The Lure of the Island

Notes On and From Madeline Island

By Rick Gilman

There are twenty-two gems in Lake Superior called the Apostle Islands, a name given to the Islands by the French in the mid 17th century. The original European settlement was established on Chequamegon Point, a location of some debate and a name to this day hard for visitors to pronounce. Some have claimed the eastern tip of Long Island as the original settlement, but most agree this was at a place known as the "uncovers", where the lake would fill a stretch of sand making a recurring island out of Long Island. It has been a long time since the uncovers have been covered, but from this vantage point one can view the expanse of the lake and take a look at history. The vulnerability from weather at this first location resulted in the relocation to the southern tip of Madeline Island and the settlement changed names from the hard to pronounce Cheqamegon Point to simply La Pointe, or The Point.

Madeline, the woman after whom the island was named, was Michel Cadotte's wife and White Crane's daughter. Cadotte was a prominent figure in the fur trade and White Crane was an Ojibway leader. Madeline (once Madeline's) Island, this gem of gems on Lake Superior, still bears her name.

The pride of those who make their home here is unsurpassed. It is home to some 180 year round residents and a population that swells to 2,500 come summer.

The waterfront (south of the ferry landing) is prime anchorage just off shore from Joni's Beach, with a sand bottom ranging from 13 to 20 feet approximately 100 years from shore. This spot is vulnerable from the south and west, though it provides good hold in most conditions. There is a small dock (extremely shallow) and plenty of room to drag a dinghy on shore. There are boats permanently moored in this area, so be aware of your scope. This is also close to the entrance of Madeline Island Yacht Club, which does offer transient dockage.

For those arriving by ferry, there will be no difficulty in navigation. You disembark in the downtown section of La Pointe, and here you find ample spirits, shops, restaurants and accommodations. The Island's museum, just a block from the ferry landing, abounds with the history of the Apostle Islands and surrounding area.

Madeline offers an acclaimed golf course, charter services, bike and sailboat rentals, lodging, tennis courts and more. But perhaps the lure of the island is much more related to what you will not find. Instead of a water slide, the island has pristine lake shore. Instead of a video arcade, the island has rocks to skip. Instead of a history covered in concrete and converted to myth, the island has preserved history. There is no fast food. Entertainment is usually local music, conversation, and the sound of wavelets on a moonlit night. If it's peace and reflection you want, Madeline Island is the destination for you.

For more information call the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce@ 1-888-ISLE FUN (475-3386) or visit Madeline on line at


Rick Gilman is charter master at Apostle Island Yacht Charters.