Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Visiting among the Thousand Islands

We checked into Canada at the town of Gananoque. It is not a large city but there were a lot of interesting things happening. The first to catch our eye was a Nestle’s ice cream stand… delicious! Then we noticed a poster for a free concert in the Town Hall park. That was also very nice, a brass ensemble played a variety of enjoyable music from Canadian folk songs to ‘Ein Kleine Nachtmusik’ (Mozart). There is also a water front theater… it even has a dock so you can go see a play or musical in your boat… but we decided to make an early evening.

Here is a photo looking eastward on the St. Laurence River, in the background you can see the International Bridge (built in 1939)
connecting the U.S. and Canada.

There is a nice tour boat line operating from Gananoque. Kathie had heard a lot about Boldt Castle, on Heart Island near the town of Alexandria Bay. The tour boat gave us a nice ride among the Thousand Islands, with a guide commenting on the history & geology of the area. It’s very beautiful. Doug was glad to be able to relax and not worry about navigating among all the rocks.

Here is a photo that shows some of the challenging passages & rocks in the Thousand Islands. Remember there are even more rocks below the surface (difficult to capture with a camera but Kathie did a good job here) than above the surface.

Another photo showing the beauty and diversity of the Thousand Islands. There are far more than a thousand actually.... the rules say that an "island" must have at least two trees, and to build a house on an island it must be at least six acres.

Then we were at Boldt Castle. This is an amazing place, a romantic & opulent summer playground for the super-rich but never finished as originally planned in 1900-04 by George Boldt as a summer home for his wife Louise and their family. Left as a ruin for most of a century, now it is being restored as a combination park, museum, and showpiece for days gone by.

This photo shows the whole complex... from left to right, you see the boat house, with it's entry doors sized to admit the masts & stacks of the Boldt's 140' steam yacht; the triumphal arch intended as an arrival port for guests; the child's playhouse modeled after a fantasy tower; Boldt Castle itself; then on the far right of the island is the power station which housed a coal bunker and electrical generating plant.

Many of the rooms are left unfinished. The decades of accumulated graffiti in the unrestored areas speak volumes and in some cases could well be a display. But the restored areas are magnificent, and gave an excellent impression of the glorious old days.

Visitors can climb the stairs to see all six stories of Boldt Castle and the view from the upper balconies is worth the exercise. Kathie liked it a lot, or maybe she was pretending to be one of Boldt's millionaire guests.

While we were at the boathouse of Boldt Castle, a freighter passed along the St. Laurence Seaway. The ship was too big to get in one photo!

On our way back from Boldt Castle, we passed by these islands. The Canadian-U.S. border does not divide any island, it always follows the water. It's said that these islands are separated by the border, making this the shortest international bridge in the world. If you look close, you can see the flags painted on the bridge.

From Gananoque we took a short traverse to Wolfe Island, one of the largest of the Thousand Islands group. This bay was very lovely & peaceful although it was somewhat open to the north. We prepared by setting an anchor offshore to help hold Winnie W in place if adverse winds arose.

Here is a group photo of the visitors and our gracious hosts. This was taken in a small vineyard!

Hank stops to take time to smell the flowers. He had a marvelous time romping in the fields of Wolfe Island.

Kingston has several Martello Towers, military structures intended to help defend the coast. They make great landmarks now, since the Canadian-U.S. border is the longest peaceful international border in the world. In the background you can see Fort Henry.

Here is a photo of the Winnie W anchored at Navy Bay just east of Kingston, Ontario. To the right you can see the Martello Tower. While staying here, we were treated to a marvelous fireworks show on Canada Day.

Here is a photo of Kathie & Sue at the Maritime Museum in Kingston. This place was very interesting & educational; there is a retired icebreaker which can be toured, too.

Thanks for checking back in, we apologize for the long delay between postings... we have not had internet access for over a week. We hope to keep in closer touch and we have a lot more photos!

Hope you all are well & happy

Doug & Kathie

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