Thousand Islands

The Thousand Islands is the name of an archipelago of islands that straddle the U.S.-Canada border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. They stretch for about mi to km|50 downstream from Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian islands are in the province of Ontario. The U.S. islands are in the state of New York. The islands, which number 1,793 in all, range in size from over convert|40|sqmi|km2|-1|lk=on to smaller islands occupied by a single residence, to even smaller uninhabited outcroppings of rocks that are home to migratory waterfowl. The number of islands was determined using the criteria that any island must be above water level for 365 (366) days per year, bigger than one square foot (roughly 930 cm²), and support at least one living tree. The area is very popular among vacationers, campers, and boaters, and is often referred to as the "fresh water boating capital of the world".

The area is frequently traveled by large freighters traveling the St. Lawrence Seaway, but is so riddled with shoals and rocks that local navigators are hired to help the vessels travel through the hazardous waterway. Under the Canadian span, a vessel just less than 25 feet (7.6 m) offshore can find itself in over 200 feet (61 m) of water. Similarly, rocks and shoals less than two feet (61 cm) underwater can be found in the center of channels 90 feet (27 m) deep. Because of the great number of rocks and shoals just above or below the water's surface, it is unwise to travel the waters at night, unless one stays in the main channels and has charts, a chart plotter, or knows the area well. The water is so clear in some areas, that a rocky bottom can be observed in 80 feet (24 m) of water. The area features several shipwrecks and is a great place for diving. Although most of the wrecks are over 100 feet (30 m) underwater, some are a mere 15 feet below the water's surface and can be seen by looking overboard.

Geologically, the islands are located where a branch of the Canadian Shield runs south across the river to join with the Adirondacks.

Around twenty of these islands form the St. Lawrence Islands National Park, the smallest of Canada's national parks. The Thousand Islands-Frontenac Arch region was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2002. The U.S. islands include numerous New York state parks, including Robert Moses State Park - Thousand Islands, located on an island in the St. Lawrence.

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century many distinguished visitors made the region widely known as a summer resort. Several grand hotels provided luxurious accommodations while steamboats offered extensive tours among the islands. Wealthy and middle-class summer residents built summer homes. Some masonry "castles" remain as international landmarks. The most famous extant examples are "The Towers" on Dark Island, now called Singer Castle, and the long-neglected Boldt Castle on Heart Island, which is slowly being restored.

During the half century (1874-1912) of the resort's greatest prominence, most wealthy vacationers came from New York City, joined by prominent families from Chicago, Pittsburgh and other cities of the United States and Canada. The region retains a historically important collection of vacation homes from this time. The Thousand Islands have long been a center for recreational boating. Large steam yachts, many designed by Nathanael Herreshoff required distinctive yacht houses. The region was known also for innovative power boating during this period. Three local yacht clubs hosted the Gold Cup Races of the American Power Boat Association for nine consecutive years. The [ Antique Boat Museum] of Clayton, New York retains one of the world's major collections of recreational freshwater boats.

The Thousand Islands Bridge connects New York State and Ontario by traversing Wellesley Island at the northernmost point of U.S. Interstate 81 in Jefferson County and meets Highway 137, which leads to Highway 401. The Thousand Islands Parkway provides a scenic view of many of the islands.

The largest island in the group, Wolfe Island, is located entirely in Ontario. Adjacent to Wolfe but closer to New York is Carleton Island, the site of a ruined fort, Fort Haldiman, built in 1779 by the British during the American Revolutionary War. The island was captured by three American soldiers during the War of 1812 and remains part of the United States today.

The Thousand Islands gave their name to the popular Thousand Island Dressing around the turn of the twentieth century when Sophie LaLonde, of Clayton, New York who served the dressing at dinner for guests of her husband, a popular fishing guide, gave the recipe to Clayton hotel owner Ella Bertrand and New York City stage actress May Irwin. Irwin shared it with hotel magnate George C. Boldt.

The towns most associated with the Thousand Islands are Alexandria Bay, New York, and Gananoque, Ontario. On both sides, free dock space is available to boaters who wish to come ashore and walk through the towns, with souvenir shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, pizza shops and arcades located nearby.

Another popular American vacation spot is the Wellesley Island State Park on Wellesley Island, which sports hundreds of camping sites, both powered and non, and several boat ramps and docking facilities for a boater-friendly park.

Popular boating, fishing and vacationing locations

*One of the only beaches in the Thousand Islands, Potter's Beach on the American Grindstone Island has a fine, shallow sandy bottom with a very gradual slope, perfect for boaters that want to stretch their legs or socialize.
*A popular location for swimming or anchoring out of the wind, the Lake of the Isles is a secluded area cut off from the rest of the St. Lawrence River by Wellesley Island and neighboring Canadian Hill Island. Access is limited through two narrow passages.
*Known for its fishing, Eel Bay is a shallow bay just southwest of Wellesley Island. From the air, the bay can resemble the Caribbean with a turquoise-tinted crystal clear water and sandy bottoms.
* [ Boldt Castle] , a testament of one man's love of his wife, has been under renovation by its owner, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority since 1977, and can be visited by boat or tour cruise. This 120-room mansion and surrounding grounds are available for touring, and is also available for wedding ceremonies.
*The [ Antique Boat Museum] in Clayton houses exhibits antique wooden boats used or built in the region. The museum also features exhibits on the region's maritime culture and is home to the LaDuchess, George Boldt's luxury houseboat.
*Though not as famous as George Boldt's Castle, Singer Castle on Dark Island is privately renovated and is open to tourists. Frederick Bourne had his castle constructed with secret passageways so that he could spy on his guests.


