Friday, September 6, 2013


The blue sky beckoned us as we drove south from Ottawa under skies that threatened rain to the St. Lawrence and our tour boat. We were eager to do a cruise through the Thousand Islands, place we had seen as we drove by but never explored.

Our Gananoque Boat Lines, Thousand Islander, sailed from Ivy Lea a few miles east of Ganonoque. (Other tours leave from their main port in Ganonque.) The blue sky was still distant and we struggled with the light to get good photographs.

The three-deck boat was bigger than I expected and accommodated two bus-loads of visitors on package tours without being crowded. Commentary was in English, French, and Cantonese, and covered history and geography of this breathtaking area.

Islands number over 1800 on both sides of the international boundary between Canada and New York state in the USA. Some are tiny—one was smaller than the house perched on top! Others are large. The border does not cut through the  middle of any but one owner has two islands (L) linked by a bridge—one on either side of the boundary. And this bridge is not the smallest international bridge in the islands; that one is three metres long.

The boat tour meandered past Rockport through islands but the most astonishing  by far is Heart Island that contains Boldt Castle (below) in the US. Built by a multi-millionaire for his wife as a summer home, it is a stunning piece of architecture. Today it is owned and operated by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. Our boat did not stop for us to visit, but there are tours that do and these look really worthwhile. I wish we had had the time. The interior images on the castle's website look amazing. 

Aerial view of Boldt Castle and some of the Th...
Aerial view of Boldt Castle
(Photo: Wikipedia)
The aerial view (R) shows the castle's Yacht House beyond Heart Island, which can be reached by shuttle from the castle dock. It's huge and houses slips, workshops, etc. Everything for your own fleet of pleasure craft from a big houseboat to racing launches.

This castle marked the middle of the cruise and as we turned to lay a course to home port, we saw astern of us a large bulk carrier steaming east in the main St Lawrence stream. It reminded me of the importance of this seaway to the economies of both countries that straddle the river.

As the cruise ended, the elusive sun broke through and we headed to Gananoque, a delightful town and on to Jones Lock and lunch at the Kenney's Hotel to watch the boats and canoes navigate the staircase locks from the restaurant.
The Gazebo in the foreground; Boldt Castle behind

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2013, except where noted. All rights reserved.
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