Monday, September 7, 2009

Thousand Islands ~ Brockville, Ontario

Thousand Islands, which is the origin of the name for Thousand Island Dressing is an archipelago of islands that straddle Canada and the US border on the St. Lawrence River. They are scattered on the river for
80 km (50 mi) from Kingston to Brockville, Ontario.  We were staying in the Brockville, Ontario area, which is the eastern end of the Thousand Islands and there are Seaway cruises offering excursions to see the islands leaving from the docks at Blockhouse Island.

Cruise the Thousand Islands

General Brock 3 was waiting at the dock to take us out to see the sights and give us a tour of the Thousand Islands. Our Captain was the guide and offered information on many things. We did hear an SOS on the radio for a sailboat that was taking on water. The captain interrupted the tour so as to listen to this and then turned on the radio so we could hear that the Canadian Coast Guard was responding to the SOS. We then also heard that all was well with the rescue.

Glass-like water on the St. Lawrence River
We began our cruise by touring past the Three Sisters, which are the most easterly of the Thousand Islands, with the same most westerly islands in Kingston being called the Three Brothers, or was it four? One of the islands in particular is a gathering place for a large population of Cormorants.
The Double-crested Cormorant colony
The Double-crested Cormorant are a large fish eating bird that had been devastated by the effects of toxic chemicals and the nesting pairs had been decreased by 86%. Their numbers have increased over the years due to the efforts made by declining levels of contaminants and human induced changes in fish stock.
Cormorants average 1.9 kg (4.2 lbs) and are a very sociable bird that require undisturbed nesting sites. They will frequently swim in a group to form a semi-circle, driving their prey. They dive into the water from the surface and up to 37 meters (121’) using their wings as well as their feet for underwater swimming.

St. Lawrence Island National Parks
23 of these islands form the St. Lawrence Island National Park, being the smallest of Canadian National Parks. They have docks on which to moor your boat, and we saw some very pretty spots for enjoying the parks that appear to be a little piece of paradise.

Private island home
Some islands are privately owned and have had homes built on them. Most of those homes are built on higher ground, but if you do not have that choice, you do what you have to do.This home looks like it is sitting in water.

One of the islands of paradise
Most of these islands are privately owned but there are those with Canadian National Parks that are available to the public to use. It would be an easy ride out in a boat to one of these island. They are not far from shore and the invitation is there to enjoy your own island for the day. Well, maybe it isn’t really your own, but why not dream?
A private island of the Thousand Islands Archipelago
There are 1864 islands altogether and in order to qualify as an actual island, they must be have at least 2 trees and be 3’ out of water, and there are several that do only that, but some are as large as 40 sq. miles.

Bird watching opportunities on the islands
The Thousand Islands offered a protected nesting island for the Blue Heron to allow their population to increase after it almost became extinct. That has been a successful endeavor as well as for the Cormorant’s return. Altogether there are about 240 species of birds who enjoy the Thousand Islands.

Blockhouse Island Lighthouse
We return to Tunnel Bay and the welcoming lighthouse on Blockhouse Island.
Blockhouse Island was once called Hospital Island. During the 1800’s, many refugees arrived by vessels from Europe and due to their illnesses after that voyage, they would spend time on the island before being allowed to go on the mainland.  To see more about the historic town of Brockville, Ontario, clik on:


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