‘Irish Bard’ finds family roots on Wolfe Island by Brian P. Johnson, Thousand Islands Life

Wolfe Island – Looking for lost Walsh Farm, Lot A, 100 acres, 1850-1877

Photo above – Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota, walks at the entrance to a farm her family once called home about 1850 to 1877, on Wolfe Island, Ontario Canada. Walsh explored her Irish Canadian roots during the Christmas season 2022, and early January 2023, on Wolfe Island, the largest island of the archipelago of the Thousands Island located in the St. Lawerence River and Lake Ontario. Self portrait taken December 28, 2022.

Subscribe – Get updates on latest blogs and news from Jannet L. Walsh and her forthcoming book Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota, scheduled publication 2023, Shanti Arts Publishing.

Jannet L. Walsh at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada, December 28, 2022.

Jannet L. Walsh
February 14, 2023
Murdock, Minnesota

I’m excited to announce a story written by Brian P. Johnson, retired Captain of the Wolfe Islander III, of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, published today online at Thousand Islands Life, Feb. 15, 2023. It’s another story about my adventures to Kingston and Wolfe Island, Ontario.

Read story – Go to ‘Irish Bard’ Finds Family Roots on Wolfe Island and start reading. You can also view story below in the document reader if needed. Please read more about the online Thousand Islands Life publication at their website, and view additional stories.

About the story, writer Brian P. Johnson – The story Irish Bard’ Finds Family Roots on Wolfe Island is about my visit to Kingston and Wolfe Island, Ontario, and the search for my Irish Canadian roots, mid December 2022 to early January 2023.

View “Irish Bard’ story By Brian P. Johnson at Thousand Island Life website.
Brian P. Johnson stands at the Irish cross at An Gorta Mor Park, memorial for the Irish Famine, located on the shores of the St. Lawerence River, Kingston, Ontario, December 22, 2022. Learn about Kingston’s Irish Famine victims at the website of Kingston General Hospital.
Brian P. Johnson, author of forthcoming book Ferry Tales from Wolfe Island, 2023. Connect with Johnson at Facebook.

Brian P. Johnson is a past president of the Wolfe Island Historical Society, and an author and storyteller. His family goes back five generations, mid 1840s, on Wolfe Island. Researching his family history is a labor of love as historian and storyteller. He recently retired after 35 years as a captain of the Wolfe Islander III Ferry, and after 40 years with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Eastern Region Ferries. Brian has spent more than 50 years as a mariner, and is a certified Master 500 Near Coastal certificate of competency. You should be prepared if you ask him about ferries and Wolfe Island as he has a countless stories to tell.

Read more of Johnson’s writing at Thousand Islands Life, and additional back issues, along with his short stories. He edited the book Growing up on Wolfe Island with Sarah Sorensen, a collection of oral histories, and is working on a forthcoming book Ferry Tales from Wolfe Island. Connect with Brian at his Facebook page to follow his writing, and book updates.

Old Sacred Heart Catholic Catholic Cemetery on Wolfe Island is the burial place to Bridget Moran, family member of Jannet L. Walsh. Bridget died in 1857, and was second wife of Michael J. Walsh Sr., great-great grandfather of Jannet. Photo taken December 27, 2022.

About Wolfe Island – Wolfe Island is in St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, almost four miles from the port of Kingston, accessible by ferry, the largest island in the archipelago of the Thousand Islands. 

Wolfe Islander III Ferry – December 27, 2022, at Dawson’s Point, Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada.

This 48-square-mile island has been home to several European ethnic groups, cheese factories, and dairy farms, along with a history of fur trading. Wolfe Island is the native homeland of the Tyendinaga Mohawk, kawehnóhkwes tsi kawè:note, meaning Long Island Standing. Wolfe Islanders are completely dependent on access to mainland Canada by the Wolfe Island Ferry III to Kingston, soon to be replaced by a zero-emission ferry, Wolfe Island Ferry IV. Locals reference the journey the ferry takes in the St. Lawrence River as a water road, or Highway H20.

Queen’s University – This is a view of the the W. D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections in the historic Douglas Library at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Archival copies of Wolfe Island’s newspaper The Island Gazette rests in a special book book cradle for viewing, December 20, 2022. Learn more about the Douglas Library online.
Jannet L .Walsh, left, with Shauna Kingstone, president of the Wolfe Island Historical Society, January 1, 2023, Kingston, Ontario.

Wolfe Island Historical Society – There has been tremendous support from the Wolfe Island Historical Society for this writing project starting in 2022. You can read more about the historical society on Wolfe Island at their website.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Wolfe Island, Ontario Canada – The Rev. Fr. James Quirk, pastor of the Roman Catholic church on Wolfe Island, extinguishes candles at Sacred Heart after daily Mass while ladies from the parish pray the Rosary, December 27, 2022.
Looking for Walsh Farm, Lot A – Wolfe Islander Brian McDonald, resident genealogist with the Wolfe Island Historical Society, walks on 7th Line Road and north of Baseline Road, Wolfe Island, trying to located the northern and southern borders of what was once called the Walsh farm, Lot A, 100 acres. The farm was leased by Michael J. Walsh Sr., great-great-grandfather of Jannet L. Walsh, about 1850-1877. Photo taken December 21, 2022.

This activity is made possible by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council with funds from The McKnight Foundation. Learn more about this project writing project, and more details about this grant.

Jannet L. Walsh at Port Metcalf, the foot of Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada. Canada to the left, and right is the United States, Dec. 30, 2022, self portrait.

Jannet L. Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota is a photographer, writer, and educator. She is the author of the forthcoming creative nonfiction quest narrative “Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota,” scheduled for publication in 2023 by Shanti Arts Publishing. Walsh is recipient of a Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Growth Grant funded by the McKnight Foundation, 2022-2024. You can follow Walsh on Facebook and Twitter, and on her other social media channels, with the hashtag #IrishFamilyHistoryDetective.

Subscribe – Get updates on latest blogs and news from Jannet L. Walsh and her forthcoming book Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota, scheduled publication 2023, Shanti Arts Publishing.

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