1,000 Islands – Part 1 | Ontario, CANADA – Ganonoque, Heart Island

Ganonoque Marina

This is where our adventure began. My friend and I piled 4 kids into her Chevy Suburban, loaded down with bags and groceries, armed with DVDs and iPads and embarked on our eight hour drive northwest of Baltimore. Road Trip!

[PRO TIP: Be prepared to be grilled at the boarder crossing especially if you have kids. It was no joke getting into Canada! Have your passports at hand and be ready to answer a lot of questions.]

We’d done our homework and planned a fabulous itinerary for our first trip to the over 2,000 islands dotting the St. Lawrence River between the USA and Canada. Looking back, there isn’t much we would change, although I’ve noted anything we’d do differently. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. If it’s your first visit to the area, this is a good starting plan, especially if you have young kids (our were between 13 and 7).

I’ll give you the rundown of each destination, beginning with Ganonoque, the furthest point west. We figured we’d work our way east and be a bit closer to home for the last drive.

We spent 3 nights in Ganonoque, renting an apartment on Airbnb, which worked beautifully. We could walk to most of the attractions from our spot right on the main street in town.

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!”

[DO-OVER: Okay, so we agree that we would have only spent two nights here had we known that the town was not as “quaint” as we expected.]

[PRO TIP: Duh, don’t forget that Canada uses their own currency and it’s very helpful to have! If you try to pay in US dollars, most places will accept your cash at a 1:1 ratio, which cost about 30% more at this time. Get money from the ATM. Most things can be paid with credit card, but some cash is always helpful.]

We built our itinerary around a couple things, one being a performance at the Thousand Island Playhouse, which was awesome! Tickets purchased in advance online. A Must!

Gananoque Brewing

The second was a trip to Boldt Castle on Heart Island. Because we did a land-based vacation, we used this as an opportunity to see islands from the water. Book your ticket and boat tour with Gananoque Boat Lines. Check in at the office (280 Main Street ) before the cruise and bring your passport.

George C. Boldt, millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel built the grandiose castle as a tribute to his love for his wife, Louise. Learn the tale of love and loss on your visit!

[PRO TIP: There is about a 20 minute video of the Boldt Castle history worth watching before you depart at the Ganonoque Museum. Donations welcome, no admission fee.]

Other than those two items, there’s not a whole lot going on on Ganonoque; we thought it would be much more happening in the summer. We didn’t eat anywhere worth mentioning. There is a small public beach at Joel Stone Park which is nice if you want to swim or cop a squat. They also host events in the summer; check the schedule.

If you are wanting to fish, there is one thing worth mentioning. Canadian Tire (705 King St E ) sells all manner of outdoor stuff, equipment for camping, fishing, hunting, swimming, just about anything you can think of including fishing licenses, which we needed. They also employ a super friendly and helpful staff. Special thanks to Canadian Tire!

We got the license! Whoop whoop!

[DO OVER: We took the ferry one day to Howe Island because we saw a flyer for an artisan market. Just so you know, there are really only homes on this island and the market was in someone’s front yard! I don’t think it was worth heading over there for, unfortunately.] Check out the ferry ride though! One car at a time…

Next Stop….Kingston, Ontario!

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