FAQs

What is the average crossing time for the Howe Island County Ferry?

The crossing time is dependent on the load carried, loading time, wind and ice conditions and boat traffic in the channel. The crossing time is impossible to predict.

The busiest travel times are the commuter hours. It's busiest leaving Howe Island in the morning between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 am. The busiest time leaving the mainland is late afternoon between 4 pm and 6 pm. During these periods wait times will increase. During the summer on Fridays, traffic increases after noon and as such longer wait times occur.

Is there a fee to travel on the ferry?

Yes. Fares for cars and light trucks start at $8. Pedestrians are free. Bicycles are $2. You can learn all about various fares and purchase options on our Fares and Passes page

What is the ferry schedule?

The Frontenac County Howe Islander Ferry runs on-demand 24 hours per day, seven days a week. There are no scheduled crossing times. Reservations are not required or accepted.

How can I receive ferry service updates and news?

You can subscribe to email updates by clicking here. 

Please follow us on Twitter by clicking here. 

And you can see our ferry service calendar by clicking here. 

What do I need to know about COVID-19 before I board the ferry?

In the interests of minimizing risk of COVID-19 transmission among passengers and crew, passengers purchasing fares are encouraged to do so before they arrive at the ferry dock using the contactless Honk service.

Passengers are required to wear face coverings at all times when outside their vehicles. Please maintain physical distancing and follow crew instructions at all times. 

Learn more about the risks associated with COVID-19 and what you can do to minimize them

Read COVID-19: Guidance Material for Passenger Vessel and Ferry Operators from Transport Canada. 

How do I pay the fare for occasional visits to Howe Island?

In the interests of minimizing risk of COVID-19 transmission among passengers and crew, passengers purchasing single-crossing-and-return fares for cars, light trucks, motorcycles, and trailers are encouraged to pay fares before they arrive at the ferry dock using the contactless Honk service. Learn all about using Honk to purchase ferry fares.

If you don’t have access to Honk, ferry crews do accept cash or prepaid tickets. Passengers choosing this purchase method are required to wear a face covering, to maintain physical distancing, and to follow crew instructions regarding payment. We ask that you provide exact change whenever possible. Crew will wear appropriate personal protective equipment when exchanging cash and tickets.

What is a Honk? 

Honk is a contactless fare payment service offered by Honkmobile.com that ferry passengers use to purchase fares while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission among passengers and crew. It’s the same service used to pay parking fees at dozens of parking lots around Kingston. Passengers are encouraged to use Honk to purchase ferry fares before they arrive at the ferry dock. Learn all about using Honk to purchase fares on Howe Island Ferries

How do I arrange for an annual pass if I'm a Howe Island resident? 

Annual passes and friends-and-family booklets covering the period 1 January - 31 December are available for purchase by Howe Island residents. There is a seniors discount for annual passes. 

Complete the Ferry Pass Application form, available here.

You can make your annual pass purchase via Honk here or do so with the seniors' discount here. Learn all about using Honk here. You can make your purchase by cheque if you prefer.

Submit your completed application form, payment or Honk receipt, proof of residency, and proof of age of seniority as required in person at the Howe Island Ferry office at the ferry dock or by mail:

 

County of Frontenac

2069 Battersea Road

Glenburnie, ON

K0H 1S0

 

Once your application is approved you will receive your pass sticker by mail or notice for pick-up at the ferry office at the ferry dock.

 

Can I pay with cash or prepaid tickets? 

Yes, crew will accept cash or prepaid tickets but passengers choosing this payment method are required to wear a face covering, to maintain physical distancing, and to follow crew instructions regarding payment. We ask that you provide exact change whenever possible. Crew will wear appropriate personal protective equipment when exchanging cash and tickets. 

What if I want to walk or ride my bicycle onto the ferry? 

Welcome aboard! Passage for cyclists is $2. Please follow ferry crew instructions and stay close to your bike while the ferry is underway. You'll need to wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing, and follow crew instructions while you're on board. 

Is there anything I should know about riding my motorcycle to Howe Island? 

Motorcycles are welcome on the Howe Island ferries. The fare is $8. Please stay with your bike while aboard the ferry. 

What are the Howe Islander vessel specifications? 

Length Overall: 30.48 metres
Beam: 9.86 metres
Draft: 1.67 metres
Gross Tonnage: 130 tonnes
Weight Capacity: 45 tonnes
Passenger & Crew Capacity: 51
Car Capacity: 15
Propulsive Power: 69 KW
Length of Crossing: 370 metres
Top Hull Speed: 5 knots

The Frontenac Howe Islander is a cable ferry that runs on two different cables. The drive cable is a 3/4” cable that is driven through our hydraulic winch, and is responsible for moving the vessel forward and backwards. The orange guide cable is a 1 1/8” cable and acts as a stabilizer, controlling side to side movements. The Frontenac Howe Islander is the only 24-hour, on-demand ferry service in the area. Because of the constant wear and tear, both of these cables are changed out several times a year. This table is actually a spool that held the orange guide cable that you can see spanning from shore to shore. This cable is 500 metres long, and weighs approximately 1.8 tonnes.

The distance between the both docks on the mainland and island is 370 metres. It just so happens that 370 metres is exactly two cables, which is a nautical unit of distance equal to 1/5th of a nautical mile. This means that the ferry is never more than two cables away!

If you just missed the ferry, don’t worry because a round trip only takes about 15 minutes.

What is the history of the Howe Island County Ferry? 

A cable ferry has been in operation at the current ferry site since at least 1898.

There have been different ferries and different owners or operators at this location. Names of prior operators and owners are O’Brien’s and then Foley’s Ferries followed by Pickett’s Ferry, which was the last private ferry.

In 1949, Pickett’s Ferry came into existence with a three-car steel hulled ferry at the current location of the County Ferry at the foot of Howe Island Ferry Road, which is also known as Joyceville Side Road. This ferry was and still is known to some as Pitt’s ferry. The name was derived as the ferry operated in the old township of Pittsburgh.

In 1976, Pickett’s three-car ferry was replaced by a nine-car steel hulled ferry. The three-car ferry was delegated to the Township of Frontenac Islands and is operated at the eastern end of Howe Island. The nine-car ferry was owned by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications and operated by Frontenac Management Board until 2004.

In 2004 the nine-car ferry was replaced by a 15-car ferry, owned by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and named Frontenac – Howe Islander. This ferry is currently crewed by Frontenac County.