Gale Camp

Tobin Harbor

Gale Cottage: [NVIC: 50-116], ISRO Archives.


n 1932, Alfreda Prince Gale was invited to visit Isle Royale by her good friend, Gertrude Barrows How. They had been in grade school together in St. Louis, MO. The next year, Alfreda brought her two sons, John and Phil, up to the Island and spent it with the How family and at Musselman's Island. There were 23 families in Tobin Harbor at this time.

Alfreda was so enamored with Isle Royale that she invited her father, Alfred Prince, to visit with her and the boys the following year (1934). In 1935, Alfred Prince bought Gale Island, formerly Chicken Island, from the Bandettini Family (~2.5 acres) for his daughter, Alfreda, and grandsons, John and Phil. Alfred was aware of 1931 Park enabling legislation and knew that any purchase would immediately result in subsequent sale to the federal government. Recognizing the opportunity to occupy land within a National Park, Prince researched properties that might be available for purchase before sale to government and ultimately settled on the Bandettini location. After purchasing the property Alfred worked quickly to construct Gale Island cabins and structures as life-leases were only offered for locations with improvements. The Gale Camp was constructed in 1937 and then sold to the government in 1938.

Did you know?

When John Gale was young and living on the Island he ran a ham radio - for a fee, people could make calls to the mainland from Gale Island. Phil worked at the lodge as a fishing guide before it was turned over to the Park Concessions. John and Phil also ran a photo service on Gale Island - they picked film up from tourists at the lodge and returned the prints within 72 hours.

The Gale Family consisted of Alfreda (Mother Gale), her sons, John and Phil, and their children and grandchildren. Alfreda was a single mother when she came to Isle Royale. Her two sons John and Phil, who were about 14 years and 12 years old, respectively, came to Isle Royale in 1933. The life lease for Gale Island was given to John and Phil.

John ended up going to Michigan School of Mines (Michigan Tech) and received his electrical engineering degree from there. He was married to Kay and had three children, Jack, Langdon & Miles (twins). Phil was a psychiatrist and later in life practiced in Houghton, MI. He was married to Penelope and had four children, Don, Chris, Steve, and Tom.


All Gale life leases have expired. Since 2010, family descendants have been maintaining the Gale Camp and related buildings under an annual Volunteer-In-Parks permit. The Gale Camp retains a cottage, guest cottage, tool shed / wash house, privy, and dock. All but the tool shed / wash house are in good condition. The Gale boathouse is no longer extant.

Image Gallery


Help Tell The Story

Are you related to this family? Would you be willing to share stories or photos associated with related events? If so, we would love to hear from you! Please contact the Cultural Resource Manager at Isle Royale National Park. Or write to:

Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1896


  1. Gale Cottage & Family History. 2015. Houghton, MI. Provided by Peg Gale.