CHARLES ISLAND UPDATE (December 19/16)

“Looking northward from Grand Pre, across the Grand Pree, lay three islands,” writes Douglas Eagles in his history of Horton Township. Eagles identifies these islands as Long Island, “renamed, about 1915 (as) North Grand Pre,” a small knoll to the east called Little Island, and further east “Bute or Boot Island.”

Charles Island, the name shown on a few early maps for the Long Island area isn’t mentioned in Eagle’s detailed description of the North Grand Pre landscape. Charles Island was the topic in one of my November columns. Readers may recall that Jamie Robertson wrote me about finding maps with Long Island identified as Charles Island. At the time I said that I looked at books by Eagles and the Grand Pre dyke study by J. Sherman Bleakney and no mention of Charles Island was found.

I also wrote in the November column that I stand to be corrected, so here I am correcting myself. Bleakney’s book contains over a hundred illustrations, photographs and old maps, some of the latter depicting the Grand Pre-Long Island area in the 1700s. The caption of one of the maps mentions Charles Island and here’s how it reads:

“Map of 1711 and 1712 published by Thomas Bowles. London, ‘By Her Majesties Special Command,’ thus limiting it to the reign of Queen Anne, 1702-1714. Grand Pre has houses, a church, a mill, and one large Charles Island (consisting of the then contiguous three islands of Long, Little and Boot) separated by marsh.”

We could take it from this that when the map was published, Charles Island was the accepted name for Long Island. Jamie Robertson has since written about finding another map, a “French map from 1755 that also shows I. Charles, presumably Isle Charles. So it wasn’t just the British who called it Charles Island, but the French did as well.”

What we can assume from the maps Robertson mentions, and from Bleakney’s research, is that Charles Island was the French/Acadian name for what the British later called Long Island. Now the next question to be asked: When was Long Island adopted as the name for the area that later became North Grand Pre and who named it?

It’s interesting to note, by the way, that Eagles mentions as many as eight Acadian dwellings at one time on Long Island. The tides have obliterated most traces of those dwellings and made Little Island a part of Long Island. As for the third island, Boot, the tides have had their way with it as well. As Eagles says about Boot Island, it was “once joined to Little Island and (is) now separated by the fast running waters of the Guzzle.”

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