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ID Number


Item Name



Blockhouse on Bois Blanc Island / Caserne sur l'île aux Bois Blancs

Title (Fre)

Caserne sur l'île aux Bois Blancs


post 1839


Black and white photograph of a block house located on Bois Blanc Island; the house is oddly shaped with a square lower storey built with wooden planks, topped by a slightly larger square, also made of wooden planks; about halfway up each square there are evenly spaced slits where the planks have been removed, or were left open for air; there is a small dormer window at the top of the gently sloped roof.


Bois Blanc Island is situated in the Detroit River near the entrance to Lake Erie. The island served as a camp site for Natives and their visitors while they were in this area during the early 1700s. As part of the McKee Treaty of 1790, ownership of the island remained with the Natives. Refugee Natives fled to Fort Malden during the Indian Wars in the autumn of 1811 and they were maintained on the Island throughout the winter. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, hundreds of Native warriors were assembled on Bois Blanc under chiefs of various tribes. Despite disputes with the Americans over ownership of the island, Bois Blanc was officially retained under British sovereignty in 1818 and was used as a military outpost for Fort Malden. In 1836 a lighthouse and cottage were built on the south end of Bois Blanc and James Hackett was appointed lighthouse keeper. The island was captured for a brief time by the Patriots in 1838 and, as a consequence, Colonel Airey, commander of the garrison, ordered the construction of three blockhouses. Construction began on February 9, 1839 and the contract was completed on June 27th. William Mickle Jr. was the builder and timber from the Daniel Botsford farm in Malden was used in construction. Though later years saw no military action, the lighthouse and three blockhouses were manned until 1851 by regulars from Fort Malden. In 1859 the island ceased to be an outpost and was bought by Colonel Arthur Rankin for about $40.00. In 1869 Rankin's son, McKee Rankin, became the owner and he and his wife, Kitty Blanshard (both actors) transformed the island into a gentleman's estate. The Rankin's separated and McKee turned the title of property to his wife who mortgaged the property for $13,000. The island was purchased shortly thereafter for between $40,000 - $100,000 and again purchased in 1898 for $250,000 by the Detroit, Belle Isle and Windsor Ferry Company. Walter Campbell, then president of the company, spent a great deal of money in the development of the excursion resort. Bois Blanc's name was shortened to Bob-Lo and it reached its highest degree of popularity about 1915 on the eve of the great automobile expansion. One of the original three block houses still stands today on the Island. In 1960 a plaque was unveiled and dedicated there by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board. A restoration project of the blockhouse began in late 2011 and was completed in June 2012 for War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations.

Place made

Canada - Ontario - Bois Blanc Island

Collection Name

Museum Windsor


Barracks / Casernes militaires

Boblo Island (Ont.) / Île Boblo (Ont.)

Bois Blanc Island (Ont.) / Île Bois Blanc (Ont.)

Botsford, Daniel

Buildings / Immeubles

Forts & fortifications / Fortifications

Mickle, William Jr. / Mickle, William J.

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