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More than A Thousand

Written by on June 3, 2017 in The Thousand Islands


It takes more than 1000 Islands to make the 1000 Islands along this mighty stretch of the St. Lawrence River that flows through Ontario and New York. In fact, there are 1,864 islands between Wolfe Island (the largest) and Cape Vincent to Brockville and Morristown.

Tom Thumb Island near Ivy Lea Ontario is officially known as the smallest 1000 Island. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine

Tom Thumb Island near Ivy Lea is considered the smallest. What makes an island? Some say an island must have two trees. Others say only one tree as long as its land mass stays above water 365 days a year. Some of the bigger islands have year-round residents and ferry services. Some island names are enchanting: Heart, Mermaid, and Fairyland Island to name a few. Others sound foreboding like Deathdealer and Bloodletter Islands.  During the region’s Gilded Age in the late 1800s and early 1900s, business barons from New York City built lavish summer estates with castles and mansions here that still remain here including a storied stretch on the St. Lawrence known as Millionaire’s Row. I’ve always been especially enchanted by the 1000 Islands’ smallest islands that make up more than a 1000 Islands in our wondrous water world.

Tom Thumb Island

Tom Thumb is located near the Canadian span of the Thousand Islands Bridge near Ivy Lea and Hill Island. It is named after the thumb-sized character in the very first fairy tale printed in English in 1621, fitting for tour boat folklore.

Channel Island

Channel Island near Mallorytown Ontario. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Island?  Not quite. Channel Island is a small island near Mallorytown that found itself at the end of this spectacular rainbow after a thunderstorm. The island on the Canadian side is not far from  Dark Castle’s Singer Castle on the U.S. side. 

Whirlpool Island

Whirpool Island near Ivy Lea Ontario. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine.

Get anywhere close to the currents around the shores of this Canadian island near Ivy Lea and you’ll understand why it’s named Whirlpool.

Odd Couple Island

A Seagull and a turtle share this ‘island’ near Mallorytown Ontario. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine

Do two creatures an island make? If so, this seagull looks none too impressed by this turtle shamelessly sunbathing on a rock in the St. Lawrence River near Grenadier Island. 

Willie Nelson Island

Willie Nelson Island off the shores of Calumet Island near Clayton New York. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine.

No, the country crooner has not made a cottage home out of this island near Clayton. The owner of Calumet Island, a grand summer estate once owned by American tobacco tycoon Charles Emery, decided to name the small island he owns off Calumet after his favourite singer.

Virgin Island

Virgin Island near Ivy Lea. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine.

Virgin Island near Ivy Lea has one longstanding resident: The Virgin Mary. This statue has faithfully watched over passing tour boats and choppy currents by the Thousand Islands Bridge for decades. The Hyde family of Rochester N.Y. has owned this idyllic island since 1955. They refer to it as their “Hyde A Way.”

Sunken Rock Lighthouse Island

Sunken Rock Island near Alexandria Bay N.Y. Photo by Kim Lunman/Island Life Magazine.

This historic little lighthouse looks even smaller on this island next to one of its neighbours: Boldt Castle on Heart Island. It’s also dwarfed by the freighters it helps guide past a dangerous shoal near Alexandria Bay.