“Whaleback” is the colloquial name given to the southern most promontory hill on the east side of Canandaigua Lake by the early settlers after the Phelps Gorham Purchase in 1796 and throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Today known as South Hill, Middlesex Township, Yates County, New York 14507 This “nick name” Whaleback came about because the large promontory rises almost 1400 vertical feet from Canandaigua Lake’s eastern shore and when viewed from the western side it looks just like a “Whale’s Back” coming out of the water!
Originally known by the Seneca Tribe of the Iroquois Indians as “the Chosen Spot”, Canandaigua Lake and its surrounding Hills both East and West had much history and significance with Indians prior to the era of the White Man’s arrival. In the Seneca tradition, South Hill is called Nundawao, revered as the place where the tribe’s ancestors emerged from the earth (at Clark’s Gully part of New York States Hi Tor Game Management Park). Indeed, the Senecas’ word for themselves is Onodowaga, or “people of the great hill.” The Great Hill being Southhill. Of particular interest to many maybe the stories and articles written by Dr. Parker.