Are There Really a Thousand Islands?

Thousand Islands sounds like it must be an exaggeration– there couldn’t really be one thousand islands in the area. And, in fact, there aren’t a thousand. There are actually 1,864.

The area known as the Thousand Islands Region stretches about 50 miles from Kingston, Ontario down the St. Lawrence River toward New York State. The islands run across the border between the United States and Canada, and contain 30 state or national parks as well as a national historic site.

Those seeking admission to the archipelago must meet three criteria: be above the water year-round, be more than one square foot in size, and support at least one living tree.

Of course, when someone hears Thousand Islands, they are usually thinking of the dressing. The condiment does in fact draw its name from the region. According to local lore, Sophia LaLonde, the wife of a fisherman, was responsible for first making the dressing. After trying it on a visit, actress May Irwin was so impressed that she asked for the recipe, and then passed it on to George Boldt. Boldt was proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and insisted immediately that it be put on the menu.

The region has more to offer than good salad dressing, however, and several of the islands have their own claims to fame:

-Many people choose to visit George Boldt’s estate on Heart Island, the perpetually unfinished Boldt Castle. Construction of the six-story stone masonry estate was abandoned in 1904 after the death of Boldt’s wife, but picked up again in 1977 by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. The entire island continues to be restored to this day, and it is perhaps the region’s most popular destination.

-Thousand Islands National Park is Canada’s third-smallest national park. It consists of 21 islands and is part of the UNESCO-designated Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve because of its large number of rare plants and animals. The largest island in the park is Hill Island.

-Deer Island on the American side is owned by the (in)famous Yale University secret society Skull and Bones. Although it cannot be visited, it is passed by on most tours.

-The only man-made island in the area is Longue Vue Island, a National Historic Site which was constructed in 1904 and is said to be haunted.

-Finally, Dark Island is home to Singer Castle, another of the magnificent estates built during the height of the region’s popularity at the turn of the 19th century. The island, part of New York is only a few yards south of the Canadian border. This made it a perfect location for bootleggers and rumrunners during Prohibition in the United States.

We invite you to plan your adventure this summer to visit this remarkable place! Tours to Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands are available on starting at only $152 per person. You can also enjoy a Buy 2 get 3rd Free offer which will help you save even more on your family summer getaway.

By: Allie Thek