Information on the web about this ferry is a bit sparse and in many places it is referred to as the "Foot" ferry. Combined with the thought that surely an island this small in this day of squeezed government budgets should not warrant two ferries, I doubted it still existed.
But being a small island means it's no big deal to turn around and go back the way you came, so after we'd crossed onto the western end of the island on the County ferry we headed east along the main Howe Island road and hoped. Pretty much the whole of that road was bordered to the south by houses (from simple cottages to semi-mansions), and by sparse farms to the north. We noticed one church. But when we got to the end of the road, there were the signs for the ferry and a narrow ramp heading steeply into the water. We started the line-up as the ferry docked on the far bank, feeling we'd be the only ones on the crossing. But soon a pickup towing a trailer joined us, and then a couple more vehicles.
When it arrived back on our side we saw the ferry was indeed small, old and simple, with room for just the three cars
or in our case two cars and a trailer. We drove on gingerly, edging forward till we could no longer see the barrier past the hood of our car
just the water of the Saint Lawrence.
The trip took just three minutes; just long enough for me to squeeze out of the car door and take a photo. In fact there was so little room between the cars and the side of the ferry (and the water) that I didn't feel safe being out there too long.
This is another cable operated ferry, but manned by just one person, who did the driving, operated the barriers, directed the cars and sold the tickets. In fact, although both Howe Island ferries operate on an on-demand basis, they do have scheduled crew breaks during the day that pause the ferry service
be aware and check the websites for times. Apparently the boat was built in 1949 and until 1976 was operating the County ferry service at the west end of the island when it was replaced by a bigger vessel. A hand-me-down that's still doing good and much appreciated service judging by the number of cars lined up on the mainland waiting to cross to the island.
It was a shame the trip was so short, as there was little time to appreciate it. But I wouldn't really have wanted to get too far away from shore in such a small boat with three large cars on top of it. I don't think I've seen such a small ferry anywhere in North Americayet!
Names… I found the names of the two points where the ferry docksBishops Point and Gillespies Pointfrom looking at the Canadian topographic maps. I've not seen these names ever mentioned with respect to the ferry. It may well be the locals have other names, or just refer to "the east end of the island" and "the ferry dock on the Gananoque side". So if you have to, just ask for the ferry"Bishops Point" or "Gillespies Point" may just be met by a blank look.