The first visitor boat trip from Windsor to Peche Island departed at 10am with Tim Vandendriessche and his family on board.
“We were very excited and I’m glad they’re offering the tours again,” said Vandendriessche.
The tour begins with a boat ride from Lakeview Park Marina and is available every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday through October, weather permitting.
Tours start at 10:00am to 2:00pm. There are many walking trails, Hiram Walker ruins, lookouts along the water and a boardwalk overlooking the marshland.
Jamie Holly enjoyed her trip with David.
“This is incredible,” she said.
During the pandemic, work has been done to make the island safe for visitors. A new viewpoint has been created on the southeast side of the island.
“We used to have a lookout here, but erosion has created a rock face and it’s dangerous to walk on it,” said tour guide Hannah Ezwawi, pointing out an area that was occupied by land before it was washed into the lake .
The City of Windsor, with the help of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), also began work two years ago to help preserve the island.
“We would have lost significant additional amounts of this landmass to erosion had the city not intervened,” said ERCA CAO Tim Byrne.
Work is also underway on the southeast end to protect the island from further land losses.
“This area of the island is exposed to the longest swell and damaging wave conditions in Lake St. Clair,” Byrne said.
Ezwawi took CTV News Windsor’s Bob Bellacicco to a boardwalk by the swamp that used to extend to the north side of the island.
“Because the water levels are so high, we’ve lost a lot of area on the island,” Ezwawi said.
The water now flows freely under the Hiram Walker Bridge, which connects Lake St. Clair to Peche Island Marsh. Rocks were also placed on the south side of the island to protect the shoreline and swamp area, which acts as a wildlife nursery.
“All the babies on the island, all the wildlife that depend on this swamp area to nest, grow older and become the next generation on the island,” Ezwawi said.
Today, as the work goes on, visitors say they recommend this hidden gem.
“I’ll pass the word on. We can enjoy this,” said Holly.