Peche Island is Windsor’s Hidden Gem – Tours Start June 27
Yesterday, I checked another item off my ‘bucket list’. I finally set foot on Windsor’s Peche Island. Having spent many of my years in Solidarity Towers since the early 1970s, I would often look at this 86 acres of land in the middle of the Detroit River from my mother’s 11th floor balcony. I was never a canoeist, nor did I have access to a boat, so I was content to look at the island from 300 hundred yards away and only wonder what riches it contained.
Peche Island – pronounced “pesh island” – was purchased by industrialist Hiram Walker in 1883 for use as a summer place. His buildings included a stable, large 40 room home, greenhouse, and icehouse, all situated on canals he had carved out. The property was sold in 1907, and then the City of Windsor acquired the land from the Province of Ontario in 1999. It is now a naturalized park with walking trails.
On Monday morning, Windsor area media joined Mayor Drew Dilkens for a preview tour of the island. We travelled to the island on the city’s recently purchased pontoon boat – in a trip lasting 5-10 minutes. We were joined on the tour by City Naturalist Karen Cedar, Trese MacNeil, the Coordinator of Com
munity Sports Services and Jan Wilson, the City of Windsor’s Corporate Leader of Parks, Recreation, Culture and Facilities.
Much of the work undertaken by the city in preparation for opening to the public involves shoreline restoration and erosion prevention due to rising water levels and other other environmental factors. Mayor Dilkens points out that the island has lost some 20 acres in past decades due to erosion.
This island tour is breathtaking – it literally took away the breath of this 65 year old guy, not in the greatest shape. And I should have read closer the city’s advice to us in terms of preparing for the tour: bug spray, appropriate trail footwear and sun block. I spent an hour or so afterwards removing Peche Island soil from my Shetcher’s slip ons.
But it is also breathtaking in terms of experiencing the amazing eco system of this gem of a park. Dozens of species of birds serenade you as you marvel at unique foliage and tress – some in excess of two hundred years old. Are you interested in mushrooms? The island boasts a host of unique fungi. For nature enthusiasts, you will not be disappointed.
The first City operated tour service to Peche Island will begin this Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Tours will continue until October 3, 2018. The roundtrip cost is $5 per seat (2 years old and under are free). Tours will operate Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting with each daily trip departing Lakeview Park Marina at 10:00 a.m. and continuing every hour on the hour until the last departure from the marina at 2:00 p.m. Passengers can return from the island on the half hour with the last shuttle returning from Peche Island at 3:30 p.m.
A maximum of 6 passengers can be on board each shuttle – to or from the island (excluding the captain). No more than 12 passengers will be booked for each hourly departure time.
Anyone interested in a tour should visit online to book their seat.
Waivers are mandatory and can be downloaded in advance from the web page. Also on the web page are videos of Peche Island on topics including, safety, island improvements and natural features.
Story, photos and video by Joe McParland – Biz X magazine