A French explorer called this region “Thousand Islands” and, although the islands number more than 1,800, the name has stuck. Some of these islands in the St. Lawrence River are mere rocks, others the size of a village, many are privately owned, but most can harbor only a house or summer camp. Stone mansions and Colonial houses dot the islands, and historical markers commemorate the French and Indian War and the War of 1812.
Separated by an international boundary, this region in eastern Ontario and northwestern New York shares the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario in common. The region became popular with vacationers in the 1870s, as expansive summer homes and hotels began to dot the landscape, and it has remained a favorite getaway over the years.
Connecting the two countries is the Thousand Islands International Bridge, providing a link between I-81 in New York and Hwy. 401 in Ontario. The bridge was opened in 1938 in a gesture of the ongoing friendship between the two countries by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In a scenic area surrounded by woods and water, recreation has always been a draw. Visitors to the Thousand Islands from both sides of the border take advantage of the abundance of waterways for sailing, fishing, canoeing, boating and shipwreck scuba diving. Those more prone to activities on land have plenty to choose from as well, as hiking, bicycling, picnicking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, camping and bird-watching provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
The best way to see the islands is to take a boat tour offered by the boat lines described under Gananoque, Kingston and Rockport. The islands embrace Thousand Islands National Park. Between the spans of the Thousand Islands International Bridge is an observation tower.
The 1000 Islands Parkway, winding 37 kilometres (23 mi.) from Gananoque to Brockville, is an exceptionally scenic way to see the region by car. Another option is the St. Lawrence Recreational Trail, paralleling the river's shore for 50 kilometres (31 mi.) between Morrisburg and Cornwall. In addition to the cities mentioned above, other towns in the Thousands Islands listed individually are Ingleside and Prescott.
Gananoque and the Thousand Islands Visitor Centre 10 King St. E. GANANOQUE, ON K7G 1E6. Phone:(613)382-8044