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Visiting historical plaques in the Chippewa Bay area of New York: remembering important events by the St Lawrence River

Updated on May 16, 2012
State flag of New York
State flag of New York | Source
Historical plaque, Chippewa Bay area, New York
Historical plaque, Chippewa Bay area, New York | Source
Historical sign re. Wilkinson Campaign, 1813, Chippewa Bay
Historical sign re. Wilkinson Campaign, 1813, Chippewa Bay | Source
Map of New York State Route 12
Map of New York State Route 12 | Source

A richly historical panorama

The Chippewa Bay area of New York has some interesting historical plaques, located at the on Route 12, at the northern end of the approach to Alexandria Bay, in the Thousand Islands region. From the vantage point of this location, just into St Lawrence County, with its outstanding panoramic views of the St Lawrence River, it is not difficult for the historically attuned imagination to consider the place in history of this notable area.

One of the plaques at this location is a historical marker, dating from 1969, and sponsored by the State of New York's Education and Transportation Departments. The plaque gives details of the area's early 19th century settlement. Interestingly, the area's significant European settlement took place with Scottish immigrants, their organized descent down the St Lawrence from Montreal, Canada being at the behest of agents; this settlement took place after the events of the American Revolution, when United Empire Loyalists had fled north, and settled in Upper Canada especially. We thus see that while this area was highly charged militarily and tense at the beginning of the 19th century, this did not prevent the influx of British-origin settlers to the area.

The plaque also points out that much of the local land in the Chippewa Bay area was forested in the early 19th century when the mainly Scottish settlers — farmers and traders — arrived; this necessitated a thoroughgoing process of clearance, before the land could be cultivated, often into grain-bearing crop. This eventually led to the Chippewa Bay area becoming a prosperous agricultural region. Some of original, 19th century stone houses may still be seen in the district; structures older than these, however, would have been log cabins.

Another historical plaque refers to some of the events of the conflict known as War of 1812 (although its events continued beyond this year), during which the St Lawrence River played a significant part. In 1813 American General Wilkinson (1) led a force down the St Lawrence River in an attempt — from the American perspective — to 'liberate' Montreal; from the local perspective in Montreal, an 'invasion' attempt, which was unsuccessful. These events lasted from September to November 1813.

Notably, in the two intervening centuries since the War of 1812, the US-Canada border has long become established as the most peaceful in the world.

I was glad to have the opportunity to stop off at this rest area north of Alexandra Bay, New York, and to have read these informative displays with their historical information.

May 15, 2012


(1) General James Wilkinson (1757-1825) was active in the Revolutionary Wars and later in the War of 1812. He also served as Governor of Louisiana. He was the subject of repeated courts-martial during his career, but various charges were never proven in his lifetime.

Also worth seeing

At Alexandria Bay , New York, Boldt Castle attracts many visitors.

Ogdensburg , New York (distance: 58.2 kilometres); visitor attractions include the Frederic Remington Art Museum.

Malone , New York (distance: 165.1 kilometres); here, US Vice President William Wheeler, a resident of Malone, is commemorated.

Wellesley Island , New York (distance: 9.8 kilometres); this scenic island has the Thousand Island Bridge crossing to Canada's Hill Island.


How to get there:

Kingston/Norman Rogers Airport, at Kingston, Ontario (distance to Alexandria Bay : 80.7 kilometers) is served by Air Canada, offering scheduled flights to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide flight connections. Car rental is available from Kingston/Norman Rogers Airport. Plattsburgh International Airport (distance to Alexandria Bay : 254.4 kilometres), where car rental is available, is served by a variety of airlines, including US Air, which flies to Boston, with many North American connections. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 5 years ago

      travel_man1971 & Felina Margetty:

      The area is indeed interesting, scenic and historic. Thank-you for your comments.

    • Felina Margetty profile image

      Felina Margetty 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Nicely done, good prose, easy reporting style and very readable. Could be longer in my view.You captured my interest with Lawrence River role in the war of 1812but did not take it further. I don't know maybe another hub. Any way Cheers for a good hub.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      It brought back memories as our cargo ship passed the St. Lawrence Seaway (bound for Montreal, Canada) way back 2009.

      Thanks for sharing! :D