Heritage and History

St. Joseph Island Historical Society

St. Joseph Island Museum
RR#2, Richards Landing, ON Canada P0R 1J0
Phone: (705) 246-2672
Email: info@stjoemuseum.com

Hours of Operation: Open Mid-June until Labour Day Annually Open Daily Except Tuesday 9:30am to 4:30pm

Founded in 1963 by the Historical Society, the St. Joseph Island Museum has over 6000 artifacts covering over 200 years of Island History. The progression of the Island is represented in four time periods: native encampments to Fort St. Joseph (1798-1814); pioneer settlements (1835-1890); to a period of almost complete private ownership by 1890; and the depression and war years (1900-1945).   The St. Joseph Island Museum was founded when the I Line United Church and the I Line School were donated to the Museum board. The log cabin was moved to the site by Mr. Ralph Nelson Sr., who donated his time and skills and lent funds for the project. The barn was moved to the site from the foot of the Island as a Canada Centennial project spearheaded by Jocelyn Township council. Some 20 men volunteered to dismantle the structure and rebuild it at the Museum Village.   In the 1970s, the church was stabilized with the donated labour of Jim Harten and Ralph Nelson. Electricity was installed in most buildings. A map showing the original locations of the buildings was framed and hung on the barn. Ministry courses in filing, genealogy and conservation were attended by curator Ada Trantor and two students. The huge puddingstone was erected by Ralph Nelson Sr.   In the 1980s, an enormous white pine log, representative of Ontario’s last virgin timber, was installed and protected on the grounds. The Island’s first school, circa 1887, was moved to the Museum Village from Sailor’s Encampment. In 1988, the 1912 Kentvale General Store was donated by Cal Kent and moved to the site.   The present number of artifacts is over 6000 and growing, all of them donated by Island residents and businesses. Some of the more interesting include Fort St. Joseph relics, native relics, a horse drawn hearse complete with occupant, military artifacts, stoneware, quilts, post office equipment, a telephone operator’s switchboard, tractors, a thresher, blacksmith equipment, farm implements, photos, clothing, and even a wreath made of human hair!

Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site of Canada
PO Box 220 Richards Landing Ontario P0R 1J0
Tel : 705-246-2664
Fax: 705-246-1796
Email: fortstjoseph-info @pc.gc.ca

Hours of Operation: June 1 to Canadian Thanksgiving (2nd weekend in October) – 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Still remote and relatively undisturbed, Fort St. Joseph symbolizes the commercial and military alliance that existed between the British and the First Nations peoples of the western Great Lakes region in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War through the War of 1812. In addition to the Fort itself, the site contains a remarkable assemblage of archaeological features which in their undeveloped state reveal part of the complex pattern of military, domestic and commercial life – Aboriginal and European – in this frontier outpost.

St. Joseph Island Historical Society
Alice Ward

Email: sjihs18@gmail.com

Web site:  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~sjihsocy/sjhs.htm

Shoal Island Lighthouse

The Shoal Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1910 (replacing the original 1880 structure) to aid marine traffic along the north shore of St. Joseph Island. Initially the lighthouse was a navigational aid for passenger and freight (notably timber and commercial fishing) vessels bound for Richards Landing from other North Shore and Lake Huron communities. The Lighthouse was manned by a keeper until 1957, and thus has a unique structure with a hip-roofed dwelling portion and a wooden light tower. The Lighthouse is still functional as a navigational aid for recreational boaters; it is also a distinctive landmark of the island and is of high historical interest as part of our heritage and culture.

Web site: https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=1113 

Old Town Jail

This stone structure in the middle of Richards Landing constructed of picturesque sturdy stone still retains the original bars on the windows and locked cell within.  The Old Town Jail was built in the early 1900’s and used until the I920’s (though not often).  It was and is the only jail in the Township of St. Joseph and was later expanded and served as the Fire Hall.   It is situated in the center of the village convenient for any walking tour and is open daily during the summer.  Model prisoner forms are on the front lawn allowing for photographs of you and your family to be shown in prison garb which may be shared as a fun remembrance of your holiday on beautiful St. Joseph Island.