Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1864 Islands and Boldt Castle

That’s right, there are actually 1864 islands in the 1000 Islands area of the St. Lawrence River. We took the 2 Nation Tour today on Uncle Sam Boat Tours, a 2 1/4 hour-long tour of both the U.S. and Canadian portions of the 1000 Islands, including Millionaire’s Row. We ended the tour at Boldt Castle and spent a few hours exploring it and the Yacht House.

Our tour boat was big enough that we were never crowded, and had options of inside or outside, and 3 decks.


Two families of Canadian Geese (with a total of 18 goslings) showed up to welcome us on board. One of the crew members took credit for inviting them to appear in time for our boarding.


As soon as we were on board, we could see Boldt Castle on nearby Heart Island.


Part of the ongoing restoration includes work on the tallest turret, with scaffolding disguising the castle’s beauty.


There were many stories told by the tour guide. This little house on its own tiny island was the subject of one of the first stories. Supposedly, George Boldt, who built the castle for his wife, knew her mother was prone to sleepwalking. So he built her this house, where all the doors and windows lead to a fall into the depths of the waters of the St. Lawrence River.


Even the Yacht House, across the water on Wellesley Island, is a grand building.


Along Millionaire’s Row, we were impressed with the obvious wealth of residents. And remember, many of these huge homes are merely summer dwellings, as the entire river freezes solid in wintertime when temperatures can plummet as low as minus 56 degrees!




These cormorants are on shoals. We learned that the definition of an island is based on 3 requirements. 1) It must be above water year-round, 2) It must be at least 3 x 3 feet, and 3) It must have something growing on it. If any of these elements are missing, it’s a shoal.


Wau Winet Island is so small, part of the house floats in the river.


The international border between the U.S. and Canada runs down the middle of the river, with some islands on each side. Here’s the Canadian tour boat dock.


The church up the hill was popular with Americans during Prohibition because parishioners could come across the river and have sacramental wine, then stay for parties that followed the services.


Here’s a home with its own waterfall.


Sorry for the window reflection in this pic. Notice the tall totem pole near the dock.


A Canadian couple built this 4,000 square foot guest house and lived in it while they built the larger house.


When the 14,000 square foot main house was completed, the couple decided it was too large and sold both houses for $23 million!


We’ll be driving over this bridge next week as we enter Canada.


This island had the smallest house on it – a bird house!


We saw several kayakers.


This wasn’t the smallest island – I missed getting a picture of it – but this one ran a close second.


Here’s my favorite picture. This is Zavikon Island – the large part on the left with the house is in Canada and the small part on the right with the boat dock on the back side is in the U.S., with the international border running right under the bridge. This makes the bridge the shortest international bridge in the world!


With about 200 more pictures to go, I’ll save the report of Boldt Castle for tomorrow. It was a wonderful boat tour and we had beautiful weather, which we think won’t happen again for about 3 more days. So, stay tuned.


  1. I'm so glad you were able to order such perfect weather for your tour. I knew you'd enjoy it. The day we went it was hot so everyone was on the top deck.

  2. Wow - this is a fascinating area! I just may have to go east!

  3. And I had the privilage of growing up near there. When I was young Boldt Castle was NOT finished inside. Bob & I went there in 2008 and they have a few rooms completely finished with furniture. Go to Henderson Harbor if you have a chance. West View Lodge was ours. Also Sackets Harbor were the war of 1812 was fought.

  4. Neat post, We have to put the Thousand Islands on our list.


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