These ruins are the remains of a two story house built by Leslie Dowker in 1897.They are located on a small island in Lake Saint Louis approximately one kilometer south of the western tip of Montreal Island.
The island currently serves as a Bird Sanctuary and a popular stopping place for local boaters and Snowshoers . Originally named Ile Sainte Genevieve and later Lynch Island, it was re-named Dowker Island after it was acquired by Leslie Dowker in 1897.
A member of a prominent West Island family, Leslie Rose Dowker lived on the island until his death in 1945. After Dowker died the house was abandoned and burned down in the early 1960’s, leaving only the outer stone walls standing. Harsh winters since then have taken their toll and only the ruins shown in the pictures remain today. The stone and brick chimney, the largest remaining part of the structure, leans precariously inward and has done so for several years. Eventually it too will no doubt succumb to time and the elements. The only other standing parts of the once proud house are the lower sections of the opposite corners.
The following historical information was Witten by Guido Socher for Tuxgraphics.org.
"Dowker Island is where the waters of the Ottawa River and the St-Laurent River meet. The two rivers have different water colors. The St-Laurent River is more blue-green and the Ottawa River more brown due to higher concentrations of tannic acid (from trees) and higher sediment content."
"Leslie R. Dowker purchased in 1887 Lynch's Island and it became known as Dowker Island. Leslie was a wholesale leather merchant and his company "Dowker, McIntosh & Co." was located at 70 St Peter Street (now Rue Saint-Francois-Xavier) in Montreal near the old port. He loved his island and he built a house for year-round use around 1900 near the north-eastern tip of the island. He named the house Idlewyld and he lived there until his death in 1945. The house had all the conveniences of a modern house with central heating, running water, and electricity."
"Idlewyld was a large stone house with 4 bedrooms. It was well built and had 2 feet thick stone walls. Leslie tried to sell the property for a short while in the summer of 1928 and the advertisement has a detailed description of the property. It had electricity from a generator and running water as well as central heating via two coal fired furnaces. Leslie's address mentioned in the advertisement is Beaurepaire rather than Baie-D'Urfe. There was no home delivery of mail in those days and one would pick-up mail at the post office but the Baie-D'Urfe office was at that time only operational during the summer month while Beaurepaire had a year-round post office. As a year-round resident Leslie would have preferred the Beaurepaire office."
"Leslie had a caretaker, David Girard. He continued to live for a while at Idlewyld after Leslie's death in February of 1945. He did however remove some wood and two engines from the island and this resulted in a dispute between the Dowkers and the caretaker. The island remained uninhabited but it was available for some time as a vacation rental. After a number of vandalism incidents the windows were bricked over. Idlewyld burned down in 1977."
Location ID #BR0112
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