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Mysterious Islands: Forgotten Tales of the Great Lakes Paperback – August, 1999
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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"...beautifully produced, vividly illustrated and skillfully written. It takes your breath away, because it is so all-encompassing and so beautifully done." -- Linda Turk, The Chronicle Journal
"...extremely well-written... brings alive a surprisingly fascinating history." -- Canadian Yachting Magazine
"I consider myself very well versed on history of this region...there were stories here that were new and exciting..." -- Great Lakes Cruiser Magazine: The Boaters Travel Guide, December 1999
"There are some wonderful tales for cruisers to enjoy during a winter's night." -- Lake Ontario Sailor Magazine, November/December 1999
This is a colourful history, compiled and presented at its best! -- Owen Sound and North Grey Union Library
From the Publisher
In addition to this wonderful book, Lynx Images is pleased to offer a 72 minute documentary video that takes you to the fascinating and beautiful places featured in the book.
Also entitled Mysterious Islands, the video takes viewers to intriguing places like Isle Royale, Mackinac Island, the Thousand Islands, Beaver, Pelee, South Bass, Manitoulin, the Apostles and Georgian Bay's 30,000 islands. Through beautiful cinematography and wonderful achival footage and images, the film delves inot their rich and mysterious pasts.
Together, the book and video offer a unique history and Great Lakes experience.
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On to the islands. Middle Island, the speck of Canada lying south of Pelee Island lays claim to the title of being the southernmost part of Canada. It was the hub of a thriving bootlegging and smuggling ring during the time of Prohibition. The chapter even had a photo of the Middle Island clubhouse, where all the boozing and gambling took place. There was plenty to read about Pelee Island, but I was shocked to find only four pages devoted to Manitoulin. Wouldn't the largest island in the Great Lakes merit more than this? Manitoulin also claims several lakes of its own. I have cycled around these lakes within a lake, and even seen the islands within these lakes. I thought that the authors would surely give at least a cursory mention to Lake Manitou, the world's largest lake-in-a-lake.
Sugar Island, located in Lake Huron, has an unusual claim to fame: it was one of twenty-two spots in North America selected as a possible site for the new United Nations headquarters. Former Michigan governor Chase Osborn proposed the site based on how it was peacefully acquired by the US in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. Osborn believed Sugar Island fulfilled the spirit of the new UN pledge, "to settle international disputes by peaceful means, to refrain from the threat or use of force". The UN instead settled on another island to build its headquarters: Manhattan.
I love to read lighthouse stories and Mysterious Islands had plenty of them. Caribou Island, the most remote of all the Great Lakes islands, lies in Lake Superior, 100 km from the nearest port. It thus had the most isolated lighthouse. Caribou was uninhabited, although the rock 1.6 km offshore where the lighthouse was actually located housed only the lighthouse keeper and his family. Imagine living on a rock--quite literally--with no one else around for 100 km. There wouldn't have even been other land to visit, unless you rowed out to Caribou. This might be the closest an Ontarian can come to feeling what it's like to live on Tristan da Cunha.
In 1917, the government stopped transporting lighthouse keepers and their families back home in December. In effect, their employer just abandoned them. Lighthouse keepers had to make their way back to the mainland themselves. I read this time and time again, and sometimes the keepers suffered tragic results. The Caribou lighthouse keeper refitted a sailboat yet was trapped for eight days in Lake Superior's ice and storms. It was another five years before the government reintroduced winter transport home.
Mysterious Islands spent an admirable time reporting on the history of the Great Lakes islands before European settlement. The authors reported on the alliances and treaties made between settlers and the First Nations. The islands were home to mines, cults (more than one), prisons and countless shipwrecks. It is my hope to visit some of these islands and I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn so much of their history.
I was accompanying my son on a grade school field trip and came across this book in a gift store. I picked it up and found that I could not put it down...so I bought it and read it straight thru.
This book is filled with the people and events that occured on many of the islands that exist in this lake system. Stories of people and places that are rarely found in our history books, or at most hinted at.
This book is a must have for anyone who collects tales of the Great Lakes.