I was raised in Montreal where our primary playgrounds were the Laurentian Mountains and the Eastern Townships. Both offer lakes and rolling mountains, but when I first saw the River, I was comprehensively blown away. It offered so many more levels of interest.
Its incredibly rich history goes way, way back. You don’t need Egypt to find evidence of “old.” It’s right here. On Gordon Island, archaeologists have dated artifacts to 7,000 BC. On our island, I’ve found a broken arrowhead, a scraping tool and a portion of a spearhead and there are fire scalings on the eastern end of our island that are thousands of years old.
I’ve often sat there contemplating the canoes that would have passed, first with natives, then Voyageurs paddling west in spring with trading goods and back in fall, their canoes burdened with furs. Later, as canals were built to circumnavigate rapids, the River served as the highway that settled the continent.
The Gilded Age layered in more interest when the islands became the treasured place for many of the most successful business barons of the late 19th century’s industrial age. They left behind trappings of their wealth like castles, yacht houses, and at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum, fabulous boats and yachts.
Teeming with wildlife with thousands of miles of coastline and almost 2,000 islands crammed into just fifty miles of River, it is a truly unique environment in which to recreate and explore. The Seaway adds another level of interest with everything from canoes and kayaks to motor and sailboats to yachts and tall ships and ocean going ships like this one. This random parade is arguably the biggest differentiator from the lakes of my youth, but together these many layers add up to a truly unique place.
When I began to tell friends about my amazing discovery after a random flight, most of them stared back blankly. My photography and subsequent books began as an attempt to show them how compelling it all was - and still is.
With Christmas coming soon, I should mention that while most of the books are now sold out in shops, I’ve hoarded a couple of cases of each to service the web site. Should you wish copies for yourself or as gifts, you’ll find them here.
P.S. Just 6 days left to submit images for the T. I. Life annual photo contest. Please send your 3 favorites to TI Life's editor.
We have a cozy cottage on a couple of acres at the mouth of Jones Creek (part of the 1000 Islands National Park) available as a summer vacation rental on the River, as well as an exquisite little getaway in Provence, France. If you'd like to explore it and that corner of France, (it's just as compelling as the River, but in a very different way), there are many images on the "What's Nearby" page. Keep clicking on "Show More" to see all. If you'd like to explore the Jones Creek area, click here.
Our home on the river
Our home in Provence