The Saint Lawrence River begins at the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, snaking its way toward Quebec City through Montreal, and serves as part of the border between Ontario and New York. The Thousand Islands, a 1, 864-island archipelago, straddles the Canada-U.S. border, zigzagging for 80 kilometres through the middle of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting the area and taking a boat cruise down the river. From public campgrounds to private mansions, the region is loaded with natural and man-made eye candy, and salty-dog communities. You can visit the Thousand Islands website for more information on how to plan your trip. Here’s a glimpse of my island-hopping adventure.
Hopping The Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands region actually consists of 1,864 islands, many of which are several acres in size.
Some of the islands are open to the public for camping or cottage rentals, and others are open for historical tours, such as Boldt Castle. Exploring some of the private islands was sort of like ogling a wealthy neighbourhood, admiring houses I could never afford.
No matter where you launch from, getting out on the water is a necessity. If not, you’re missing out on what makes the destination worth visiting. A boat rental or tour should be your first priority.
You can cruise right by some of these multi-million-dollar properties; it was hard not to daydream about what life on one of these islands would be like.
Nearby Alexandria Bay is a salty-dog village and popular launching spot for tourists set to explore the Seaway. It has a population of around 1,000 during the winter, but the summer weather brings a stream of boaters and tourists to the area, raising the population to approximately 15,000.
Millionaire hotel magnate George Boldt began building this 120-room castle as a Valentine's Day gift for his wife, but he halted constructed when she passed away suddenly in the early 1900s. It remained vacant for 70 years but is now open for public tours. The island is also referred to as "Heart Island" due to it's shape when viewed from the air.
Many private properties are composed of two islands connected by a bridge. Most of the houses are for summer use only due to the cold winters on the Saint Lawrence.
Boldt Castle, arguably the most popular and infamous of the islands in the Seaway, even had it's own power house, shown here. Today, public tours and weddings are the primary use.
What constitutes an island? Two things: It must be above water 365 days a year and support at least two living trees. One of the smallest (and most idyllic) is shown here. Last year it was on sale for $995,000 USD.
The water in the Thousand Islands is incredibly clean and lustrous. The colours vary from deep royal blue to blueish-green.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…