A Scenic Journey: Half-Day Boat Tour of Thousand Islands in Canada

Thousand Islands | Introduction

The Thousand Islands is located in a bay of the Saint Lawrence River near the city of Kingston, south of the Canadian capital, Ottawa. The Thousand Islands are famous for the numerous small islands within the bay. Since there are too many reefs and islands here, there is a rule "land with at least two trees growing is considered an island."

The Thousand Lakes are close to Niagara Falls, so combining these two destinations would also make for a great weekend getaway departing from New York.

Niagara Fall + Lake Thousand Islands 3 days

The Cruise

We signed up for Gananoque boat line's thousand lakes cruise tour. The two-and-a-half-hour journey, with its turnaround point at the famous Boldt Castle located on Heart Island, features comprehensive English commentary throughout. It also includes a demonstration on making the famous Thousand Islands dressing. This makes for an excellent half-day excursion filled with intriguing stories shared during the journey.

The trip begins with boarding in Gananoque. In the morning, we drove to the meeting point at Gananoque, which is right by the dock where we'll board the ship. During the waiting period, we can explore the nearby souvenir shops and grab a bite to eat.

Thousand Islands Cruise

Millionaire's Row

Many of the islands in the Thousand Islands, due to their proximity to the shores of the United States and Canada and their relatively small size, aren't suitable for public development. As a result, numerous individuals have purchased these islands as private lands. Along this water route located between New York and Ontario, you'll find many of these wealthy people who have built their own castles or vacation cottages. These islands are meticulously maintained and together form what is known as "Millionaire's Row."

One of the most intriguing spots along the route is the pair of islands owned by the General Motors executive. These two islands are connected by a bridge, with one in Canada and the other in the United States. The story goes that initially, he bought the smaller island in the United States, but it wasn't large enough to build a substantial house. So, he acquired the larger neighboring island and connected the two with a bridge. Upon close inspection, you can even spot both the American and Canadian flags on the bridge, symbolizing the unique dual-nationality of this property.

Thousand islands 9

Boldt Castle

The most famous attraction along Millionaire's Row is Boldt Castle, which has a romantic story. Originally, the castle was constructed by the hotel magnate George Boldt as a testament of his love for his wife. He envisioned it as a dreamy vacation home dedicated to her. However, the castle was never completed, and construction came to a halt in 1904 when his wife tragically passed away. Devastated by the loss, George Boldt stopped all work on the castle and never set foot inside it during his lifetime.

It wasn't until 1977 that the island was donated to the U.S. government, leading to the restoration of the castle to its originally grand design.

If you're participating in a four-hour-long tour, it typically includes a visit to the inside of Boldt Castle. On the other hand, the two-and-a-half-hour tour you mentioned primarily focuses on an exterior view of the castle, with the boat circling around the island before returning.

Further reading

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