Brian and Helen joined us for our first week in the Thousand Islands, they arrived Monday morning and we left Trident Yacht Club at 12:20 bound for the islands.
We had purchased a Parks Canada Mooring pass which we had used on the Trent Severn to stay at the locks at night; it also gives us access to 20 different sites in the Islands. The facilities at each island vary; they usually have washrooms, and may have camp sites, oTENTik (cabins), trails, firewood, and picnic shelters. Some of the islands have docks, whereas others just have mooring buoys (you tie up to the buoy, which is anchored and enjoy the winds and waves, and can only access the island by dinghy. Our preference it to tie up to a dock.
We arrived at Gordon Island at 13:40, and tied up. We walked the trail through the park and saw this gazebo from the early 1900’s.
There were signs up for vegetation to avoid like Poison Ivy. Andy did a little bit of washing of the Port side of the boat, and we relaxed and read books. We seemed to be in line for the wake from Gananoque cruise ships and encountered some large waves, until nightfall; when the cruises stopped. We had a peaceful night.
In the morning we left the island at 8:30, bound for Alexandria Bay and Boldt Castle which opened at 10:00.
Once we arrived at the castle, our first stop was US Customs, as we had crossed into the United States, and Boldt Castle was an official port of entry. After showing our Pass ports and answering a few questions we were allowed to go purchase tickets for the castle.
Here’s some history as taken from the castle’s web site: At the turn-of-the-century, George C. Boldt, millionaire proprietor of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, set out to build a full size Rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay, on picturesque Heart Island. The grandiose structure was to be a display of his love for his wife, Louise. But the castle was never finished as Louise, died in 1904, and the Boldt’s did not return to the island. In 1977 the Thousand Island’s Bridge authority acquired the property and has been restoring it for future generations. To date over 32 Million dollars have been spent.
After we purchased our tickets, we took the 5 minute boat to the Boldt Castle Yacht House on Wellesley Island, which was opened in the summer of 1996. The Boldt family yachts and house boat would have been housed here in the slips that were 128 feet long. The collection now consists of a number of antique wooden boats including the numbered racers that the Boldt family had used.
The Yacht House also features an 1892 Steam Yacht called the Kestrel, which was a typical; yacht that would have been seen in the waters of the St. Lawrence, Hudson Rivers and the Great Lakes. The steam yacht Kestrel is representative of the period and vessels owned and operated by George Boldt.
After spending about an hour at the Yacht house, we returned to Heart Island for a tour of the castle and grounds. The main floor boasts a reception room, ballroom, billiards, and kitchen, dining room for the owners as well as for the servants, butler’s pantry and library.
The second floor had bedroom suites
and a bathroom, and reception room. Here’s a view from the bedroom window of our boat.
In the renovation, they have also added a theatre room and gift shop. The 3rd and 4th floor have not been developed/renovated as yet. Unfortunately many visitors to the castle have written graffiti across many of the walls and ceilings. I made a few purchases in the gift shop, including a Christmas decoration, that I can add to my collection. We walked around the grounds, to see the power house, dove cove and gardens.
We left Boldt Castle at 1:30 and went to the public docks at Alexandria Bay to tie up for the night.
We walked up James Street, and checked out some of the stores, found the Post office and then went for Ice cream. We also saw this very large chess board.
On our way back to our boat we met other Gold Loopers, Jan and Ron from Adagio.
Later that evening we went to Coleman’s on the Docks for supper, where I had crab cakes.
On Wednesday morning it was cool and overcast, it had rained during the night, and there was a rainbow over the bay. Jan from Adagio sent me this picture.
We went out for breakfast and then did a little more shopping in Alexandria Bay. We left the dock at 10:50; our destination was Dark Island and the Singer castle, which located very close to the US-Canada border. We arrived at the island
just before noon, which is when the tours begin. Here’s the history of this castle, as taken from their website
A part of American history and local folklore meet at Singer Castle on Dark Island, located on the St. Lawrence River. Singer Castle is the only remaining/existing castle on our river to be completed, fully furnished and resided in during the heyday of the great builders and industrials in New York. Mr. Bourne wanted to surprise his wife Emma and their children with an island hunting retreat. He purchased Dark Island in 1902 and had designed and built the castle originally known as “The Towers” for a cost of US $500,000. The Castle remained in the possession of the original owners, the Bourne family, from its construction in 1905 until the mid 1960’s. Frederick Bourne was the fifth President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which is where the name “Singer Castle” came from.
We had a 45 minute guided tour through the house that showed us the various rooms. All the rooms were full furnished,
and they boast a royal suite, that can be rented for the night at $750 US, that includes dinner and breakfast. There were also many secret passageways and we went through one from the wine cellar to the library. The suite was occupied, so we weren’t able to see it. We did a short tour of the grounds and then returned to our boat by 1:00. We were in agreement that this was the better castle of the two we had seen. It had begun to rain, and we headed to the docks at Grenadier Island –Central, to tie up for the night. Since we had returned to Canada, the first order of business was to check in with Canadian Customs by phone. The rain stopped and we relaxed on the docks. There was a notice at the island,
which said we had to vacate the docks by 7:00, when Peter from Parks Canada came by; he told us that the OPP and RCMP were holding a mock disaster at the campsite, so it was off limits to the public. Wednesday evening, there was some wind, so it was a little bouncy through the night. At 6:30 in the morning by the washrooms, I saw this deer grazing- it didn’t seem too disturbed by my presence.
We left the docks shortly after 7, no sign of the any police but we didn’t want to disobey the signage. We arrived at Endymion Island at 9:35,
and had the place to ourselves for Thursday. On Friday morning around 9;00 just when we were thinking of going to another island , two boats from Trident Yacht Club pulled into the island. Zoltan told us that they had gone by the islands that we were considering, and that many of the spots were taken. He said we already were sitting at one of the coveted spots in the islands-so we decided to stay at Endymion for another night. Andy took the dinghy and paddled to the back of the island to see what the mooring buoys looked like and tried a little fishing. After lunch 2 more boats showed up so there were now 5 of us at the dock.
Parks Canada staff dropped by in the afternoon, and we filled out a survey and made some suggestions on how they could make the parks better. Later in the afternoon we saw this old steamer boat go by.
We visited with the other boaters from Trident, and had an early night. In the morning the captain made pancakes, and we left at about 10:20. We took the wandering channel back and circled some of the other potential islands that we can visit in future including Camelot, McDonald, Thwartway and Mermaid.
We arrived back at Trident at about 12:20, and ended up tying up in Zoltan and Laura’s spot as we knew they were staying at Endymion for another night. Brian and Helen took us to Gananoque for groceries and more red wine. When we returned to Trident I did a couple of loads of laundry, and then worked on writing the blog for the week. Tomorrow we will be returning to the islands, and will try some that we haven’t been to as yet. They are predicting some rain and winds for Monday, so we want to be at an island that is sheltered.