There are twenty-two islands located off the Bayfield Peninsula. All but four of them are in Ashland County. Early French traders/explorers established a trading post there in 1693. The islands were also extensively logged. Little groups of houses were built by the traders, trappers and loggers. The islands were named by New France historian Pierre Francois Xavier Charlevoix who named them after the twelve apostles (even though there were more than that).
By the end of the 19th century, all but Madeline Island were abandoned. Madeline Island had many summer homes and resorts and continues to today.
In 1970, the islands, except Madeline became part of a National Seashore. Second growth timber has restored the islands to their former glory.
The names of the islands are: Basswood, Bear, Cat, Devils, Eagle, Gull, Hermit, Ironwood, Long, Manitou, Michigan, North Twin, Oak, Otter, Outer, Raspberry, Rocky, Sand, South Twin, Stockton, York. The four islands in Bayfield County are Eagle, Rasberry, Sand and York.
In 1990, there were 165 residents of Madeline Island, all living in the town of LaPorte.