Answering my own questions since 2001

The Islands of Zavikon are both in Canada

Today Neatorama linked to a photo purporting to show two islands linked by a foot bridge in the Thousand Islands region of Ontario:

The island on the left is in canada, the one on the right is in the united states. the smaller island contains the backyard of the house on the larger island.

That would be cool, if only it were true. There was debate about the veracity of this in the comments, and a couple of commenters cited Wikipedia:

There is a pair of islands near Rockport called Zavikon. A popular tale among local guides is that the bigger part of Zavikon is in Canada, while the smaller part is in the USA, and the foot bridge between them is the “shortest international bridge in the world”. In fact Zavikon is in Canada.

I’m a casual contributor to Wikipedia, so I thought I’d go try to disprove this myth-busting fact. It took a few minutes with Google Maps, but here’s a satellite photo of the islands that maps accurately to to this aerial view.

This supports Wikipedia’s statement, that both islands are a couple of hundred meters inside the Canadian side of the border. So, it’s a myth that Zavikon’s foot bridge is the shortest bridge across an international border. I wonder what is?

And yes, I’m a massive pedant.

UPDATE: As per the comments below, Richard provided a link to this short video from 1929, depicting his ancestors on the island:

27 Responses to “The Islands of Zavikon are both in Canada”

  1. filmgoerjuan

    No idea if it’s the shortest, but I always recall crossing the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge between Jordan and Israel in 1994.

    To cross the border, you have to go through customs on the Jordanian side, then board a bus (for which you paid some ridiculous amount given the short length of the trip), cross the bridge, then get processed by Israeli customs. Reading about the trip and how the bridge crosses over the River Jordan, I fully expected a mammoth structure, spanning a vast chasm, below which the river would be raging in all its glory.

    On the trip itself, I was puzzled as I couldn’t see any evidence of a bridge structure. I turned and asked a fellow passenger if they knew when we’d get to the bridge. “I think we just went over it” was his reply. The bridge was a short, flat, wooden affair. The river was more akin to a small creek. It was a truly a “blink and you’ll miss it” experience.

    The crossing has been rebuilt since I was there (following the Jordanian-Israeli peace deal). This site says it’s 110m long, though that seems longer than what I recall crossing in 94.

  2. Jay

    Of the 3 sources cited for that mention in the wikipedia article, one is currently not accessible, one has questionable reliability, and the other is not accessible online.

    I was able to confirm the border does not bisect those islands.

    Seeing as this is the encyclopedia that “anyone can edit”, I encourage you to make the edit to remove or correct this statement. At the very least, you can bring it up on the talk page.

    The concept of Wikipedia relies on its readers/writers as a whole to correct itself. If the corrections never happen, Wikipedia will fail.

  3. darren

    Jay: Why does this statement require removing or correcting? It sounds like somebody just needs to re-check the sources.

    Which I just did. One of the sources is an offline book, so it’s quite natural that you wouldn’t be able to access it online. The source is legitimate, so that one doesn’t need attention.

    The website for “Geographical Name Search Service” is currently down, but I suspect that’s not a permanent problem.

    And which source has questionable reliability?

  4. Roshan

    That is cool. I have been fascinated with the 1000 Islands since I first heard about them. Seems like a great place to have a cottage.

  5. Bob Ehresman

    As a professional GIS worker I can assure you the errors in administrative borders published in many major online map services specifically including Google include errors larger than 100 meters.

    I cant address the veracity in this particular instance, but there are many glaring errors along the US/Canadian border in the Great Lakes – St Laurence region.

    Cheers;
    Bob

  6. Michael G.

    My grandfather’s company, Woolrich Woolen Mills of Pennsylvania owned Zavikon Island for about 35 years. I spent summer vacations there with my family every year from the mid 1950’s to the early 1970’s, when they sold the island.

    All of us always knew both islands are in Canada, and the “international bridge” story was created by the tour boat companies. So many years before Google, we could clearly see on paper maps where the international boundry is.

    Why is it so uncertain and questioned today, I wonder? It is very clear both islands are in Canada.

    By the way, the house was built in 1902, by the McLean family, newspaper publishers from Chicago. The bridge was built several years later.

    Richard Reply:

    I’m a descendant of the McLeans. Emilie Delphine Robb of New York granted Zavikon to Andrew McLean of Passaic, New Jersey on June 27, 1918. Andrew was a cotton goods manufacturer. He died in March 26, 1931. His property was then divided among his children. On August 22, 1931 they sold Zavikon to Philip A. Castner of Philadelphia. The Great Depression caused the McLeans to end the family’s business and sell Zavikon!

