Ontario’s 1,000 Islands, Canada
Our 1000 Islands Sea Doo Tour was an unforgettable trailer boating experience. Located on the St. Lawrence River between Kingston and Brockville, the Islands offer everything from open water to sheltered channels…plus countless magical opportunities for exploration and discovery of Ontario. Best of all, for Sea-Doo touring the waterway is well-marked and easily navigable, with little worry about unexpected rocks or shallow spots.
We trailered from Gateway Powersports & Marine to our launching point, the Glen House Resort situated in the heart of the 1000 Islands, just east of Gananoque. The eight of us, each on his own Sea-Doo watercraft, planned to spend the first day cruising upriver to Kingston and back. The next day, we would navigate downriver to Brockville, then cross into American waters for our return.
Incredible Variety: WOW…was I ever unprepared for the majesty of the 1000 Islands! Their picturesque topography blends rocky shorelines and dense foliage with rugged islets of every size and shape. Their magnificent presence quickly transformed my normal expectation that river riding consists of travelling a linear strip of unbroken water contained by two shores. Instead, we experienced a jigsaw puzzle of cruising choices…big water, small water, scenic channels, large bays, small coves, backwaters, hidden inlets, oodles of shore, and of course, too many islands to count!
Navigation: I knew from our charts that the main channels and small craft routes are officially marked. Once I familiarized myself with key marker numbers, navigation was straightforward, with red to the right heading to Kingston. Generally, the markers parallel the mainland, so whichever set you follow (assuming that it isn’t a marina channel) will eventually merge with a main channel.
Note that there are parallel Canadian and American channels for much of the waterway between Kingston and Brockville. Clusters of islands separate them most of the time. Consequently, what we initially perceived as mainland often turned out to be another island. However, knowing that Canada was always north, we had little trouble working our way back to our side and Glen House Resort each day.
The charts also indicated numerous rocks and shoals, some similar to those found in Georgian Bay’s inner channel. From the seats of our Sea-Doo watercraft, all were either clearly visible or their markers were. That’s one of the benefits of riding a waterway frequented by lots of residents and cottagers with many big, expensive cruisers and runabouts…everything’s well marked for or by them!
Cruise Boats Galore: I bet there are as many cruise boats as there are islands! Based in virtually every centre along the river, they come in all sizes and configurations. These ubiquitous and slow moving boats hardly make any wake. When we had a doubt, following one (or watching from whence it came) helped put us back on route. We didn’t worry much about getting lost anyway, because even during those August weekdays, pleasure craft were abundant and many people were at their cottages.
Where We Stayed: We picked Glen House Resort because of its location, amenities and ample parking (It also offers the Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course.) Easily accessible from the Thousand Islands Parkway off the 401, Glen House is also situated at waterside in a sheltered bay, with its own boat launch and docks for guests. The main Canadian channel crosses directly in front of that bay at marker H18, so we set course from there for Kingston to the starboard and Brockville to port.
Tour Highlights: Besides those already mentioned, highlights of our ride included the Martello towers and Old Fort Henry at Kingston Harbour, the imposing statue of St. Lawrence overlooking Raft Narrows on the Canadian shore just east of the Ivy Lea – Thousand Islands International Bridge, and the Singer and Boldt Castles located on islands in the U.S. channel on the way back from Brockville.
I was so impressed with the 1000 Islands, that I made a return Sea-Doo trip several weeks later with my wife. She really loved that ride too, and we both agree that it will become a regular destination for us in summers to come. So whether by PWC or a runabout, trailer boating doesn’t get any better than spending a few summer days exploring the 1000 Islands.
Video: Craig Nicholson
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