also as Seiberling’s from its former owner, Mr. Frank A. Seiberling, of Akron, Ohio. Its original name is “Isle Cauk-gb-nah-gwah” an Ojibway name for the fish commonly known as the bull Head, as the outline of this island closely resembles the shape of that fish, and the bay at southerly end of the island representing the open mouth of the fish.

Marquette Island

From Father Marquette, date first so called unknown, but quite accurately designated (but not by name) on maps drawn by Father Marquette himself in 1670 and 1673, designated upon maps of U. S. land surveys of 1840 and 1845 as “Marquette Isle.” Now home of the Aldo Leopold Preserve, named for the renowned naturalist who spent his summers here as a boy.

Middle Entrance

One of the three channels navigable for large boats and located between Marquette and Little LaSalle Islands.

Pollock’s Island

A small reef due north of Club Point— from John Pollock, a former Les Cheneaux Club caretaker and marshal, owner of an adjacent farm on the mainland, who claims title by right of first discovery and possession (in a year of low water).

Roger’s Island

From its owner, Mr. James H. Rogers, of Cleveland, Ohio; same as “Kee-way-din” Island.

Rover Island

Origin unknown.

St. Ledger Island

From Michel Saint Ledger, a fisherman, so named by first Les Cheneaux Club officers as a compliment to St. Ledger.

West Entrance

One of the three channels navigable for large boats, between Point Brulee and Coats Point.

White Loon Island

Near and adjoining Saint Ledger’s Island, formerly the property of Mrs. Nathalie Buchanan, of Louisville, Ky.

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