The ferry takes over where the Joyceville Road hits the edge of the Saint Lawrence. Joyceville is a name well known from my first visits to Canada, as not only was my mother-in-law called Joyce, but Joyceville, with its prison farm, was one of the landmarks on the drive from my in-laws house in Kingston to their cottage on Dean Island.
Although our quickest route would have been to hit the 401, we took the road a bit less traveled, heading out through downtown Kingston, past the Wolfe Island ferry terminal, across the Cataraqui on the swing bridge and out along Hwy 2. This is definitely the military option, starting with Fort Frontenac (defending the point since 1673) on the Kingston side, then passing the Royal Military College, Old Fort Henry and on through the various sections of CFB Kingston. The odd retired tank and piece of artillery harked back to the past, while electronic billboards advertised free flu shots for military personnel.
Once past the forces base it was just an empty country road on a Sunday morning, with Kingston commuters' houses sprinkled among the farms. At Joyceville Road we turned down into Howe Island Ferry Road. This is the location of the community of Pitts Ferry, though it isn't exactly a built up area! A minute later we arrived at the end of a short line of pickup trucks already loading onto the ferry.
We paid our fare on board and enjoyed the cool bright November day for the 8 minutes or so it took to cross the Bateau Channel. Waiting for the ferry on the far shore was a line of pickup trucks and a long horse box.
The current boat was built in 2004. The previous Howe Islander was sold and converted to battery power, and now serves as the "Ecolos" on the Thurso–Clarence ferry
on the Ottawa.
I've been coming to Kingston off and on for 40 years and never seen a reason to visit Howe Island. In fact I'm not sure I knew it existed until I recently started studying the maps of the area around Kingston. Now I've made the trip over I still can't think of a reason for anyone to go there unless it's to visit a friend or relative. It's a flat piece of limestone at the start of the Thousand Islands. It's very pleasant and quiet. The views from the shores across to the mainland or over to Wolfe Island are quite pleasant and I can understand Kingstonians living on one of the many waterfront houses and commuting to Kingston.
When we left the ferry we headed straight to the part of the island called Spithead. This is a narrow peninsular jutting west into the current of the river and barely connected to the rest of the island by a swamp. All of Spithead is ringed by expensive waterfront houses, except a few vacant lots which are up for sale, A circular road runs around parallel to the shore and in the centre of this is clear land—a meadow. It reminded me of an English village green—except all the houses faced the water instead of facing communally onto the green.
In the bay where Spithead joins the main island there were swans.
All very pleasant.