An oasis of mature forest and wildlife in the Niagara River, Navy Island was settled originally by the Lamoka people of the late Archaic Period, 4000 years ago, and, later, by the Meadowood culture peoples, 3000 years ago. Their arrowheads and scrapers have been found along the shoreline.

brtnavyisDuring the early influx of Europeans, the French, who called this place Ile de la Marina, built four bateaux here which they used to supply their posts on the upper Great Lakes.

The British later established a shipyard here. From 1761 to 1764, they built the first vessels to sail the upper Great Lakes under their flag. When the Pontiacs western Indians attacked British outposts following the ceding of New France, these sailing ships were used to move troops and supplies.

During the War of 1812, the British built a blockhouse and stockade on Navy Island. On December 14, 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie and 200 supporters seized the island, setting up a provisional government, constructing batteries and entrenching the blockhouse. The British attacked the rebels and they retreated to the American mainline on January 11, 1838. In the years that followed, many squatters took up residence and farmed here.

In 1875, the Queens Hotel was established. This wood-frame structure was a popular summer resort until it was destroyed by fire in 1910. Today, Navy Island has regenerated and healed itself with mature forests. The Federal Government has leased it to The Niagara Parks Commission since the 1930s.