The Thousand Islands




The Thousand Islands are a network of in fact nearly 1800 islands that span the American-Canadian border in the Saint Lawrence River. Some, like Wolfe Island, the largest at 124 sq km (48 sq mi), have significant year-round populations, while others are merely rocky outcrops visited by migrating birds. The whole area is enormously popular as a holiday destination, particularly for sailing - so much so that it's sometimes called the 'fresh water boating capital of the world'. 

 

Around twenty of these islands form the Saint Lawrence Islands National Park, the smallest of Canada's national parks. The Thousand Islands Frontenac Arch region was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2002. The US islands include numerous New York State parks, most notably Robert Moses State Park. 

 

The area is frequently traversed by large freighters on their way into and out of the Great Lakes shipping lanes, but is so dotted with barely concealed rocks that local navigators are hired to help the vessels travel through the hazardous waterway. Because of this it is unwise to travel the waters at night, except in the main channels and with good charts. It's a popular place for experienced divers as the waters are mostly so clear and the sea bed is littered with many shipwrecks for them to explore. The area has long been popular with wealthy up state New Yorkers and many of the islands are privately owned. A plethora of 'No Landing' signs reminds potential visitors that they can look but not touch, so perhaps the best way to enjoy the area is from a boat.

 

WHEN TO GO
The shoulder seasons of late April to May and September to early October are less crowded and can have surprisingly good weather.

HOW TO GET THERE
Via the Thousand Islands Bridge from New York State or tour the area by boat from Gananoque. Canada's Via Rail also offers great views of the islands on the line from Kingston to Montreal.

HIGHLIGHTS
The views of the folly Boldt Castle on Heart Island.
Clayton Boat Museum where you can view or even rent out antique wooden boats.
The beautiful and secluded Lake of the Isles between Wellesley and Canadian Hill Islands.
Singer Castle on Dark Island - open to the public in summer.
The Thousand Islands parkway - a popular hiking trail that runs from Gananoque to Mallorytown Landing.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
'Thousand Islands Dressing' was invented by the actress May Irwin and not, as is popularly believed, by the head Chef at the waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
 

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