    Soon I hope to add an old film of the McLeans at Zavikon to “You Tube”.

    Richard Reply:

    The Zavikon film is now available at You Tube. See link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYtLpj3nB2M

    Richard Reply:

    I forgot to mention that Andrew McLean built was is falsely called “the shortest international bridge”. It is definitely in Canadian territory! I learned today that Andrew paid taxes to the township of Escott in Ontario, Canada!

    karen Reply:

    I, too, spent a summer vacation there when my granfather worked for Woolrich Woolen Mills. I would love to go nack. Can people rent a week at Zavikon?

    I would love to know. I remember loving the boathouse with the pool table upstairs. For a kid in the 1960’s, that was racy!

  7. Alice Moulton-Ely

    Robert F. Rich of Woolrich Woolen Mills was my step-grandfather and my family used to spend the first two weeks of August (usually) on Zavikon Island (mid-1950’s to late 1960’s). I agree with Michael G.’s comment about the “real” boundary. (I assume he’s a descendent of Robert’s brother John.)

    Susan Green Hanisak Reply:

    Howm interesting this article is! I grew up in Woolrich, Pa. I lived across from the Weave Room where my father, Albert Green, was night supervisor. I remember Lydia Rich and Ruth Furst. Lydia lived in the house across from the office, at the bottom of the hill, and Ruth lived up the street, across from the building. Who were your parents? I remember going on a boat through the Thousand Islands and I do remember seeing the house with the bridge.
    Susan Green Hanisak

  8. Bob Sheridan

    My family now owns the island. They are both in Canada. From the smaller island you can see a small boye in the water that is the international boundary. I have swam over to it before.The whole myth is used to sell postcards and boat trips.

    Alice Moulton-Ely Reply:

    When I used to go to Zavikon for vacation (1956 to about 1968) there was a wood table on the main stair landing. I would go there early in the morning to write letters to friends and used to write my name and/or initials (AFM) and the date inside one of those drawers. Is that table still there? My step-grandfather was Robert F. Rich (Woolrich) who owned Zavikon at the time.

    Nicole Robichaud Reply:

    I grew up in Rockport and spent many summers working for the present owners …that table was still there in the ’80’s and early ’90’s anyway…in fact there was an old picture in the drawer of the table…it wasn’t of the Woolrich family exactly, more like a large business convention but i believe Mr. Woolrich was in the photo.

    karen Reply:

    Bob Sheridan…I would love to talk to you about returning to the island.

  9. Nicole Robichaud

    This is interesting….I grew up in Rockport and worked on Zavikon as a teenager….although the bridge does not represent the boundary line, there is a large silver dome on the southern tip of the smaller island…which is known as Kierie??? Island, I know the name is pronounced Keery but I’m not sure of spelling. On that dome it states that it is the international boundary line….so a very small portion of that island is on the American side. It was explained to me by the former caretaker that they are both considered Canadian due to rules about land tax?…I guess I’m making this point because there is a bit of truth about one island being American.

  10. Madison

    I’ve been on Zavikon Island and it is true that part of Zavikon island is in Canada while the other part is in the US. The bigger island is entirely in Canada while the smaller one is partially in Canada and partially in the US. There is a large white marker on the smaller island labelled “International Boundary Commission” that indicates where the border between Canada and the US is.

  11. Rich in G'burg

    Google maps shows both islands are well inside the U.S. border. Is there a more accurate map that shows the correct border line?

    Rich in G'burg Reply:

    Ah, here’s a link to the USGS map that shows the correct border:
    http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=44.36935&lon=-75.91398&s=25&size=l&u=4&datum=nad27&layer=DRG25

    DLinth Reply:

    Both islands entirely in Canada, and the “international” part of the footbridge is fiction. Current Google Earth line mentioned above is inaccurate. Actual line confirmed by numerous authoritative maps, incl. USGS and US mil. maps. Nicole and Madison’s observations above are correct, but conclusions wrong. What they saw is common all along the Can-US waterways that form the border: Reference markers (for which the US-Can bdy. commission retains surveying measurements that, when combined with measurements from other reference markers, triangulate out into the waterway to the actual boundary turning points.

  12. Galen

    That link also states that the island is in New York.

    DLinth Reply:

    That link’s text was written by someone at Trail.com presumably, and is incorrect. The text conflicts with the USGS map immediately below the text.

  13. Ericka Harmon

    So my family owns the island across from Zavikon called Huguenot Island and i want to learn more of the history of my own island and didnt no if any of the people on here who said they have stayed on Zavikon know anything. if you do no something please let me know im very interested

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