The Thousand Islands (1000 Islands)are by far one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kingston, Ontario. They are made up of 1,864 diverse islands in the Saint Lawrence River as it comes out of the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. These islands begin in Kingston, Ontario and stretch 80kms downstream. Some of the islands are over 40 square miles, and others may only be big enough for a single home or even a single tree.
The islands where highly popularized as a summer resort in the late 19th century and early 20th century by admiring (and rich) visitors. Some of these more affluent of these visitors built castle-style summer homes. Many of them still stand today as homes or tourist attractions. The most popular include Singer Castle (originally called The Towers) on Dark Island and Boldt Castle, located on Heart Castle.
The Thousand Islands enjoyed their greatest imminence between 1874 and 1912. During this time boats and boaters took center stage. Wealthy visitors came from New York, Ontario and other places in both countries to yacht and spend time at yacht clubs.
People visit the islands today much for the same reasons as in the past. The main difference is their beauty is open to everyone – not just the rich. Every year hundreds of thousands of people visit the Thousand Islands to enjoy their rare beauty and geography. The islands are located where an arm of the Canadian Shield comes south across the river to join with the Adirondacks. While large freight ships often use the St. Lawrence Seaway, the path has many rocks and shoals. This makes it dangerous to traverse the waters at night. In fact, many ships have sunk in the area. Some wrecks are hundreds of meters deep, and others are clearly visible from the surface.
The most common way for people to see the Thousand Islands is on one the renowned Thousand Island Cruises. Some of these boat tours are an hour or so, while others last all day. The more luxurious cruises offer drinks, dinner, dancing, and a spectacular sunset. People even charter cruises for weddings, office parties, birthdays and anniversaries.
Even if people have never heard of the Thousand Islands themselves, many have heard of the salad dressing, which owes its name to the archipelago. The dressing was originally made by Sophia LaLonde of New York, and served to guests. She gave the recipe to actress May Irwin, who coined the name, saying the chopped vegetables in the dressing reminded her of the Thousand Islands.