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Walpole Island Indian Reserve No. 46
Governance building
Coordinates: 42°33′N82°29′W / 42.550°N 82.483°WCoordinates: 42°33′N82°29′W / 42.550°N 82.483°W
First NationWalpole Island
• ChiefCharles Sampson
• Federal ridingLambton—Kent—Middlesex
• Prov. ridingLambton—Kent—Middlesex
• Land137.47 km2 (53.08 sq mi)
• Total1,878
• Density13.66/km2 (35.4/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
• Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Area code(s)519 and 226

Walpole Island is an island and First Nationreserve in southwestern Ontario, Canada, on the border between Ontario and Michigan in the United States. It is located in the mouth of the St. 96 poker machines games. Clair River on Lake St. Clair, about 121 kilometres (75 mi) by road from Windsor,[2] Ontario and 124 kilometres (77 mi) from Detroit, Michigan.[3]

It is unceded territory and is inhabited by the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa peoples of the Walpole Island First Nation, who call it Bkejwanong, meaning 'where the waters divide' in Anishinaabemowin.[4][5] In addition to Walpole Island, the reserve includes Squirrel Island, St. Anne Island, Seaway Island (except a small U.S. portion), Bassett Island, and Potawatomi Island. The river or creeks that separate these islands provide the area with its other commonly used name, Swejwanong or 'many forks of a river.'[5]

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It is independent of, but within the geographic region of, Lambton County and adjoins the municipality of Chatham-Kent and the township of St. Clair. Across the St. Clair River to the west are the United States city of Algonac, Michigan, and Clay Township. Harsen's Island, also uncededAnishinaabe territory, is now on the west side of the international border line. The border was redrawn in the 19th century following disputes between the United Kingdom and the United States; their governments were oblivious to the interests and rights of the Indigenous peoples living on and using these lands. As such, the First Nation is now trying to solve their grievances with the Crown with a specific claim.

Walpole Island is known as the resting place of Tecumseh, prominent 19th-century leader of the Native Americantribe known as the Shawnee.


Settlement (1600s–1800s)[edit]

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, what is now known as Walpole Island and the surrounding area was settled by people from the Ojibwe and Odawa nations.[6] In 1844, Jesuits from nearby Sandwich built a mission at the northern point of Walpole Island at the Highbanks.[7] This raised tensions with the Anishinaabeg as the Jesuits were not invited to build on the island and they cut down oak trees that the community did not want to be cut. The relationship between the two groups was further antagonized by the theological debate that Father Pierre Chazelle held with Chief Peterwegeschick and other chief leaders on July 31, 1844.[8] In 1850, the Jesuits left after the mission was razed.[9]

Deforestation of the island (1869–1883)[edit]

Due to a number of contracts for harvesting oak on the island, drawn up by non-Native resource industries, a large amount of Walpole Island was deforested. The nature of these contracts 'created a lasting mistrust between the community, Indian Affairs, and non-Native resource industries.'[10]

Illegal hunting prohibitions (1884–1899)[edit]

As part of an effort to colonize the island, Indian Affairs produced an illegal prohibition on the hunting of ducks on St. Anne's Island. The prohibition was lifted once Aboriginal Title was reaffirmed in 1899.[11]

20th-century industrialization of St. Clair River[edit]

By the early twentieth century, the river surrounding Walpole Island was heavily trafficked with industrial freight.[12]



The Island is also home to many different environmental efforts, including the Walpole Island Land Trust[13] and the Purple Martin Project[14] run by Richard Carr.


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As of January 2011, the registered population of the Walpole Island First Nation is 4,315 members, of whom 2,213 live on the reserve, 22 live on another reserve, and 2,080 live off reserve.[15]

Canada census – Walpole Island 46 community profile
Population:1878 (1.9% from 2001)
Land area:137.28 km2 (53.00 sq mi)
Population density:13.7/km2 (35/sq mi)
Median age:30.9 (M: 29.0, F: 32.9)
Total private dwellings:753
Median household income:$27,627
References: 2006[16] earlier[17]
Historical population
[18] 2011 population unavailable.


Walpole Island is connected to mainland Canada by the Tecumsah Rd. Bridge (Route 32). The Walpole-Algonac Ferry connects with the US city of Algonac, Michigan.[19] This ferry service has been in place for over 100 years.


  • St. Clair River with Walpole Island in the background

  • View of Walpole Island as seen from across the St. Clair River

  • Entry to Walpole Island from ferry to Algonac

See also[edit]

  • Alexander McKee - Indian Department agent who founded the Walpole Island settlement


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walpole Island (Ontario).
  1. ^ ab'Walpole Island 46 community profile'. 2011 Census data. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
  2. ^'Walpole Island, Ontario to Windsor, Ontario'. Google Maps. Google Maps. 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  3. ^'Walpole Island, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan'. Google Maps. Google Maps. 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  4. ^Walpole Island Heritage Centre - About nin.da.waab.jig
  5. ^ abFehr, Rick (2011). Who Has Traded Cash For Creation? Approaching An Anishinaabeg Informed Environmental History On Bkejwanong Territory (PhD). p. 9. ProQuest900867728.
  6. ^VanWynsberghe, Robert (2002). AlterNatives : community, identity, and environmental justice on Walpole Island. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. p. 63. ISBN9780205349524.
  7. ^Fehr 2011, p. 63.
  8. ^Fehr 2011, p. 66.
  9. ^Fehr 2011, p. 63-64.
  10. ^Fehr 2011, p. 171.
  11. ^Fehr 2011, p. 171-172.
  12. ^Fehr 2011, p. 91.
  13. ^'Walpole Island Land Trust -'. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
  14. ^'Purple martin project thriving locally Chatham Voice'. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
  15. ^'Walpole Island Registered Population', Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - First Nation Profiles
  16. ^'2006 Community Profiles'. 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  17. ^'2001 Community Profiles'. 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  18. ^Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
  19. ^
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