The History of Horseblock Point

This property has been in our family in an unbroken line since 1785, when it was received from King George III of England as a land grant, given to the refugees from Revolutionary America referred to in Canada as United Empire Loyalists.

How the property came to our family

At the time of the American Revolution, about one third of the American population would have preferred to remain loyal to the British Crown. These Loyalists were naturally regarded as traitors by American patriots. Their land and property were frequently seized and they became refugees. They migrated to Canada, where in return for their loyalty to the British crown they were given grants of land in what is now Ontario.

The British Army Corps of Engineers had surveyed the entire north shoreline of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system as far west as Sault Ste. Marie. The result was a series of long ribbons stretching back from the river, which can still be seen on modern survey maps in areas where urban development has not yet encroached. The river was the only means of transportation at the time, so this was a logical way to ensure access to all the grant parcels.

Our ancestors drew this parcel of property by lottery after arriving in Montréal, and then proceeded up the river by boat to find their allotment. For a family who had been expelled from a fertile farm in New Jersey, this was not a very lucky choice. As you look around you will be able to see the chances of a farmer producing a useful crop on this property. However, being of Scots-Irish descent, the stubborn tradition of never voluntarily surrendering a piece of property after obtaining ownership, no matter what the hardship, has carried down through the family since that time. Our current family is confident that this inborn devotion to our homestead is likely to continue through future generations.

Originally the property comprised 160 acres, but over the years it has been eroded down to its present area of about 80 acres. One piece of the property, sold in 1885 by an earlier generation, was eventually repurchased by a later generation in 1975. Over all these decades, the family has strived to maintain the property in its natural state, and to resist the temptation to profit from rising real estate values.

Where did the name "Horseblock Point" come from?

The name Horseblock Point arose from an incident which occurred during the war of 1812. Local history tells us that a group of horse thieves from New York State, which can be seen immediately across the river from the front of our property, landed here and proceeded into the surrounding countryside to steal horses. They drove the herd of stolen horses to the shoreline here, with the intention of loading them onto barges and taking them back to New York State. However, they were apprehended by the local militia and elements of the British Army on this point, and it is likely that their ultimate fate was not particularly pleasant.

The Lore of Horseblock Point

Another legend surrounds a tale of a stolen payroll chest intended for the garrison at Fort Henry, in Kingston. At that time there were no useful roads in this area and all travel was by river. The small ship carrying the payroll chest to the fort supposedly tied up here overnight because of the treacherous navigation through the rocky islands between here and Kingston. Sometime during the night the payroll chest disappeared off the ship, yet in the morning all hands were accounted for. The legend thus grew that the payroll chest must be buried somewhere on this property. This story is very old and is not credited by modern historians. However, it has been handed down through the generations, and as recently as a hundred years ago there were still some locals who believed in the story.

Thus it happened that a local fortuneteller predicted that the chest would be recovered only by someone searching by moonlight in the company of a small boy with blonde hair. Ironically, our great grandfather at the time was a small boy with blonde hair. He was therefore kidnapped and taken into the woods to search for the treasure. After two days of fruitless searching, he was released, and there is no record that the treasure chest has ever been found.

Another artifact from the war of 1812 of a much more sinister nature was found here. One of our ancestors uncovered a large, heavy, metal cylinder buried in the woods, and not knowing exactly what it was, but hoping it was the treasure, proceeded to strike off the end with an ax. As it happens, it was an unexploded cannon shell filled with black gunpowder. Certainly our family history would have been much shorter had the detonator cap functioned properly. We still keep this shell to remind us of the dangers of ignorance.

Why we love the Thousand Islands

The history of the Thousand Islands area is rich with tall tales and colorful characters. To this day there are still a few traditional "River Rats" circulating on the river. However you will not find them any more easily than the muskrats for which they are named, because like their namesakes the water rats, they tend to frequent quiet secluded waters, where the intrusions of modern life do not touch them.

The area also has seen its share of pirates and outlaws. As far back as the 18th century, river piracy was regarded as a normal local industry. Later generations saw rum-running during the period of prohibition, and more recently the river has been used for more modern illegal activities, such as drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

Over this long history, the river, indifferent to the humans on its surface, but more recently soiled by human activities along its shores, has continued to flow through the silent rocks, and will probably continue to do so for another million years. We owe future generations the kind of stewardship of our environment that will allow them to enjoy this river, and this enchanted place, as we do now.

We hope you enjoy your stay with us here at Horseblock Point, and that this narrative will serve to enhance your appreciation of your surroundings.

Welcome to Horseblock Point

The Moore Family
Paul & Patricia
Jen, Jacob & Andrew