2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

1000 Islands Boat Tour and Boldt Castle

A visit to the 1000 Islands area isn't complete if you don't get on a boat and cruise the river.  We took a 2 hour narrated tour. 
One of the highlights is Boldt Castle.  The island it is located on was called Hart Island but George Boldt renamed it to Heart Island for his wife, Louise. 

Boldt Castle

Alster Tower, also on Heart Island, more on it later.

But the tour hasn't even started yet!  This is the view from the top of the boat.

There were different sizes of tour boats operated by various companies from both the American and Canadian mainlands.

During the cruise we heard about this house on a tiny island.  We were told it was built by George Boldt for his mother-in-law.  It was just off Heart Island.

I can't begin to remember all the stuff we were told about the various islands but this area became popular with the millionaires of the late 1800's and still is today. 

We were told about someone that hid in this cave.

We also learned the definition of an island, dry shoals and wet shoals.  An island is land that stay above the water line and is capable of growing at least one tree and other vegetation.  Dry shoals are outcroppings that stay above the water.  Wet shoals are usually covered in water.
One of the houses had a unique wind vane that featured a bear.  Too bad the best photo I have of it is from the back.

Photo of the bear from the front.

I missed getting a photo of it but we passed by a small island that was connected to an even smaller island by a short bridge.  One of the islands was in the US and the other in Canada.  The bridge is the smallest international bridge known to exist.  At least that's the story they told. 

Technically, that is an island

This is the 1000 Islands Tower, a 400' observation towers that offers excellent views of the area.  You have to pay a toll to cross the first bridge and pass through Canadian customs to get to it. 

This statue of St Lawrence overlooks the river named after the saint.

The Canadian span of the 1000 Islands Bridge.

This island has a house on it, a bird house.

They sure do try to put homes on the tiniest islands.
The island must not have been big enough so they built decking all around.  Some of the island are totally man-made.

We saw only one freighter during our trip.

Coming back to Boldt Castle.  That's one of the Canadian tour boats at the dock.

The "cottage" that existed on the island when George Boldt purchased it only had 80 rooms.  The Boldts summered on Heart Island for 5 years using the cottage.  When George decided to build the castle, the cottage was split in two and moved across the ice to Wellesley Island.

  Granite for the castle came from Oak Island, which was George's property 13 miles downstream from Heart Island.  The Castle sits on granite and has a steel framework to support its 60,000 sqf with includes 122 rooms and a total of 348 windows.

Only 10% of the interior was finished when Louise died. 

When George Boldt died, his children, George Jr and Clover inherited the property.  Clover was the general executor and manager of Boldt's many properties.  They sold most of the 1000 Islands properties to Edward Noble.  Noble opened Heart Island as a tourist attraction but didn't do any maintenance.  When he died, he gifted Heart Island to the T.I.B.A.  
Heart Island's wind vane.

Beautiful flower bed heart.

As we walked up I noticed the "M" in the chimney.  They surmise that it is the Roman numeral 1000 and put on the chimney as a tribute to the 1000 Island area.

We entered and went to the left to see the reception area.

The Billiards room where the men would gather after a meal.

The Grand Hall

Some of the room had a photo on display of what the room looked like before restoration started.

Click to enlarge for reading.  Here's where the Boldt's servants would serve 9 course dinner.  There were often 24 utensils at each place setting and a person was considered uncouth if they happened to use the wrong one.

This was the Maid's Dining Room.

When the TIBA took possession of this building, this room was jammed full of the millwork for the entire house.  Some of it is still not installed.

The view out the five windows was spectacular and the breezes off the river would have contributed to a more comfortable place to work in the summer. 

They surmise that Boldt would have hired 100 servants to take care of the family and the property.
Wow!  Even the servants would have lived grandly on Heart Island.  George came from poverty so he knew what life was like as a servant.

Looking out the back door of the Castle, you could see the Dove Cote and the top of the Power House.  Many wedding are now held here by the Dove Cote.  This lawn is actually on top of a one story building where the servants would enter and where the supplies for the castle were received.

Here is a small, Italian flower garden and fountain surrounded by statues depicting the seasons.

The Ballroom.   The ceiling was very detailed.

This alcove was created for an organ although one was not installed before construction was halted.

Looking out of the ballroom to the Grand Hall.

Ballroom ceiling detail.   There were hearts everywhere.

Most of the original plaster was ruined by the time the TIBA took possession of the building.  Plaster expands and contracts with the temperature.  Latex was brushed over the old craft work to make molds.  Then acrylic was mixed with the plaster to make it more durable.

