The Pattens Reclaim Galloo Island

Timothy Lake  // The Land Report // Spring 2022

Waves of nostalgia washed over Mike Patten as he stepped ashore on Lake Ontario’s Galloo Island last fall. Decades have passed since the nearly 2,000-acre island belonged to a family-owned company. Despite his utmost efforts, Galloo had been sold off, and in the years that followed, his mind and heart never failed to return to Galloo’s windswept shores. For Mike and his son John, memories of hunting, fishing and relaxing at this getaway in the St. Lawrence River never dimmed.

“It became our favorite place on earth,” Patten tells me on a phone call from his office in Naples, Florida. “And it was a dream come true to get it back.”

As 2021 came to a close, Mike and John, along with three friends, purchased the New York estate for $7.75 million. The island came complete with its own boathouse in Lyme. Galloo sits almost exactly in the center of the bountiful easter lake fishery, a locale where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering developing a marine sanctuary to protect recently discovered 19th-century shipwrecks.

Galloo Island is well known as having the oldest lighthouse on Lake Ontario. Both the lighthouse, which dates back to 1820, and a 1930s-era Coast Guard station have been decommissioned. A fishing camp that dates back to the early 1900s has welcome three secretaries of state as well as a director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The fishing camp was included in the purchase; the lighthouse and the station are currently under separate ownership.

The Pattens and their partners consider themselves stewards of this magnificent island. As conservation buyers, they are not the least bit interested in pursuing the various wind energy schemes that have been proposed by recent owners. To the contrary, they have already begun to restore hundreds of acres of farmland and native habitat for the Eastern wild turkey, whitetailed deer, and flocks of waterfowl that gather on this ground. Above all, what matters most to Mike and John Patten is that they have returned to Galloo Island.

Says Mike Paten, “It’s our retreat.”