GARDEN OF THE GREAT SPIRIT

An Indian legend tells of two powerful gods, one good and the other evil, who

argued fiercely over which one of them would rule the land and the mighty

St. Lawrence River.  The argument became an earth-shaking combat when each

tore huge handfuls of rock from the face of the earth to heave furiously across the river at each other.  A great many fistfuls were thrown, most of which fell short of their target to land in and about the river.  Finally, good triumphed, and evil

spirits were forever banished from the land.

Under an enchanted spell, forests flourished on the thousand chunks of rugged rock

which  had fallen into the river.

The rocks became the Thousand Islands:

Manitouana, the Garden of the Great Spirit.

 

St. Lawrence River – nineteen largest river in the world.

 

Jacques Cartier is credited with naming the river and the gulf it flows into in 1535.

 

The difference between an island and a shoal – any land mass above water 365 days a year that supports at least one tree is an island.

 

There are over 1,800 islands and 3,000 shoals in the 1000 Islands area of the St. Lawrence River.

 

Tom Thumb is the smallest of the 1000 Islands.  Wolfe Island is the largest.

 

Many of the island names are of Indian origin:  Ojibway, Owatonna, Ponemah, Ragnavok, Temagami, Wyanoke, Ingleneuk, Twilight.

 

Singer Castle at Dark Island:  Was built in 1904 by Frederick G. Bourne.

It was formerly called “The Towers”.  Mr. Bourne was a former Singer Sewing Machine executive.  This summer home, built of granite quarried at the Oak Island stone quarry, cost $500,000.  It is located on Dark Island about halfway between Alexandria Bay, NY and Brockville, Ontario, Canada, very near the Duck Cove Cottages.

In 1962, the castle was willed to LaSalle Military School, Oakdale Long Island, which is operated by the Brothers of the Christian Schools Order.  Mrs. Alexander D. Thayer of Gwynett Valley, Pennsylvania, daughter of Mr. F.G. Bourne, deeded the property to the Brothers for one dollar due to a dispute over assessment of the island by the Town of Hammond.  The building, on the 7 acre island, contains 42 rooms, with covered passage from the mansion to the boathouse and many underground passageways.  For many years the island had its own power supply, but in 1969, a submarine cable was installed from Cedar to Dark Island.  Next owners were Dr. and Mrs. Harold G. Martine, who operated non-denominational church services and retreats on the island.  The present owners, an investment group from Germany have opened the castle to public tours.  The castle can be accessed by your private boat or by tour boats out of Alexandria Bay, Morristown or Blind Bay.

 

Oak Island:  7th in size in the Thousand Islands.  There was once a farm on Oak, the barn can still be seen.  The stone for Dark Island and Bolt Castle, Alexandria Bay, were quarried off Oak.  Oak Island can be seen from The Lodge, The Pine Cone, The Floating Chalet and from The Acorn cottages.

Snug Harbor Island:  Purchased in 1889 by Edward L. Strong.  In the early days, the “Island Belle”, a steam boat was the mode of transportation down from Ogdensburg.  Remains in the Strong family to this day. 

Scow Island:  Timbers were deposited here awaiting pick up by scows from Ogdensburg.  First owners were the Brokaws (Mrs. Ferd Collins).  Much of the stone came from the quarry on Oak.  The Quarrier family became owners in 1952 through present day.

 

Honeymoon Island Legend:  One John Brown inquired about buying a small island.  Found one near Oak Island.  Bought it for $500.00 an d built a small cabin on it.  In the spring John Brown arrived with his bride, rented a skiff from George Forrester, loaded his provisions and new wife aboard.  That was the last that was ever seen of either Brown or his wife.  The skiff was found at Georg e’s dock but nothing else was ever found.

Remington Studio:  In 1900, Ingleneuk, (now called Temagami) one of the Cedar Islands, was deeded to the famous painter and author, Frederick Remington.  The following states how Mr. Remington felt about being at the island, “on the river”.

“Oh, I am itching to get up on that island but it’s three months yet.  I look forward to it like a school boy.  I want to get out on those rocks by my studio in a bath robe in the early morning when the birds are singing and hop in among the bass.  When I die my heaven is going to be something like that.  Every fellow’s imagination taxes up a Heaven to suit his tastes and I’d be mighty good and play this earthly game according to the rules if I could get a thousand eons of something just like that.”

 

Ironsides Island:  Donated in the 1960’s by Wm. Browning to the Nature Conservancy to serve as a rookery for blue herons. 

Ironside Shoal:  Blasting stopped at 19’ which set the minimum depth for the whole seaway.

 

Hemlock Island:  Once known as Nervina Island.
St. Margarete Island:  In 1872 was know as High Island

 

Rabbit Island:  In 1816 was known at Norton Island named after John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen) whose father as Cherokee.
 

 

St. Ann Island:  Was also known as Jug, Chub, and Observation.  Today the adjacent island is know as Jug Island.
Mink Island:  Was also called Treasure Island.
Sister Lighthouse:  A few years after the Civil War ended the need of a lighthouse to warn ships against rocks was realized.  Built in 1870 of native limestone.  William Dodge was the first keeper, then passing the position to his son.  Between them the Dodge family were lighthouse keepers for 51 years.  When the seaway opened the navigational guide was replaced with a buoy.  The Gavel family are the current owners.

 

Crossover Lighthouse:  Located in the middle of the channel between the US and Canada.  The name is derived from being at a point where the navigational channel crosses from the US side to the Canadian.  Completed in 1847.  In April 1941 the light was abandoned.  In 1969 the Dutchers became the owners, making repairs and impovements.  It has since been sold.

 

The Islands

Did you know there are actually over 1,800 islands (1,864 to be exact) that make up the 1000 Islands region? To become an official part of the count, an island must meet two criteria: it must be above water 365 days a year and it must support two living trees. Ferries or bridges provide access to Wellesley, Hill, Wolfe and Howe Islands.

The islands are unique, offering a wonderful recreation experience that spans two nations. Each island has its own individuality with features such as stately granite cliffs, soft sandy bays, tall dark pines and vibrant maple trees—it’s a sightseer’s paradise. Many islands are privately owned but ample public access can be found at island parks and villages throughout the region.

The Islands in History

It was French explorers who named the region. Vacationers discovered the islands in the 1870s, when wealthy people began to build summer homes while other travelers came to stay in large hotels. For more than a century the area has been a mecca for summer visitors. In the more distant past the islands were stepping stones between New York State and the Province of Ontario—in times of trouble between Canada and the United States, a place of refuge and a setting for disreputable deeds.