Facts &Trivia: Legends

Native Legend: The Origins of the Thousand Islands

An Indian legend tells of two powerful gods, one good and the other evil, who argued fiercely over which one of them would rule the land and the mighty St. Lawrence River. The argument became an earth-shaking combat when each tore huge handfuls of rock from the face of the earth to heave furiously across the river at the other. A great many fistfuls were thrown, most of which fell short of their target to land in and about the river. Finally, good triumphed, and evil spirits were forever banished from the land. Under an enchanted spell, forests flourished on the thousand chunks of rugged rock which had fallen into the river. The rocks became the Thousand Islands: Manitouana, the Garden of the Great Spirit.

The Legend of the Devil's Oven

Vinatage postcard of Devil's OvenThe so-called "Patriot's War of 1838" was an abortive attempt by a group of Canadians and United States citizens to wrest Canada from the British Empire. "Canada for Canadians" was their motto. Under the leadership of Bill Johnston of New York and William L. Mackenzie, grandfather of the late Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, an attack was planned against the British forces. Unfortunately, an overdose of liquid refreshment, imbibed at a victory celebration in advance of the battle, prevented the attack from taking place. However, Bill Johnston and a small band of his followers managed a few days later to sink a British river boat, the Sir Robert Peel, after robbing its passengers and putting them ashore. With both the United States and Canadian officials looking for him, as the legend goes, Bill Johnston hid for nearly a year in a cave, named Devil's Oven, on Devil's Island. Johnston's daughter brought food and supplies to him daily by boat. In reality, Johnston was hiding out on Fort Wallace Island on the Canadian side. The Devil's Oven is too small to live inside. After a year, Johnston gave himself up, was pardoned and appointed a lighthouse keeper in the 1000 Islands.

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