Millionaires’ playground

Millionaires’ playground

The Thousand Island chain in the St Lawrence River between the US and Canada. It is also a region of breathtaking beauty. From the sky, you catch a glimpse of a romantic castle perched on a rocky promontory surrounded by  the cobalt-blue waters of the mighty St Lawrence River. And it looks like something straight out of fairy tale book.

But then on a helicopter tour of the famous Thousand Islands chain. That straddles the new York-Canadian border, every moment feels magic. But then on a helicopter tour of the famous Thousand Islands chain that straddles the New York-Canadian border, every moment feels magic. There are some 1,864 closely spaced islands in the Thousand Islands chain which offer breathtaking natural beauty for tourists, who can enjoy the sights through a myriad ways from taking cruises and helicopter rides to hiking, kayaking, freshwater fishing, cycling or simply strolling.

The Islands used to be a playground for very rich Americans during the ‘Gilded Age’ of the late 19th-century. It was a time when many great fortunes were made in oil, steel and railways. The affluent in US and Canada still own second homes in the region. It lies some 340 miles northwest of New York City. As we took off in one of the tiniest helicopters we had ever seen, we felt a slight frisson of fear. But the super-cool Canadian pilot Rupert Owen quickly made us feel safe and comfortable.

You’re flying over the summer homes of the rich and famous. And every property has a story. Boldt started construction of the 120-room, six-storey castle in 1990 as a tribute to the love of his life, his wife Louise. But she died when the castle was months away from completion. Broken-hearted, Boldt suspended work on the castle.

Then, in 1977, the Thousand Island Bridge Authority acquired the  property. And it has worked hard to refurbish it. Now, dream castle on Heart Island is one of the region’s chief attractions. It has its turrets, drawbridge and heart-shaped flower beds.  Nearby, there’s another castle on Dark Island built by Frederick Gilbert Bourne, the Singer sewing-machine magnate, which was based on an English castle in a novel by Sir Walter Scott and where visitors can take the opportunity to be king and queen of the castle and stay in the Royal Suite.

Then, the helicopter flies over lvy Lea Bridge. It is one of the many spanning the St  Lawrence River through which the international border between the Us and Canada runs. The Thousand Island Bridge, which extends from Collins Landing near Alexandria Bay, N.Y., to lvy Lea near Gananoque, Ontario, covering a distance of 8.5 miles provides a direct link connection between the Us and Canada. From above, it’s a spectacular sight,

What you see below is a zone of numerous shipwrecks. This is a diving destination. It is famous for its sunken treasures from the wrecks. Most of which are over 100ft under water. To experience the best of the Thousand Islands, you must take both a boat cruise and a helicopter tour. The helicopter offers a bird’s-eye view of the islands, the residences and castles. And the boat cruise is a must to see the islands and the properties up close.

At Gananoque, which is the gateway to the Thousand Islands, you simply h op aboard one of the Gananoque boat line vessels. These triple-Decker, all-aluminium vessels have rest rooms on each deck, coffee shops and refreshments. There are five open decks and two fully enclosed decks. So you can choose to just sit inside and enjoy the beauty. Or unwind in the open deck passing by the many islands with their lush woodlands and beautiful homes.

Another breathtaking view of the place is the Thousand Islands Tower. They simply fell in love with the place on a visit from New Jersey in the US. And then they bought the tower. The 1000 Islands tower, whoch is 130m tall, offers a panoramic view of the islands and the water channels from the top. The elevator takes only 40 seconds to reach the first of three observation decks. And it also provides visitors with a spectacular photographic opportunity.

Besides the helicopter tours or cruises or view of Thousands Islands from the tower, Gananoque in the Canadian province of Ontario has much more to offer. Nestled on the banks of the St Lawrence, the Thousand Islands Playhouse. It now runs shows in one of Canada’s most beautiful theatre settings. The renovated historic venue features the 360-seat springer Theatre and the 140-seat Firehall. Originally from British Columbia, she launched the playhouse with her ex-husband and she voices pride having seen Gananoque grow to become one of the premier Canadian summer theater spots. While thousands Islands is an amazing tourist destination, for some it can also be a life-changing experience!

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