In 1797 the British army built FORT ST JOSEPH on the southwestern corner of the island, at the time the most westerly military post in Canada. It became a rendezvous for traders and Aboriginal people, and though it was destroyed in the WAR OF 1812, its remains are visible and have been preserved as a national historic site. Agricultural settlement occurred late in the 19th century.
Today most of the island's population live in 2 communities, Hilton Beach and Richards Landing. The island is known for its MAPLE SYRUP and as a tourist destination. A bridge (built in 1972) connects it to the mainland across St Joseph Channel, a principal navigation route. The St Joseph Island Museum Village traces the history of the island from the fur trade to the mid 20th century.