We made a long approach to Kingston on the 100-km (62-mile) Loyalist Parkway, which starts near Trenton and takes a scenic route along the Lake Ontario coast via the isthmus of Prince Edward. It was a relaxing way to go, with speed limits varying between 60-80 kph for the most part and dropping down to 50 kph in the series of small communities dotted along its length. Many sections go through very rural areas with no signs of human intrustion while others provide great views over the water. From the Loyalist Parkway website:
"The Loyalist Parkway follows the course of Loyalist settlement which commenced in 1784 following the American Revolution. As a living monument to the Loyalist settlers it presents a rich source of information for those with interests in Heritage Tourism, Genealogy, Canadian History and Early Canadian Architecture... It also offers a wide choice of accommodation, sightseeing and recreation for the whole family. A 1-meter wide paved shoulder has been provided for cyclists along its length. There are over 40 listed Archeaologic sites and at least 125 notable heritage buildings adjacent to the Parkway.
Following the American Revolution of 1776, individuals who had supported Britain or had wished to remain neutral on religious and ethical grounds were persecuted, deprived of property and often their lives. Survivors fled to areas of British protection around the globe. Those who had fought with the British joined the exodus. The first legal British settlement in Canada other than military establishments took place in western Quebec and what is now eastern Ontario. The settlers were made up of soldiers from volunteer regiments , European mercenaries and civilians. Many were from lower New York State and the Mohawk Valley and included many Mohawk Indians. They suffered terribly from cold, starvation and disease but persevered to become major participants in the formation of Ontario and ultimately Canada. The Loyalist Parkway is a commemoration of their loyalty and determination."
Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island and was built by the manager of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. He wanted to create a fairy tale castle for his beloved wife Louise.
The 120 room castle was modeled after 16th century European buildings and no expense was spared in its design or construction. 300 skilled artisans, craftsmen and builders were working on the site when a telegram arrived in January 1904 advising that Louise had died and that all work was to stop immediately. The castle was left, unfinished to deteriorate until The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority from the State of NY assumed ownership and began a rehabilitation program in 1977.
Today you can tour the grounds, and the finished first floor, but the remaining 5 floors are left as they were, in a state of semi completion. It is a sad story and you will have to imagine the luxury and happiness that might have been.
Admission $5.25 US. see the website for hours of operation.
Don't miss the boat ride around the islands. It's worth a $20- investment for a three hour boat ride. There are boat rides at other places that take you around the islands. towns like Brockville, Prescott and Kingston are among the spots where you can get on a tour boat. The most famous one is the Gonanoque Boat ride. We went on that one.
Please check my travelogues for many more pictures from the Islands. There are about 1850 island around and some of them are man made. most of the islands are owned by a private person or family and there is a lot of activity going on the islands and on the water surrounding them.
If you take the three hour boat ride, you'll get to see the Boldt castle on picturesque Heart Island. It is astonishingly beautiful and interesting. We didn't get to walk around it but saw the island and the castles on it from the boat. We sailed around the island and I toke a few pictures that you can see in the travelogue I have created only for this purpose. Just Check for a travelogue, called "Boldt Castle"
There is a sad love story attached to the castle and it was built by a European immigrant who didn't speak a word of English when came to the United states. When his wife died, he abandoned the island and the castle and never returned there. The castle was empty for over seventy years. After this period it became a tourist attraction and museum and it was fully restored to it's original state.
Just east of Kingston in the St. Lawrence River, you can cruise amongst The Thousand Islands. There are actually over 1800 islands, most of which are privately owned.
I chose to travel with Heritage Islands Cruise which departs from Rockport, 30 kms east of Kingston. Heritage was the only Canadian boat in September that was stopping at the beautiful Boldt Castle mid week. Many other tour boats depart from Kingston, Rockport and Ganonoque but only cruise around the island without stopping.
Apart from Boldt Castle, you will see the Millionaire's Row of stately summer homes each on their own private island. Some of these belong to the inventor of the Bobby Pin and the owner of Wrigley Field, amongst others.
Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands Region of the St. Lawrence River stands as a remembrance of the magnificence of a bygone era...a monument of love on Heart Island of George C. Boldt for his wife Louise. This romantic Island provides the setting for the saddest true love story ever told.
There are six impressive structures to explore on Heart Island - Boldt Castle, the Power House, the Alster Tower, the Hennery, the Arch, and a stone gazebo. Exhibits in the various structures and a 15 minute video presentation offer a look into the lifestyle of George and Louise Boldt, along with a history of the 1000 Islands region and the restoration efforts on Heart Island. (Visit my travelogue for more photos about the castle.)
We drove up to Gananoque which is a very picturesque little town. Had lunch at Muskie Jake's Tap and Grill then headed down to the dock to board our boat. We booked the three hour boat trip as we wanted to see Boldt Castle. The islands were amazing and beautiful scenery. The boat takes you between Canada and the States.
It was a lovely way to chll out for the afternoon and see some beautiful houses on these islands. Also a great way to top your tan up too!
This boat line also offers themed evenings cruises such as Murder Mysteries, Comedy Cruises and Musical Cruises. It also offers 1 hour and 3 hour cruises and Boldt Castle stopovers too which I would have liked to have done but we went on the wrong day. We still saw it though and the boat went around the island that it stood on. I was amazed as to how beautiful the castle was, I would have loved to have gone inside it.
Take the ferry to Wolfe Island!
After a 20 minutes, very nice ferry ride, you can discover beautifull Wolfe island. This little community,whose only link to mainland is by ferry still has a few old traditions. You can go there and walk around and apreaciate the nice, country-style atmosphere, buy your goods at the general store, etc..
As stated earlier, do a 1000 Islands cruise. My family members who have visited from overseas have all enjoyed it when we took them for a cruise. Cruises are available of lengths from a couple of hours to a few days. You are able to see the lovely islands and sometimes stop at them.
Built as a display of his love by George C. Boldt for his wife Louise, the castle was started in 1900 on Heart Island. However, construction ground to a halt in 1904 at the untimely death of Louise. A heartbroken George never returned to the island. For 73 years the castle was left to withstand the elements until 1977 when the 1000 Islands Bridge Authority bought the island. They finished the castle and have maintained it as a tourist attraction ever since.
It's American property but is visited by many of the cruises. However, if you're visiting Canada and don't have a visa to visit the US, you probably won't be allowed onto the island.
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