Navy Island, Niagara Falls

Trip Rating: 4.0/5

Again, I am going to separate this region into a few trip ideas, due to the area’s diversity. The three trips share a common launch site, but are all very different. For the Tee Creek and the Lyons Creek, I will link them to this post once I finish them.

Navy Island is a small uninhabited island on the Niagara River with a colourful past. Originally settled by the Lamoka in 2000BC and later by the Meadowood 1000 years later. During the French Revolution, the island was used to build ships to service the Great Lakes. Later, during the War of 1812 a British detachment was stationed on the island.

My favorite part of the island’s history is, in 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie, who’s grandson would one day become the Prime Minister of Canada, captured the island and created the self proclaimed Republic of Canada. At one point, even having its own currency. The event had much impact on the history of Canada, including the formulation of the Caroline Test which established the principle of “anticipatory self-defense” in international politics, which holds that it may be justified only in cases in which the “necessity of that self-defense is instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation”. The Caroline Test was recognized and endorsed by the Nuremberg Tribunal, who adopted the same words used in the test in judging Germany’s invasion of Norway and Denmark during World War II. To this day, the Caroline Test is considered the customary law standard in determining the legitimacy of self-defense action.

Launch Sites:

The launch site is the Chippewa Boat Ramp. It’s a beautifully redone launch with a play set for kids and tons of parking. It can be quite busy, but it is big enough for everyone to have enough room. To find this spot, enter 4173-4669 Lyons Creek Road into Google Maps.

Trip Length:

This river is huge, with strong currents and potentially huge waves. It is NOT a trip for beginners. This is on the top side of Niagara Falls, so if you wander off in the wrong direction, the current can quickly overwhelm you and suck you into the Falls. Yes, it has happened.

Words of caution for this trip:

  1. There are a LOT of power boaters on this river, make sure you are very visible to them at all times!
  2. The current can be very powerful, having a clear route is a necessity.
  3. The waves are unpredictable in spots. If the Hydroelectric dams decide to do their thing, the sky is the limit for weirdness.
  4. Bring an extra paddle, pump, flares and wear a life jacket.
  5. Mind the border, you are not allowed to cross it without clearing customs.

The winds and currents were pretty strong on my trip, but I was determined.

Here is the route that I took:


Unloading at the dock
There are lots of birds to see in the Welland River headed out towards the Niagara River.
Downtown Chippewa featuring the most Canadian of all things: Tim Hortons.
The view exiting the Welland River. Note the waves.
Approaching the island.
The far side of the island.
It was unclear whether its allowed to be landed on, I decided not to until I can be sure.
I fully circumnavigated the island in about 25 mins, once I made it.
What a view on the way back. That mist is the crest of the Horseshoe Falls.


Cost: $0.

Difficulty:  There is a lot of unpredictable boat traffic, strong currents and large waves. Please use all the proper safety gear. This is not a trip for beginners.

2 thoughts on “Navy Island, Niagara Falls

  1. I’d kayak that. I spent the summer crewing on racing boats as opposed to kayaking though…I’d work a few weeks of kayaking in to build up muscles. That fifth photo…that water looks to be moving right along.