Captain John’s Island After the American Revolution, Sir John Johnson was appointed by the British Government to allocate lands to Loyalists along the St. Lawrence River and the north shore of Lake Ontario. In a letter of April 21st, 1785, he confirmed to Captain John Deserontyon (1740s-1811), a Mohawk chief, that a deed would be issued to the Mohawks for their lands on the Bay of Quinte, and that the island in the Bay would be granted to Deserontyon personally. The island had originally belonged to the Mississauga people and there is a grant dated December 16, 1835 in which Mississauga chiefs transferred ’Captain John’s Island’ to Deserontyon’s grandson, John Culbertson. Culbertson also obtained a grant for Deserontyon’s lands at the east end of the Mohawk territory, where Deseronto now stands. During most of the nineteenth century, the island remained uninhabited. The local Deseronto newspaper observed: Was Captain John’s Island cast up in the bay in view of this busy town merely to be the site of a fisherman’s hut and the pasture ground of a few spavined horses? Certainly not, it was destined for more noble purposes. It was intended to support the piers of a bridge extending from Deseronto to Prince Edward and to be transformed into a park where our busy citizens might enjoy themselves and be refreshed by the sportive breezes of Mohawk Bay. Providence has done its part; it remains for man to do his. The Tribune, June 22, 1888 Foresters’ Island By February 9, 1894, the vision of the editor of The Tribune was partially achieved. The newspaper reported that “Dr. Oronhyatekha has purchased Captain John’s Island and that he is about to make it a summer resort which will be a benefit to our growing town”. Over the course of the next decade, the island’s profile changed rapidly, as Dr. Oronhyatekha commissioned the construction of the Isle Hotel, Foresters’ Hall (a dance pavilion and meeting place), a summer home for his own family (known as ‘The Wigwam’) and, in 1903, the impressive structure of the Independent Order of Foresters’ orphanage. The island became a popular summer retreat. Oronhyatekha (1841-1907) was a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River. He was the first aboriginal to attend the University of Oxford and went on to study medicine in Toronto. Oronhyatekha had a medical practice in Tyendinaga in the 1860s and 1870s. Here, he met and married Ellen Hill (Karakwineh), great-granddaughter of Captain John Deserontyon. He joined the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal organization in 1878 and went on to become its Supreme Chief Ranger in 1881, successfully transforming the fortunes of this previously-struggling body. The buildings on Foresters’ Island were an outward symbol of the success of the Independent Order of Foresters under Oronhyatekha’s leadership. The orphanage was built on land donated to the Order by Oronhyatekha. Work began on the building on July 30th, 1903 and the official opening ceremony was held on August 6th, 1905. Architecture The orphanage had three floors and a frontage of 150 feet. Its walls were built of concrete, faced with ornamental sheet steel inside and out. It had five battlemented towers, the central one being over 100 feet high. The building housed an electricity plant capable of lighting all the buildings on the island and the walkways. Corinthian columns supported the central porch and verandahs extended along the second and third floors of the front which with the theatrical design made the building look like a resort hotel. The orphanage was large enough to house 250 children. Later history The first children arrived in the Spring of 1906, but the orphanage was only in operation for 18 months, closing in 1907, the year of Oronhyatekha’s death. Debts of $232,000 had been incurred during that time. The orphans were moved to temporary homes and the buildings put up for sale. In 1921 the island was sold by the Independent Order of Foresters. Its buildings were dismantled in the early years of the twentieth century and eventually the ownership of the island was transferred to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

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Captain John’s Island

After the American Revolution, Sir John Johnson was appointed by the British Government to allocate lands to Loyalists along the St. Lawrence River and the north shore of Lake Ontario. In a letter of April 21st, 1785, he confirmed to Captain John Deserontyon (1740s-1811), a Mohawk chief, that a deed would be issued to the Mohawks for their lands on the Bay of Quinte, and that the island in the Bay would be granted to Deserontyon personally.

The island had originally belonged to the Mississauga people and there is a grant dated December 16, 1835 in which Mississauga chiefs transferred ’Captain John’s Island’ to Deserontyon’s grandson, John Culbertson. Culbertson also obtained a grant for Deserontyon’s lands at the east end of the Mohawk territory, where Deseronto now stands.

During most of the nineteenth century, the island remained uninhabited. The local Deseronto newspaper observed:

Was Captain John’s Island cast up in the bay in view of this busy town merely to be the site of a fisherman’s hut and the pasture ground of a few spavined horses? Certainly not, it was destined for more noble purposes. It was intended to support the piers of a bridge extending from Deseronto to Prince Edward and to be transformed into a park where our busy citizens might enjoy themselves and be refreshed by the sportive breezes of Mohawk Bay. Providence has done its part; it remains for man to do his.

The Tribune, June 22, 1888

Foresters’ Island

By February 9, 1894, the vision of the editor of The Tribune was partially achieved. The newspaper reported that “Dr. Oronhyatekha has purchased Captain John’s Island and that he is about to make it a summer resort which will be a benefit to our growing town”.
Over the course of the next decade, the island’s profile changed rapidly, as Dr. Oronhyatekha commissioned the construction of the Isle Hotel, Foresters’ Hall (a dance pavilion and meeting place), a summer home for his own family (known as ‘The Wigwam’) and, in 1903, the impressive structure of the Independent Order of Foresters’ orphanage. The island became a popular summer retreat.
Oronhyatekha (1841-1907) was a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River. He was the first aboriginal to attend the University of Oxford and went on to study medicine in Toronto. Oronhyatekha had a medical practice in Tyendinaga in the 1860s and 1870s. Here, he met and married Ellen Hill (Karakwineh), great-granddaughter of Captain John Deserontyon. He joined the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal organization in 1878 and went on to become its Supreme Chief Ranger in 1881, successfully transforming the fortunes of this previously-struggling body.
The buildings on Foresters’ Island were an outward symbol of the success of the Independent Order of Foresters under Oronhyatekha’s leadership. The orphanage was built on land donated to the Order by Oronhyatekha. Work began on the building on July 30th, 1903 and the official opening ceremony was held on August 6th, 1905.
Architecture
The orphanage had three floors and a frontage of 150 feet. Its walls were built of concrete, faced with ornamental sheet steel inside and out. It had five battlemented towers, the central one being over 100 feet high. The building housed an electricity plant capable of lighting all the buildings on the island and the walkways. Corinthian columns supported the central porch and verandahs extended along the second and third floors of the front which with the theatrical design made the building look like a resort hotel. The orphanage was large enough to house 250 children.
Later history
The first children arrived in the Spring of 1906, but the orphanage was only in operation for 18 months, closing in 1907, the year of Oronhyatekha’s death. Debts of $232,000 had been incurred during that time. The orphans were moved to temporary homes and the buildings put up for sale.
In 1921 the island was sold by the Independent Order of Foresters. Its buildings were dismantled in the early years of the twentieth century and eventually the ownership of the island was transferred to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte