The Thousand Islands Region blends the waters of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario from Kingston to Cornwall. And the Rideau Canal links Lake Ontario in Kingston with the Ottawa River, passing through historic sites, charming villages, quaint attractions and spectacular recreation areas.
This beautiful area represents Eastern Canada's most bio diverse ecosystem. Explore theatre, arts, culture, history, fine cuisine and outdoor adventures from early Summer right through to the Fall. And a “must do” is to get out on the water in this glorious region of South Eastern Ontario.
The 1000 Islands Frontenac Arch is designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The forests, wetlands, waterways and immense granite formations from the Canadian Shield make up one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. 2700 square kilometers in area, the Biosphere’s designation recognizes both the exceptional ecosystem and the unique cultures of the 1000 Islands area – plus local initiatives for education, conservation, culture and quality of life.
While you are visiting the 1000 Islands region be sure to also take in Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Magnificent Fort Henry, the Kingston Fortifications and the Rideau Canal are steeped in history! The Rideau Canal - one of the first canals to be designed specifically for steam-powered vessels - also features an ensemble of fortifications. It is the best-preserved example of a slackwater canal in North America, demonstrating the use of this European technology on a large scale. It is the only canal dating from the great North American canal-building era of the early 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its structures intact.
The Rideau Heritage Route and The 1000 Islands are united by their magnificent access to water and water based activities such as sightseeing cruises, paddling, fishing and scuba diving. And though you might think of this area as a Summer destination - Fall is a spectacular time on land or on water. Fall colours abound – as do Fall flavours such as apples, cheese and maple products.
The St. Lawrence river and Lake Ontario come together in The 1000 Islands Region between Kingston and Cornwall. The endless shorelines and majestic waterways of the 1000 Islands are dotted with waterfront villages, sailboats and century-old lighthouses. This area is a Mecca for summer visitors and was a playground of the “Rich and Famous” from as long ago as the 1900’s.
Today the 1000 Islands are home to two vibrant cities. Brockville, gateway to scuba diving, also has beautifully maintained historic buildings and gardens. Gananoque has shops and galleries as well as the renowned 1000 Islands Playhouse. The area is blessed with charming towns and villages, unique boutique shopping, delicious local gastronomy and cozy accommodations to fit a range of budgets. You can dine on delicious local produce and enjoy local delicacies such as 1000 Islands Dressing, Maple Mustard and Artisanal cheese.
Native peoples called The 1000 Islands the "Garden of the Great Spirit." Gananoque and the 1000 Islands have deep connections and historical significant to many Aboriginal Nations in Eastern Ontario and the U.S. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere was well known to aboriginals as a rich hunting area and a gathering spot en route to the cranberry fields of the Rideau and the wild rice fields close to Peterborough. The Islands are full of Native names as well as artifacts. They were bought from the Mississauga people in the late 1700’s as part of the Crawford Purchase. Currently Gananoque and the Islands are referred to as being Mohawk Territory, as part of the land was gifted to Joseph Brant (Thyendinga) after the American War of Independence.
The Arthur Child Heritage Museum in Gananoque is the centerpiece of the Historic 1000 Islands Village and is a replica of 19th century architecture. Travel in the footsteps of the First Nations, early settlers and fur traders and the military combatants of the War of 1812.
This is a place to embrace the outdoors with freshwater fishing, cycling, golfing, kayaking, boating, hiking and more. With crystal clear waters and an abundance of shipwrecks, the 1000 Islands represent some of the best fresh water scuba diving in the world.
Boldt Castle is one of the most popular destinations on a helicopter tour or scenic cruise. It was built by George C. Boldt, the millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City for his beloved wife – who tragically died before the castle was completed. Incidentally 1000 island dressing was invented in this area and then subsequently served at the Waldorf Astoria.
1000 Island Helicopter Tours is a new attraction in the area offering the most spectacular views of the 1000 Islands with three unique tours. Feel the exhilaration as you lift off from their new state of the art facility to visit the Islands, the famous Boldt Castle and more….
Or take a relaxing scenic boat cruise to see the many summer homes, big and small, perched on the islands in the St Lawrence. Gananoque Boat Line started in the early 50’s as a local mail run that also began carrying a few passengers for scenic cruises. Nowadays it has become one of the world’s most famous tour boat companies, attracting visitors from around the globe.
Tours on offer include the “Boldt Castle Stopover” and “Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands” – the latter has been acknowledged as a “Signature Canadian Experience”. Special music themed evening cruises over the summer offer tributes to Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and more.
The 1000 Islands Playhouse really is a jewel. It operates two fully-renovated historic venues side by side on the banks of the St. Lawrence River - the 360 seat Springer Theatre and the 140 seat Firehall Theatre. The location of the theatre is spectacular with wonderful views over the majestic islands in the St Lawrence River.
The 1000 Islands Playhouse theatre company has been presenting quality, professional theatre for over 30 years and was founded in 1982 by former Stratford actor Greg Wanless, a graduate of the National Theatre School and Queens University. The Theatre program lasts right into October so you can still enjoy a visit to the theatre as well as taking in the beautiful fall colours…
The 1000 Islands also has a lively calendar of festivals that includes:
Check out the events calendar at www.1000islandstourism.com.