Horne’s Ferry: The business of crossing a border by boat

Horne's Ferry

A family-operated ferry for more than 200 years crosses the Saint Lawrence daily during the summer tourist season.
Published: May 30, 2019 | Updated: May 20th, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Down a small side street in the equally tiny town of Cape Vincent, New York, resides the home of a centuries-old treasure.

At the end of Cape Street you’ll find a little shack, a single customs agent and a ferry boat – rocking softly like others before it.

Since 1802, the Horne family has been making their seasonal daily trips carrying passengers across the Saint Lawrence River between Cape Vincent and Wolfe Island, Ontario.

George Horne sits relaxed at the helm as he has for decades now, piloting the William Darrell across the short but often busy seaway. He’s older now, and so is the vessel – new border regulations have both come and gone, but the ferry remains.

It’s quiet; the season just opened a few days earlier and the air is still chilled. The water is high, he says, that’s why there are so many pesky mayflies.

The Darrell takes just two passengers on this early May morning, but more will come soon. When they do, George will take them – 12 cars at a time – just like he always has.