The St. Lawrence Seaway and the Thousand Islands (Part 2)

The Thousand Islands are a gem of a tourist district that is located between upstate New York and Southern Ontario, Canada. Formed many years ago floods after the ice age covered most of North America. The Thousand Islands are found in the heart of the St. Lawrence River and contain both small and larger islands that number over 1,000. The St Lawrence River at this point was so wide with so many islands, it was known as Lake of Thousand Islands many years ago when first discovered. These islands are found by visiting upstate New York or south eastern Ontario. Cities such as Kingston and Belleville in Ontario, Waddington and Massena, NY touch the St. Lawrence River and have boats tours available for everyone in order to view the islands in the river.

You can venture out on a one, one and a half, two and three hour tours to view the islands, it just depends on how much time and money you are willing to spend. Some tours will offer meals, some will not. These tours will show you such things as a tiny island with a cottage on it; the cottage that is in both the United States and Canada (found right in the middle of the dividing line between the two countries); Hart Island and Dark Island. These different tours are definitely worth the time and money.

Some tours will stop at Hart Island. This island is unique due to the castle that is built on it. Over six floors tall, complete with an indoor swimming pool and one hundred and twenty rooms, the castle was built by George Boldt for his bride, Louise. Work began on the castle in 1900 and much of the supplies to build the castle were brought over on the thick ice. Singer Castle is another must see. Located on Dark Island, the castle was built in 1905 by the Bourne Family and remained in their position until the late 1960s and though not as large as Boldt Castle, it is still something to see and experience. Both of these castles offer tours (for an extra fee) and the sightseeing boat tours will stop at them and allow you to get off for a time.

On the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands, boat tours can be accessed by through cities such as Gananoque, Belleville and Kingston. Gananoque is one of the major points of interest for the Thousand Islands and offers a lot to do and see. Along with boat tours, the town boasts many prime hotels and motels and if you are like me, SHOPPING! The town also offers a great charity casino that you can spend some time and perhaps some money at. Gananoque is also accessible from the United States via the Thousand Island Bridge.

Not only can you take boat tours, you can use your own boat. How about a day of fishing in and around the Thousand Islands? In the waters around the Islands you will find a wide variety of sports fish from large muskies to all sorts of panfish like crappies and perch. Marinas are positioned up and down the Canadian coastline in cities like Gananoque, Kingston and Belleville and offer ice, gas, charts and maps, groceries and anything else you will need for your boat trip. This area is also a great area to observe the large ships that may be carrying loads such as grain or iron ore that come through, making their way to ports east

Want to get away from the water for a day? Why not visit the train museum. The Smith Falls Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario is located in Smith Falls, Ontario and is just a short jaunt north of Gananoque. If you are visiting the Thousand Islands from the American side, you might also consider visiting the Stone Mills Agricultural Museum located in Stone Mills, NY

Located along the St. Lawrence is also a sky deck (in Kingston) that you can view the Islands from or spend a day visiting historic Fort Henry, a major fort during the War of 1812 or spend some time visiting the Hershey’s Visitor Centre and take home some tasty treats. Another treat you might consider is to visit the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. While the smallest of the Canadian national parks, it is definitely time well spent with its kayaking, canoeing and bike trails with in the park itself.

For something a little different, you might want to try a bike tour along the St. Lawrence River. These cities offer a 37 km trail that runs parallel to the 1000 Islands Parkway between Gananoque and Brockville and forms a section of the Waterfront Trail. This trail is free to ride and is enjoyed by many during the spring, summer and fall. Bike tours can be guided or self guided but a great way to see the country side.
No matter if you come for a day or a week, as the saying goes in and around the Thousand Islands is that there are always a thousand things to do while visiting the thousand islands!

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