Dickinson Island, Harsens Island and a lot of other islands
April 15, 2014 5:38 PM   Subscribe

In the State of Michigan, east of Detroit, on the north side of Lake St. Clair, within Anchor Bay, there are two islands. Dickinson Island and Harsens Island. What do you know about these places?

Does anyone have any background, observations, stories, or other information surrounding modern Dickinson Island and Harsen’s Island outside of the general descriptions on Wikipedia? Bing My curiosity lies along the fact that there seems to be fully functional, suburban like communities on both islands and along the canals and other small islands. Are they actually summer cabins? If they are permanent residents, what do they do on the islands for work? Where do they shop, considering they are on an island with difficult opportunities to get to the “mainland?” Do people here shop and work in Canada? Commute to Detroit? Is there some sort of close by industry or business that supports this rather rural enclave? I understand small town rural life, is this place the same lifestyle?

Any modern personal stories are welcome as I try to better understand Dickinson Island, Harsens Island, and these small communities in Anchor Bay on Lake St. Clair.
posted by lstanley to Travel & Transportation around Harsens Island, MI (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here are some leads ... I opened up the islands on Google Earth, and saw mostly summer homes, yacht clubs and agriculture lands on Harsen's. I looked them up, and found some fun stuff:

Histoy of the Idle Hours Yacht Club (There's plenty of history in this old building, including a couple of old but friendly ghosts, and plenty more being made today)

South Channels Yacht Club (The friendliest marina on Lake St. Clair. With the new Riverside Market just a 1/4 away, Why go anywhere else???)

Yelp reviews the San Souci Bar (The service is rude and lacking, but ... it's part of the soul of the bar. Even the patrons are rude)

Trip Advisor: What to do on Harsen's Island (Watch the freighters go by)

Canal Front Cottage ("nice and clean")

I've never heard of the islands before, but I grew up in Michigan and everyone - even working class families - seemed to have a cottage on a lake somewhere. This seems like one of those places, for and full of summer people.

Although I do wonder what the Idle Hours Yacht Club means when they say plenty more ghosts are being made today.
posted by kanewai at 6:19 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

My cousin's husband's parents have a home on Harsen's Island. I'm not really sure if this home is a primary residence. I do know that my cousin's family enjoys their summer visits and splits vacation time between Harsen's Island and at a lake in the northern Lower Peninsula. It seems like the way they spend their time at either location is comparable (fishing, boating, etc).
posted by themoonfromthesea at 7:17 PM on April 15, 2014

I fish and hunt on Harsen's and the channels in and around it.

LOTS of migrating waterfowl stop off at the south end of the Island during the Spring and Fall. Like tens of thousands! The hunting is managed through the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources.

There are a lot of full-time residents on Harsen's. The ferry to the mainland is about $5 and runs 24/7. Getting off the island is no big deal and I knew of some folks that commuted to their jobs from the island.

There are also a lot of Summer cottages. Boating is huge, as you could probably imagine.

I think the fishing is better in the South channel.
posted by bricksNmortar at 8:41 AM on April 16, 2014

I work with quite a few people who live full-time on Harsen's Island, and their biggest concern is getting out of work at an appropriate time to catch one of the ferries to get home (depending on which shift they've worked). Lots of summer cottages there, too, of course. Every couple years, the guy who owns the ferry announces he's shutting it down and everyone rants and raves for a few months, but nothing really happens. They do have a yacht club off the South Channel, but I've never stopped there.

It's a beautiful place, and the water from the lake is safe to swim in over there. We won't swim at the beach here (I live on the west side of the lake).
posted by notaninja at 7:13 PM on April 16, 2014

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