It was an early morning start as we left our Airbnb in Picton for a full day of exploring The 1000 Islands. Thanks to my #workperks as a member of the Attractions Ontario reciprocal program, Robin and I made our way to Rockport where we jumped onboard the 9am Heart of the Islands hour-long cruise to get a better view!
The 1000 Islands are the Saint Lawrence River’s iconic archipelago that were created when the roots of an ancient mountain range flooded after the retreat of the last ice age. Spanning over 75km, the area is made up of 1867 “islands” – 997 are known to be actual islands, while the others are mainly shoals and rocks.
I was excited to explore more of the 1000 Islands as well as I used to visited the area with my parents when I was much younger. Although all I can remember are bits and pieces, almost like snapshots of our time in Alexandria Bay on the American side, I was excited to make new memories!
One of the highlights is catching a glimpse of Boldt Castle on Heart Island. This beautiful historic site has just as beautiful of a story to match it, albeit it ends in an unfortunate way. Construction started in 1900 as George Boldt began building the castle as a gift to his beloved wife. However, Boldt’s wife tragically passed in 1904 very suddenly. Upon her death, Boldt could never return to Heart Island and chose to leave the unfinished castle as a monument to his love.
For over 70 years it was left to face the elements, until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority purchased it in 1977 for $1. Why so cheap? The agreement was that all revenue would go towards restoring the castle and maintaining it for future generations. Tours are available of the castle and can be done from both the Canadian and American side of the Thousands Islands!
It was surprising to see just how many of the islands had cottages on them. I had no idea so many of the islands were privately owned, let alone the fact that many of them have phone lines and hydro thanks to underwater cables! Some were small and quaint while others were absolutely massive. I’d take any of them – I’m not picky when it comes to a little slice of island paradise! The coolest one though? Pictured below, the larger island is technically on Canadian soil whereas the little one is American – making that bridge the smallest international bridge connecting the two countries!
Does this make you want to get out and explore? Here’s my tip for you: even though it’s an early start, do the 9am cruise. I originally tried to book the 10am but it was sold out. As you can see from the photo below… there were TONS of people waiting! I counted at least 4 tour buses in the parking lot for this cruise. We had a few on ours, but there was still tons of room to enjoy the cruise with a great view. The cruise is also more enjoyable when it’s not sweltering outside, so earlier is better for that! The cruise also focuses more on the American side of the Thousand Islands. If you want to see more of the Canadian side, try getting up close with a kayaking tour like we did after this (more to come on that soon)! If you want to do this tour, tickets are $28+tax for adults and $12+tax for children.