The Thousand Islands region has long been on my list of places I wanted to see, so as I was heading north into Canada to visit friends I’d met while camped in Florida I made a point of planning my route through the area. I booked a site at Merry Knoll Campground in Clayton, just up the highway from Alexandria Bay which seemed to be the heart of the Thousand Islands area. The campground, situated on a hill overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, was nice and delivered good wifi as promised. The owners were very friendly and made it a point to provide plenty of information on what to see and do while there.
The morning after I arrived, with increasingly higher chances of rain in the forecast, I drove to Alexandria Bay to catch the Uncle Sam Boat Tour around the Thousand Islands. This is an absolute must for anyone visiting the area, and the folks at Uncle Sam did a fantastic job. Our guide for the morning tour was a young and witty pre-med student who knew the area well, and shared the information in good detail. Even on this very gray morning, these islands are quite lovely and most of the homes built on them range from unique to downright stunning. There’s lots of interesting history to absorb as well.
The crème de la crème of the tour is Boldt Castle. Wow! What an amazing story behind this beautiful place! In the year of 1900 George C. Boldt (of Waldorf-Astoria fame) started construction of this grand castle on Heart Island for his beloved wife, Louise. When she died suddenly in 1904 he halted construction and it is said that he never returned to the island. For 73 years, the castle and various stone structures were left to the mercy of the wind, rain, ice, snow and vandals. When the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977 millions were spent restoring it and opening it to the public.
As it turned out, the predicted heavy rains passed without fanfare, leaving me with a bright and sunny afternoon. Since the girls waited patiently in the motorhome while I did the river tour I thought it only fair to include them in my afternoon adventure.Together we drove down the highway and over bridge to Wellesley Island where we enjoyed meandering around the “village” streets, and walking in the local park and along the waterway for a bit.
As I drove back across the bridge it occurred to me that it might be fun (not to mention good exercise) to walk it. The girls were cool with the idea until the first big rig passed by and shook the “ground” we walked on. It was a pretty darn good hike to the other side and back! Not nearly as comfortable as the wide and flat expanse over the Hudson that we’d walked a couple weeks prior, but the view was amazing in both directions.
By the way… there are a lot more than 1000 islands in the Thousand Islands region. 1864 to be exact!
The following day, after a work filled morning, I took a drive into Clayton to see the Antique Boat Museum, which is the premier fresh water nautical museum in North America. This collection is really impressive! They have everything from old canoes and kayaks, to beautiful Chris Crafts to sleekest of powerboats of their era. The collection conjures of scenes from “African Queen” and “On Golden Pond” and even “Gilligan’s Island.”
After enjoying the museum I took a little stroll around town and then drove farther down the river to Cape Vincent and Tibbitts Point Lighthouse.
The following morning I hopped over the Canadian border to visit the Semeniuk Family, who I met while camped in Florida where we bonded over boating, swimming with the Manatee, and shrimp at “The Freezer”.
Unfortunately the weather did not lend itself to much outdoor activity while camped with them in Canada, but we did enjoy a few days together at a campground near Fenelon Falls… meals and stories around the campfire, walks with the dogs, a wee bit of beach time during a break in the weather, and a few games of Farkle with the kids! 🙂 Thanks Gary, Gina, Brent and Brooke! It was a joy to see you all again. Hope to reconnect in Florida again one day!
From Logchateau campground I had a very long drive through beautiful Canadian farmland, and back into one of my favorite states… Michigan! My time there, as well as another hop into Canada to complete the Lake Ontario Circle Tour, are up next! Hope you’ll join me for the ride!