Saturday - Gananoque


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North America » Canada » Ontario » Gananoque
May 12th 2018
Published: May 29th 2018
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Today, we headed off to Canada, but first we visited the Roswell P Flower Memorial Library in Watertown, NY. Though Watertown had a few private libraries at the time, the city had discussed having a public library open to all, and Emma Flower offered to build one to honor her father, a former governor of New York. The library continues as a public lending library, and also apparently houses a genealogical research library, but also houses quite a number of unique pieces of art that you can view in your library visit. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I may have to return to Watertown for some genealogy research of my own!

We drove north and east to the St. Lawrence River to the 1000 Island region, which straddles the US/Canadian border on the St. Lawrence River is home to over 1,800 islands. Note: An island must be 1) at least a foot above water year round and 2) support at least 1 tree. The salad dressing was created in the 1000 Islands area, though it's not clear whether the actual location was NY or Canada!

We decided to take a river cruise through the area, and there are indeed some TINY islands there; some islands had no structures, only a tree and a few bushes, and some were barely larger than the footprint of the building on it. There was one house we saw that had a bridge to a smaller house on a smaller island. The story goes that the owner had a wife and a daughter (or two), and used the bridge to get away for some alone time!

The tour included a stop at Boldt Castle and Yacht House. The 120-room mansion was built by George Boldt (of Waldorf Astoria fame) to honor his wife, Louise, but it was never finished. After about 4 years of construction, work was stopped after his wife Louise's sudden death. Until work was stopped, George had 300 of his own stone masons (he owned a quarry on another island!) and carpenters working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. I read that the workers earned $1.50 a day! The site is an amazing place to visit, though it languished in disrepair and vandalism for over 70 years before the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took it on to preserve it (you can see some before and after photos on their site here). In addition to the main house, there was a dove cote, a swimming pool, and a children's playhouse with a bowling alley, spaces to put on dramatic performances, and even its own kitchen area. The island has 6 separate structures, including its own power house, and there is an elaborate garden, though not much was blooming when we were there. Good news! You can hold your wedding or reception there!

Of course, it was of major interest to me to visit the Yacht House, which was full of boats of all kinds. The Yacht House is not even on the same island as the castle; you have to take a boat to GET to the Yacht House! The 128-foot long bays contained some of the family's boats, including racing motor boats, a steam boat, and others. The Yacht House included screw lifts to pull the hulls up out of the water during the winter. Above the boat slips, the Boldt's captains, race crew, and staff lived, complete with their own cooks and servants! Their 106-foot long, 2-storey house boat, La Duchesse, which was built for George Boldt, was originally kept here, but is now on display in the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton,
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Brian, I took this photo for you!
NY. George's daughter Clover was apparently a racer and speed demon of the day, and competed in races on the river. Her 37-foot racing boat is beautiful!

After visiting Boldt Castle, we back-tracked a bit and crossed the border into Canada with no issues. They require that any prescribed medications be in their original bottles, along with a copy of the prescription from the doctor...after stressing about that, they never even asked two little old ladies who would be nearly guaranteed to be "carrying!" The US absolutely didn't care on the way back, either.

We headed to Gananoque, ON, to check in to our hotel room, and had to try 3 places before we could find a place to serve food after 9 pm on a Saturday! Even the pubs/taverns were only serving small plates by then. The sidewalks were not rolled up, however!

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