The library

The mahogany mantle is carved with the characters from Hansel and Gretel.

Close up of witch in center of mantle.

What the library looked like before restoration. 

Time to start up the staircase.

But before going up, you have to look up to the beautiful dome.  Full of hearts, this dome was the creation of the TIBA since George Boldt's design for it was never found.

Looking up to the ceilings of the walkways surrounding the Grand Hall.

Getting a little closer to the dome.

Looking down at the beautiful staircase leading to the second story.  This marble stairway wasn't yet installed when construction ceased.  There was an Otis elevator that was operated by water pressure from a huge water cistern in the tower.
George Boldt's suite.  Yes, he had a single bed because it was all the fashion at that time for married couples to each have their own rooms.  George had a valet.

My audioguide said that each bedroom has it's own bath but only one bathroom was on display in the family area. 

Females need more room for dressing.  The fashion in the late 1800's was for the women to where a one piece undergarment known as a combination under an s-shaped corset that pushed the bosom forward and the hips back.  This made it very difficult for the women to walk without waddling.

Since Clover was in her late teens and early 20's during the construction of the castle, a room was created where she could entertain her friends and maybe socialize with courters. 

The other half of the second floor would have been guest rooms.  Now we climb the stairs to room that have not been rehabilitated by the TIBA.

The third floor might have also housed guests but might also have been George Jr. suite.  There is a lot of graffiti here that is decades old.  But sadly there is also current graffiti despite all the signs asking people to please refrain from marking on the walls. 

Old plasterwork that is falling apart due to the expansion in summer and contraction in winter.

Nolan putting on the speed to get out of the way of my photo taking.

Captioning of previous display

Climbing to the 4th floor we get above the dome.  The clear skylight above it was in place at the time construction ceased.

The fourth floor also has a private sitting area and a balcony where can look out over the grounds and back to Alexandria Bay

Looking up at the hart on the roof.

View from the balcony.

Back down on the first floor of the Grand Hall, the center stained glass window is the Boldt crest.  The letter B in the center of a heart with a hart above it.

Front of the house faces Alexandria Bay.  The semi-circular area at the base houses a swimming pool.  It is unknown if it was supposed to be for entertainment or merely a source of water as it was not heated.  The pool is filled by a natural spring.  Just left of the entryway on the lowest floor is where a grand staircase would have lead to the entry of the Grand Hall.  Notice the stone is different there as it was blocked up by the TIBA

Click to enlarge for reading.

View guest would have gotten as they walked up to the castle.

Alster Tower.  More info on following photo and photos further on in this post.

Click on photo to enlarge for reading.

Peristyle Arch through with guest's boats would enter the lagoon. 

Three harts on the top were put there by the TIBA.  George Boldt was going to put a bronze hart in this location.
From the side of the lagoon with the Peristyle on the right and Alster Tower in the middle.  On the walkway that goes through the arch there are several round stone platforms.  These were placed here as statuary platforms.

Another side of Alster Tower.

Inside Alster Tower

Information on Alster Tower.

Overview of the island.  Boldt tried to make the island in the shape of a heart by creating the lagoon (on top right).

Alster Tower from yet another viewpoint.

Info on the St. Lawrence River.  Click to enlarge for reading.

Side view of the one story service entrance on top of which are the Dove Cote and Italian garden.

This shell fountain was found in the lagoon.

I loved the landscaping here.  Even the stumps had flowers planted in them.

The chimes were played from a keyboard in the old cottage and it is assumed that they were to be connected to a keyboard in Boldt Castle.

There were lots of photos in the Power House 

Finally we walked up to the Dove Cote.  It was formerly the power house but the Boldts were going to use it to house doves.

The Italian gardens contain three large hearts and a fountain surrounded by statues representing the four seasons.

The back side of Boldt Castle is undergoing some maintenance.

Next we got on the shuttle boat to go to the Yacht House.
The Yacht House where Boldt stored his 60 water craft.  The cupola contains a steel sleeve that could be lowered over the boats steam stack for outside ventilation.

Click to enlarge for reading.  I was surprised that the La Duchesse never had an engine.

There was a display of at least 10 different outboard motors.

This is a beautiful boat.

This balcony was off the caretakers quarters and offered a view of the boats.

The curved door on the left opened onto a 10' drop to the dock!

Looking from the Yacht House to Boldt Castle

The other side of Louise Bolt's mother's summer home.

Another photo of the tour boat we rode.

This is the Yacht House's caretakers house.  You can see the door that opened to nothing.

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