*In the Saint Lawrence River, about two miles (3.2 km) north of Alexandria Bay, there is an island called "Deer Island" which is owned by the secret society of Skull and Bones.
*There is a pair of islands near Rockport called the Zavikon Island. A popular but incorrect [cite news
first = Jay
last = Clarke
title = Retreat to the river on the St. Lawrence islands
publisher = The Philadelphia Inquirer
page = I09
date = July 17, 1983
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-03
] tale among the local tourist guides is that the bigger island is in Canada, while the smaller one is in the USA, and the foot bridge between them is the shortest international bridge in the world. [cite book
last = Chan
first = Elise D.
title = Jefferson County
year = 2007
publisher = Arcadia Publishing
isbn = 978-0738535470
pages = 58
] [cite web
url =
title = The Venice of America
publisher = The Hindu Business Line
date = March 13, 2000
accessdate = 2007-09-09
] The Zavikon Island is located in the Canadian territory and belongs to the Leeds and Grenville municipal unit. [cite web
url =
title = ONTERM GeoNames Index: Zachary Islands — Zigzag Island
publisher = Government of Ontario
accessdate = 2007-10-03
] [cite web
url =
title = Geographical Name Search Service (search for Zavikon Island)
publisher = Canadian Geographical Names Natural Resources Canada
accessdate = 2007-10-03
*There is only one artificial island in the entire region, Longue Vue Island.
*Thousand Island dressing was named for the chain of islands by the actress who popularised the dressing, May Irwin.


ee also


External links

* [ Real Ontario. Ontario's Tourism Guide]
* [ 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce and tourism information]
* [ St. Lawrence Parks Commission (Ontario)]
* [ Page about Wolfe Island]
* [ Thousand Islands Life]
* [ The Antique Boat Museum, Clayton, NY]
* [ Boating the 1000 Islands]
* [ Welcome to The Thousand Islands]
* [ St. Lawrence River / 1000 Islands Live Webcam]
* [ "Discovering the Thousand Islands" by Don Ross]
* [ A gallery of Thousand Islands images by Chris Murray]
* [ Thousand Islands Neighbourhood Galleries + Aerial Photography by Ian Coristine]
* [ A comprehensive gallery of Thousand Islands images sorted by Theme and Neighborhood]
* [ Ontario photos. 1000 Islands]

;Tourism offices
* [ 1000 Islands International Tourism Council]
* [ Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce, NY]
* [ Clayton Chamber of Commerce, NY]
* [ Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce, NY]
* [ Brockville Tourism , ON]
* [ Gananoque Chamber of Commerce ON]
* [ Kingston Tourism, ON]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thousand Islands — Boldt Castle in Thousand Islands; im Hintergrund die Thousand Islands Bridge auf kanadischer Seite Gewäss …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thousand Islands —   [ θaʊzənd aɪləndz], Gruppe von über 1 500 Inseln im Sankt Lorenz Strom, an dessen Ausfluss aus dem Ontariosee; die Thousand Islands gehören teils zu Kanada (Provinz Ontario), teils zu den USA (Bundesstaat New York); gebildet aus felsigem… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Thousand Islands — group of over 1,500 islands in the St. Lawrence River at the outlet of Lake Ontario, some forming part of N.Y. state & others forming part of Ontario, Canada …   English World dictionary

  • Thousand Islands — a group of about 1500 islands in S Canada and the N United States, in the St. Lawrence River at the outlet of Lake Ontario: summer resorts. * * * Group of about 1,500 small islands extending 80 mi (128 km) in the Saint Lawrence River between New… …   Universalium

  • THOUSAND ISLANDS —    2000 islands which stud the river St. Lawrence below Kingston, at the outlet of the river from Lake Ontario …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Thousand Islands — n. group of over 1500 islands along the Canadian United States border (in Canada in southeast Ontario and in the US in northern New York State) in the St. Lawrence River at the outlet of Lake Ontario …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Thousand Islands — Thou′sand Is′lands n. pl. geg a group of about 1500 islands in S Ontario, Canada, and N New York State, in the St. Lawrence River at the outlet of Lake Ontario: summer resorts …   From formal English to slang

  • Thousand Islands — /θaʊzənd ˈaɪləndz/ (say thowzuhnd uyluhndz) plural noun a group of about 1500 islands in southern Canada and the northern US, in the St Lawrence at the outlet of Lake Ontario; summer resorts …   Australian English dictionary

  • Thousand Islands — a group of about 1500 islands in S Canada and the N United States, in the St. Lawrence River at the outlet of Lake Ontario: summer resorts …   Useful english dictionary

  • Thousand Islands — geographical name island group Canada & United States in St. Lawrence River in Ontario & New York …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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